Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 10 Best Things I Made in 2010

Leaving a year behind can mean a whole new start, new resolutions, shaking off the old bad habits and acquiring new ones (bad and good!). Not so with food. When a good recipe enters my repertoire, it bears repeating and improving.

It wouldn't be New Year's Eve without a top ten list, and like other food bloggers I've assembled my Top 10 Best Things I Made in 2010. Some of these I made for the first time in 2010, some are old favorites that were presented to other people for the first time in 2010. Some I've written about here and some I just never got around to writing about or never had pictures for. In any case, they are memorable and sure to be repeated in 2011 and beyond.

10. Silken Comfort Tofu

I thought about writing about this tofu dish many times. It is warm, spicy, sweet and nutty. It is truly a representation of its name of silken comfort. It's not the tasteless tofu that many people fear. It is a treat, and since someone else wrote about it before me, I'll just refer you to that blog.

9. Raspberry Ribbon Shortbread
A simple shortbread with raspberry jam baked onto it is the perfect Christmas cookie. (See recipe below)

8. Roasted Potatoes from Cook's Illustrated

The trick, my friend, is to parboil the potatoes first, then toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, before roasting them. This gives them a crisp exterior, creamy interior, and great flavor and color.

7. Haitian Chicken Puffs

These make a great appetizer. They are spicy and savory and anything with puff pastry is bound to be a success.

6. Miso Butter

I just made this a few weeks ago and waxed effusively about it. I can't imagine making steak without miso butter now.

5. Winter Cabbage Salad

I've got to throw a salad in here, and this is the best one of the year, edging out a nice Thanksgiving spinach and pear salad, a mushroom, fennel and parmigiano-reggiano layered salad, a frisee, ham and egg salad with dijon dressing, and any kind of salad with avocados.

4. New York Style Crumb Cake

You will look for excuses to make this crumb cake. Suddenly you'll be throwing tea parties and showers, even though you're a celebrated hermit. You'll volunteer to bring in the cake for the office potluck and the 4th of July picnic. You'll invite yourself to your neighbor's annual summer luau and claim the cake is a Hawaiian staple. It's that good.

3. Chicken and Dumplings

This is the real thing. Boiling a whole chicken to make your own stock, gravy, and topping it off with dumplings is comforting and makes your feel a little like Martha Stewart or a settler of the old west or something.

2. Bacon Shrimp and Grits

I wrote about how decadent this recipe was, but it's also great because once you've made it you don't really need the recipe anymore. What could be easier than chopped onions and garlic, butter and olive oil, grits, bacon, and shrimp cooked in bacon fat?

1. Double Chocolate Mocha Brownies

Dense and chocolaty, they are my favorite kind of brownie. There was a time when I never made brownies from scratch. They always came from a box and they were perfectly acceptable. But let me remind you that desserts are a lot of calories and perfectly acceptable is not good enough. They need to be AMAZING. And these are.

Here's wishing for a 2011 with as many great new finds and rediscovering old favorites, in food, friends, and life. Cheers!

Raspberry Ribbon Shortbread
Yield: 4 dozen bars


½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

½ cup vegetable shortening

½ cup powdered sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour

¼ tsp salt

½ cup seedless raspberry jam for filling (stir until smooth in a small bowl)

Beat butter, shortening, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla in mixer bowl at medium speed until light and fluffy. With mixer on low speed, add salt and flour. Beat just until blended. Divide dough into four equal parts and flatten each slightly into a disk. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for a least 2 hours until firm or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, shape each disk of dough into a 12 inch long “rope” then flatten to 5/8 inch thick and about 2 inches wide. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches or so apart. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, press a ¼ inch deep groove along the center of each rope.

Bake 12 minutes. Remove from oven and gently press grooves down again using spoon handle. Fill each groove carefully with jam. Return to oven and bake 8-10 minutes more until firm and light golden brown at edges. Remove pan from oven.

Let cool 10 minutes on pan, then gently cut into ¾ - 1 inch wide slices. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

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