I’ve been promising to publish my top 10, all-time favorite recipes for some time. Given that spring salmon season is over I figured that this is a good time to reflect and recommend those dishes that are my favorites – in no particular order. Why stop at 10? No reason. And perhaps when I finish this post it will be the Top 11 – or there will be an honorable mention category. Ask me about the list a year from now and the list will probably have changed. All recipes will have links so that you can make copies.
Chicken Pot Pie. This is probably the most popular dish in my repertoire. This delicious comfort food always wins praises. With a buttery, savory biscuit topping rather than the traditional pie crust it makes a satisfying one-dish meal. It is not low-fat and it is not gluten-free but it is full of good veggies and chicken. In addition to the usual mirepoix, use whatever vegetables you have on hand. I’ve added peas, corn, or green beans. You can make this in individual dishes or in one large 9 x 13 baking dish. This is an easy dish to prepare but allow about three hours, elapsed time – there are several steps. Boiling, cooling, and dicing the chicken can be done ahead of time. Strain and freeze any extra chicken broth for another use.
Cedar Plank Salmon – This is my preferred method of cooking salmon on the outdoor grill. Given that fresh, wild salmon can be expensive (and worth every penny) it deserves to be prepared in a way that brings out its flavor and moist texture without distracting or covering it up. This is an ideal method AND it is quick and easy. A sensational, company-worthy dish, ready in about 12 minutes. Got some leftovers? Make this excellent salmon panzanella, an easy, healthy salad that is substantial enough to be a one dish meal.
Chicken Marinade. One of our family’s favorite summer barbecue dishes – with lemon, soy sauce, and oregano it’s tangy, salty, and savory all at the same time. The recipe makes enough to season two or more cut-up chickens so it’s a good one for large gatherings. Because the recipe calls for skin-on chicken, and the marinade contains vegetable oil, the hot grill can flame up easily so watch the chicken closely while it cooks. I like to sear the chicken on all sides and then move the pieces to a cooler spot on the grill to finish cooking. This recipe originally called for MSG but does anyone cook with MSG anymore? And here’s another little secret: bottled lemon juice, such as RealLemon lends a tangy flavor that fresh lemon juice cannot provide (ReaLemon, like other varieties of bottled lemon juice, contains oil from the peel, and is noticeably more sour.)
Dill Casserole Bread. This is a no-knead bread recipe that won a Pillsbury Bake-Off prize in 1960. It has gone on to become a classic in the Pillsbury library and a long-time favorite in our family. I almost always serve it at Thanksgiving dinner. You can take the dill flavor up a notch by adding dill weed along with the dill seed, and I’ve found that the recipe works just as well with chopped, fresh rosemary. It’s a rich, savory bread topped off with a little coarse salt on top that always wins raves. If you are lucky enough to have some left over it makes the best toast ever.
Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake. All the warm, sweet spices that you’d expect in a traditional pumpkin pie, dressed up in a delicious cake. Serve this any time, but it’s especially wonderful for Thanksgiving or Christmas. The toasted pepitas and candied ginger in the topping add flavor and texture, and the cream cheese frosting with brown butter is a little lighter than you might see on a carrot cake. The recipe calls for making your own pumpkin puree but canned pumpkin works quite nicely. The assembled, frosted cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.