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Jan 2, 2012 07:18 AM

2011 Reflections: What were your favourite Home Cooking moments, COTM’s, Cookbooks, Recipes and Ingredients?

Wow, what a year and didn’t it just seem to whiz by? Thanks to Chowhound and, all the wonderful, passionate cooks here who inspire me, 2011 was a great year in the kitchen. With a kitchen reno soon to be underway, I’m looking forward to another fun year of cooking and sharing in 2012 but first, I thought it would be fun to reflect on some memorable Home Cooking moments from 2011.

Here are some of mine:

Favourite New Ingredients:

How is it I managed to get through my life without Fennel Pollen and Fregola? Thanks to the Mario Batali COTM in July, we’ll never go without these two culinary delights again!! Even though a little fennel pollen goes a long way, I’m now on my third can since July as we just can’t seem to get enough of this fabulous ingredient and we’re having fun experimenting by adding it in unexpected ways. Our latest favourite is to sprinkle a little over top vanilla bean ice cream . . . ooooh, so truly scrumptious!!!

Favourite COTM’s:

So many months of fun in the kitchen and one of my absolute favourite aspects of Chowhound. I have to admit, it’s hard to pick just one COTM so I’m going to pick 2!! In first place because it produced so many of our most memorable meals of 2011 is the MARIO BATALI COTM in July. We love Italian food so it came as no surprise that there were endless dishes to entice us that month but the real surprise was how many fabulous grilled dishes there were that we had never tried. Mario brought Italy to summertime and for that his books took the top spot on our list. Coming in at a close second though would be GRACE YOUNG COTM in January. During that month I learned to love wokking, tried so many new and exciting dishes and ingredients and, felt more virtuous for preparing so many healthy, flavourful meals.

Favourite Recipes -Dishes Prepared at Home:

Wow, this is hard but here are some real standouts:

Fresh Robiola Wrapped in Mortadella (Grilled) from Mario Batali’s Italian Grill
Fennel Salad with Grapefruit (Grilled) from Mario Batali’s Italian Grill
Asparagus Wrapped in Pancetta Citronette from Mario Batali’s Italian Grill
(Grilled) Waxy Potatoes in Chianti Vinegar from Mario Batali’s Italian Grill
Pesto Fregola (served w Monkfish in Prosciutto) from Mario Batali’s Italian Grill
Herby Lentils, Spinach and Yogurt served with Salmon from Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef Takes Off
Chicken in a Pot from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table
Crash Hot Potatoes from Jill Duplix …simply outstanding and a fast favourite!

Favourite Cookbooks:

Ok well we all know I have a big cookbook monkey on my back so to ask me to pick only a few is tough!! That said, these “new to me” books were standouts over the past year:

150 Best American Recipes by Molly Stevens
1000 Italian Recipes by Michele Scicolone
Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone
Antipasto Table by Michele Scicolone
Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka
Stir by Barbara Lynch
Breath of a Wok and Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge by Grace Young

Thanks once again to all the wonderful folks here on the Home Cooking board for providing me with such inspiration, I can’t wait to read about your favourites!!

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  1. Well, no sooner had I posted this than Mr bc reminded me of another dish that was a big hit at Casa bc!

    The Young Swiss Chard with Sesame Seeds from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian made a "Chard-lover" out of my "Generally-greens-hating" mr bc this year!! The fresh-from-the-market chard was a delight on its own but, that sesame dressing took it wayyyy over the top! So very yummy!

    1. I always think I'm going to participate and never make it so this "best of" thread will definitely go in my saved file for future reference! I'm excited to see everyone's favorites.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Georgia Sommers

        Thanks Georgia, I hope others will chime in with their favourites . . . I plan to bookmark this thread as well if they do!

      2. I had to ponder this a while, bc. 2011 was a strange year, w/all sorts of things going on, and I missed several months of CH (and did I miss it; I love, am a little obsessed w/this site). So I didn't participate much in many of the COTMS, but The Splendid Table was my favorite COTM cookbook--no surprise as it's long been one of my favorite cookbooks. I also loved cooking from Hesser's NYT cookbook and really want to revisit and some of those recipes. That book inspired me to try several Chinese recipes, and I've always shied away from Chinese cooking as I'd never had much success with it. Reading other Hounds' reports gave me confidence. We loved Hot Pepper Shrimp, Hunan Beef, Shaking Beef, [Someone's] Justly Famous Bombay Chicken (not Chinese, but still a fave).

        I made a lot of homemade pasta w/my KA pasta roller attachment in 2011 and more lasagne than usual. (A standout was the Lasagne of Emilia-Romana from The Splendid Table, which I made twice--a lot of work, but worth it.)

        It seems like we ate a lot of meuniere-style fish and breaded cutlets w/lemon butter. I know we ate a lot of beets, brussels sprouts, arugula, asparagus, mushrooms.

        I expanded my repertoire of curries, moving beyond our favorite Indian ones and trying several Thai, Malaysian, and seafood curries.

        My husband quit smoking and developed an especially mean sweet tooth, so I made more desserts than ever (which meant we had to exercise more than ever).

        I rediscovered my love of negronis; drank less wine and more gin martinis--not sure that is a good thing except I usually have only one martini, almost never only one glass of wine ; )

        I travelled a good bit, to several big cities but had relatively few memorable meals (although I did some wonderful food shopping and had some fabulous street food). I think that may be because I've come to appreciate home cooking so much more--and that is, without a doubt--due to the inspiration and camaraderie I get from the Home Cooking boards, and all my friends at WFD. All of you made 2011 a year of seriously good eating, scintillating food discussion, and excellent reading in all things culinary.

        2 Replies
        1. re: nomadchowwoman

          That's an inspiring list ncw!! I'll definitely have to give that lasagna from The Splendid Table a try. Unfortunately I didn't have as much time as I'd have liked to cook during that COTM but everything I did make was yummy.

          Oh, and cheers to you and your Negronis. . . . I'll have one as well please! ; )

          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            Well, thanks to you and Big Sal, I now I have another 2012 new year's food resolution: get some fennel pollen. (I'm so sorry I missed out on the Batali COTM.)

        2. Here's a link to a similar post with some of COTM recipes worth repeating. My list is quite long. :) Batali was definitely a big hit this summer, along with many others (Greenspan, NYT, and G. Young).

          Like you, I discovered fennel pollen this year and was taken with it ever since. Also, I had my first fresh water chestnut which was remarkably different and better than the canned variety I was used to. And lastly, I had my first fresh white truffle this year in San Francisco. Great discoveries.

          1 Reply
          1. re: BigSal

            Thanks so much for that link Big Sal, that looks like a great thread and a wonderful resource for future reference.

            I'd forgotten all about the fresh water-chestnuts, they were a first for us as well and we just loved them. Thanks for the reminder, I must hit Chinatown again soon!

          2. Oh wow, what a great thread. I'm going to sleep on it before answering, but I can't wait to read what people have to say. I will say that even before answering I must be clear that I was away from home for way too much of the year. All very wonderful in different ways, but it meant that I missed out on some great seeming stuff. I missed the wokking months, much to my current dismay. I missed the NYT book, which didn't bother me at the time, but when I read reports I see that maybe I need to open my mind a bit about AH and her work. Also away for most of May and June, and a chunk of November. I definitely got a lot of great stuff from Jamie Oliver month. And two books that weren't COTMs but are much loved here are Mighty Spice and Radically Simple. I find myself going back to those again and again.

            2 Replies
            1. re: LulusMom

              Definitely looking forward to your post LM!! Also, I'm heading right over to Amazon now to take a look at Mighty Spice. Oddly, I don't recall hearing of this one. (miracles never cease!!) ; - )

              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                Thanks BC! Might Spice was first mentioned by beetlebug, and I fell pretty much in love with it. I put up a Cooking from Might Spice thread at You'll see that I'm making pretty good headway with it (thank goodness my family likes spicy food).