Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten Recipes of 2013

I'm feeling rather at peace with the arrival of 2014. 2013 was eventful, far more so than I anticipated when I rose my glass of champagne into the air to salute its beginning, and it feels ready to be over and done with. At least by my approximation.

A sentimentalist to the core, it's impossible for me not to reminisce, not to think back to the moments that defined this past year -- a fractured finger, a trip to NYC for my 30th birthday (!!!), first dates that were actually followed by subsequent dates, and the *best* nights spent laughing with friends and family over too much wine.

The stories have all been told here, perhaps inappropriately so for a site that is categorized as a "food blog," but the act of cooking has always been deeply personal for me. Something I do to recharge, to find my center, to express how I'm feeling -- even if it is just hungry.

These are the recipes that defined my year. The ones I found myself either making over and over again in my glovebox of a kitchen or ruminating over long after I took the final bite. I hope they in some way inspired you too, the friends and silent readers who have stayed with my through this year and perhaps even the years prior, listening to what I have to say even if it's not very much at all.

Thank you.

And may God bless you in the year that's stretched out ahead of us -- a blank canvas waiting to be scribbled over with fresh recipes and stories. 


Baked Oatmeal via Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day
Even though this recipe has not yet made it's way to this page, in the past few weeks it's made it's way into my morning routine in such a dramatic fashion that I'm having a hard time fathoming my eventual return to stove-top oats. Baked up like a casserole, it's the antithesis of the sticky, sludgy oatmeal I've not only grown accustomed to, but, admittedly, grown rather fond of in the years since its initial introduction. There will be more words on the matter later, but for now, know that very good things happen when you bake oats with cinnamon, bananas, raisins, walnuts, maple syrup, and almond milk. Very very good things. 

Sweet Butternut Squash Coconut Jam
I fell hard for this jam this past November. Head over bread heels hard. Particularly bread heels that have been toasted and smothered with more of this spread than is reasonable for a simple sliced carbohydrate to withstand. Sweet, subtly spiced and aggressively perfumed with tufts of coconut, it's far more than just jam. It's the thing you eat standing barefoot in the kitchen straight from the jar, that you stir into oatmeal, and that you bring to Thanksgiving dinner with no regard for the pies and casseroles you should be bringing in its stead. 

Roasted Root Vegetables with QuinoaThis dish is fall - comforting, yet necessarily nourishing in a season that seems more inclined toward heavy braises and baked goods that subscribe to Julia Child's cooking philosophy. I've eaten it dozens of times in the past few months and am always in awe that simple roasted vegetables can be this good. Without even a pat of butter or splash of cream. 

Egg, Caper Avocado Toast
Last year, I found myself dizzy in love with the simple pleasure of avocado toast, and this year, I upped the ante with a riff on the house-cured salmon toast at local LA gem Sycamore Kitchen. It's quickly become my favorite weekend lunch, cobbled together in the time it takes to hard boil and peel a farm fresh egg.

Homemade Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwiches
This was the product of one of those picture perfect lazy summer weekends that only seem to happen in the movies and on episodes of "The Hills" (may it RIP). Everything seemed momentarily okay, and there was *time* and that time was spent hiking and eating fish tacos in Malibu, and making peach ice cream and homemade cinnamon sugar pecan pop-tarts smashed together into the sandwich of my wildest dreams. I ate it standing over the sink with ice cream dripping down my chin and fingers and arms and all I could think was, "This is what it's all about."  Life, summer and the invention of stretchy pants. 

One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes
This recipe also defined my summer. It was a tough one for me - I was working too much, eating far too much chocolate because I was, well, working too much, and this dish was often the light at the end of that tunnel. I'd whip up a big batch of it on Sundays and eat it for dinner all week, not minding the repetition because I was so grateful to have it ready when I'd arrive home at 9 p.m., blurry-eyed and ravenous. It's the kind of recipe that will age well, not just, you know, in the fridge for a couple days, but down the line, during future summers when tomatoes are everywhere and you want to eat them in everything.  Especially this, and only this, for nights on end. (Though full-disclosure, it can also be made with a can of diced tomatoes in a winter pinch!)

Chickpea Sauté with Greek Yogurt
Of all the kale recipes I made, loved and obsessively ate this year, this one was my favorite. It's the sort of dish that treats vegetables with a different sort of respect than is customary, a respect that can rightly be traced back to Yotam Ottolenghi. While the buzz this year was for his other cookbook, the newer one, this recipe had me bookmarking every other page in his trusty vegetarian offering, Plenty.

Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones
I often use family gatherings and holidays as an excuse to make the baked goods I myself have been lusting after under the guise of "contributing" to the celebration. Sometimes I'm the only one who actually wants the contribution, but in the instance of these pink-streaked scones, prepared for my family's annual Easter brunch, it was a welcome interloper amidst the buttery croissants and blueberry-flecked muffins. I ate two before they'd even cooled to room temperature, and then made them again two days later for a co-worker's birthday. As, you know, a "gift."

The Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich
While my kitchen doesn't often come into contact with the great bacon, cheese and butter trifecta, every now and then a girl needs a serious breakfast sandwich. The kind that greases lips and fingertips, and is all the better because of it. This is that sandwich.

Slow-Cooked Broccoli
If there's a way to make broccoli sexy, this dish would be it. Cooked tortuously slowly amidst a slew of onion and garlic, it transforms from the vegetable you eat because you ought to, into the vegetable you eat because you can't stop. Won't stop. Until the pan is bare and you wonder why you never saw broccoli in this way before.


Lynn @ TheActorsDiet.com said...

I can't wait to try that baked oatmeal recipe - I've been FEELING oatmeal lately. HAPPY NEW YEAR LOVE!

Gastronomer said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR, D! Thanks for making 2013 so special. To more good times!

Diana said...

Lynn - It's amazing! Add more of it this morning... this time with persimmons! Happy New Year to you too! Hope we get to share a few more meals this year!

C - Thank you for being you! Can't wait for more adventures in 2014!