Happy New Year 2013

I am hoping for a great 2013! 2012 was a challenging and transitional year, both at work and home. My busy kitchen continues to be the major bright spot in my daily life, having become my greatest source of relaxation over the past few years. Unfortunately, I missed my blogging goal of making every recipe published by Cook’s Illustrated in 2012. Until August I had missed only one recipe (Chilled Tomato Soup). But life’s changes and the beginning of the school year wrought havoc on my ability to blog, reducing my free-time to allow me to only post an average of one recipe per week. Since September, I have missed more recipes than I have made. However, I am beginning the New Year full of hope that the turbulence of 2012 is now behind me and that 2013 will be the great year.

Welcoming in the New Year at midnight

Welcoming in the New Year at midnight

Here are my top 5 recipes from 2012.

  1. Spanish-Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp. When I made this paella in June, I already knew that this would top this year’s list of best recipe. It was that spectacular.
  2. Coq au Vin. For 20 years this dish has been my nemesis. The promise of its rich, luxurious sauce has never been able to overcome the inherent limitations of bland, supermarket chicken. While not perfect, this Coq au Vin is my best attempt yet.
  3. Jamaican Jerk Chicken. I’ve tried a few different recipe for Jerk Chicken, but Chris Kimball has a few secrets to make this the best Jerk Chicken outside of Boston Bay, Jamaica.
  4. Pulled Pork Sandwiches. The best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve made. This recipe was from 1997, but was better than his more recent recipes.
  5. End-of-School-Year Party Pretzels. Adjusted the recipe so that these 3-hour pretzels would be ready by 7am.

Honorable mention, and why they didn’t make the grade:

  1. Carrot Layer Cake. The cake’s picture-perfect appearance made this cake a contender, but the inherent fact that it’s just a carrot cake kept it out of the top five.
  2. Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Dried Cherries and Rosemary Port Pan Sauce. This recipe was a surprisingly easy week-night meal, but the not-quite-perfected sauce kept it out of the top 5.
  3. Broiled Steaks. Based upon taste alone, this was absolutely my third best dinner in 2012. Of course, the technique was solid and allowed the meal to shine. But the dinner was spectacular based upon the beautifully marbled steaks; lesser steaks would have not made this a memorable meal.

6 Responses to Happy New Year 2013

  1. D says:

    Just this past week I made the Carrot Layer Cake and it came out perfectly (I actually found your website searching if anyone had made it). I subbed the currants for golden raisins, however, because I couldn’t find the former. The only thing that could be changed is covering the entire cake with the toasted pecans–this provides for a buttery flavor and crunch that cuts the sweetness of the frosting.

    CI’s recipes have about a 98% success rate from my standpoint but I failed with their Best Vegetarian Chili recipe just the other night. I don’t know if you’ll cook that one but it was quite disappointing with its muddled flavors and lack of heat; it’s hard to believe it was ever rigorously tested.

    Happy cooking.

    • Hi,

      I had planned to make the vegetarian chili, but that was one of the things that fell by the wayside recently. The heat issue is typical for most of Chris Kimball’s recipes (1/4-to-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper), but I was mostly wondering how walnuts, bulgur and a 1/2-oz of shiitake mushrooms were going to make up for beef.

      Thanks for commenting,
      Mark

      • D says:

        When I want vegetarian chili (since I am a vegetarian), I just use CI’s “Simple Beef Chili” and sub the beef for Quorn Grounds, a soy-free/meat-free “beef” product you can find at Smith’s supermarkets. The result is very good. Since I judged the heat and flavor of the “Best Vegetarian Chili” against the former recipe, it tasted sub-par.

        I haven’t had ground beef in a while but I doubt walnuts, bulgur, and mushrooms can live up to what it adds. Perhaps if you used good quality chili powder in place of grinding the chiles and add cayenne and more salt, it might be passable. I’d also forgo the dried beans, too, since I can never get mine out of the crunchy stage.

        But I’d just go for a different recipe! :)

  2. Katie C. says:

    I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff. Isn’t the journey more about having fun than checking off a to-do list?

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