2014 redux | best dishes from the lovey kitchen

It’s no great secret that I’m a fan of the retrospective. So I’m reflecting on my bests from 2014 as we count down to the New Year — and there were many! Best restaurant bites, dishes from our kitchen, travel moments, writing and reading… here we go!

Austin and I love to cook together. We wrote a cookbook for our wedding guestbook. We meal plan ’til the cows come home. We love hosting dinner parties. We just have a really good time in our little kitchen, cooking and eating and creating memories. As expected, some delicious food results. To that end, here are the 10 best (documented*) dishes we cooked in 2014. 

* My inner aesthete despises taking food photos in low indoor lighting, so many of our winter dinners go un-photographed!

Austin's stuffing

Austin’s olive-mushroom stuffing

My husband concocted this stuffing on a whim a couple years back for American Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s officially moved into “yearly tradition” territory. Chock-full of kalamata olives, cremini mushrooms, celery and scented with thyme, it makes a great savoury-salty base to heap with gravy and cranberry sauce.

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Pork chops in a cherry-balsamic glaze

Combining shallots and soaked dried cherries and deglazing with balsamic vinegar as a sauce to spoon over pork chops is all kinds of amazing.

Sichuan beef and celery

Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuanese chopped celery with beef

The dish that taught me that celery could be a star ingredient — and helped us figure out what to do when we’re stuck with a languishing celery bunch in the fridge.

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Corn-jalapeño veloute with seared scallops

This was my favourite soup of 2014 and a brilliant way to highlight fresh summer corn against the salty brininess of scallops. We will be making this again and again in coming summers.

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Soupe au pistou

I had never made this Provencal classic, but the interplay of fresh shelled beans, silky greens and zingy pistou in a rich Parmesan broth was comforting yet fresh.

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Pasta in a garlic scape-chèvre sauce

Looking for a new way to use the garlic scapes in our CSA share, I blanched them and whizzed them with chevre, making a bright green, luscious sauce for pasta. The leftover sauce froze incredibly well for a hit of summer in the chill of November, too.

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Salad of shaved fennel, radicchio and baby radishes with sheep’s milk cheese

Often, simple compositions of the best ingredients yield striking results. This salad was the epitome of spring, served with a chilly glass of rose on the patio.

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Ottolenghi’s roasted and marinated eggplant

A “best of” list wouldn’t be complete without our favourite cookbook author. Ottolenghi never fails us, as with this dish that made a supple, spicy main of the humble eggplant, Austin’s favourite vegetable.

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Slouchy zucchini

Greeks, like many other southern European cultures that emphasize peasant cooking, prefer to cook vegetables long and slow in an oil braise. It renders them supple, tender and intensely flavourful. Here, I braised long slices of zucchini in olive oil and doused the hot vegetables in a lemon and herb vinaigrette, letting it soak in overnight. The resulting dish is sweet, tangy and velvety, perfect cold or hot.

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Salted apple galette with vanilla brown butter

This riff on a Bon Appetit recipe was incredible — warm vanilla pod, brown butter, salt and tart apples tucked into homemade pate brise. Exactly my kind of dessert.

[More cooking from The Lovey Kitchen here.]

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