Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Posts I Cook From: 2010

I have been reading all sorts of round up posts over the last week as bloggers summarized their year in blogging.  Most were a list of the tops posts based on page views or number of comments.  Perhaps I am just more cynical then some but I don't fully trust my statistics or their significance.  I know that largely my most popular pages are the ones that are featured on Foodgawker and Tastespotting.  Comments seem like a more accurate method, although even then it could just be most controversial, heart wrenching, timely, or just the ones with the most visits, or the best photos.

So instead I decided to give you a list of the posts I actually refer when cooking.  As an added bonus this means I know the recipes work as written. These are the posts I actually pull out my computer and cook from, the ones where I have to refer to what I have written to get it right.  Originally I was going to include 2009 as well as I never thought to do this last year.  However the list complied form both years was far longer then I was expecting, so I will save that for a another post.

My CSA has not grown bok choy for the entire time I have been a member (this summer will be our 12th season) so it is not one of the vegetables I am constantly looking for new preparation methods for.  Maybe if we had it more often we would grow tired of this recipe.  So far we all still love it (okay, I admit it, Julian as refused this dish every time I have made it.  So we all still feel the way we did the first time I made this).  The leaves have a concentrated umami, earthy flavor while the stalk is tender and almost melting and juicy.  If our CSA adds bok choy to the rotation I may need to search out other recipes, but for now we are happy.

These crepes have been a regular weekend breakfast for several years now.  Sebastian and Julian would much prefer they were served on the weekdays as well.  If my week day routine allowed for either Lewis or myself to spend the time at the stove making them everybody would be happy.  The recipe is for a true french crepe, taught to me by a lovely french women.  Most of the time we serve them with an array of jams, although I have been known to make chocolate ganache or warm up some Dark Chocolate Caramel Sauce to spread on them.  They also work beautifully with savory fillings.  On the rare occasion there are any left after breakfast I have created delicious dishes just by filling them with leftovers.

The more I make these muffins the more I appreciate them.  Which is a good thing, as they are on the menu for the preschoolers breakfast so I am making large quantities of them once a month.  I have started to use Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream and only 1/4 cup of white flour.  I plan on trying it with all white whole wheat next time.  The first time I made them at work I baked 12 extra for the staff to share.  However they had a little trouble sharing properly, with some people helping themselves to a second muffin before other folks even had one.  I received this e-mail about them recently:

Hi Robin,

I thought you'd be happy to know that this year, as holiday gifts . . . I baked banana bread using your recipe for banana bread muffins. Anna, Tavi and I had a loaf for brunch today and it was delicious. I consider that to be a testament to the recipe more than the chef as I am a strict instructions follower. In fact, I was terrified to see that the bread hadn't cooked through after twenty minutes. Tavi had to talk me down, reminding me that muffins bake through much faster and that I would probably have to wait an hour.



These have not usurped our regular pancakes in our normal breakfast rotation but they sneak in every now and then.  I just made them again yesterday morning and had the inspiration for this post as I pulled out my computer and used my own blog for reference.  They have a heartier taste then a standard pancake with a pronounced sweetness from the banana (or maybe that is the maple syrup I generously pour on top).  They also reheat really well for later enjoyment.  The flavor profile is mostly banana, I know one readers husband was disappointed that the cocoa was not more pronounced

Since I posted these they have quickly become my favorite cookie.  They have a subtle flavor with a pronounced vanilla flavor.  Crisp in a delicate shattering way.  Most of the time I prefer chewy cookies to crisp ones but they are still delicate and tender in their texture.  Plus they have a sweet nutty flavor from the oats that may even convince you they are health food.

When I first created this jam I had a moment of panic that we would never have enough to last the whole winter.  At the rate it was disappearing I was not even sure we would have enough for the summer months.  When friends who live by a Trader Joe's came to visit I requested the California apricots I needed to make more (okay, I may or may not have threatened denying one of my visitors, who is known to spread obscene quantities of jam in any breakfast item, a taste of the new jam if they did not bring some).  We now have a healthy stock pile and I feel confident we have enough to last until spring. However our love for it is still strong.

Tomato Orange Marmalade became a kitchen responsibility the first time I made it.  A preserve my family suddenly needed to have around that could not be found in the store.  Happily it is also one of the canning projects I find the most satisfying.  It bubbles away on the stove for a long time looking nothing like a cohesive preserve.  Instead it looks like a pot full of liquid with random citrus peels floating in it.  Then there is a moment when everything comes together and looks like one thing.  All year long we happily spread it on toast, peanut butter sandwiches and crepes.  It does not taste like tomatoes, instead it has a mellow bright flavor without the usual bitterness of marmalade.  The taste is good enough that when I offered the Burlington Free Press photographer a taste when he was here for an article on canning he could not keep himself from double dipping.  I did think of killing him, but instead I gave him a jar.

I have probably baked more of this recipe then any other I have mentioned here.  After preparing it with the preschoolers I taught folks how to make it in a cooking class.  The following week I added to my tally by baking over 25 of them for the Family Room's Family Supper.  Even when baking it in quantities that involved pouring several quarts of heavy cream and 36 eggs in a large vat some people said it was the best pumpkin pie they have ever had.  Then for Thanksgiving my boys and I baked it with a friend I used to babysit for when he was a baby.  It was his contribution to a pot luck Thanksgiving.  I have also used the crust, without the sugar and cinnamon, on quiche.

This recipe is not one that I have tweaked or played with for several reasons.  The first one is safety, it is safe as written, so I change how spicy it is by swapping hot peppers for mild ones or vice versa, however the basic ratios and amounts all remain the same.  The other reason I don't play with it, putting my own personal flavor profile on its established framework, is it is perfect, as written.  My friend Annie put in all the work finding the right balance and then having it tested for safety.  Now I just receive the compliments.

I just prepared this again the other night using only soy sauce (no Bragg's) and green instead of red cabbage.  I asked Sebastian to take a taste from my plate and he screwed up his face in disgust and then obliged.  He chewed, thought for a minute and began making place on his plate.  "I'll have some of that." Pretty good from someone who does not like cabbage.  However this recipe does not have the bite of raw cabbage or the flavor of most cooked cabbage.  It is darkly rich and savory and one that most people would never think was cabbage.

The only reason not to make this recipe is you have a New Year's resolution not to eat sweets.  I gave some to a neighbor when she was out walking her dog and she told me she ate all of it before she returned home.  I am not usually a fan of white chocolate but this one only serves to make the peppermint smoother and contrast with the other chocolates.  The holiday season may be over but this recipe still deserves to be enjoyed.  If you need an excuse, make it for Valentines day.  Although if you make it now you will need a new batch long before February.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the pumpkin pie recipe. I make it with our kids and it has become a delicious tradition since I was linked to it from Catherine Newman's blog. Not only is it easy for kids, it is the best pumpkin pie that I've tasted, and normally I don't even like it.