Slate’s Staffers Share Their Favorite Recipes of the Year

What to eat. What not to eat.
Dec. 10 2013 7:00 AM

Slate’s Favorite Recipes of the Year

The dishes we made again and again in 2013.

Tofu
Tofu just needs the right sauce.

Photo by Toru Uchida/Thinkstock

Every year, home cooks discover new recipes they find themselves making again and again. These are the recipes Slate staffers made more often than any others in 2013.

Kim Boyce’s Seeded Granola from Good to the Grain
Recommended by Rebecca Onion, Vault blogger

I technically discovered this last year, but 2013 was the year in which it became my one-and-only granola. Some people may find the presence of butter, cayenne, and salt off-putting, but I don't like sweet breakfasts, and that half teaspoon of cayenne saves the day for me. The granola's dominant flavor is toastedness. It has a savory nut and honey taste that the cayenne seems to magically amplify, without making the mix actively spicy. It's not sweet, oat-y, or at all cloying. I can't recommend it highly enough. 

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Scottish Farmhouse Eggs
Recommended by Jeffrey Bloomer, assistant editor, Slate Video
Every year I get warier of brunch—a once relaxing weekly ritual has become an afternoon-stealing slog. But I still do get the itch for a special Sunday-afternoon meal, and this year I found what might be the perfect one. The recipe is called Scottish farmhouse eggs, from a 1993 issue of Bon Appétit, and it couldn’t be simpler: eggs, half and half, good cheese, breadcrumbs, and fragrant fresh chives baked into the most luxurious casserole I’ve ever tasted. We bake individual dishes with two eggs each so everyone gets the pleasure of breaking open runny yolks, and we’ve found the key is generous seasoning: Even cream, eggs, and cheese can’t do their jobs without plenty of salt and pepper. (To put it even more over the top, try Cotswold cheese, available online and in some stores.)

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas Over Kale Caesar Salad
Recommended by Miriam Krule, copy editor

Say what you will about kale, but it’s delicious and nutritious. While I endorse the raw salad version over the inferior chips version, I can never have enough recipes. Which is why I was happy to stumble upon this roasted spice chickpeas over kale Caesar salad. The roasted chickpeas are a treat on their own. (I’ve found myself doubling that part of the recipe as it makes an excellent snack while you prepare the rest of your meal.) The dressing is simple in the sense that you just throw a bunch of stuff in a food processor, but it involves a bunch of perhaps uncommon ingredients (unless you keep nori on hand). It’s worth it. Oh, and did I mention it’s vegan?

Ina Garten’s Parmesan and Thyme Crackers
Recommended by J. Bryan Lowder, assistant editor of Outward and editorial assistant for culture

I like to think I’ve served some praise-worthy things in my time, but I swear, these uber-simple thyme crackers have received more love from dinner guests than anything else that I regularly make. They are my go-to when I want something a little fancier than nuts or olives for a cocktail nibble, but I don’t have much time to spare in preparation. Ina’s recipe is solid, but here are my edits: Double the fresh thyme, and add a bit more salt and a pinch of pimentón (or cayenne). If you’re in the mood, a pecan half-pressed into the cracker before baking adds a festive, Southern touch. Just be sure to hoard a few crackers for yourself—by the time you get back from the kitchen with the second round, they’re liable to be gone.

Mongolian Tofu
Recommended by Dahlia Lithwick, columnist

I found it by way of Dinner a Love Story when we were living abroad last year, and unbelievably it led my kids to fall in love with tofu! It is unscrewupable. It is delicious. It is healthy. No matter if I double or triple the recipe it is gone at the end of the meal.

Braised Kimchee Chicken Thighs from The Slow Cooker Revolution
Recommended by Katherine Goldstein, innovations editor

I've been cooking with a slow cooker for about five years now, and I fall in and out of love with it. However, once Mark Bittman planted the seed in my mind that slow cooking is a great way to cook in all seasons without heating up your kitchen, I started cooking up a storm with it this summer and haven't let up since. My favorite of the recipes I've tried recently is braised kimchee chicken thighs from The Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook. It's from the always excellent America's Test Kitchen series, but it’s not like some other slow-cooker recipes that can be highly involved with complex timing and pre-cooking items. This simple dish is perfect any time of year and I've enjoyed it as an easy weeknight staple and as a centerpiece of a dinner party. Get some nice quality kimchee and let that little crockpot work its magic. 

Beer-Glazed Chicken
Recommended by Chris Wade, video producer

OK, this is a recipe I adapted from some other source, but the closest I can find to how I actually do it is from Rachel Ray, which, I know, whatever, shut up. As a young single male I often find myself Drinking Beer and Cooking for One (also the name of my memoir/country album), so I wanted an easy, tasty, healthy-ish way to infuse a single chicken breast with the delicious taste of beer. And this is the optimal intersection of simplicity and flavor, which is my primary interest in cooking. I usually halve this for one to two breasts, and use a lighter ale, particularly Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold.

Insanely Delicious Sardine Pasta
Recommended by Julia Turner, deputy editor

Perhaps you are a sardine skeptic. I was, until my husband discovered this delicious Mark Bittman recipe earlier this year. The very simple preparation—onions, capers, lemon zest, and sardines simmered down into a savory paste, then tossed with linguine and topped with toasted breadcrumbs and ample parsley—has much to recommend it. First, it is cheap. Sardines don’t cost much, but they’re a great source of protein and healthy fats and other goodness. Second, it is simple. The ingredients are few, and most are shelf-stable kitchen staples—if you have an onion, lemon and parsley in tolerable shape, you can probably whip this up. Finally, it is dairy-free and (because of the briny meaty tang of the sardines) needs no Parmesan to be satisfying and delicious. If you make it, be sure to watch Bittman’s video and follow his bonus tip of adding red pepper flakes (I like to do it as the onions cook)—the hint of spice plays nicely against the sardines’ sweetness.

Braised Red Cabbage With Chestnuts
Recommended by Lowen Liu, copy chief

A repeat effort for me must be three things: easy, inexpensive, and leftover-friendly. I saw this braised cabbage recipe—yes, cabbage, and un-kimcheed!—early in Thanksgiving planning, and have made it three times since. (I’m not the only one who has fallen for the slow-cooked cruciferous.) The apples and pancetta may already be familiar to aficionados, but chestnuts are a nice earthy twist that helps balance the tang. It’s the ideal winter side dish—hardly diminished should you choose to cut out the bacon.

The Hairpin’s Chickpea Cookies
Recommended by L.V. Anderson, assistant editor
2013 was the year I went crazy for vegan, ostensibly healthy chocolate chip cookies. First came banana-oat cookies, which I learned about from a friend around New Year’s and proceeded to eat for breakfast practically every day for months. (They don’t actually taste anything like cookies, but they do taste good, and they seem virtuous enough that starting the day with them doesn’t seem like a huge stretch.) Then, on the all-caps recommendation of my colleague Miriam Krule, I tried the chickpea cookie recipe of the Hairpin’s wonderfully eccentric recipe writer Natalie Eve Garrett. They are a culinary miracle: Cooked chickpeas, puréed, become the foundation of a gooey dough that also contains peanut butter and honey. (Agave nectar and maple syrup both work well in place of the honey.) They’re not quite as firm as real, butter-and-flour-containing cookies, but if you like your cookies soft, that’s not a problem. There have been at least a few days this year when these cookies provided the majority of my caloric intake.

Mitch McCobbler
Recommended by Dan Kois, senior editor

The recipe we make most often in our house, by a wide margin, is called Mitch McCobbler. It is an all-purpose fruit cobbler recipe that works with whatever fruit you have around the house. It is simple and easy and uses few ingredients and is delicious every single time. It is our go-to dessert.

It is called Mitch McCobbler because a friend made it for us one time, and at the time she worked for Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), so we named it Mitch McCobbler.

MITCH McCOBBLER
Courtesy of Mitch McConnell, for all we know

Find some fruit. Hard fruits work well, like apples or pears. They can be a little underripe. But peaches are also great! Or raspberries. Or like a bunch of different fruits. Doesn’t matter. Peel the fruit (if it has a peel) and slice it up into a baking dish. Usually we use like five peaches’ worth of fruit. But you can make more! Or less!

Combine the following dry ingredients in a bowl:

1 cup self-rising flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt

Then add …

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Dash of vanilla
⅓ cup rolled oats

Mix it all up with your hands, which will get all gooey. Scatter/spread the crisp mixture over the top of your fruit. Bake at 375 degrees until it’s golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.

Cereal With Milk
Recommended by Katy Waldman, assistant editor

I don’t do a lot of cooking, but this stalwart recipe is painless, versatile, and delicious. You will need equipment like a bowl and a spoon, as well as a working refrigerator in which to store the milk. Glamorize the dish with a sprinkling of berries, or dress it down by swapping out your homemade granola for Cheerios. This recipe works for all hours of the day or night, as an appetizer, main course, or dessert, and may have the added benefit, when shared with friends, of securing you lots of dinner invitations. 

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