Too Many Cooks: The Best Things We Cooked This Year

December 25, 2015

Happy New Year! This week, we asked the team to reflect on the past year: What was the very best thing you cooked all year—your greatest hit, the thing you haven't been able to stop thinking about since you made it first, the thing you've made every week, the year's most successful recipe? Here's what they said. (Their answers double as a pretty good checklist for 2016, no?)

Megan: I make this broccoli aglio e olio at least once a week (and I make a lot—hello, leftovers!). It's so simple but so, so good. I always crave it after a long day and it never disappoints!

Francesca: I made this pheasant pie last winter from Fergus Henderson's book. It took two days (and several sketchy Lower East Side butchers that would sell me pigs feet), but it was insanely good, and probably better because I knew how much work went in to it. The longer I work on something, the more I love it.

Leslie: Beer can chicken. Not because it was so good (which it was!), but because I still have the scars and saga of a story to show for it.

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Amanda S.: The sauce that happened when Leslie made a drunk beer can chicken (mainly butter, chicken fat, and spices) was one of the best things I've eaten this year and I did help truss that chicken so I'll claim part of making it.

Also my first ever plum torte was epic—though not because of my cooking skills... The recipe is dummy-proof.

Sam: OMG, Amanda, yes, Marian Burros' Plum Torte changed my summer baking game. And perhaps it's too easy, but the Genius Ragu that just went up is definitely the most delicious leftover for days dish that also makes you feel like you can conquer anything.

Jen: This Oven-Roasted Orange Chicken with Fennel from Fool Proof Living. Mmmmm... I love fennel! And, of course, Rotel Dip.

Micki: Probably Jim' Lahey's no-knead pizza (I've made it a gazillion times), and this lavender-lemon-honey chicken, which is amazingly delicious.

(Jen, Leslie and I met the woman that writes Fool Proof Living at the popup. She was so sweet!)

Leandra: One of my husband's favorite meals is biscuits and gravy. He doesn't eat it often because he's very into healthy eating (he is MUCH healthier than me!). Though neither of us are vegan, I thought it would be fun to make The Minimalist Baker's Vegan Biscuits and Gravy for his birthday. WHOA! Vegan or not, these are some of the best and most foolproof biscuits i've ever made (shout-out to Earth Balance!) and with this mushroomy, savory, sage-y gravy, you don't even miss the sausage. I can't stop telling people about it.

Kenzi: The best thing I ATE this year might have been the Brown Butter Butternut Rolls from our brown butter contest. I'll try to sneak cooking them in under the wire for 2015, but I know I'll be dreaming of them well into next year....

Lindsay-Jean: I did not believe that made-ahead mashed potatoes could taste as good as just-made mashed potatoes, but now that I've learned the error of my ways, I might not ever go back.

Riddley: Part biscuit, part cornbread, and all awesome, I can’t stop thinking about this cheddar and black pepper cornbread.

A few weeks ago, I threw a skillet cookie party and it was possibly the best, most low-effort dessert I’ve ever made. Scoops of ice cream went in the center, everyone grabbed spoons, and we went Cookie Monster-level crazy. Also deep-fried French toast sticks make the list because did I mention they’re deep-fried?

Lauren L.: I crave the Kabocha Squash and Curry recipe from the Vegan book. I am making it for my entire family next week because it is the perfect warming, full-flavor-yet-not-too-heavy arrival-night meal.

Connor: Chicken liver paté. Pretty sure I made the New York Times version, with lots of shallots, thyme, and brandy (and butter, obviously). I'd been craving it all throughout my year in China and couldn't find any there that was quite right. I made a pound of it when I got back to the States and am pretty sure I ate at least half of it over the following weeks. No shame.

Sarah: I can't remember what I cooked last week, let alone last month, so maybe my answer doesn't count...but last night I made farro salad from Heidi Swanson's Near and Far. The only thing you have to cook is farro; the rest of the salad is 1 pound of chopped green olives, a whole bunch of chives, a whole bunch of green onions, toasted walnuts, golden raisins, red pepper flakes, honey, olive oil, and lemon juice. I also added a jalapeño because YOLO. Can we still say YOLO in 2016???

Karl: Might have been the taco night with Genius carnitas, Genius guacamole, and jalapeño (yolo) slaw.

Other notables: Yum Dogs and this spice-roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce (different occasions).

By the way, anyone else log their F52 successes in a collection?

What's the best thing you made—or ate—in 2015? Share your successes in the comments!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.