As it turns out, 2014 was a big year – one of our biggest yet. We bought our first house. I re-joined my old company. We are due to have our first baby in March. In between these big events was a string of meals. Although not always homemade (hellooooo Trader Joe’s Chicken Burritos), they brought us back to the table. Here are some of my photos of what I cooked in 2014.
Nekisa Davis’ Olive Oil and Maple Granola (link to recipe)
Nigella Lawson’s Cottage Cheese Pancakes (link to recipe)
Pasta with Green Peans and Potatoes with Pesto from New York Times (link to recipe)
I don’t remember what this recipe was, but it was some sort of smothered cabbage in tomato sauce.
Roast Chicken Thighs with Rosemary and Lemon – no particular recipe
Potato Frittata – no particular recipe
I know. I’ve gushed about (almost) every recipe posted here. And I’m about to do it again. The cause of most of this is that I’ve been pretty selective with the recipes I cook from this book, with limited time and energy. I go straight for the ones work with our lifestyle and palate, the ones that are out to please. And boy, does this one please.
This is Ms. Hesser’s very own recipe, one she concocted as an antidote to the rich restaurant food she was enjoying during her time as a New York Times dining critic. Yes, that’s one good reason to start roasting some beets for this soup this very minute. But there are others, and I’ll name a few: 1) It can be enjoyed any time of year — just vary its serving temperature depending on it. 2) It’s cheap. Beats, onions, ginger, stock, and a few other embellishments. 3) Easy. Roasting and peeling the beets is the only onerous task here. The rest is as hard as throwing things in a pot, simmering, and blending. 4) Delicious.
Recipe on page 150
I’m surprised I haven’t posted this one sooner. I make it a lot.
The book calls it Farfalle Al Porri e Salsicce, and Ms. Hesser nicely translates that for us as Farfalle with Leeks and Sausage Sauce. I don’t know how the word ‘sauce’ made its way into the recipe name. Besides the ‘sauce’ not being at all saucy (at least for me anyway), ‘sausage sauce’ sounds odd. Doesn’t it? But I’m getting off topic.
This dish. I make it often because we always have the ingredients on hand. And it’s good. A few fat links of sausage, a leek, a handful of peas and parmesan, and even more pasta. What’s not to love? I use frozen peas but I imagine fresh, blanched peas would be delicious — especially this time of year. The ‘sauce’ is faintly sweet and very subtle so choose your sausage wisely. I just use a regular pork sausage — you don’t want anything too overpowering here.
It comes together fairly quickly too, the ‘sauce’ being prepared in one pan (hey, maybe that’s why it’s called sauce!). The pasta, after being boiled, gets tossed with the remaining ingredients — ok, the sauce. I concede.
Recipe on page 329
Let’s call this one Miss Popular. In the introduction to the recipe, Ms. Hesser notes that this recipe is both the most often published and the most requested recipe in the Times archives. Most. Requested. Recipe. In. The. Times. Archives. That this was even calculated is fantastic alone.
The introduction to this recipe is two times as long as the recipe itself, and it speaks directly to its simplicity (and historical significance). The batter is simple (flour, eggs, sugar, butter), which affords much opportunity to improvise once you’ve made the standard recipe. Toy with the sugar amounts, use different fruits, swap the cinnamon for cardamom, etc. I’ve made it with blueberries, as suggested in the book, with equal success. But I do prefer the plums.
Miss Popular delivers. Besides her ability to store well in freezer, the jammy pockets of plum that land in every other forkful are delightful. Make sure your plums are ripe enough that you don’t have to tear out the pits. Not only is that no fun, they’ll be too tart.
This one is a delight. Have fun.
Recipe on page 763
These fat wedges of avocado and beet, slicked with their snappy, sweet vinaigrette, could make me swoon for days. We don’t have enough ways to consume beets around here, being beet people, and this happily filled the gap. The fullness of the avocado cuts into the beet’s sweetness, and the citrus zest in the vinaigrette makes the marriage of beet and avocado even more happy.
As do many salads, this goes great with a roast chicken for dinner, or a toasted piece of whole grain bread for lunch.
Recipe on page 193
Even though my lighting makes it look like a tie-die print, it happens to be a very nice carrot fennel soup. It also happens to be the perfect weekend lunch before dinner out. Light and satisfying. The recipe calls for a good amount of orange juice, but each time I’ve made this (it’s been many) I halve the amount. The carrots are sweet enough, so next time I might leave it out all together and just add orange zest.
It’s a fairly standard procedure, sauteeing the sliced fennel bulb in butter, adding the sliced carrots and garlic shortly afterwards. Simmer in water (I’ve used chicken stock) and orange juice for about 20 minutes and then either puree or roughly mash with the back of a wooden spoon. Add requisite dollop of sour cream. So right on so many levels.
Recipe on page 151
I’d like to say the reason only half of the cake is showing is for composition. Truth is, half of the cake was still stuck in the pan. (I was too light on the butter and flour during pan preparation, I suppose.)
But all that doesn’t matter because the cake tastes good. Even while forking it out of said pan. And even if it’s name contains ‘Dump-It’. So good, in fact, my un-sweet-toothed husband nearly lick his plate clean. That’s high praise. I discovered this cake just before my husband’s birthday, and it was convenient that Ms. Hesser described it has her family’s go-to birthday cake.
On top of being delicious, it’s simple and the ingredients are likely already in your kitchen. The batter comes together in one saucepan, adding ingredient after ingredient. The icing recipe deserves a post in itself. A 1:1 ratio of melted bittersweet chocolate chips and sour cream, it’s perfectly sweet and tangy.
One of the best recipes I’ve come across in this book yet.
Recipe on page 781