I've just spent a long time perusing our site, trying to compile just a few of my favorite posts of 2009. In doing so, I've taken peeks at several different continents, numerous countries, and ingredients of all varieties. And surprisingly, considering my cheesemonger leanings, none of them are cheese-related, all thanks to the diversity of our editors' interests.
Pictured posts are in bold.
- I literally printed out Mary Gorman's Holiday Party Wines: $10 and Less From Trader Joe's after I received a gift certificate to Trader Joe's. Her picks have yet to disappoint.
- Sara Kate's She Taught Me About Mayonnaise & That's No Small Thing discussed not only one of the more painstaking condiments to make by hand, but also the impact that a special person can have on your relationship to food and tradition.
- Always the prolific inspiration, here's another Sara Kate post: her recipe for Herbed Ice Cream, which I tried with thyme and black pepper. A simple recipe for ice cream — a basic custard base — but infused with herbs. It's a great recipe to highlight what can happen when you marry savory and sweet.
- Joanna's introduction to the Beer and Ice Cream Float makes perfect sense to the tastebuds, yet I'd never thought to do it before her posting. Genius!
- I particularly appreciated a few ingredient spotlights: Elizabeth's profile on lovage in Do You Know this Herb? pulled a bit at the heartstrings. It's one of my favorites — try heating a few sprigs in simple syrup and adding a bit of the infused syrup to prosecco for a really simple cocktail. I loved seeing it among the pages of The Kitchn. And I was equally happy to see Emily's Saba Ingredient Spotlight. It's one of my very favorite ingredients to use — especially with cheese, my focus at the Kitchn, and now I have a great page to link to whenever I reference this versatile — if slightly obscure — ingredient.
- Nora Maynard and I share not only a first name, but also, apparently, similar taste in cocktails. Unfortunately, I don't have quite the ambition for making tea-infused spirits, as she does in this recipe for an Earl Grey MarTEAni. If there's ever any kind of Earl Grey cocktail on a list, I look no further. In this creation, she tackles the challenge of making one at home, and with her success, offers a bit of encouragement to try it yourself, too.
- While infusing spirits with tea didn't make it onto my "To Do" list this year, I did start brewing Kombucha for the first time a few months ago. After a gift of the culture (or scoby) from a friend, I was kind of at a loss as to how to proceed. I got a ton of information from this post on How to Make Your Own Kombucha. Now, I'm pretty inundated with the stuff. Maybe Nora M. can come up with a cocktail to help me put it to alternative use?
- A post by Emily Ho on Making Horchata was great. I'm a HUGE horchata fan, but had never really read anything about the impact that different rice varieties have on the drink's flavor. I've never made it at home, either — is this a recurring theme in my favorite posts of 2009? All of our writers are just that inspiring, or ambitious, I guess!
- One thing I did make for the first time this year was Dukkah, thanks partly to this post on the Egyptian Spice Mix. Pretty amazing stuff, this combination of spices and nuts, almost transcendent (pardon the enthusiasm). Two words: TRY IT. It's one of the best new things I've made in awhile, and one of my favorite things for entertaining, since you can make it in advance. It's great with good bread and nice olive oil, used as a dip, or sprinkled atop roasted vegetables like squash and cauliflower. A pretty great primer on the topic was covered pretty recently, in another of my favorite posts, How To Roast Any Vegetable.
- Leave it to Faith to highlight one of my very favorite things: Israeli Couscous. Some inspiring ideas and different methods of cooking this great pasta. If you haven't tried it yet, there's no better time than... next year!
Happy 2009, everyone, but more importantly, here's to an even better 2010!
(Images: See linked posts for full image credits.)