In the article accompanying my recipes in Bon Appetit of June 1991, I said “Unless a new recipe I try is really fantastic, after I prepare it once, I throw it out- there are just so many to try!”
This still holds true, although I tend to hang onto recipes that are good and throw away the failures. I rarely get back to the ones that were good, but not great. There are just so many to try and so little time. So here are the recipes from 2020, that I will definitely be trying again.
Best Appetizer: Corn Dip
This easy and delicious appetizer was such a major hit at one of our Bar-B-Que dinners, I taught Lauren and Emma how to make it to serve for Christmas Eve Dinner at the Guilford Family. My little secret is to add a little jalapeno juice from the pickled jalapenos to amp up the heat. Serve with Tostitos.
Best Cocktail: Orange Crush
After tasting this refreshing drink in Maryland and Delaware on our Road Trip, I made it at home. It was easy, delicious and full of Vitamin C; perfect for keeping away all forms of virus.
Best Entree: Coquilles St.-Jacques
While I was quarantining down in Key Largo, Zeke was whipping up gourmet meals at home for Rachel. When I complained that I never got that treatment, he treated me to this delicious, rich dish by Ina Garten, redolent with cream and cognac. This bread-crumb topped dish is even better because it can be made ahead and popped into the oven for 20 minutes. With a green salad and some white wine, it was perfect.
Best Healthy Entree: Chicken with Basil-Anchovy Butter and Shishito Peppers
I love chicken any way, but this easy, one pan chicken dish from Eating Well magazine, uses chicken thighs (my favorite) and with the basil anchovy butter and shishito peppers, hits all the right notes of herby, salty, spicy and delicious. Serve with rice, couscous or another grain to soak up the yummy sauce.
Best Vegetarian Dish: Drunken Noodles
This Food and Wine recipe sticks in my memory as fast and tasty. If you substitute the chicken stock with vegetarian (and skip the oyster sauce) it’s vegetarian. Unfortunately, I usually find store-bought vegetarian broth has a weird taste, so used chicken. I didn’t have a Thai bird chili, so added more jalapeno and added some sake to the sauce.
Best New York Times Food Section Recipe: Crab Toast by Gabrielle Hamilton
I learned about Gabrielle Hamilton, owner of Prune restaurant in New York, when our book club read her book Blood, Bones and Butter, so was excited to see she was writing for the New York Times food section. This recipe, made with Stone Crab claw meat, was so delicious and unctuous, it definitely stands out in my memory.
Best Sandwich: Julia Child’s Tuna Salad Sandwich
My go-to comfort food, especially for lunch, is soup and a sandwich and this tuna fish sandwich was my absolute favorite of all the sandwiches I ate last year. There’s nothing weird or funky about this recipe (unless you think capers are weird), it’s just simple and delicious. In 2020, all I wanted was comfort and this sandwich hit the spot.
Best Bread: Yeast Rolls
After many failed Sour Dough attempts, I loved making these easy Yeast Rolls. Yeast is so much easier than sour dough and these rolls, which we ate a couple times on our one and only road trip last year, are delicious! I would definitely make them again.
Best Food Project: Homemade Ricotta
This recipe, from Ina’s cookbook How Easy is That? was easy, fun to make and far superior to the store-bought version. Served on a cracker with salami, yum!
Runner Up: Two Ingredient Pizza Dough
This recipe came in handy when a lack of yeast was a problem.
Best Salad: Hillstone’s Thai Steak Salad
Salad isn’t the ultimate comfort food, but sometimes after too much indulging in 2020, I craved a healthy alternative. With leftover steak, an abundance of mangoes and fresh herbs, this salad I made for myself in the Keys, was a delicious dinner.
Best Fast Food Recreation: Dole Pineapple Whip
Disney released their recipe for this frozen dessert, served by the Enchanted Tiki Birds in Disneyworld. If I couldn’t get to Disney with Wyatt last year, at least I got a taste of Disney with this easy and kind of healthy (only one scoop of ice cream!) dessert.
Runner Up: Egg McMuffin
McDonald’s released their recipe for the Egg McMuffin last year and I tried it. It was good, but let’s face it, an Egg McMuffin is only a short drive away.
Best Pasta Dish: Lemon Ricotta Ravioli with Caviar
In 2020 I ate A LOT of pasta. I disregarded my normal rule of only eating it once a week (usually on Sunday) and ate pasta any time I darned pleased. Ravioli was the easy, complete meal option and with so many varieties, never got boring. This dish represents all the ravioli I ate last year, but this Lemon Ricotta Ravioli, in a butter, lemon sauce, topped with really good caviar, stands out as being special and delicious.
Best Science Experiment: Miracle Crunch
This recipe, also from the New York Times, was very cool to make. When you added the baking soda to the caramel, the mixture bubbled up like a backyard volcano experiment. In addition, its crunchiness and peanuty taste, made it a Science Experiment winner.
Favorite Christmas Cookie: Peanut Butter Blossoms
I tried a twist on my thumbprint cookies (Honey-Roasted Peanut Thumbprints), tried a twist on my Mom’s Butterballs (Toasted Almond Snowballs), but the cookie everyone kept reaching for were the classic Peanut Butter Blossoms, made with Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix and crowned with Hershey’s kisses, place in the middle by my grandwon Wyatt.
Most of the recipes for these dishes are listed on former Foodie in Miami blog posts. The others are easily found online.
In conclusion, 2020 wasn’t the time to try funky stuff. It wasn’t time for twists on the tried and true. It was the time for making those recipes I knew and loved; pasta, bread, soups and sandwiches ruled for me. Probably my favorite taste from last year (after the Pandemic turned our lives upside down) was when I dipped a hunk of crusty Italian bread into my grandmother’s pasta sauce. It tasted like my childhood, it tasted like comfort, it tasted like home. Which is exactly what we all needed in the strangest and scariest year in my memory.