The Year is Dead, Long Live the Year
Is it just me, or does it seems like it’s been ages since the last winter Olympics? Trying to remember watching the U.S. curling team choke until they finally benched Shuster is like trying to remember a dream. But at the same time, it feels like only yesterday that I was trying to figure out why artichokes make everything else taste sweet or cursing the marshmallow fluff I was trying to shape into Peeps before it turned into one big marshmallow in the shape of a piping bag. How can we possibly be knocking on 2011’s door?
There should be a word for this sense of time simultaneously collapsing and expanding and the slightly dizzy feeling of trying to look backwards and forwards at the same time. The first time I remember feeling it was about a week before my family went to Disney World when I was seven or eight. I was sitting in the passenger seat of our sedan and watching the minutes tick by as I waited for my mom to finish an errand or something. I was itchy with anticipation about the trip and amazed at how slowly time could pass, but I also had this sort of flash of realization that in almost no time at all, we’d be packing and getting on the plane and that everything would be a warm, colorful, exciting blur, and then we’d be home again. That while the minutes now seemed endless, in what would seem like the blink of an eye, I’d be back in that car, watching time crawl again as my memories of Disney World began to fade away.
End of year retrospectives always seem like a futile attempt to hold on to what will not stay. Or maybe they’re a way of paring an unwieldy mass down to something that can be cupped in one hand. But I thought in lieu of a better indexing system, this might serve as a reference for anyone who wants to revisit an old post or who started reading regularly midway through the year and might be curious about what they missed.
I’ve divided the Year in Review into two parts: recipes and non-recipes. I apparently posted 69 recipes in the last year, although many of them were clustered two or three to a post. I’ve unclustered them, shoved them into some typical cookbook categories, and briefly annotated them below. Also, since 69 is kind of a lot, I singled out the ones I liked best—these are recipes I make habitually, the ones I know by heart, the ones I can’t wait to make again next year:
#10 Spiced Nuts, #9 Buttermilk Biscuits and Vegetarian Gravy, #8 Crusty Multigrain Bread, #7 Sour Cherry Pie, #6 Turkey & Leek Risotto with Homemade Turkey Stock, #5 Taffy Apple Cream Dip, #4 Lemon and Herb Chicken Drumsticks, #3 Whole-wheat Bagels, #2 Alain’s Winter Squash Soup with Homemade Croutons
And the #1 Recipe of 2010 is….
#1 Morel "Risotto" with Israeli Couscous
2010 Recipes: The Complete Index
Appetizers & Snacks
Spicy Cheese Straws—Fancypants homemade cheez-its.
Spiced Nuts (#10 favorite of 2010)—I made these last Christmas to put in gift baskets and serve at our annual New Year’s Eve party. I hadn’t planned on making them this year because no one seemed especially excited about them, but then Brian came home with 4 lbs of nuts and started following me around the house making pathetic faces and whimpering sounds. Then, I forgot to pack them so we had to buy another pound of nuts when we got to his mother’s house because apparently without them, it just wouldn’t be Christmas. In addition to nibbling, they’re great on salads with pear, blue cheese, and a mustard vinaigrette.
Artichoke & Roasted Garlic Chick Pea Dip—A delicious hummus with artichokes, rosemary, and cayenne.
Whole artichokes with butter—How to prep, cook, and eat the inimitable artichoke.
Popcorn chickpeas—Almost as fun to eat as they are to watch fly around the kitchen.
Benedictines—Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches based on a recipe from the classic Louisville restaurant Benedict’s.
Pimento Cheese—A fantastic sandwich spread or vegetable dip made with homemade mayonnaise, cheese, and pimentos.
Kale Chips (or Chard or Kohlrabi Tops)—Bitter greens baked to a crisp, salty, addictive snack. Best coated with a little nutritional yeast and chili powder, too.
Curried Squash Fritters—Deep-fried zucchini shreds in a spiced chickpea batter.
Deviled Eggs with Saffron Aioli—Not clear that the saffron made any difference, except perhaps enhancing the yellowness of the yolk mixture. Still good, just not that different from normal deviled eggs.
Taffy Apple Cream Dip (#5 favorite of 2010)—A brown-sugar and cream cheese dip lightened with whipped cream stabilized with corn starch. It’s airy enough for berries but substantial enough for slices of tart apple.
Alain’s Winter Squash Soup (#2 favorite of 2010)—A simple, silky pumpkin or butternut squash soup—probably the recipe I use most often. Vegan-optional.
Cream of Nettle Soup—A classic roux-based cream soup full of nourishing spring weeds.
Fresh Tomato Soup—Classic or creamy, trounces Campbells even though I’m a fan of the can. Vegan-optional.
Jook (Chicken and Rice Porridge)—A savory, healing porridge made with rice cooked in bone broth until it begins to fall apart and an examination of the science behind cross-cultural beliefs about the healing power of chicken soup.
Polenta with Cinnamon-Orange Prune Compote—A comforting porridge with a citrusy dried fruit topping. Vegan.
Buckwheat Crepes—I filled some of them with fresh ricotta & cinnamon-apples and the rest with soft-scrambled eggs and cheese.
Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce—A true anytime dish: savory and satisfying enough for dinner, but quick and easy enough for breakfast.
Buttermilk Biscuits and Vegetarian Gravy (#9 favorite of 2010)—Milk gravy flavored with crumbled shallots, vegetable bouillon, black pepper, and nutritional yeast with cracker crumbs for texture. Honestly, I prefer it to meat gravies.
Morel "Risotto" with Israeli Couscous (#1 favorite of 2010)—A rich showcase for morels with shallots and parmeggiano reggiano (# above)
Lemon and Herb Chicken Drumsticks (#4 favorite of 2010)—Best on the grill, but also good in the oven, though you might want to use a rack to help keep the skin crisp. I have it on good report that this also works well with chicken thighs. Think classic roast chicken, but quicker and something you can scale up and make for a crowd.
Pork Chops with Cider Reduction and Greens—Because pork loves apples. Turns out the mustard-cider reduction also makes a good salad dressing, combined with a little mayonnaise, cider vinegar, and neutral oil.
Turkey and Leek Risotto (#6 favorite of 2010)—Homemade turkey stock from the leftover Thanksgiving bird shines in this simple, but amazingly rich and savory risotto. The bones and meat on a leftover roast chicken would probably be almost as good.
Yeast Breads (all work with sourdough starter or active dry yeast)
Crusty Multigrain Loaves (#8 favorite of 2010)—An adaptation of the Jim Leahy/New York Times no-knead bread recipe using sourdough starter if you have it (active dry yeast if you don’t) and a pizza stone + water for steam instead of a covered baking dish. That allows you to make the loaves any shape you want and slash them for more even rising rather than being confined to the rustic, round boule.
No-knead pizza dough—An effortless dough with a hint of olive oil flavor, no kneading required—make in advance and have pizza for dinner with less than 20 min. of active cooking time
Whole-wheat Bagels (#3 favorite of 2010)—Boiling makes them chewy. Malt extract makes them “authentic.” Topping them with things like fried shallots and coarse salt makes them delicious.
Challah—A soft, sweet, decadent loaf of bread that makes a beautiful braided loaf, a perfectly soft sandwich bread and great burger or sausage buns.
English Muffins—Griddled buns that pull apart to reveal lots of nooks & crannies.
Baguettes, regular or whole wheat—The classic long, skinny, crusty loaf originally from Austria, but popularized by France.
American Pumpernickel—Classic deli rye with a laundry list of ingredients including cocoa powder, caraway, instant coffee, and molasses to create an almost-black bread.
Sandwich Bread—A reliable basic recipe for a standard loaf with a soft crust and even crumb. I like it with honey and oats and about half whole wheat flour.
Soft Pull-Apart Wheat Rolls—A buttery, slightly-sweet dough similar to challah, scaled up to produce 30 perfect dinner rolls. The rolls are risen and baked in two 9×13 pans so they form two continuous sheets. The reduced surface area means you can make them up to three days in advance and they’ll still stay soft and fresh—just pull them apart right before serving, or let people pull them apart at the table.
Cheddar-Garlic Biscuits—Very buttery and awfully similar to ones you get at Red Lobster. As my friend Kevin discovered—these do not work well with whole wheat flour.
Neglected Pear Bread—A pear & almond quick bread, ideal for bruised, overripe pears
see also: Biscuits & Gravy under “Main Dishes”
Vegetables & Sides
Rutabaga Purée—A whole stick of butter made this more like a condiment than a side dish. Since then, I’ve cut the butter by half, so it’s still decadent but a little less overwhelming.
Kohlrabi and Summer Squash with Almonds—A simple sautéed vegetable side—the almonds make the dish.
Swiss Chard Gratin—Swiss chard, stems and all, baked in a cheesy sauce with bread crumbs on top. Decadent.
Summer Squash Fritters—Shredded zucchini bound with a little egg and flour—easy and delicious. Also works as a vegetarian main dish or sandwich filling.
Fried Green Tomatoes—Egg to bind, cornmeal for crunch.
Fresh Green Bean Casserole—Steamed fresh green beans baked in a thick, homemade mushroom cream soup with crunchy fried shallots on top.
See also: the Whole Steamed Artichokes under “Appetizers”
Dressings, Garnishes, & Building Blocks
Sourdough Starter—Flour + water + time = a yeast creature you can call your own
Homemade Croutons (#2 favorite of 2010)—A great way to use up stale bread, also way better than store-bought
Homemade “Ricotta"—Fresh cheese, starting with milk instead of whey
Candied Orange Zest—Extra pretty when twisted around toothpicks to dry
Candied Basil—Whole basil leaves, crystallized with a simple syrup and more sugar to coat.
Ranch “Raita”—A buttermilk crema flavored with onion, dill, and msg or nutritional yeast.
Spiced Tomato Jam—Sweet-savory refrigerator jam. Great with a strong cheese like an aged cheddar or gouda.
Chili-yogurt sauce—A spicy, tangy yogurt dressing with only four ingredients.
American Buttercream—Less sugar, and more butter is the key to making a simple, uncooked buttercream that isn’t overly sweet.
Turkey Stock—A bone broth so rich it sets up solid in the fridge, slow-simmered in the oven for up to 18 hours.
Pouring Custard—Basically, unfrozen ice cream, also known as “crème anglaise.”
Admiral’s Punch—Like a bowl full of sidecar, but with cognac, not brandy
Jell-O Jiggler Shots—A little more booze and a little more gelatin = cocktail-strength shots you can hold in your hand. Bonus, instructions on how to make crazy layered designs.
Fresh Tomato Juice—Intense tomato flavor fresh from the garden.
Mulled Wine or Cider Pouches—Whole spices and brown sugar wrapped up in cheese cloth for single-servings or whole jugs of mulled wine or cider.
Apple-Berry Crumble—A little lemon juice and some dried mixed berries perk up even non-baking apples.
Tofu Clafoutis with Spiced Plums—A thick, custardy pancake studded with spiced, roasted plums. Vegan.
Flourless Chocolate-Orange Cake—Rich, dark chocolate paired with sunny citrus, best the day after it’s made.
Sour Cherry Pie (#7 favorite of 2010)—Tart cherries make a pie filling entirely unlike the canned version—the perfect foil for a buttery crust and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Cookies & Bars
Austrian Shortbread Fingers—Buttery dough, frozen and grated into the pan around a layer of fruit preserves, any flavor you like, or make multiple flavors in one pan
Tomato Shortbread Squares—Just like lemon bars, but with tomato instead. Shockingly good
Green Tomato Mincemeat Bars—A vegetarian mincemeat-filled bar cookie. Rich and boozy, not for everyone.
Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Sugar Cookies—Thick, puffy, not-too-sweet cookies, perfect for Christmas decorating.
The Momofuku Compost Cookie—A cookie with sweet and salty snacks in the style of the New York Times “perfect chocolate chip cookie.”
Matzoh Toffee—The cracker base makes these super easy even without a candy thermometer
Peppermint Bark—A layer of rich peppermint-flavored dark chocolate ganache sandwiched between two layers of tempered white chocolate topped with crushed peppermint
Homemade Peeps and Chocolate-covered Marshmallow Eggs—Shaped marshmallows, flavored with traditional vanilla, or cinnamon, almond, and/or orange. Mutant rabbit-chick- snail-beasts dusted in colored sugar and vaguely oblong lumps dipped in chocolate.
Buckeyes, aka Peanut Butter Bon-Bons—A confection with a political history.
Chocolate-covered buttercreams—I made non-traditional flavors, aside from some classic peppermint patties, but any thing you can infuse, extract, concentrate, or preserve will work.