12 Inspiring Home Cooks Tell Us the Recipe They Made Most in 2020

published Dec 19, 2020
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As 2020 — a year when many people were cooking more than ever before — finally comes to a close, we reached out to some of the cooks who most inspire us to see what recipes they turned to over (and over) again over the past 10 months. Here’s what they had to say; make room in your 2021 menu for perfect chocolate cookies, tomato and egg drop soup, and hazelnut flan!

1. Rajma Chawal

“Rajma, a North Indian kidney bean curry flavored with warming spices that I grew up eating. For many North Indians, rajma chawal (chawal means rice) is a go-to comfort food. The most popular way of serving the dish is with rice or chapati, but I also love to put these beans into tacos too. I find the best version of this dish is made with dried kidney beans (I use my Instant Pot) because the cooking liquid adds a really nice creaminess to the dish without having to add any ghee or cream.” — Chitra Agrawal, Owner of Brooklyn Delhi and cookbook author

Get the recipe: Rajma, Warming Kidney Bean Curry from Brooklyn Delhi

2. Farro e Pepe

“After discovering Samin Nosrat’s farro e pepe recipe a couple weeks into quarantine, it became my go-to dish throughout the year. It initially stuck out because farro is my all-time favorite grain and most of us already have the five ingredients (that’s including salt, pepper, and water) on hand! And it could not be easier to make: The Pecorino paste (made by blending cold water, cracked pepper, and finely grated Pecorino Romano) is simply mixed with the cooked warm, nutty farro. The paste seamlessly melts, coating the grains of chewy farro and creating a delicious side dish that’s hearty enough to be its own meal. As a bonus, by swapping out the pasta for farro, I can pretend it’s a completely healthy meal and alleviate the usual guilt I have after eating four large bowls of pasta in one sitting. It’s these small wins that are getting me through this year.”— Trent Pheifer, blogger making his way through all of Ina Garten’s recipes

Get the recipe: Farro e Pepe from The New York Times

3. Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

“A warm chocolate chip cookie, with crisp edges and a soft, chewy middle, is my idea of comfort, and the recipe for perfect chocolate chip cookies, published by Cook’s Illustrated, is one of my favorites. Browning the butter instead of creaming it with sugar is what gives these cookies the rich taste of toffee. I like to whip up a batch on weekends, roll the dough in parchment paper, and tuck the dough in the freezer. I simply slice and bake off a few to restore my weary soul when I travel on book tour, or anytime I need a sweet taste of home.” — Toni Tipton-Martin, Editor-in-Chief of Cook’s Country by America’s Test Kitchen, and cookbook author  

Get the recipe: Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies from Cook’s Illustrated

4. Soup Ribollita

“In August, September, and October, I hauled over 70 pounds of farm fresh tomatoes from Chinatown to my friend, who has been sheltering in place. She used some of the tomatoes to make ribollita soup for me. It was so outrageously good I started cooking the soup. I think one reason it was outstanding is Barbara replaced the canned tomatoes with my ripe tomatoes. Also instead of a small wedge of Parmesan with rind, which is what the Bon Appétit recipe called for, she used several Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds. I am still loving ribollita, which is truly one of the best vegetarian soups, but I’m missing the taste of those ripe summer tomatoes.” — Grace Young, producer of Coronavirus: Chinatown Stories and cookbook author

Get the recipe: Soup Ribollita from Bon Appétit

5. Tacos

“My go-to dish in 2020 was tacos. Tacos are one of my favorite foods in general, but they’re also a great way to transform leftovers. As someone who doesn’t really enjoy leftovers, I have learned that finessing them into a taco allows me to enjoy them as a whole new dish. It’s also gotten me into the habit of always having a Mason jar of pickled red onions on hand, and now they go on everything.” — Holly Haines, recipe developer and author

Get a recipe: Smoked Veggie Tacos from Holly Haines

Credit: Jenny Dorsey

6. Braised Taro and Pork Riblets

“I’ve been making this recipe for braised taro and pork riblets nonstop because it’s such a versatile dish that feels satisfying for lunch, dinner, and even breakfast if you’re a savory breakfast type of person (like me!). You can make it into a stew, or you can even debone the pork, shred it, and use the taro-plus-pork to make a filling for steamed buns or fried tofu puffs.” — Jenny Dorsey, chef, writer, activist, and founder of Studio ATAO

Get the recipe: Braised Taro and Pork Riblets from Jenny Dorsey

7. Air Fryer Basque Cheesecake

“I bought an air fryer as my birthday gift after watching countless YouTube videos a few months ago, and it’s not an understatement that my air fryer has saved me during the pandemic. I truly had no idea that a kitchen gadget could bring so much happiness and joy into my life. And, one recipe that made me the happiest was this air fryer Basque cheesecake — which I’ve made at least three times so far, and I plan to put it into my monthly (or weekly) treat-yourself dessert rotation. The air fryer beautifully browns the top surface and cooks the cheesecake, and once you chill the cake (preferably overnight) you get this incredibly ooey, gooey, melty texture with all those cheesy, creamy, and sweet flavors.” James Park, Social Media Manager at Eater

Get the recipe: Air Fryer Japanese Pandan Basque Burnt Cheesecake from What to Cook Today

8. Matzoh Brei

“The one thing I’ve made more than anything else this year is matzoh brei. It’s one of the only things my mom cooked when I was growing up, so it taps into that early childhood thing for me, plus it is made with pantry staples (eggs, butter, matzoh), comes together very quickly, is a versatile canvas (it’s as good plain as it is with sugar or jam or maple syrup, and my wife often makes it savory with cheddar cheese and ketchup and that’s amazing, too). It’s just the most comforting thing to eat.” Julia Turshen, cookbook author, podcast host, and founder of Equity at the Table

See how she makes it: Julia Turshen’s Quarantine with Matzoh Brei and Homemade Ricotta from GrubStreet

9. Hazelnut Flan

“I make the hazelnut flan probably once or twice a month. I grew up eating a lot of flan/caramel custard and I find the process of making it very calming. I can’t be aggressive while whisking or it will become “bubbly” in texture so it forces me to take a step back, breathe, and calm down.” Nik Sharma, cookbook author, photographer, and writer

10. Garlic Lime Shrimp

“I’m constantly developing recipes and experimenting in the kitchen for my job and on my social media channels, so it’s actually rare that I cook the same thing over and over again. Back in August, though, I relocated to the Florida Keys, and I’ve been basking in all the fresh seafood glory ever since. At least once a week I’ll stop by the fish market for a pound of Key West pink shrimp, which I’ll quickly sauté and serve in some kind of buttery sauce. My favorite riff on this is my garlic-lime shrimp, which was actually the first thing I cooked in my new house. It has minced Fresno peppers for a slight kick and I’ll usually finish with some fresh parsley or basil, whatever I have on hand. You can serve with rice — or just a loaf of dipping bread and you’ve got dinner in barely 10 minutes!” Shay Spence, Food Editor for People magazine

Get the recipe: Garlic-Lime Shrimp from Shay Spence

11. Tomato and Egg Drop Soup

“During quarantine, I was homesick and nostalgic so I spent a lot of time diving deep into my Vietnamese roots and cooked a lot of family recipes. One recipe I frequented is a tomato and egg drop soup. It’s a simple homestyle recipe that can be pulled together in a pinch. My grandmother used to make this soup for my sisters and I while we were growing up in Texas. I think about her every time I make it. I like to have my soup over fresh steaming white rice — it’s like a hug from home.” Tyna Hoang, food stylist

Get the recipe: Tomato and Egg Drop Soup from Tyna Hoang

Credit: Terri Glanger

12. Bistec a la Mexicana

“This year, one of the dishes I made the most was bistec a la Mexicana (steak Mexican-style). Sometimes it’s the simplest recipes that give you the most comfort during trying times, and that was definitely the case for me with this dish. What’s great about it is that you don’t need to use an expensive cut of beef, since the flavors of the meat will be elevated by the rich, succulent tomato sauce. It’s because of that sauce that I like to serve this meal with some warm, crusty French bread!” — Mely Martínez, blogger and cookbook author

Get the recipe: Bistec a la Mexicana