Stella's Favorite Recipes of 2018

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

Working at Serious Eats, I’m never left wondering what’s for dinner; with a steady stream of new recipes out each week, the real question is how many of them can I fit into my routine. This year was no exception, and kept me covered from breakfast through dinner and dessert. Here are some of my favorites:

How to Make a Japanese Breakfast

Overhead shot of Japanese breakfast: rice, pickle plate, natto, nori, tofu, soy sauce decanter, soy sauce, eggplant, miso soup, salted salmon on wooden table.

For most of my life, my breakfast preferences have leaned toward the sweet: cinnamon rolls, biscuits with butter and molasses, toast and jam, or a colorful pile of kid's cereal. But living in Japan converted me to the glory of a savory start. For me, that most often meant miso soup, a sliver of shiozake, or salted salmon, some pickles, and a steaming bowl of rice.

As Sho explains, his version of shake isn't quite what you find in Japan—but it's wonderful in a pinch, especially for those of us who live outside major metro areas, where this style of salted salmon may be readily available for purchase at a Japanese market.

Get the recipe for shiozake or read about the process and testing »

Homemade Ramen Noodles

Four nests of homemade ramen noodles

As a fan of all things made from scratch, Sho's recipe for homemade ramen noodles landed right in my wheelhouse. For me, it's less about the pursuit of perfection (I'm not particularly ramen obsessed) than it is the pleasure of making something by hand. I find working the dough, cutting the noodles, and boiling them up all to be an immensely satisfying process, and, at least for me, the results are better than the dried noodles available in my hometown.

Get the recipe for homemade ramen noodles or read about the process and testing »

Tori Paitan Ramen

Bowl of miso chicken paitan ramen

As I mentioned above, I'm not super obsessed with ramen—in part because I'm allergic to pork, necessitating my avoidance of ramen's more famous constituent parts: tonkotsu broth and chashu. Of course, tonkotsu isn't the only ramen style, so I was grateful that Sho brought creamy, chicken-centric tori paitan ramen to the table so I could finally start obsessing over slurping noodles with everyone else.

Get the recipe for miso tori paitan ramen or read about the process and testing »

Made from Scratch Japanese Curry Rice

Japanese curry rice

When I lived in Japan, kare raisu was one of my go-tos for surviving on a shoestring budget, and even now, I've got a soft spot for boxed curry from the Vermont and Golden Curry brands. So when I found a full pot of Daniel's Japanese-style curry in the test kitchen, I had to make a pot of rice and dig in. I was immediately smitten with the made-from-scratch spice blend that paid homage to commercial blends while harnessing the fresh flavors of homemade.

Get the recipe for Japanese curry rice or read about the process and testing »

Vegan Italian-American Lasagna

vegan lasagna

My brother went vegan this year, so when it was my turn to host a family supper, I wanted to show my support by making something everyone would love (vegan or not). The recipe brought a lot of interesting concepts together, including the use of cauliflower's curd-y texture to mimic ricotta, in a lasagna that was at once classic and hearty. We all enjoyed it tremendously as-is, and it's become a favorite springboard for variations at home, as well.

Get the recipe for vegan Italian-American lasagna or read about the process and testing »

Risotto al Salto

risotto al salto

I make risotto fairly often at home, so I'm no stranger to making risotto cakes with the leftovers, but I usually make them as little fritters rather than one giant cake. This technique simplified my usual method, since I didn't need to individually shape and flip all the baby cakes, and made the dish easier to serve for a crowd—with a thick, crispy crust along the bottom.

Get the recipe for risotto al salto or read about the process and testing »

Riselotes al Salto

Leftover corn risotto pancake with elotes topping of cilantro, spicy mayo, and cotija cheese on a plate.

On the heels of my newfound risotto al salto obsession, Sohla's elotes-inspired risotto al salto mash-up recipe brought everything I love about the recipe (namely, a vegetarian entrée that transforms leftovers into crispy, crusty rice) to a new and extremely corny format.

Get the recipe for riselotes al salto or read about the process and testing »

Flank Steak with Peaches and Dandelion Greens

pan-seared flank steak with dandelion and peach

Maybe it's because I'm from the south, but peaches and dandelion greens are some of my favorite seasonal treats, so the idea of combining them won me over from the start. What's more, Sohla really presents it as a template more than a recipe, and it's one I've returned to again and again with different combos of protein, fruit, and greens.

Get the recipe for flank steak with peaches and dandelion greens or read about the process and testing »

Spanakopita

Spanikopita on serving plate.

I'm not a particularly great cook, so my favorite dinners to make are what I call "secret pastries." Things like chicken pot pie, fresh pasta or ramen, tamales, and the like—recipes that give me the comfort of working with some sort of dough.

While the dough in question with Sohla's spanakopita may be store-bought, that's fine by me (and yes, I have tried it homemade). The hearty mix of greens and salty feta is exactly what I'm craving after a day of sugary sweets, and I love the sneak addition of trahanas to thicken and bolster the filling. Plus, the leftovers make a phenomenal breakfast option, as well.

Get the recipe for spanakopita or read about the process and testing »

Chili Crisp

Jar of homemade chili crisp with a spoonful being removed

I never thought I'd tackle a copycat recipe this involved (and savory at that!), but having tasted Sohla's homemade chili crisp at the office, I knew I had to make it for myself. And once I did, I appreciated its generous one-quart yield because it's so extraordinary you'll want to eat it with everything.

Get the recipe for chili crisp or read about the process and testing »

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

vegan chocolate chip cookies

Of my own recipes, I'm most proud of having conquered vegan chocolate chip cookies that can go toe-to-toe with butter- and egg-based recipes. It took some tinkering and testing, to be sure, but the combination of an oat slurry to stand in for the egg and malt powder to replace the browned notes of butter, it's one I'm happy to take to parties without describing it as anything other than a really great cookie.

Get the recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies or read about the process and testing »