I’ve begun to think about all that has happened in the past ten years since 2010 is looming in a matter of hours, but it’s more than I can grasp in the time it takes for me to write here. Instead, I’ve chosen to review 2009 by sifting through the latter portion of my iPhoto library’s 11,462 shot collection — the majority of which depict food. Most people take photos of their family, their vacations, and pets, and although I do that as well, I also take photos of our food. In fact I take so many photos, I often don’t post them. The reasons for not writing about these particular recipes vary from something as simple as bad lighting or photography, to the most annoying: not being able to remember the recipe.
I haven’t counted, but just a glance at this photo collection provides a good idea of the sheer number of recipes I sampled in 2009, and these are only my outtakes. When I scan them, I remember the time of year, the occasion — if one at all — and the often simple daily events that are our lives. In doing that over the time that it’s taken me to put this together, I’ve been reminded of all the ups and downs we’ve experienced. Some are quite tiny, and others far more challenging.
Time passes, and we move on, hopefully learning from all we’ve experienced — or not.
Happy New Year to you, from me.
Black-Eyed Pea Soup: Underwhelmed with the overall flavor.
Raisin Bran Muffins: Excellent, but just never wrote about them. The recipe is on the back of the Quaker’s Hot Bran Cereal box.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread: Well, look at it. Instead of a swirl, there’s more of a pathetic grimace!
Sherry Yard’s Brown Butter Baumkuchen: I made this for my mother-in-law’s birthday and couldn’t get the layers right. Essentially, it’s a genoise that is poured into a cake pan, baked, another layer poured in and baked, and so on until the layers are achieved. Suffice it to say, I failed miserably.
Chicken Braised in Riesling: This was quite good, but my learning curve in dealing with night photography in a kitchen that has four different types of lights has been more than annoying. I began to experiment with custom white settings, to shoot in RAW, and decided to make a DIY lightbox so I could get the upper hand on less than attractive photos with a yellow cast.
Balsamic Beef Braise: This recipe covers so many food fouls I’m not sure where to begin. It was a completely fabulous recipe, but we were celebrating two birthdays and the combination of night lighting (compare it to the photo next to it) and a party always does me in. Sadly, I am no longer completely sure about where I got the recipe so I can make it again and re-shoot it. Plus, I believe it was something I concocted from several other sources. I’m sure my notes are somewhere, but they may also have been in that enormous pile of recipes I threw out in a momentary lapse of wanting to be more organized. Yes, it was that good.
Chicken Souvlaki Pitas: I made the pita bread, marinated the chicken, tzatziki, and voila — they were great! Shot in natural light…so what was the problem? I just never got around to writing about them. Go figure.
Tangerine Ice Cream with Sesame Brittle: This was a really, really delicious recipe from Gourmet, I think, but none of the photos turned out. I remember shooting over two days and never did achieve whatever it was I was looking for. Too bad, really.
Amish Friendship Bread: My husband brought the starter home from work and because I’d never made it before, I figured I had to do my share. It was quite tasty! I made the batch and more starter and delivered it to my mother and best friend. As much as I enjoyed it, there was no way I could handle keeping that starter going. I can’t remember why I didn’t post it. Perhaps it’s because everyone on the planet except for me has experienced it before.
Simple Bruschetta & Creme Brulee: I remember making a simple Easter meal. None of the recipes were complicated (the bruschetta didn’t have a recipe) and I’d made them all before. The photos didn’t turn out too bad considering we had guests over, and I shot in natural light, so I think these didn’t make the cut because they were basic dishes. I guess I still haven’t learned that everything doesn’t have to be complicated to share it, right?
Mango Sauce: I made this mango sauce for a Daring Baker cheesecake challenge. I made several varieties of cheesecake but was getting ready for a trip to Puerto Vallarta and so posted, but never included the recipe. You guessed it. I’m not sure I remember the exact ingredients, but this photo gives me a start if I want to try and recreate it! Let’s see — mangos, ginger, cardamom, lime juice, butter, and piloncillo….I could fake that.
Yet Another Skillet Frittata: This was one of those clean out the refrigerator meals I didn’t use a recipe for. They’re always good, but I’ve written about frittata before, so maybe that’s why it didn’t make the cut.
Carne Asada Tacos: This was another night shot casualty. Too bad, too, because I was a veritable Little Red Hen on this production rehydrating dried anchos and making a paste of them before rubbing it on flank steak and grilling it. It was fabulous. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to spend that much time on something and then having to deal with bad photography? This photo has been edited to an alarming level just to get it to the poor quality it’s now in.
Ricotta Gnocci: I made this for the first Daring Kitchen challenge and really enjoyed it. Why didn’t I post it? May had quite a few casualties as I returned to work after a two and a half year hiatus and time became quite the precious commodity.
Greek Celebration Bread & Casatiello: These are two of the seven recipes in Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice I made this year. Nicole at Pinch My Salt created the challenge to bake our way through the entire book, and many people joined in and did exactly that. Being the obvious bandwagoner that I am, I jumped right on, and then respectfully fell off. I haven’t given up hope, however, and just may pick up where I left off. Never say die.
Greek Burgers: Grilled, herbed lamb patties, roasted red peppers, tzatziki, and who knows what kind of cheese on grilled crusty rolls. The lamb was a tad on the dry side, but the flavors were fabulous. I just never got around to posting them. Maybe I wasn’t in love with the photos.
Berry Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast: I had left over brioche from the Bread Baker’s Challenge group so decided to create this breakfast dish. Truly fabulous. Mash the berries with the cream cheese and drizzle in enough heavy cream to make it spreadable. There may have been mascarpone it in since I have that in the fridge more often than plain cream cheese. Spread the mixture over a piece of brioche and make a sandwich. Dip in some scrambled eggs and milk, then fry it. I guess it was another “easy” recipe since I just threw a few ingredients together.
Challah: This is another of Reinhart’s recipes and I used some gorgeous black sesame seeds that a good friend brought back from China for me. Or was it Japan? I can’t remember, but the reason none of the bread recipes were posted is because we decided as a group not to post the recipes. That meant going through the process of writing a detailed explanation of making the bread including all the shots of the steps. I decided to post my efforts on Flickr instead. It took less time and was a good way for me to keep up with the others for a while. This was a fabulous recipe, by the way.
Tabouleh: I love tabouleh and although I’ve made it many times, I never make it the same way. I know this is hardly a big surprise to those who know me well. If I remember correctly, this was a good recipe, but not great. Another simple recipe for something that can be made a million different ways. Go ahead. Google it.
Onion Ciabatta: Another of Reinhart’s delicious recipes.
Lemon Blueberry Bread Pudding: I think this was a recipe from Bon Appetit that I tweaked a bit. I remember thinking it was a funny recipe to publish in a summer edition, but I made it for a pot luck and it was light, refreshing, and completely delicious. Writing about a recipe that requires baking when temperatures outside are pushing 90 in much of the world isn’t something I look forward to. Oddly, now that it’s bread pudding weather, most people don’t crave citrus, do they? I just may get around to posting this one because it’s that good.
Bulgar: Yet another whole grain, healthy, warm-weather salad. I’d started making Mark Bittman’s salads by this time and so this may have been a variation of one. Since they all sort of run together after a while, suffice it to say it was good, but I probably lost my notes. Yes, I have a notebook. No, I don’t always use it. It’s a dilemma.
Breakfast Crepes: My husband makes breakfast on Sundays. He likes it. Luckily for me, I can usually mention something (like crepes) and then give him a run-down of what’s in the fridge that needs to be used. I believe the filling for these was a mixture of goat’s cheese, basil, tomatoes, shallots, and perhaps a bit of lemon. Prosciutto? Again, no recipe, so no post.
Nectarine Berry Clafouti: The fruit was so gorgeous and ripe I had to make this, but the “slices” of the cooked product left much to be desired on the aesthetic side of things. It made for a tasty breakfast, though, and a great use of fruit!
Cauliflower Soup: A night photography debacle but a fabulous recipe. The best part is dropping a wedge of brie into it, letting it sit, and then giving it a stir. Truly excellent.
Fajitas: At least I think these are fajitas. Wait! Actually, I think this is another Bittman “salad.” Not a lot of prep. Just saute the peppers, onions, and tomatoes briefly. Squeeze on the lime. Done.
Crab Cakes: I think this was another spin on a Bittman salad. The salad aspect of it was good because I added tart green apples to the mix. The crab cakes weren’t good at all. I just didn’t like the combo of flavors and there seems to be quite a few recipes out there, so I’ll keep looking.
Peposo: Beef shanks layered with quite a lot of garlic and a huge amount of pepper. Braise in chianti for eight hours in extremely low heat. The flavor is truly remarkable. The finished product is rather unsightly. The experiment continues…
Blonde Ale Beef Braise: Yes, I’m getting somewhere with my night photography, but I don’t think the result of having beef floating mysteriously in a sea of white is the best result. Besides, it looks a bit like Alpo, don’t you think? As for the recipe, I love a good beef braise, but the ale left an odd taste.
Frank Sitt’s Aurora Tart: I made this for a party, so that means that I end up with many shots of the steps and finished product, but never with a shot of the perfect slice. This is a caramel custard tart that has an ultra thin topping of chocolate glaze and is topped with a praline cream. It’s to die for. I had some trouble with the filling setting up properly and had to increase the baking time. That left the crust somewhat cookie-like in texture, but it only added to the flavor of this truly amazing dessert. Oh. My. The recipe is from his cookbook Bottega Favorita and is only one of many delicious recipes I’ve tried from it.
Butter Pecan Pancakes: I made these for my husband’s birthday. I had to search for a while to actually find some semblance of a real butter pecan syrup recipe because most of what’s “out there” involves artificially flavored butter pecan syrup. No thanks. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know my husband likes to make pancakes and so I figured that returning the favor would be only fair. I got a candle and the three of us sang over breakfast.
Gramma Dorothy’s Chocolate Pie: I swear. I have tried to make this pie. It doesn’t like me. Granted, I do have a tendency to mess with it a bit and this year, I decided to make an Italian meringue for the top. I chilled it. I chilled it over night, in fact. Nevertheless, when those circling it after Christmas dinner sliced into it, the filling instantly oozed out in the fashion of a molten chocolate cake without the heat. Oh well. Bear in mind that Gramma Dorothy’s Chocolate Pie is not only my husband’s birthday pie of choice, but that of his father’s as well. Epic Fail. Nothing like ending the year with a culinary bang, right?