My Favorite Recipes of 2009

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Craig’s sister Kristin and I joke that I should have a catchphrase, that when I meet new people I should declare, with mock-sincerity: “Food is my passion.” Ok, maybe you have to be there for that concept to be funny, but regardless, food IS my passion and this year I feel like my cooking is entering the realm of “he’s no amateur.” Sure, I had my doozies. Remember my burnt sticky buns? My flambĂ© incident? And yesterday, I made hummus for lunch in my blender and added way too much chickpea water so the result was rather pukey. But otherwise? I’m riding high on a wave of culinary competence. And these, my friends, are my Top 10 success stories of 2009. Are you ready? Let’s get cooking.

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How To Make Fried Chicken

The undisputed master of fried chicken here in New York City is Chef Charles Gabriel of Rack n’ Soul and now Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken (there’s a big article about it in today’s New York Times.) Chef Gabriel is such a master, it was an absolute privilege this summer to stand at his side in his Harlem kitchen watching him pan fry chicken the way it’s been done in his family for generations. What follows is our latest Food2 video, which not only gives you the recipe for Chef Gabriel’s legendary chicken, but also shows you my efforts to recreate it at home (with some comedy thrown in):

The only note I’ll add here is that, in the video, it doesn’t mention that Chef Gabriel also puts the spice mixture on the raw chicken too, so it gets seasoned on three levels: the chicken, the batter and the flour. I’ve now made this chicken several times and it really cant be beat.

Pot Roast

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When I think pot roast, I think Americana, I think 50s sitcoms and a beleaguered housewife who intones: “Oh, darn it, I burnt the pot roast!”

It’s not a dish that I ate much growing up, eating–as we did–most of our meals out. My first real pot roast memory, actually, comes from Atlanta. I ordered pot roast at one of my favorite, kitschy restaurants there–Agnes & Muriel’s–and got very sick afterwards. I don’t blame Agnes & Muriel’s, but I did blame pot roast. I avoided it for years.

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Food52

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Amanda Hesser’s. I’ve been cooking her recipes–from her vanilla bean loaves to her carrot fennel soup–for as long as I’ve been cooking, really. Which is why I’m so delighted that Amanda and her friend Merrill Stubbs have joined our ranks here on the world wide web. Check out their new site Food52: a fun, interactive recipe resource that allows you to submit recipes, vote for recipes and help shape an actual cookbook that’ll be published at the end of a year. I really love the videos of Amanda and Merrill cooking together (like this one of them cooking fish): it’s refreshing to discover that the authoritative voice behind the New York Times Magazine food section is just a normal person like you and me. With an incredibly nice kitchen.

Easy Biscuits

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It’s a good thing to know how to make biscuits. I mean, at what point of the day would you say “no” to a hot buttermilk biscuit, fresh from the oven? The answer is: “No point of the day, Adam. I would eat a biscuit any time.”

I’m right there with you, imaginary person. I love biscuits and I try to make them whenever I can, especially on Sunday mornings when I send Craig to the store to buy eggs. “Buy some buttermilk too,” I often say because, really, if he buys buttermilk, I have everything else I need to make biscuits. To make fresh biscuits all you need is butter, buttermilk, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt. Everything else is technique.

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Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli

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Remember that broccoli post I posted a few months ago? The Best Broccoli of Your Life? It kind of took the world–or, rather, the web–by storm. To prove it, do a Google search for “best broccoli recipe” and marvel at the #1 result. If Google says it’s the best broccoli recipe, then it has to be, doesn’t it? Just like if you Google “best food blogger,” my blog… what? WHAT? Get Google on the phone right now!

I think so many people liked that recipe because it resulted in broccoli with a texture and a flavor few of us were familiar with. Crispy, caramelized broccoli? Not that mushy, frozen stuff? Plus all that lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and Parmesan cheese; it was kind of hard not to love that broccoli. It’s the kind of recipe that’d be difficult to improve upon; that is, until you add shrimp.

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