Reviewing the past year of Crispy Cook posts (now nearing the four year anniversary) I thought I would highlight a few favorites, mine and yours, before turning the page, so to speak, in this New Year.
There was a post featuring a Kale Soup recipe from a 100 year old native of the Azores, passed on to me by a bookseller buddy in California. This heirloom recipe was spectacularly tasty and makes a hearty winter entree. I made my version with soy-based chorizo, so it was a vegetarian and gluten-free version. Mmmm. Gotta make that again this month.
I also made two awesome eggplant recipes this year to celebrate the rarity of a whopping garden harvest of these luscious vegetables: Fried Eggplant Salad with Lemon, Shallots and Basil and Eggplant Panini. The latter has become a family favorite, whether made with zucchini or eggplant slices, slathered on pasta or paired up with some slow-roasted plum tomatoes over pasta.
Readers of the Crispy Cook have a different favorite post from 2010, however, and it is my summary of Gluten Free Blogs, which I update and post a couple of times a year. I always keep it updated at the link on the right hand side of this blog, so you can peek at it in between updates here. This list has grown to over 140 GF blogs and there is sure to be some kindred GF spirits out there for any person in need of advice, recipes or menu ideas.
My favorite Gluten Free food find last year was Poha, a flattened rice product from India that cooks up quickly and stays nice and chewy. I also tried cooking with jicama (in a Mexican salad) and squid (in a tomato sauce over pasta) for the first time in 2010 and found both culinary experiments very rewarding. Maybe I could come up with a poha-jicama-calamari dish in the future. Ha.
The best thing I grew in the Crispy kitchen garden (followed closely by a bountiful garlic crop) was the Tiburon pepper. This poblano pepper is a beautiful, glossy dark green and the plants were just enormous and productive. I just gotta remember to wear gloves when preparing them since I got a tingly pepper facial by accident one hot August night.
This past year I had the privilege of guest hosting several wonderful blog events, including Weekend Herb Blogging (3 times), Presto Pasta Nights (twice) and My Legume Love Affair (once). I always learn so much from my fellow bloggers from these events and I thank the hosts and participants for teaching me how to use new foods and recipes to expand our family menu.
I felt that my best written and most interesting post was my take on a Ploughman's Lunch, created in response to reading Nigel Slater's book of essays "Eating for England". This post was my entry for Cook the Books, a bimonthly foodie book club that a couple of blogger friends and I take turns hosting. We love to have new folks join in the fun of reading a book and then blogging up a review and book-inspired dish (or two) (or more). We are currently reading Victoria Abbott Riccardi's "Untangling my Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto", if you would like to check it out.
One of the other wonderful books we read for Cook the Books was Madhur Jaffrey's memoir "Climbing the Mango Trees", and I made her toothsome recipe for Green Beans with Onion Paste several times over the summer using yellow wax beans. That was a wonderful recipe find, as was a recipe for a Portabella, Artichoke and Spinach recipe that I tweaked from the back of the rice lasagna noodle package. That dish was so awesome it was requested for our Christmas dinner.
While I am a somewhat reluctant baker, I do get inspired to get floury sometimes and the best sweet treat that I cooked up in the Crispy Kitchen last year was Basler Brunsli. These naturally gluten-free Swiss holiday cookies have a great combination of nut, clove, chocolate and cherry flavors and they were appreciatively received by friends and family in the several batches I made over the holidays.
I reviewed many wonderful books and cookbooks on the Crispy Cook this past year, but my favorite is one I have turned to many times since my initial review, Vanessa Maltin's "Gloriously Gluten-Free: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian and Mexican Recipes". This cookbook has gotten me out of many meal-planning ruts and we've all really enjoyed cooking up new recipes from her book. Love those Shrimp Tacos!
I had the great good pleasure of meeting Vanessa in person, as well as some of my other favorite Gluten Free bloggers, at the General Mills headquarters in Minneapolis this past November to inform the food giant about how our families eat, shop and cook gluten-free. The expenses-paid hotel and plane trip was an unexpected opportunity (and one which impressed the socks off my kids), and I really had a great time during the blur of the visit trading stories and advice with my fellow bloggers.
Looking forward to uncovering more great gluten-free food finds, playing around with new veggies and herbs in the garden and communicating with you all in this New Year! I will be playing around with some recipes for gluten-free dinner rolls in response to your responses to a poll I had up in November about what kinds of recipes you would like to see here on the Crispy Cook and feel free to leave a comment below about anything else you'd like to see me research or write about in 2011.