12.30.15 Wisconsin from Scratch Best of 2015
Another year has flown by, and it’s been quite a year. After last year’s antics, we figured it would be hard to top them in 2015. We were wrong. This year, we co-founded a food blogger collective, spent a couple of weeks living it up (and eating of course) in Puerto Rico, hosted one fantastically over-the-top pig roast, and of course, we had a baby. What a year! Of course, like most years, we also did our fair share of cooking. And let me tell you, we cooked some pretty awesome things in 2015. And so, with 2016 practically upon us, we figured it was time again to share our favorite recipes from the past year. Once again, Forrest and I were faced with the difficult task of selecting our favorite recipes, and I’m happy to report that after much deliberation, we’ve narrowed the list down to the top 15. And so, once again, we bring you the best of the best!
The inspiration for this particular soup is the northern Thai dish known as Khao Soi. This soup is exactly what you need on a chilly day - rich, spicy, coconut red curry broth, chicken, noodles, and loads of toppings (and we know how I feel about toppings). Chicken noodle soup has never looked better.
This dish is a good example of why we should be eating food in bowl form all of the time. You start with a big bowl of rice and Cuban-style black beans and top everything with a generous helping of crispy plantains. And not just any plantains, but sweet and smokey plantains tossed with a sprinkle of ancho chile and spoonful of warm honey. Finish it all with some fresh cilantro, avocado, and a squeeze of lime, and you’ve got yourself some classy black beans and rice.
A favorite on Food52 this year, as well as in our kitchen. This recipe is pretty simple: Roast some chicken and sweet potatoes with chile and spices, cook up some lovely, herbaceous cilantro rice while you roast, and top it all off with a nice dollop of lime-sour cream.
This salad was inspired by those lovely pickled carrots you typically get on a banh mi sandwich. They’re so good, I always find myself wishing for more. The obvious solution was to just make my own, which is really pretty easy. And while a big plate of pickled carrots is probably delicious, adding some cucumbers and peanuts for crunch, a super simple chile lime dressing, and a few fresh herbs makes it into the best carrot salad you’ve ever had.
What better way to showcase peas than in a creamy bowl of risotto? This version really lets the peas shine, incorporating them both in whole form as well as adding some extra springy greenness as a lovely, bright puree with mint and lemon. And of course, you really can't go wrong by topping it all off with crispy prosciutto, tangy feta, and fresh mint.
Strawberries and rhubarb are the perfect pair. One super sweet, one terrifically tart; they balance each other perfectly. When you put them both together, you end up with a wonderful, brilliantly red, sweet-and-sour combo. It’s perfect in many ways, but I find it’s best enjoyed in bar form, sandwiched between sweet buttery layers of crumbly crust.
Besides being delicious and fun to eat, dip can also be dangerous. As in, you start snacking, and before you know it, you look down to find you’ve somehow eaten the entire bowl. Unfortunately, this is a very real danger when it comes to this whipped feta dip.
For those times when a nice, juicy pork chop on the grill seems like just the thing you need. This version is coated in a super simple sweet and smoky spice rub, and grilled to dark golden perfection. And it only gets better when you top them with a big pile of spicy, tangy, pickled greens. A side of fluffy parmesan mashed potatoes is highly recommended.
This winning combination of sweet ripe strawberries, tart balsamic vinegar, and bright lemon thyme is quite tasty, making for one refreshing beverage. And being alcohol-free means there’s no inevitable hangover if you accidently have a few too many. Because with a drink this tasty, that’s a definite possibility.
It’s hard for me to say no to key lime pie in any form, but frozen on a stick seems particularly appealing when the temps are skyrocketing. And I’m pleased to report that these pops taste just like the real deal, with the added benefit of not having to fire up your oven to bake it. Ice cold and refreshingly sour, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect frozen treat.
Bread cheese, or juustoleipa, is perfect for grilling, and after a short time over the coals gets beautifully melty without making a mess. Added atop this salad, along with caramelized, grilled peaches, fresh greens dressed in a basil vinaigrette, and topped off with hazelnuts, it makes for one fantastic, summery dish. Any salad that includes big pieces of warm, melty cheese is my kind of salad.
Delicata squash’s lovely, mellow sweetness is perfection, a perfect compliment to the smoky paprika and chile it spends some quality time roasting with. Some additional sweetness from sweet peppers and red onion rounds everything out, and once layered between crispy tortillas and warm melty cheese, you’re looking at some serious comfort food. Most importantly, this recipe helps to satiate my ever present need for more cheese.
When it comes to fall condiment awesomeness, in my book, this is a clear winner. Packed with flavor from tart apples, tangy vinegar, savory shallots, sweet raisins, and warm spices, it’s somehow supremely satisfying straight out of the jar, terrific on toast, perfect with pork, great on grilled cheese, and honestly, I can’t imagine a fall cheese plate that didn’t include copious amounts of the stuff.
For the record, let me just say that this may be the best cake ever. Bold statement, yes, but hear me out. It’s packed with pumpkin, making it super moist and lovely. It’s perfectly spiced with just the right amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger for a hint of pumpkin spice flavor (without - like most things labeled pumpkin spice these days - being totally over the top). And most importantly, it’s chock full of melty, delicious dark chocolate chips.
By far, the best thing we made all year. Well, obviously.