The best part of working at Serious Eats has to be the near-constant parade of recipes that sound so awesome I can't help but run to the kitchen and try them for myself. That means I don't have to spend too much time wondering what dinner will be, only whether it should come from Daniel, Kenji, or Sohla.
Pressure Cooker Beef Barley Stew
In the olden days, I had to spend hours by the stovetop tending to Daniel's beef barley soup, a labor of love that was never a bother on a lazy Sunday afternoon (it was among my favorite recipes of 2016, so I did make it quite a lot).
This year, Daniel re-invented beef barley soup for the pressure cooker, slashing the active time in half. The result is a silky, full-bodied soup with ridiculously tender chunks of beef and perfectly cooked barley, without the lengthy stove-top cooking phase, so I'm more inclined than ever to throw this dish together on a chilly winter night.
Oven-Dried Grapes (a.k.a. Raisins)
I'm the girl who makes homemade versions of E. L. Fudge Cookies and made-from-scratch Biscoff ice cream, so when Daniel threw down the gauntlet by making his own dang raisins, I knew I had to step up my game. DIY raisins let you mix and match different types of grapes to get just the right blend of sweet and sour, while also controlling the exact level of dehydration.
Oven-dried grapes brought so much more texture to my favorite rice pudding and took my rum raisin ice cream to a whole new level, but most of the time I love just adding them to simple salads and my morning bowl of oats.
Spring Vegetable Salad With Poached Egg and Crispy Bread Crumbs
Kenji's recipe is basically a laundry-list of everything I want in a dish. Tons of green vegetables? Check. Bright, lemony dressing? Check. Runny poached egg? Check. Bread crumbs so buttery and crisp they taste deep fried? CHECK. It's recipe that's all about letting perfect, seasonal produce truly shine, so it'll be a long while before I can make this crispy spring vegetable salad again, but I am definitely counting down the days.
Tuscan Ribollita With Summer Vegetables
This is another hyper-seasonal recipe I can't wait to revisit, a simple soup that starts with a foundation of onions, leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic. From there, I can basically clear out my farmer's market haul, loading it up with summer squash and greens, plus big cubes of stale bread (something bakers like myself will always have to contend with). This summery ribollita convinced me that I didn't have to resign hearty stews to my fall and winter menus alone.
Cheeseless Sweet Potato Quesadillas
I loved this recipe on principle from the get-go because a) sweet potatoes are awesome; b) quesadillas are awesome; and c) and d), triangles taste better. Happily, the reality didn't let me down—mashed sweet potatoes make a gooey, flavorful, and super-filling...filling for quesadillas. For me, it's a recipe that's as tasty as it is practical; while my cheese drawer may not always be filled with the right cheese for quesadillas, I can always count on a sweet potato or two lurking around (hey, I'm from the South). So purists, cover your ears, cos I think sweet potato quesadillas are here to stay.
One of the best parts of this past year was welcoming Sohla El-Waylly to the Serious Eats team. Between her background in the restaurant industry to her unabashed love for kitchen tweezers, she's got the chops to tackle everything from tater tot casserole to cuñapes.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, this GIF is a bodice-ripper, an epic tale of seduction and desire. In the realm of recipe development, Sohla did some heavy lifting in testing plain versus fermented tapioca starch, chopped versus shredded cheese, and immediate versus delayed baking to develop the most satisfying possible recipe for cuñapes.
Chaat Chex Mix
Earlier this year, Sohla broke down the basics of chaat, explaining the key herbs, spices, and techniques used in these classic, East Asian snacks—including chaat Chex mix with made from scratch chaat masala. It's exactly the sort of salty, spicy, crunchy snack I love to keep on hand when I need a quick bite of something to counteract all the sugar in my life.
I feared that launching my cookbook would keep me from making any real culinary breakthroughs this year but, contrary to my own expectations, I had quite a few exciting recipe developments in 2017. First and foremost, this was the year that I, a Kentucky native, tackled a bagel recipe that got the Serious Eats seal of approval from both Ed and Kenji—a pair of notorious bagel snobs. Even better, my so-called magic bagels stay fresh for a few days, so you don't have to worry about making and eating them all in one go.
Eggless Chocolate Mousse
I never set out to develop a recipe for an eggless chocolate mousse, but that's what I stumbled into while trying to make a chocolatey version of my sweetened condensed milk. Having only ever made mousse the traditional way, with whipped eggs and melted chocolate, I was surprised at how the lack of yolks made the chocolate flavor seem all the more intense. The recipe also has some major make-ahead perks, allowing the bulk of the work to be done up to a week in advance.
I've struggled with granola for most of my career, trying every trick in the book to get those coveted clusters. Egg whites, caramel syrup, weighted trays, jam, you name it. But even when the granola does get nice and clumpy, it's often painfully hard, crunchy enough to shred the roof of your mouth like a spoonful of dry Captain Crunch. Unexpectedly, the solution was an ingredient I'd had in my kitchen all along—buttermilk.
In granola, it provides enough moisture and acidity to truly hydrate and tenderize the oats, as well as express enough of their starch to form natural clusters. As the oatmeal bakes, the oats steam themselves as the buttermilk cooks off, turning porous and crisp. So far as I'm concerned, buttermilk granola is a culinary miracle, the light and crispy breakfast I'd been seeking all along.