Sharing recipes for the holiday treats I made seems to detract from their mystique, particularly when I’m giving them as gifts, so you probably won't be seeing separate entries on them anytime soon, but here’s a rundown.
- My mother’s spritz recipe—absolutely the best I’ve ever tasted, puts all others to shame—using the cookie press handed down to me from A’s mom
- Chocolate peanut-butter balls on pretzels—my personal favorite of all the treats I made
- Carole Walter’s coconut-apricot cookies—simply awesome, and my favorite of the non-chocolate treats
- Apple butter—the only canning I did this year; I nearly forgot how fun it is!
- Rosemary roasted cashews—Wanting something more savory to give to the non-sweet-toothed among us, I originally intended to make a ton of different spiced nuts, but ran out of time and settled on just this recipe. It was so easy and delicious that I ended up cranking out four batches and will definitely make them again next Christmas. Or, you know, next week.
- Peppermint bark—I pretty much just made this to go into cookies (see below), but was impressed by how pretty, tasty, and crazy easy it was. Sadly, there was no peppermint extract at the store and I had to go with just regular mint extract instead, which gave the bark a slight wintergreen-gum flavor that kept it from being perfect. I’ll make it again next year with the right flavoring, maybe kicking it up a notch by using dark chocolate as well as white.
- Peppermint bark chocolate cookies—such a great concept, but so-so execution. I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s Peppermint Jo-Jos and wanted to capture that classic chocolate-peppermint combo in a homemade treat, so I was happy to find this recipe. The result was tasty enough to try again, but not the ideal cookie of my dreams; I’d like a darker chocolate cookie with a moister texture (though that might have been my fault; I overbaked them) and more peppermint-bark pieces. I’m wondering if it would be possible to just add peppermint-bark pieces to Carole Walter’s delicious chocolate sugar snaps.
- Cream cheese sugar cookies—I love a good frosted sugar cookie, and when I tasted some at an office cookie exchange last Christmas I immediately snagged the recipe, but I shouldn’t have chosen to make them as a gift, considering it was my first time baking cutout cookies. A and I had a lot of fun making and decorating them together, but they ended up looking as though they were created by demented four-year-olds instead of college-educated thirtysomethings. The cookies seemed thinner and crisper than I remembered, and the icing recipe I selected was an epic fail, turning out so runny that it was really more of a glaze. The homely cookies still tasted delicious (I’ve been working my way though the leftovers in my freezer with increasing enjoyment), but the process was too frustrating and the cookies not interesting or attractive enough to become regular members of my Christmas-cookie rotation.
On to the year-in-review stuff: Last year I chose five best recipes, but this year I’ve made so much good food that I need to expand the list to ten. But I’ve created two separate categories of five each, so technically it’s not cheating!
Bookcook’s Five Best Recipes of 2008: New Standbys (these are the ones I’ve come to rely on and have already made over and over again, occasionally on a near-weekly basis…I’m looking at you, frittata)
- Asian Dumpling Soup
- Roasted Root Vegetables With Sausage
- Monster Cookies
- Zucchini-Potato Frittata
- Stovetop Baked Beans
- TIE: Creamy Lemon Chicken and Roast Chicken With Pears, Shallots, and Leeks
- Pan-Fried Lemon-Ricotta Gnocchi
- DIY Taco Seasoning
- Ranch Dressing
- Dill Pickles
Last year, I listed my favorite food books, but I must have burned out on food reading because this year, none spring to mind. Last year, I also listed a bunch of resolutions, but most of them are still ongoing, so I don’t really feel the need to make more (a few I did actually cross off my list: acquire Dutch oven and kitchen scale, make gnocchi and pickles). In 2009 I’d definitely like to rejoin the CSA (P, the friend I split produce haul with before, got too busy with grad-school classes to cook regularly, but she’s recently expressed an interest in getting back into it) and finish adding photos to all the recipes on this site (except the sad, rejected ones in the Not Favorites category). I do have a huge wishlist of recipes to make and cooking experiments I’d like to try, including homemade yogurt, mayonnaise, ricotta, dumplings, tortillas, pita bread, and popsicles. And I won’t say that a pasta maker or ice-cream maker wouldn’t be nice. But mostly I’m happy with the way things are going here, so I’m just going to keep on keepin’ on. I hope you’ll keep on joining me...and I hope you're hungry!