Tips & Techniques

The Top 10 Genius Recipes of 2015 (+ the Ones I'm Hunting in 2016)

January  1, 2016

Behold! These are the ten Genius Recipes you all (and we all) loved the most in 2015. There aren't too many surprises here—chewy-crisp chocolate chip cookies that happen to be vegan, magically creamy scrambled eggs, and three kinds of chicken (two of them cooked in milk, you smart creatures!). I didn't see the pickle brine mushrooms coming, but I'm sure glad they're here.

Thank you to the generous souls—community members and friends—who sent in these recipes.

Now, I'm thinking ahead to 2016. Below are 16 of my favorite food holy grails, and I haven't stumbled across a genius one yet. I'm counting on you! (And if there's something else you're on the hunt for, let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to make it happen.)

  1. Lasagna
  2. Sourdough bread
  3. Cinnamon rolls
  4. Something with artichokes
  5. Matzo ball soup
  6. Quiche!
  7. Pecan pie, low on the goo
  8. Pho
  9. Coffee cake, preferably with a crumb topping
  10. Baba ghanoush
  11. Chicken pot pie!
  12. Risotto
  13. Something with sweet potatoes
  14. Juicy chicken breasts (you people seem to like chicken, and I've failed you on this front)
  15. Zucchini bread
  16. Super-flavorful minestrone

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

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71 Comments

hplcman December 20, 2017
The best thing to do is open a can of chicken of the sea and mix that in with some Kraft Mac-n-cheese! If I'm feeling really adventurous I'll throw in some cooked frozen peas. HEAVEN IN A BOWL!
 
SandyToes February 19, 2016
Tyler Florence changed the way I cook mashed potatoes. In his recipe for Grainy Mustard Mashed Potatoes, he gently boils the potatoes in Milk and Cream, for the creamiest mashed potatoes ever. Sheer Genius! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/grainy-mustard-mashed-potatoes-recipe.html
 
MplsCitified February 4, 2016
Cooks Illustrated Vegetable Lasagna is the best lasagna I have every had - at home, in restaurants, meat or otherwise. The vegetables are perfect and it is so rich and packed with umami, you don't miss the meat at all. https://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/6688-vegetable-lasagna
 
Heidi R. February 4, 2016
Thanks so much for posting this . . .can't wait to try this!
 
Michelle D. January 20, 2016
The very best cinnamon bun recipe (which was included in the 150 Best American Recipes book) is the Cinnamon Buns from Heaven recipe originally printed in the Oregonian newspaper. I make them all the time. Perfection. http://www.wiveswithknives.net/2014/06/03/nickis-cinnamon-buns-from-heaven/
 
Sarah J. January 20, 2016
Dear God please grant us a Genius banana bread.
 
Jacquelinef January 10, 2016
Ed Giobbi's lasagna is by far the best I've ever eaten or made. Saucy, luxurious and so different than all the stiff serious lasagnas out there.
 
Heidi R. January 10, 2016
Could you provide a link to the specific lasagna recipe? I know he's got several books out there . . . <br /><br />Many thanks!!<br /><br />H
 
scott.finkelstein.5 January 7, 2016
The "genius" trick for pot pie is that there's no reason to cook the chicken beforehand. It should be perfectly done (and likely moist) by the time the crust is done.<br /><br />For kneidle soup, and all chicken soups, render the skin and fat of the chicken you plan to use in the bottom of the pot, draw off most of the smaltz for other uses, and leave in (most of) the gribenes to contribute a nicely browned flavour.<br /><br />I'd like to see someone explore quiche's German roots.
 
hplcman December 20, 2017
I especially like to add gnaches to my smaltz! Throw about a handful or two of (exceedingly fresh) gnashes and maybe a a couple skins off of 3 or 4 hog chuckles for flavor. DELICIOUS!!!
 
mainecook61 January 6, 2016
David Tanis's Velvet Chicken Breasts with Mustard Sauce , over at the Times site. Uses the Chinese technique of velveting. Delicious.<br />http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016908-velvet-chicken-breast-with-mustard-sauce
 
Laura January 6, 2016
I make a quiche with a brown rice crust. Healthier than pastry, but still very good. My kids of many ages even like it enough to ask for it! In fact, we have "traditional Halloween quiche" at my house!
 
Maggie January 5, 2016
Best coffee cake ever is my Mom's Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Muffin Cake - tastes like pure childhood comfort.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. January 4, 2016
Thank you again for all your thoughts here and in email—I'm floored by all the responses. I wish I could have you all on the line anytime I get a hankering for a new Genius. (Penne alla vodka anyone?)
 
Heidi R. January 4, 2016
Re: Penne alla vodka - YES, PLEASE!!<br /><br />I just made this for the first time (from the NYT cookbook), but that gave me a hankering to find the perfect recipe for the dish.
 
Dawn January 4, 2016
Please consider a genius vegetarian pho recipe, or one that can be easily adapted. Thanks!
 
Janet B. January 4, 2016
Marie Frank....there is a box to check or uncheck in the new comments area....it says "send me emails about new comments....uncheck that and you should be all good!
 
Megan January 3, 2016
The best thing to do with sweet potatoes is chop & boil them, hash them in a little olive oil, then top with a friend egg. I like to add sharp cheddar cheese and crushed red pepper.
 
Bevi January 3, 2016
This is not on your list of items to find, but I think the Silver Palate Chicken Marbella recipe deserves a look. It's a recipe that makes cooks who prepare it feel like geniuses.
 
SophieL January 4, 2016
America's Test Kitchen did a revamp of this classic recipe a couple of years ago. It's pretty good, but there are more cooking steps than Silver Palate's.
 
Deanna B. January 5, 2016
It was written about in the heirloom recipes column. Thanks for reminding me I need to make it! http://food52.com/blog/14430-the-chicken-i-make-when-i-won-t-go-home
 
Marie F. January 3, 2016
I don't have another comment, but I can't get rid of the e-mails!
 
Kevin January 3, 2016
Looking for recipe for the pumpernickel bread I had as a kid in Queens, NY. Like a regular loaf of bread with an onion-laced "lumpy" crust, that was so rich, my mouth still waters even 45yrs later. Sadly, the baker died without leaving his recipe. I've eaten loaves that taste quite similar, but none have reproduced THAT crust!
 
Elanor January 3, 2016
Coffee cake with crumb topping - you will not need to eat for several days afterward, but this is the best we've found: <br />http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/New-York-Style-Crumb-Cake-358217
 
homecookin January 3, 2016
This sourdough I make weekly in a 3 baguette pan or 2 loaf pans is fantastic and very simple http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/19830/36-hours-sourdough-baguette-everything-i-know-one-bread . <br />I would love the recipe for the ubiquitous Teriyaki dipping/pouring sauce made at the local Bento Box.
 
AntoniaJames January 3, 2016
Re Pecan Pie: I've made at least one a year for the three decades plus since I met my husband. Often 2. He hews toward the traditional ooey-gooey, having his roots deep in the South, but this year, a bit to my surprise, he admitted that this caramel pecan tart -- not too sweet and stuffed with pecans -- was as good as the old New Orleans style pie I usually make: https://food52.com/recipes/24671-candied-pecan-tart I added a handful of shaved dark chocolate before putting in the filling. Certainly not traditional, but to my mind, tradition should be cast aside when it is no longer appealing. ;o)