As the year draws to a close, the final month of cooking will be a Best Of retrospective of the year – repeating the year’s most loved dishes. This will give us a month of awesome food and possibly determine which dish was the best of the year.
Based on our scores for each dish, the following list of the highest scoring dishes from the whole year is the starting point. The list seems to represent many of the cuisines/months reasonably well:
Pork schnitzel with mash potatoes and bacon and mushroom sauce (9.5 – Polish)
Bitki with shopska salad (9.5 – Polish)
Chinese new year feast (9.5 – Chinese)
Chicken biryani (9.5 – Indian)
Lamb dopiaza (9.5 – Indian)
Lamb rogan josh (9.5 – Indian)
Fish pie (9 – British)
Roast chicken (9 – British)
Steak and ale pie (8.5 – British)
Dill scones with Salmon and a Cucumber pickle (8.5 – British)
Bubble and squeak (8.5 – British)
Apple and beetroot borsch (8.5 – Vegetarian / Polish)
Chicken and ham sandwich pies (8.5 – British)
Coq au vin (8.5 – French)
Pan fried duck breast with puy lentils and plum sauce (8.5 – French)
Lamb with chestnuts and shallots (8.5 – Turkish)
Chilli con carne (8.5 – Mexican [but not very…])
Ham and cheese empanadas (8.5 – Mexican)
Queso fundido (8.5 – Mexican)
A little preparation goes a long way today, as yesterday’s chopped leeks, turnips, and potatoes were ready and waiting for the morning preparation of dinner. This with some stock, a large amount of crushed black pepper and some stewing lamb (neck on the bone) went into the oven which was then set to turn itself on for four hours at a low heat and finish in time for myself and Mrs M to get home. Easy.
Mrs M scored it 7 out of 10, commenting that it would have been better if it had had pearl barley in it.
A blog post that is a few days later as we’ve been off on holiday and eating out all the time.
A simple dinner of sautéed potatoes, slow roasted tomatoes and fried fish. Following the instructions on the label, the fish was fried for about 4 minutes a side. Per the instructions in the cookbook, a separate clean frying pan was used to lightly brown some butter which then had some lemon juice to it before being drizzled over the fish.
Mrs M scored it 7 out of 10.
More slowly cooked goodness.
Onions and bacon were fried off and set aside, with the bacon fat and some butter then used to brown off some chicken joints that had been coated with seasoned flour.
These were thrown into a large pan with some cider, chicken stock, seasoning and a bayleaf.
After 25 minutes of simmering, the onions and bacon rejoined the chicken along with some mushrooms. Another 15 minutes and to finish some creme fraiche and Dijon mustard were stirred in.
As an accompaniment some slices of apple were fried in some more butter until brown.
Mrs M scored it 8 out of 10.
Another dish straight out of a 1980s dinner party. The first time for me to make pastry and unaided by Mrs M. That part went well, although the cooking wasn’t without mishap…
A pastry of plain flour, butter one egg and a splash of water was made, kneaded and refrigerated before being baked (without filling and initially blind baked with the base of another cake tin and the lid of a pan as we have no baking beans).
When the pastry was nearly done, bacon and chopped shallots were fried and placed into the pasty base before being topped with 5 eggs, plenty of pepper and some salt and some gruyere cheese and then placed into the oven.
… And then removed again a couple minutes later as i go to tidy up and then notice the tub of creme fraiche sat on the worktop. This was then belatedly mixed with the filling and all replaced together in the oven.
Served with some salad and scored 8 out of 10 by Mrs M.
A classic 1980s dinner party dish cooked from a recipe in a book of that era. A whole chicken and a whole bottle of wine went into this one.
The whole chicken was jointed with most of the skin and bones removed before being tossed in generously seasoned flour and fried in butter. Once browned, the chicken went into a partly reduced pan of red wine, a clove of garlic, a couple of bay leaves and a boquet garni.
The frying pan was then put to work cooking off some bacon and then browning some peeled but whole shallots which were then added to the pot. Some mushrooms which had been chopped and frozen some months ago (during some supermarket special offer induced glut) finished off the mix.
The pan went into the owben for 40 minutes and the dish served with boiled potatoes and some vegetables. 8.5 out of 10.
From the Arabica cookbook, but apparently originally coming from Georgia, one of the many countries bordering Turkey.
Some boned chicken joints were fried in butter and oil alongside a few chopped cloves of garlic. The chicken was then set aside while some plums from our garden, halved and with stones removed, sauteed in the same pan. Afterwards, the chicken went back in while a sauce of chilli flakes, red wine vinegar and plum jam heated in another pan.
Served with bulgar wheat with chickpeas and feta. Scored 8 out of 10th by Mrs M.
A simple and straightforward meal tonight.
Shallots and garlic were fried till softened and translucent and set aside. Plenty of butter and lots of chopped mushrooms then went into the frying pan and cooked for 10 minutes. The shallots and garlic went back in along with a teaspoon of Chipotles in Adabo.
This was served on crusty bread rolls and with several thinly sliced griddled steaks.
I preferred this to yesterday’s stuffed peppers, but Mrs M did not agree – she scored it 7.5 out of 10.
More complicated than it sounded, the prep took a while.
Small cubes of potato were boiled while I sliced and diced garlic, shallots and mango! These fried together before the potatoes, some, Chipotles in Adabo and a whole pot of soft goat’s cheese.
The above mixture was then spooned into halved red peppers and placed in the oven for 30 minutes. Served with some rice.
I was not as keen on them as Mrs M who scored them 9 out of 10.
A slightly easier dish to pull together, though on a similar theme to yesterday’s ‘chicken on a flatbread’, but with beef steak on a corn tortilla.
The first and most important part was the marinade: olive oil, orange juice, garlic and Chipotles in Adabo paste. The beef bathed there for half an hour. Meanwhile some black beans went from the packet to the pan with a chopped fresh green chilli and a shallot for flavour.
The thing slices of steak went onto a hot griddle pan and cooked (per Thomasina Myers instructions) for under 90 seconds on each side. Once these had cooled slightly they were sliced into small pieces. The remainder of the marinade and some sliced spring onions then cooked off in the pan.
All of the above and a good amount of grated cheddar cheese were then spooned onto several tortillas. Job done.
Again another 7.5 out of 10. Though maybe a point or two less for having to clean the griddle pan – a job for the morning!