Monday, December 26, 2005


Happy New Year! 10 Favorite Foods Meme/Black Eyed Pea Risotto

Happy New Year to you all! I have a delicious recipe to share that you are going to adore...

But first, yet another meme. (Is that pronounced Me-Me? Or Mehmmm?) I was tagged by the enviable Ilva at Lucullian Delights to list my ten mostest favoretest foods.

Instead of going along with the pack and cataloging the obvious: foie gras (boo on people who are against it), falafel, fish tacos, pickles, goat cheese, sushi, truffled french fries, champagne, chocolate with fleur de sel, peach pie, gazpacho, my Mother's cooking and so on, I thought I would list my ten favorite recipes that I have posted here over the last 365 days.

Each recipe (minus most baking, I'm sure) is an original recipe that I wrote about/made because it was something I wanted to eat. Some things worked, some didn't, but they were all tasty (at least, the ones I wrote about!) and I am quite proud of them. Even though some of the listed choices pre-date my camera days, I do hope you will indulge yourself and try a few, I know you won't be disappointed.

In January 2005 I had just returned from an amazing family gathering in Santiago, Chile. I brought back a recipe for Tuna Empanadas that we had spoiled ourselves with while there. At home, I make a double batch of these at least once a month and freeze them. They are sublime. Perfect for parties or as a quickie cocktail snack.

February saw me having a quiet evening at the bachelorette pad with Dollface, Ms. LaRue and my fantastic boy (who is a) friend, The Librarian. Dollface and I had eaten at (the late, lamented) restaurant Umenehana a few nights before and decided to recreate their Lychee cocktail for our friends. It was divine.

March was quite the month! I went wine tasting with The Ombudsman, the (now ex) BF got some fresh squeezed orange juice, I wrote a scathing review of The Geisha House restaurant, and I taught a cooking class that included Yogurt & Chile Broiled Chicken. (And that kitchen? I still dream about it.)

Ah April, what a fun 30 days that was! The best month I had all year, indeed. I went to a Dodgers Game with The Ombudsman, ate lunch at Barney Greengrass (well, I do that most months. Giggle) and had a sublime dinner at the Hotel Bel Air with the Rock Goddess, got hectically lost in the wilds of the Valley and appeased myself with (the worlds greatest foodstuff) fish tacos, guest posted on Breakfast at Tiffany's, went to an uber glam party with Dollface and Ms. LaRue, and made some exquisite crackers. If you have never made crackers, I urge you to do so! They are the BEST!

Come May, I made a drastic (if short-lived) life change and traipsed off to England for some Cheese Rolling and other such silliness. I was pretty excited to be there but my cooking seems to have suffered for it. In the interest of introducing the Brit-boy to some of my favorite pantry staples, I made a huge batch of Kumquat Chutney. To-die-for indeed.

June. Let'see, lots of fun stuff, but I'm limited to 10, so I'll skip this month.

July I spent in Chicago, Missouri and New York. While flitting around I found time to make my all time favorite ice cream. White Peach and Candied Ginger. Luscious. (Oh, and because it took me an eternity to figure out how to post pictures, like many other times, the photo is a separate post. I know how to fix it now, but frankly, I'm too lazy to do it.)

August was a blast. I got in some trouble with my buddy Charlie and ate myself silly, but again, being limited by this meme to 10 choices, I will move forward.

Remember September? Sam at Becks and Posh challenged to food blogging world to come up with a vegan recipe. Well, since my best friend, The Ombudsman happens to be a vegan, and falafel are one of my favorite foods, so I had no trouble choosing! (Though, that fig tapanade was pretty sensational too!)

October. Spooky! I was a busy little Miss! Griping that the L.A. Times wasn't covering food blogs, griping about the (now ex) Brit and making prune cookies. Am I a riot or what! On the more upbeat side of things, my favorite recipe of the month has to be my first Kitchen Project, for roasted peppers. Versatile and tasty. Mmm.

Then came November, I remember it well. (Wink) I was quite ambitious last month I see, and I have a lot of favorites posted. Fried baby artichokes, noodles and cabbage, roasted garlic and leek bread pudding, those crazy-delicious sweet potatoes and heaven knows the cinnamon beef noodles made my mind swim. The winner though will have to be the warm mixed nuts. I make these all the time, and well, that post still has me shaking my head in wonder.

Which brings us to this month, the final month of 2005. Even with a ton of holiday parties, a pile up of work and visiting hither-thither, I still seem to have busted out quite a few festive favorites. The cauliflower soup for instance, and those darling short bread cookies. And let us not forget the pot-stickers! Yum-a-licious. My favorite though? Sticky Toffee Pudding. Glory-be, was that ever good.

But the best, I have saved for last. The best recipe I have for you kids is new and it's for Black Eyed Pea and Spinach Risotto.

It is an old Southern tradition to eat black eyed peas in the dish Hoppin' John on New Years Day to bring luck and happiness, and that is exactly what I wish for each and every one of you. Luck and happiness in the New Year. Try this, and enjoy. It amazed me it was so stunningly scrumptious and filling. And isn't being amazed the best?

Happy New Years my peaches! I'll be back in 2006!


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 cups aborrio rice
2 cups white wine
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups minced spinach
2 cups cooked black eyed peas
2 tablespoons butter
Black pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Bring the white wine and chicken stock to a gentle simmer in a large pot. Add a hearty pinch of salt and the bay leaf.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and saute over medium low heat until translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil.

Using a ladle, add a bit of the wine-stock, stirring the rice until absorbed, then add another ladelful and so on, continuously stirring until the rice is cooked through and creamy, about 30 minutes.

About three minutes before you feel you are done (27 minutes in) add the spinach, allspice and peas to the rice. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.

You want the end dish to be somewhat soupy and really flavorful. Add the butter (and some parmesan if you like) mix throughly and serve with black pepper.

Makes six to eight servings

Leftovers (if you have any) are great mixed with some egg and flour and made into patties.


Black Eyed Peas aka cowpeas (not the tastiest name ever...)are dried peas that are beige in color with a small black 'eye' in their centers.

Hoppin' John is a dish of rice, collard greens, black eyed peas and ham. The greens represent dollars and the beans, coins

Non-foodie fact: For luck, women in Chile wear yellow panties on New Years Eve. Just wanted to share. LOL.

Japan celebrates New Year's with a seven-day festival that begins January 1. Food is prepared ahead of time so that no cooking needs to be done during the festival. On New Year's day, a wide variety of dishes called Osechi ryori are served elaborately in lacquered boxes -- each dish is a symbol of hope for the new year. -

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Great way to do the meme (I was so relieved when I saw that you too have problems with how it is pronounced!), you can be sure that I will tro some of the recipes! I wish you a very, very Happy New Year!
What a clever and fun idea to combine a year-in-review with the meme. I really enjoyed reading it.
Well, I'm certainly glad you're around, my dear. Although, this meme has given me about twenty hours' worth of new work in the kitchen, trying to replicate all of these recipes of yours!

Happy New Year, dear Rachael.
We have the traditional Black Eyed Peas in some form on New Year's Day. This sounds like a wonderful version for this year. Thanks.
I am a traditional Southern cook and wanted a recipe that put a spin on the New Years Day dinner...what a GREAT find! I found you on google and now have saved this Black Eyed Pea well as your site! Thank you so very much for what sounds like a delicious alternative to salt and pepper alone! Love it! Happy Happy Happy New Year!
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