When you’re single and live on your own, there’s no one around to tell you how to live your life.
That is, what to do, what to wear or what to eat.
Now, I love all of that freedom, but on the other hand, you also need SOME discipline, especially if you’re a chef and have the ability to make pretty much anything you want to eat anytime you’re in the mood.
Obviously, I spend my week in or around professional kitchens and bakeshops, so I’m not always inclined to go home and spend even more time in my home kitchen. When I DO feel like cooking, I work to keep an extensive inventory of pre-portioned meals and sauces well stocked in my freezer and waiting for me for when I really DON’T feel like cooking that day.
Believe it or not, there’s a downside to that. Like, maybe too much of a great thing is a bad thing.
Having a frozen vending machine of sorts means I can pull on the handle of my freezer and select American favorites like good old-fashioned Honey and Soy Braised Short Ribs; smoked, pulled pork; roasted turkey with sage stuffing and gravy; or dozens of international favorites like my Chicken Enchilada Casserole or Thai shrimp with peanut saté sauce on a whim. There’s all of this, not to mention the option of hanging out at some of my favorite restaurants.
So it comes down to a matter of what I’d LIKE to eat every day versus what I should eat every day so that I can keep some semblance of a balanced diet while also keeping the little devil that occasionally pops up on my shoulder at bay.
The devil, by the way, is junk food.
Chefs don’t talk much about eating junk food. It’s our dirty little secret. We’d rather you think we munch on celery sticks for snacks and eat salads, poached chicken breasts, and egg-white omelets 24/7.
Those are all fine and good, BUT if I could eat whatever I wanted to eat, whenever I wanted to eat it, these dozen items below would be at the top of my list. Many of them will be no surprise if you follow my blogs.
First, the disclaimer:
I don’t want you to think I have a terrible diet. Thankfully, I spend six days a week in a very healthy food environment at Nino’s, with fresh produce, meats, fish and a wealth of other great stuff here that I enjoy while I’m working. And while we might roast our own coffee, make our own fresh pasta, sausages, soups, and Artisan Breads, we, as of yet, don’t pop our own popcorn, so I’m still in a safe haven while here at work.
So, in no particular order, here are my own dirty dozen:
Pizza: I started my cooking career in a pizzeria. I’ll probably die with a slice in my hand. Pepperoni and mushrooms, please.
Popcorn: Popcorn should be on the table of Periodic Elements (lightly salted and buttered).
Chocolate Bumpy Cake with French Vanilla Ice Cream: I don’t eat many sweets, but this is my A1, go-to, comfort food dessert and has been since I was a kid. Some things never change. Thanks, Sanders.
Chicken Enchiladas with Spanish Rice: I have this passion for chili powder and cumin. And go figure, it’s in both recipes.
Fish & Chips: Cod or halibut, with a great beer batter and thick, golden-brown chips. The secret’s out. Now you know why I’ve been to London four times in five years.
Coney Dogs with French Fries: When that little devil on my shoulder wins the argument, I don’t bother cooking at home. I head to Lafayette, American or National for my fix.
Tempura Coconut Shrimp with Thai Peanut Sauce: Shrimp–coconut, deep fried. Need I say anything more?
Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Lobster Sauce: This would be a really healthy dish if I wasn’t so hell bent on making my lobster sauce with 40% whipping cream. Can’t help myself.
Beef Tenderloin Fajitas: I like this with seared peppers and onions, all wrapped in a (soft but lightly grilled) flour tortilla. Add crisp, shredded lettuce; sour cream; shredded cheese; and avocado. Don’t get me started!
Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes: JUST enough cracker crumbs and mayonnaise to hold it all together, then a pinch of Old Bay Seasoning and panko crumbs on just the top and bottom to make a nice crisp crust. No one seems to want to make a great crab cake anymore. They all want to add fillers and make money with the word crab. If I were a crab, I’d sue.
Warm, Freshly Fried Corn Tortilla Chips with Homemade Salsa (and extra cilantro): I could, and sometimes do, make a meal out of this.
Great Bread with GREAT butter: Give me a loaf of sourdough bread, and I can pretty much destroy a stick of Plugra or Kerry Gold Irish Butter.
You may find it interesting that a grilled steak, a hamburger, and Italian food didn’t make my top 12. Not even lobster (which generally, I find to be overrated).
As for Italian, lasagna was an honorable mention (as long as it’s paired with some fresh garlic bread).
Everyone has a list of things he or she could enjoy eating every day. What are some of yours?