Foodie Courtney McBroom isn’t afraid to pour herself a glass of wine, throw on a record, grab a big old Japanese kitchen knife and start chopping. This is especially amazing because most people don’t even own a Japanese kitchen knife, much less possess the confidence to wield one after a glass of rosé. But Courtney knows her way around the kitchen and doesn’t overthink the cooking process too much. After all, she says, “cooking’s not really that difficult, if you think it tastes good, then it tastes good!” Easy for her to say… Courtney is a classically trained pastry chef that says she went to the school of hard knocks to learn savory cooking. She landed a job at New York’s beloved Momofuku Milk Bar where she worked as culinary director and co-writer of both Milk Bar cookbooks. (The second one hasn’t come out yet, but she assures us it will be awesome!) These days she writes about food for Vice and Lucky Peach and spends her days traveling — and eating — all over the world, doing research for her next big thing. Even though she has lived on both coasts, this native Texan still counts Tex-Mex as one of her favorite foods. You know what they say, you can take the girl out of Texas… but you can’t take the queso from the girl. Here are some of the other favorites Courtney always has on hand:
1. Kewpie Mayonnaise — This Japanese mayonnaise is the best. It is the only mayo I use…unless I’m feeling saucy and decide to make my own.
2. Fish sauce — A little bit of this goes a long way, but it’s a great secret ingredient in salad dressing, aioli, sauces and about a million other things. It adds saltiness and depth, and when used correctly, doesn’t overpower anything with a fishy flavor. I especially like the Red Boat brand.
3. Farmer’s Market Schedule — I’ve been spending much more time in LA lately, and I don’t have the market times and locations memorized yet, so I like to keep a written schedule handy for reference.
4. Parmigiano Reggiano — I always, always have a hunk stashed in my fridge. It’s like salt, only it’s cheese, so it’s better!
5. Chili Peppers — I love spice, and I love experimenting with different flavor profiles of peppers. My dream one day is to visit the spice market in Marrakech.
6. Big Ice Cube Tray — I love those ice cube trays that make huge cubes. They are so great and a huge cube really classes up a cocktail. The idea behind the big cube is it takes forever to melt, so it doesn’t water down drinks as quickly as say, lots of small cubes.
7. Amaro — I’ve been drinking an ungodly amount of Amaro lately, especially Nardini. I pour it over the aforementioned huge cube with an orange twist…a perfect after dinner digestif!
8. Lemons & Limes — They are pretty ubiquitous in the food world…a touch of acid from fresh citrus goes a long way to brighten a dish and it will usually make the difference between an okay dish and an amazing one that people talk about for years to come. Limes are also a key ingredient in margaritas, so they are doubly important to have on hand at all times.
9. Vintage Cookbooks — I love to collect them. Some recipes are hilarious and the idea of actually making and eating them seem horrifying, like Shrimp Sandwich Log, anyone? But there are always a few gems in the mix. It’s a way of looking back in time and seeing how our grandparents and great grandparents ate – it’s fascinating. When I travel, I often go to used bookstores and bee-line straight for the cookbook section. My current favorite is called A Taste of Texas by Jane Trahey. I found it at Omnivore Books in San Francisco, which is by far the coolest bookstore because they only sell cookbooks!