Top 10 for 10 Part 1: Kitchen Edition

This afternoon I was attempting to take a pre-New Year’s Eve party disco nap but I kept thinking – like everyone else on the planet – about the great things 2010 brought to us. I’d love to find a different or unique way to position it but being original this time of year is hard since we’re all focused on New Year’s resolutions and summing up the past 365 days… who am I to fight human nature… here’s my plain old Top 10 for 2010: Kitchen Edition list… it was a tasty year!

I must add my usual caveat that these are in no particular order… they’re all fabulous to me!

Number 1

A friend bought Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller for me for my birthday this year. The Crispy Chicken with Olives, Lemon and Fennel on page 30 is going to be my new favorite chicken recipe for a good long while… yum, easy and lovely.


Number 2

I have one really nice knife (read: expensive) that my sister-in-law bought me for my 40th birthday a few years back. She also bought a sharpening steel. Today I suggested to Peter – as I do every year on December 31 – that his New Year’s resolution could be to learn how to use said sharpening steel. He gave me the fish eye as he does every year when I suggest this. Luckily I made a discovery this year that made Peter, my sharp knife needs and our collective cheapness happy: Kuhn Rikon Colori knives.

Not being a knife expert, I don’t know (or care) how they make them but they’re sharp (and STAY sharp!), colorful and affordable… I grab a new color of the paring knives every chance I get. And the “sandwich” knife is perfect for sandwiches and tomatoes. Love.


Number 3

Again with the birthday gifts… my friends know me well. I have several books on cheese making that I love to pour over and have yet to actually use to make cheese. I must have mentioned this in party-talk because this greatcheese making kit made its way to our kitchen. Honestly, I have yet to make the mozzarella – although I have made it with friends at different times. However I can personally vouch for the ricotta which is a breeze. It seems like a complete waste to not make it when you compare its deliciousness with store-bought.


Number 4

Pesto. Or should I say “Not Basil Pesto”… Pesto means “to crush or to pound” (and in my vernacular “to food process” – I know, not traditional but I’m real, real busy!). We tried it first with mustard greens. Now every herby/greeny thing gets the Pesto treatment. Again – YUM!


Number 5

This technically isn’t from or part of our kitchen but it was a bit of a food revelation and a fun day! I got invited tojudge a pie contest. It was a beautiful thing – until I started eating the pies. At first I thought it would be hard to pick the best three pies. I was right but for the wrong reasons! My pie eating snobbery was definitely a hinderance in this case and, in all fairness, I’m not a pie making expert because pie crust scares me. When I shared this with my 80+ year old mother she said, “honey, you’ve got time. I didn’t make good crust til I was 50”. Well, that’s a relief… so I guess all of the ten pies that I tried get a big A for effort at the very least!


Number 6

Giadia DeLaurentis. I don’t watch the Food Network or any TV for that matter. Not due to snobbery, just due to time… well, the Food Network thing is a bit due to snobbery. I think it is kind of cruel – all that great food, expertly prepared, and the viewers can’t smell or taste it? Torture! To report accurately, one New Year’s Day I was very hung over and watched a marathon of that program where they show popular food products being made, extruded, squeezed onto conveyor belts, etc. Perfect for a hangover day but pretty much the extent of food show expertise.

Anyway, living under my TV-free rock I wouldn’t have paid much attention to Giadia if it wasn’t for a recipe I received in an email called “The 12 Days of Cookies” – you may know about my cookie baking habit from a recent post on Traditions. Anyway, I don’t watch Food Network but I do receive the cookie update which featured a Lemon Ricotta Cookie recipe  from Giada that is possibly the best new cookie I’ve tasted in years. Seriously. On top of that, I’m not a “sweet + lemon” fan – I love lemon in savory applications. But this cookie really changed my mind on that front too. You must try this miracle cookie! Do it! Click HERE right this second!

I did make one small variation – instead of making them as cookies I made them in mini-cupcake liners so the glaze would stay put – they’re pictured above and to the right stacked on the pie plate like a little mountain of lemony heaven. I don’t think it made a difference in the flavor. On top of that – if you’re not tired of my ranting about this cookie – they are lovely and fragrant to make as well. A real pleasure! I wonder what they’d be like with homemade ricotta?!?!? Hmmm…


Number 7

Again with the Giadia! She probably had very little to do with her eponymous bakeware line at Target but I loved the lines, heft and color. I have a thing about white dishes… [I know you’re surprised that I might have a “thing” about anything.] Plus the line is affordable (back to the cheapness in Number 2). I bought the ceramic two quart oval baker. Yes, it is still rolling around in the way-back of my Honda CRV but I intend to use it VERY SOON.


Number 8

This isn’t a new thing to our kitchen but it is delicious and influential and makes me crazily happy every time I make it. This stacked salad recipe was what pushed us over the edge to buy The Yarden (and the house attached to it) and move out of our condo. We tried it for the first time in 2005 with tomatoes from the farmer’s market. In 2006 we moved. I can’t say the recipe was the only or main reason we were pushed into having our own garden again… but it is the first thing we make every year when we have enough tomatoes… and it has quite a loyal following…


Number 9

A renewed love for my crock pot (and a new annoyance that they’re now called “slow cookers”)… this is mostly due to the awesome book The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolon. During this year’s cookie making marathon I had a companion marathon going using my $19.95 decade old and completely serviceable crock pot and recipes from this book.



Number 10

My general toast when we have dinners is “Here’s to friends worth cooking for!” and a seminal piece of advice shared by my dear mother was “If you’re a good cook then you’ll always have friends.” Both are very true… Again, no revelation for 2010 but certainly a delight, my friend Amy! Amy likes to “chop and stir” and she also likes to eat and take home leftovers. If you read this blog or follow us on Facebook and wonder how on god’s green earth I can accomplish so many of my OCD goals it is because of Amy. Well, Peter helps too, but Amy, wow, the lengths she’ll go for a good cocktail, some laughs and DINNER.


That’s the Top 10 for 10: Kitchen Edition… I’ll post the Garden Edition soon… perhaps after my New Year’s Day hangover and Food Network  mass-produced-things-on-conveyor-belts marathon… I will be toasting to friends worth cooking for and a successful and bountiful 2011 tonight!

LaManda JoyTop 10 for 10 Part 1: Kitchen Edition

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