Friday, December 26, 2014

Best of 2014: 14 Original Recipes

Ramen Noodle Pork Tacos
Ramen Noodle Pork Tacos

The recipes on my blog are a mix of those I've adapted from other sources and originals that I've come up with on my own. They both serve an important purpose: the former allow me to learn from others and share things that I like and the latter allow me to be creative. As I pick up more techniques and expose myself to more ingredients, I find it easier to be creative. There's a foundation that I know will result in success for what I set out to achieve. At least that's the plan, and thankfully it seems to work most of the time.

I combed through my original recipes to find these 14 original recipes that I think were my most creative and interesting for the year.

Salmon Soba Noodle Soup. This year, especially during the first half of the year, I made an effort to try more Asian cooking, particularly Japanese, since it's been so hot lately (especially ramen). With this simple soup, I was attempting something new with dashi, the umami-rich Japanese broth made with bonita (dried smoked fish flakes) and kombu (dried seaweed). Since dashi, soba noodles and salmon all cook quickly, this is a wonderful soup for a winter weeknight.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce. I count this as an "original" recipe, because I don't follow anyone's recipe for making this. It's something I've made for years based on how my mom did it when I was a kid. So chances are you've probably had spaghetti like this at some point. That said, I absolutely love this spaghetti. It's a favorite in our household.

Cauliflower, Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto. This wonderful spring vegetable risotto had the unlikeliest of beginnings: it was inspired by a Twitter typo and subsequent back-and-forth tweets between me, Washington Post Food editor Joe Yonan and my neighborhood farmers market, New Morning Farm. Just goes to show that you never know where you'll find inspiration for the next great dish.

Ultimate Club Sandwich. When it comes to a traditional sandwich, the club is king. It's also highly customizable. For this "ultimate" take, I thought about what ingredients would go into the ideal club: quality toasted bread, smoked turkey, roasted tomatoes, thick smoky bacon, spicy mayo, avocado and cheese. Hungry yet?

Mac & Cheese Fondue Bake. Ever since the cronut crossed a croissant and doughnut, food "mashups" have been all the rage. I attempted a few fun ones this year, including this mac & cheese casserole, which crosses the classic childhood comfort food with the flavors of grown-up Swiss cheese fondue.

Ramen Noodle Pork Tacos (pictured at top). This was my peak of my creative endeavors this year, a tongue-in-cheek recipe, that's actually quite tasty, mashing up the current fever for ramen with the fever for street tacos into one delicious dish.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake. The components of this dish are not original--the cake and mousse recipes come from other sources (including my friend Jason's blog, The Aubergine Chef)--but I'm including it here because the idea to combine the two was mine, inspired by a birthday cake I made for myself over 25 years ago.

Chickpea "Potato" Salad. It's like the classic picnic potato salad but make with canned chickpeas, which significantly cuts down on prep time, and nonfat Greek yogurt, which cuts the calories over the mayonnaise-dressed version.

Bacon Barley Kale Corn Mushroom Soup. The name is a bit of a mouthful, but I could think of no better way to describe this easy soup that combines so many wonderful summer flavors.

Peas 3-Ways Risotto. I made a lot of risotto this year and I won't apologize for it. The Italian grain dish is the perfect vehicle for showcasing a multitude of fresh vegetables available in the spring and summer. This version is all about peas, incorporating sugar snap peas, shelled English peas and pea shoots.

Triple Smoky Apple & Blue Cheese Crostini. The combination of smoked blue cheese, smoked sea salt and chipotle chili powder make this lovely apple-based appetizer "triple smoky."

Moroccan-Spiced Meat Loaf. Northern African flavors were an inspiration for me this year and this meatloaf, which came out of a chat I had over Twitter one night with Cathy "Mrs. Wheelbarrow" Barrow, was my favorite expression of them.

Southwestern Fall Grain Bowl with Turkey, Squash, Pecans and Sage. All the best flavors of fall are wrapped into this hearty grain bowl with a Southwestern twist. It's another dish that ideal for a weeknight (or as lunch the next day).

Judith's Mole Cookies. I love mole sauce, the spicy Mexican sauce of nuts, chiles, raisins, chocolate and spices that comes in many combinations. This year, I started using the sauce for other purposes, like brining a Thanksgiving turkey breast. I also tried turning the ingredients into a cookie, which worked rather well. These cookies were a crossover with my husband's Dallas Decoder blog, representing the character Judith Ryland in our imaginary third annual Dallas Holiday Bakeoff.

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