The year in food: What 2013 cooked up

kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com aweigl@newsobserver.comDecember 31, 2013 

It was bound to be a weird year in food news for 2013: A Texas magazine appointed a barbecue editor, Cronut entered the food lexicon and Paula Deen suffered an image debacle.

The barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn of Texas Monthly, immediately came to the Carolinas and spent three days visiting 16 barbecue restaurants.

One of us was among the hordes in New York who stood in line for hours to taste a Cronut, a cross between a doughnut and a croissant, which was the year’s “it” food.

It was the year National Public Radio reminded us that you shouldn’t wash raw chicken before you cook it (true) but blamed Julia Child for doing it wrong (not fair even if it was true).

It was the year that heavy summer rains wiped out tomatoes but brought a bounty of juicy corn. The year that record catches in Maine brought the price of lobster almost as low as hamburger, and scientists in Europe announced they had grown hamburger in a test tube.

It was the year that Kraft agreed to get rid of artificial food dyes in some of its macaroni-and-cheese dinners, thanks to a campaign started by two Charlotte-based bloggers, Vani Hari and Lisa Leake.

It was the year the Food and Drug Administration proposed banning trans fats from our food supply, and took action to reduce the use of antibiotics in feed for cows, pigs and chickens raised for us to eat.

It was the year that Paula Deen ... well, maybe the less said about that would be better. And it’s a shame she didn’t follow that policy herself.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes from this year:

David Fowle’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

When Wilmoore Cafe owner David Fowle announced he was selling his Raleigh cafe, Andrea Weigl rushed to get his chocolate chip cookie recipe. It was one of the paper’s most requested recipes last year. Fowle recommends Ghirardelli chocolate chips for everyday cookies and the more expensive E. Guittard, which can be bought at Fresh Market and specialty stores, for special occasions.

3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

14-16 ounces chocolate chips, at least 60 percent cacao, such as E. Guittard or Ghirardelli

Sea salt

SIFT flour, baking powder, soda and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.

CREAM sugar, brown sugar and butter in a standing mixer or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer. (You want this very well combined. Fowle lets his standing mixer go for five minutes.)

ADD eggs one a time and beat thoroughly. Then add vanilla and continue beating. Slowly add the flour. When all the flour disappears into the dough, add chocolate. Cover dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 72 hours.

PREHEAT oven to 300 degrees.

USE an ice cream scoop to make golf-ball-sized mounds of dough. (If you have a kitchen scale, the dough balls should weigh between 2 1/4 and 2 1/2 ounces.) Place each one several inches apart on a cookie sheet. Lightly sprinkle each cookie with sea salt.

BAKE for 16-20 minutes depending upon how soft you like your cookies.

Yield: About 24 cookies.

Tuscan Bean Dip

Kathleen Purvis visited a Charlotte-area cooking club where member Molly Macon shared this recipe. It’s not pureed like most cannellini dips, but left whole and chunky.

2 (19-ounce) cans cannellini beans, such as Progresso

2 bay leaves

1 small red onion, minced

5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

2 tablespoons garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

2 cups good-quality olive oil, plus more if needed

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

Crusty bread or toasted baguette slices for serving

DRAIN and rinse the beans and set aside. Mix the bay leaves, red onion, tomato, garlic, parsley, basil, oregano and olive oil in a large bowl.

ADD the beans and toss well to coat. Add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper a little at a time, tasting to adjust flavors as you go. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

BRING to room temperature before serving with crusty bread or toasted baguette slices.

Yield: About 3 cups.

Roasted Carrot Hummus

Finding something that’s full of flavor and full of nutrition that’s easy to make in advance and pack in a lunch is quite a feat. In a story on lunchbox ideas, we included this dip from the book “Weelicious Lunches,” by Catherine McCord. Yes, you need this recipe in 2014.

3 large carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons peanut butter (or almond butter, sunflower butter or tahini)

PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees. Place the carrots and the whole garlic clove on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat.

ROAST for 45 minutes, or until the carrots are fork-tender and starting to caramelize.

PLACE all the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.

NOTE: You can thin the hummus with olive oil or hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Yield: 2 cups.

Sriracha Deviled Eggs

The rest of the world went crazy for Huy Fong Sriracha. But we were looking at other Asian hot sauces, including other brands of sriracha. We loved this variation on deviled eggs, adapted from Charlotte chef Geoff Bragg of The Peculiar Rabbit.

6 large eggs

Jalapeño peppers, seeds and membranes removed

Hot sauce for garnish

Sriracha aioli (see note)

3 raw egg yolks

1/4 cup sriracha

2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 to 1 cup vegetable oil

PLACE the eggs in a single layer in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover them. Bring to a boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 18 minutes. Drain and cool in cold water. Shell the eggs, cut in half and reserve the cooked yolks.

MAKE the aioli: Place raw egg yolks, sriracha, water and salt in a food processor. Puree. With motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil, starting with a few drops and slowly increasing to a small stream, until mixture thickens and stops absorbing oil. Remove from the food processor and set aside.

PLACE the cooked egg yolks in the food processor with 1/2 cup of the sriracha aioli and puree until smooth. Fill the cooked egg white halves with the mixture. Top with a sliver of jalapeño and a drizzle of sriracha. (You’ll have more aioli than you need. The remainder can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a day or two.)

NOTE: If you don’t want to use raw eggs or you need a shortcut, you could just whisk sriracha into commercial mayonnaise and continue with the recipe.

Yield: 1 dozen egg halves.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower

Andrea Weigl found this recipe last year while seeking to re-create her favorite cauliflower dish served at Mediterranean delis. This dish can be made up to two hours ahead. Don’t let 2014 pass without trying this recipe. From epicurious.com.

12 cups cauliflower florets (from about 4 pounds cauliflower)

1 large onion, peeled, quartered

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

3 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1 tablespoon paprika or Hungarian hot paprika

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

PREHEAT oven to 450 degrees. Place cauliflower florets in large roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet. Pull apart onion quarters into separate layers; add to cauliflower. Stir coriander seeds and cumin seeds in small skillet over medium heat until slightly darkened, about 5 minutes. Crush coarsely in mortar with pestle. Place seeds in medium bowl. Whisk in oil, vinegar, curry powder, paprika and salt. Pour dressing over vegetables; toss to coat. Spread vegetables in single layer. Sprinkle with pepper.

ROAST vegetables until tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 450-degree oven for 10 minutes, if desired.)

SPRINKLE with fresh cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes

This has been a go-to recipe for Andrea Weigl on busy weeknights. Leftovers can be turned into a filling for quesadillas. Feel free to double the amount of oil and oregano if desired. Adapted from “Nigella Kitchen,” by Nigella Lawson (Hyperion, 2010).

4 chicken leg quarters

1 tablespoon regular olive oil

1 pound chorizo sausage, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

1 pound red potatoes, quartered

1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Zest of 1 orange

PREHEAT oven to 425 degrees.

CUT chicken leg quarters, separating drumsticks from thighs. Place oil in bottom of a shallow roasting pan or rimmed backing sheet. Rub the skin of chicken in oil, then turn skin side up.

PLACE sausages, potatoes and onions in between chicken thighs and legs. Sprinkle everything with oregano and orange zest.

COOK for 1 hour, but turn pan around after 30 minutes and consider basting chicken with orange-colored juices.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

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