Rather than write the deeply personal and introspective synopsis of what the past year has meant to me and what changes I intend to employ to make 2009 a more personally fulfulling year, I figured I’d duck all the moosh and make note of what my top ten posts were this past year (based on number of visits). Figuring this may not be the fairest measure of success (since I got a bit better at marketing my posts as time went on), I will try and share some related older posts where relevant.
10. Childhood Dessert - An ode to my grandmother and the platz kuchen she often made for me. I love it now as much as I ever did.
9. Thanksgiving Recap - The dishes that I made for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. We tried salting our turkey this time, and I swear to you, it is the most flavorful turkey I’ve ever eaten (I’m praising the technique and the recipe, not hyper-extending my arm patting myself on the back).
8. Chocolate Mousse Pie - One of the fun things I’ve been trying to do is cook food from movies once a month (while I skipped November and December, I intend to resume this month). This recipe, from the movie Waitress, is an exceptionally decadent yet airy chocolate pie masterpiece (in the movie it’s referred to as Falling in Love Chocolate Mousse Pie). Previous installments included Chiles in Walnut Sauce from the book and movie, Like Water for Chocolate (see number 6 below) and Timpano from possibly my favorite food movie of all time, Big Night.
7. Miss Piggy Would Not Be Impressed - For this post, I prepared Fig and Prosciutto Pizza from the Todd English cookbook, The Figs Table. Periodically, I take a cookbook (whether it’s new or one that has sat underutilized on my shelves for months or years), review the book and prepare several recipes and relay to you how they’ve turned out. While ordinarily, I prefer to only write about things I enjoy, my aim with these reviews is to offer up the good with the bad to give would be book-purchasers an informed view. Here are the other two recipes that I prepared from The Figs Table: Gnocchi a la Romana (which I adored) and Cauliflower Soup (which left me rather nonplussed). A full listing of cookbook review posts can be found here.
6. Chiles in Walnut Sauce - As mentioned in number 8 above, I occasionally try to prepare the food featured in the movies I watch. From Like Water for Chocolate, I decided to prepare one of the wedding feast dishes, Chiles in Walnut Sauce (also called Chiles en Nogada). While it was a lot of work, the chiles and their fascinating filling were quite delicious.
5. The Nasty Bits - I personally think this one ranked as high as it did in visitor popularity because of the titular nature of the title. Turns out that this is a book review for Anthony Bourdain’s article anthology, The Nasty Bits. His coarse and catalyzing voice is in full effect in this collection of articles and stories that he had written for various publications in the years since Kitchen Confidential was published. The other book reviews in my collection thus far are The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman and My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme.
4. Homemade Duck Prosciutto - When I found a recipe for curing duck breast effectively creating your own duck prosciutto tucked innocuously in the pages of my Cooking Light magazine, I felt compelled to try it out. After creating an half-baked rig from which to hang my duck breast so it could air-dry and waiting two long weeks, I had a pile of well preserved, thinly sliced, wonderfully ducky prosciutto. I am happy to report that I received the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn from Christmas and cannot wait to embark on my next meat-curing adventure.
3. DIY Peppermint Bark - This is, bar none, my favorite holiday treat. Preparing it is simple and highly satisfying. My next important step, however, is learning to properly temper chocolate so that I might include this in my holiday cookie plates for next year. The only other “candy” type recipe I’ve attempted since this site began is for homemade marshmallows. They were also great fun to make and the results are oh-so-much tastier than plain old storebought marshmallows.
2. Southern Style Cornbread Dressing - The popularity of this post made me grin a little. I’m wholly convinced that there’s a rich tradition of southern moms and grandmas that prepare cornbread dressing for the holidays and nary a one of them use a recipe. After watching my husband’s mother make cornbread dressing several times and after messing around with the proportions myself for a while, I finally came up with a functional version of what she prepares. If nothing else, it provides a good baseline for the would-be southern cook to develop their own southern style cornbread dressing.
1. Bacon Brownies - I truly had no idea that I was jumping on a bandwagon when I made these brownies. My husband Sean and I had tried the Vosges bacon chocolate bar a few times and really enjoyed it each time, so I felt it made sense to apply that principle to a brownie. Turns out, there’s sort of an insane bacon-mania going on this year (alarm clocks that produce bacon, bacon martinis, baconnaise - it’s a little unsettling actually). By a very wide margin, this was my most popular post in 2008.