My Favorite Recipes of 2020: Quarantine Kitchen

One of the best things I've been doing, as we all quarantine to try to flatten the COVID19 curve, is cooking up a storm. I already enjoy cooking - well, I enjoy eating... less so on the cleaning. But, I also love the art of it. The colors. The plating. The distraction from the dystopian nightmare we are living in. The Instagramming (#QuarantineKitchen) of it all.

One of the first things I did once I started isolation was to take account of the ingredients on hand and cross-reference it with the recipes I've saved on my New York Times Cooking app. That gave me an easy go-to menu (which I Post-It noted to my fridge.) Each day, I generally start with eggs, toast or baked good that I have on hand. Lunch is leftovers. But dinner, that gets to be the star of my day. After I shut down work, I fire up a bottle of wine, sometimes a Zoom happy hour, and get to work on something delicious and fun.

Here are my faves so far, in case you're looking for new things to try. And, no, I won't apologize for being an Alison Roman super fan. I love her recipes. But, I'm willing to branch out. What are your faves?

Margeaux Laskey's Riff on Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie
Atlantic Beach Pie is like if Key Lime Pie was made with a mix of lemons and lime that you just had on hand, and made a crust of Saltines, butter and sugar. I thought the crust was going to fall apart but it held. Hold strong on the recipe faith.

Atlantic Beach Pie
Chris Morocco's Colcannon
Colcannon is the answer to the life question: "What should I do with too many potatoes and cabbages?"


Florence Fabricant's Dutch Baby

I thought if maybe I just went ahead and learned how to make a Dutch Baby, this pandemic would be over. Alas, we're still here. Dutch baby was delicious though. Liked the savory-style of one that I made with Gruyere and herbs even better than this powdered sugar and fruit number.
Dutch Baby

Noor Murad's Cheesy Cauliflower Pie

Noor is a recipe developer for Ottolenghi, another one of my perennial recipe favorites. I follow her on Instagram, which is where she shared the how-to for this gorgeous (and delicious dish.) I knew it would be a show stopper, so I saved it for a big event. My solo Easter. Loved every moment. Dropped off half of it to my parents the next day.

Cheesy Cauliflower Pie

Alison Roman's Garlic-Braised Short Rib with Red Wine
I've made short ribs a few times, and it's always a big hit. The thing is, some recipes can get a little high maintenance. I like how Alison keeps things simple. After I make her recipes once, I can almost do them from heart. This one: brown the meat, set aside, in a Dutch oven on medium low heat - garlic, onions, carrot & celery, add tomato paste... add red wine and bone broth... put the meat back in submerged... cook for about four hours on 275: magic

Garlic-Braised Short Rib

Melissa Clark's Bittersweet Brownie Shortbread
I'll cop to the fact that I knew this one would look amazing in an Instagram photo, but also, it was a lot of steps. And that took up a lot of time and bandwidth in my brain - which was great to distract me from the COVID19 disaster. I used crushed almonds on half and threw in sprinkles... because nearly everything looks prettier covered in rainbow sprinkles.

Bittersweet Brownie Shortbread

Alison Roman's Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake
This one touted itself as a strawberry donut meets cake - and who doesn't like that. I had hoarded strawberries during a (very rare) grocery run and needed to use them up. This cake was delicious and gorgeous. My oven doesn't run as hot as Alison's, so you may need to use your judgment a bit here and adjust. Mine needed 5-10 more minutes in the oven to firm up in the middle. This was a fun one to make - even more fun when the New York Times Cooking team featured my photo of it on their Instagram feed.

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake

Alison Roman's Tomato-Marinated Feta Dip
Anyone who's been to a dinner party at my place this year - or invited me to something at their house - probably got a taste of this simple star party dish. Since I'm solo-quarantined, I keep it on hand and just snack on it as a mezze during the week. I also made her Brothy Beans this time - both are in her new Nothing Fancy cookbook if you want to deep dive into Roman stan-dom and order a copy. Again, this is a recipe I can make from the heart now.

Spicy-Tomato Marinated Feta Dip and Brothy Beans

Colu Henry's Sheet-Pan Harissa Citrus Salmon and Potatoes
I've made this recipe twice already during quarantine. It's delicious, easy and (yay for sheet-pan dinners) barely has any clean up. I did a terrible job dicing my ginger and garlic in the photo below - and it was still delicious that night - and for lunch leftovers the next day. Great use of any citus on hand, jar of harissa in the fridge and potatoes (or veggies of any kind... last time, I just made broccoli with it.)

Sheet-Pan Harissa Salmon and Potatoes

Alison Roman's Lemon-Ginger Tart
This was the first recipe I decided to challenge myself when I got home from Florida and quarantined. Yep, totally ate it, slice by slice. Great as a dessert - or breakfast. The ginger balances the lemon well and makes it a smidge savory. Loved the easy shortbread crust (which gave me the confidence to conquer the Bittersweet Brownie Shortbread, above.)

Ginger-Lemon Tart
So, what have been your favorite quarantine recipes? All I know is, we're going to have epic dinner parties IRL after this thing is over.

Love y'all. Stay home. Stay safe. Eat well.

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