With the $50 pantry, you can always have your kitchen essentials

One of the best parts of living in Northern California is that we have such easy access to wonderful local produce, dairy and meat.

moskowitzSuch ingredients make cooking at home a true pleasure, but it’s even better if you have a well-stocked kitchen … and that starts with your pantry. If you have a well-stocked pantry, you are better able to follow recipes and create new ones because you’ll usually have the non-perishables and dry goods required on hand.

Most pantry necessities can be found inexpensively at your local supermarket. The following prices are approximate and based on the prices I found at a supermarket in San Francisco.

The $50 Pantry:

Unbleached all-purpose flour: $4 for 5 lbs.

Extra virgin olive oil: $6 for 12 oz.

Vegetable oil: $4 for 16 oz.

Kosher salt: $3 for 24 oz.

Pepper: $3

Baking soda: $3 for 6 oz.

Baking powder: $3 for 6 oz.

White granulated sugar: $3 for 16 oz.

Brown sugar: $3 for 16 oz.

Honey: $4 for 8 oz.

Balsamic vinegar: $4 for 12 oz.

Peanut butter: $4 for 12 oz.

Mayonnaise: $3 for 16 oz.

Garlic: $2 for 4 heads

Below is a challah recipe from  www.DianasDesserts.com. It is based primarily on pantry ingredients.

Sweet Raisin-Honey Challah

Makes 1 very large or 2 large loaves

11⁄2 cups warm water

2 packages (1⁄2 oz) instant yeast or bread yeast

8 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. salt

1⁄4 cup honey

1⁄3 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar

1⁄2 cup melted butter

3 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

11⁄4 cups golden raisins

Egg Wash

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

1 tsp. sugar

1 Tbs. water

In a large mixing bowl, stir the 1 tsp. sugar into the 11⁄2 cups warm water. Sprinkle in yeast and stir well; let stand until frothy or foamy, about 10 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in 7 cups of the flour, and salt. Add honey, the 1⁄3 cup sugar, melted butter, whole eggs and egg yolks; stir until dough forms.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding enough of the remaining 1 cup flour as necessary to prevent sticking. (You may need to add more flour if your dough is still too sticky. Add in 1 Tbs. at a time until the dough is cohesive.) Place dough in a greased glass or ceramic bowl, turning to grease dough all over. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap or a warm damp kitchen towel; let dough rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size and an indentation remains when dough is poked with 2 fingers, about 1 hour or so.

Punch down dough, transfer dough to work surface, let rest for 10 minutes, then knead in raisins. Divide into two loaves, if desired, and shape.

To make a round crown loaf: Roll out dough into a 30-inch long rope. Holding one end in place, wind remaining rope around end to form a fairly tight spiral that is slightly higher in the center of dough. Transfer dough to a greased rimmed baking sheet.

To make a 4-rope braided loaf: Divide dough into quarters; roll each quarter into 18-inch long ropes. Place side by side on a greased rimmed baking sheet; pinch ropes together at one end. Starting at pinched end, move second rope from left over rope on its right. Move far right rope over 2 ropes on left. Move far left rope over 2 ropes on right. Repeat until braid is complete; tuck ends under braid.

Cover shaped loaf with plastic wrap or damp kitchen towel; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Stir egg yolk with 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tbsp. water; brush over loaves.

Bake in center of preheated 350-degree oven until deep golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on rack for 15 minutes before slicing.

Gabi Moskowitz is the clergy assistant at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, a caterer and a cooking teacher. Follow her adventures in and out of the kitchen on her blog, www.gabimoskowitz.com.

Gabi Moskowitz
Gabi Moskowitz

Gabi Moskowitz is the co-author of “Hot Mess Kitchen” and the co-producer of “Young & Hungry,” a Freeform comedy currently in its fifth season. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Evan. She can be reached at brokeassgourmet.com.