We sat down to do this interview style… me asking him, him asking me, but as usual, my control freak tendencies reared their pretty head (y’all, controlling everything isn’t as ugly as some people make it sound. It’s a happy, happy place), and here I sit asking him for his and dictating mine as I type. I’m also rhyming a lot of words that we say with naughty words, because I’m 13 and taking FLEHBS (pronounced flea-biss… the Charlotte-Mecklenburg sex-ed class you take that sounds like a venereal disease) and laugh at anything remotely dirty. That’s why I married someone 12 years older. To help mature me. Or because he was super cute and knew his way around the kitchen… and, thusly had good hands… but I digress. Where were we? Oh yes, our respective list of top 10 things to have on-hand at all time in the kitchen to create tasty, healthy, masterful meals.
The Chef’s Must Haves:
1. Kosher Salt/Sea Salt – both salts are sweeter than iodized salt (he told me to type #stayawayfromiodizedsalt, so being the submissive wife I am, there you g0) and perfect for seasoning
2. Chicken stock – one of the most versatile stocks available. It always adds body and flavorful to most dishes you can create in your kitchen.
3. Whole peppercorns – Versatile for cracked (cracked isn’t always whack, y’all), ground, whole or sachet bag (I don’t know what a sachet does outside of my panty drawer, but he said it, so I wrote it)… table ground pepper is “Garbage” according to DTH-GG, just now and said in an impassioned voice, so just don’t buy that ish.
4. Fresh herbs – basil, thyme, chives and tarragon are his personal favorites
5. Clean sinks – this is my job during the week. Sometimes I do it. Sometimes I make kale chips instead. Actually, pretty much every time I make kale chips instead. He says, “A clean space makes you feel clean and ready to put out…” he said something else after that, but I started giggling in my head and didn’t hear the rest. I think it was “a clean, good product.” I concur.
6. Shallots/onions, carrot, celery – “mirepoix” for us fancy types. I almost minored in French. I decided not to after two classes. I think this means shallots, onions, carrots and celery. These are the absolute basic staples of anything that can be great. Also defined as: classic French fundamentals to preparing great food. The natural sugars that come out of these are the basis of a ton of fabulous dishes.
7. Local farms – Eat local. Just do that. In Charlotte, we have Carrigan Farms, New Town Farms, Ashley Farms (best cluckin’ farm for poultry), Bosky Acres (get yer goat cheese here. Trust us.), Orman’s Cheese
8. Olive oil – this is your best friend… never try to fry food in your BFF, y’all. Things go awry really fast. Olive oil is best used for sweating vegetables, quick saute items and roasting.
9. Champagne vinegar – this also includes other sweet vinegars like red wine or sherry. There’s a drastic change in flavors between white vinegar and your other flavored vinegars. Precisely (he’s a chef), when it comes to salad dressings, vinegar reductions and vinaigrettes.
10. Happiness – “Be a happy chef,” he commands. “Love doing what you’re doing. Enjoy spending the time in the kitchen, prepping the food, cooking the food, enjoying the food. I told someone recently, I just like food. I like chewing it. I like eating it. The flavor. But enjoy the process.” Amen, Chef Davey. Amen indeed.
The Accident Prone Home Cook’s Must Haves:
1. Wine + Music – because every meal prep is just better with a glass of wine in hand and some Ellie Goulding or Ray LaMontagne Pandora blasting in the kitchen. Because then you can sing really loudly, chop really sloppily and blame it on the wine.
2. Tony Chachere’s – This is my number one go-to seasoning. If I didn’t have anything else in my cabinets I’d want Tony’s. It’s Cajun seasoning but way better. I put this junk on everything… any vegetable imaginable, meat, seafood… all of it. My favorite trio is Tony’s, kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
3. Black beans – I love having a few cans of black beans on hand. They’re almost always the perfect supplement to a dish. Extra hungry on a Saturday morning? Lay your eggs on top of a pile of steaming black beans with a scoop of salsa. Not sure how to make your quinoa sing? Black beans and shredded cheese. Or make a bean bowl. I’m constantly pulling these out of my pantry.
4. Great cheese – I could spend our entire Dave Ramsey grocery cash envelope on cheese. My current favorites? Cheddar-gruyere, honey goat gouda and creamy syrah soaked toscana (it’s literally wine + cheese together, and that can’t be beat)
5. Fire roasted tomatoes – see my description of black beans above. There may not be anything on the planet that I use to quickly upgrade a dish more than these lil gems. Anytime a recipe calls for tomatoes, I fight with our God-forsaken can opener long enough to spread some of their love into the pan.
6. Butter-flavored Crisco – hands down the number one secret for fluffy, “where’d you get that recipe?” baked goods, especially my top secret chocolate chip cookies.
7. Garam Masala/Cumin/Curry Powder – outside of Tony’s, these are the three spices I reach for the very most. We love curries at our house, and the garam masala adds a complex layering of flavors. Curry enhances it, and cumin is just one of the most needed flavors around, in my humble opinion.
8. Kale – we are the kale eatin’est people in the Queen City, I think. Frozen kale in smoothies every day, chopped kale salads, wilted kale in burgers, kale chips… it’s always, always, always in our fridge. One of the most versatile and delectable greens.
9. Puppies – because they’ll clean up your messes way before you get around to it, which is way before your husband finds it. Seriously. Get two. Because one will be dumb, and the other one will lose contact with their sense of smell, but together they’ll conquer the world. Helen Keller-Ann Sullivan style… W-A-T-E-R
10. Chocolate chips + Nutella + Nut Butter – I keep my chips in the freezer. Perfect for a little reward – a handful of frozen chocolate beats anything, or to make a quick batch of desserts. I would rather eat a spoonful nut butter (seriously, can anyone type or read that without laughing) than most anything. Except Nutella. I like combining all three for a smokin’ dessert. Because after a chef-prepared meal, you need a home baker’s perfect dessert.