What I Cooked in 2023

I rather enjoyed writing my 2022 post, so I’m back again with more pictures and brief notes.

These dishes aren’t not necessarily representative of, well, anything. It’s just what I found on my phone.

Red Bean Soup

red bean soup

Growing up, I ate red bean soup at Chinese restaurants. And by that, I mean I complained that this restaurant didn’t have mango pudding, and then passed my bowl of red bean soup to my parents.

Now that I’m old, I like red bean soup. I also realize that restaurants make a very thin and uninteresting version of it. When you make it yourself, you can make it thicker and more flavorful.

I didn’t have tapioca, so I threw in clumps of tapioca starch. It kind of worked, but really didn’t.

Braised Short Rib and Parsnip

Braised Short Rib and Parsnip

Probably five years before, I clearly misjudged the recipe for the event and served perhaps the most delicious and visually striking dish I had ever created. And it was for a casual get together with friends in t-shirts and jeans.

This time, I tried to re-create it, and it definitely missed the mark. The meat was dry, the parsnips weren’t as sweet, and I didn’t quite get the plating right. I’m sure some judge on Chopped would complain about the splatter above.

Eggplant Donburi

eggplant donburi

I love eggplant, but it’s kind of a pain to prep. This particular recipe bypasses that by just using the microwave, which works so well that I really need to use the same technique elsewhere.

I have gotten into “bowls” a bit more recently. It sounds kind of silly because I grew up eating bowls of rice with stuff on top. What feels different is that usually, my mom would make a stir-fry or maybe a protein plus a veggie; there wasn’t a tableful of toppings to mix and match.

You may notice a Chinese bent in the picture above with roast pork belly and Chinese broccoli. That’s just because I often get my Asian stuff at 99 Ranch despite the fact that the closest Asian market is actually Japanese. Go figure.

Corned Beef

corned beef

My mom packed sandwiches for our school lunches almost every day, and my favorite cold cut was corned beef. I think I was well into high school before I found out that you actually can just eat corned beef.

Since then, I have spent a lot of time figuring out the perfect cooking technique. To be honest, I think my corned beefs have gotten worse. It’s probably just my standards going up, but I feel like I haven’t gotten quite the right balance of chew and juicy across roasts, slow cooks, braises, or sous vides at various temperatures and timings.

I also found out as an adult that I really like boiled cabbage. I genuinely think it’s weird how much I like it. Anyways, that combo means that St. Patrick’s Day is an important culinary holiday for me.

Soft Boiled Eggs

exploded soft boiled egg

And that picture is sideways. Too late.

For awhile, we were doing a lot of soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. Inch of water in the pot, add eggs, cover, turn down the heat, and let the eggs cook mostly in the steam for 6-7 minutes.

I guess this particular egg had a minor fracture in the shell but the membrane was intact, so it had puffed up a bunch. This picture is from after it had deflated off the heat for a moment.

Detroit-Style Pan Pizza

Detroit-style pizza

I didn’t know that Detroit-style pizza existed until I made this. Then I mentioned it to a handful of people, all of whom seemed to be aware of it.

I don’t exactly remember why I ended up making them, either. I was serving a crowd with it, but I have so many other pizza recipes that are good, and generally seemed like safer plays for company.

I seem to remember that I made the dough in the food processor and thought I had ruined it. As such, I made a second batch following the instructions more closely, and they came out about the same.

And that’s how we ended having pizza for dinner twice that week. At least they were delicious.

Crispy Gnocchi With Burst Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Crispy Gnocchi With Burst Tomatoes and Mozzarella

This recipe both looks and tastes pretty good. I think the title and concept pretty much says it all.

NYT Cooking has an amazing comments section, and there was a suggestion in there to broil rather than panfry the gnocchi. It did take a really long time to panfry all of it, so I think I would do it differently.

Sausage and Polenta

sausage and polenta

At some point last year, I had the seemingly brilliant idea to pick recipes out of cookbooks for kids, so I grabbed a bunch from the library and started making things.

It wasn’t for me. Kids tend to like normal things, and I didn’t really need inspiration for normal food. We didn’t have any breakthroughs.

Here’s one random thing we made. I think the pitch for polenta is that it’s like oatmeal made out of corn.

I ate two servings of polenta that night.

Beef Stew

beef stew

One of the children’s cookbooks also had a beef stew recipe in it. It was actually pretty good, but I don’t think I’m at a baseline much of a beef stew guy. However, Julie is, so I was happy to freeze the rest of it for her to have servings of along the way

Cheesy Baked Pumpkin Pasta With Kale

cheesy baked pumpkin pasta

Given the ingredient and the technique, it’s not really obvious that this should either taste good or work at all. However, this is the second time we have made it, so it has something going for it.

Pumpkin and kale both have that very trendy healthy vibe going that makes this a nice vegetarian hosting option. It also can largely be made ahead of time and combined just before baking.

Mixed Fruit Crisp

mixed fruit crisp

I think I had some apples that I didn’t like eating very much and wanted to bake into something. However, it wasn’t quite enough, so I threw some other random fruit in there as well.

The filling recipe came from ATK, and I think I also made some alternations to the topping recipe. I really futzed around with this recipe, but it turned out fine. I think fruit crisps are pretty resilient.

Roasted Mushroom and Butternut Squash Tart

roasted mushroom and butternut squash tart

I made this for Thanksgiving, and it turned out fine. I think the mushroom and leeks were good, the squash was fine, but the crust could have been better. I probably made some mistakes with the crust amidst the rest of the dinner preparation.

Apple Pie

apple pie

Our favorite apple pie is the linked filling with the Serious Eats all butter crust. Note the Tillamook vanilla ice cream in the corner, too.

I know there are many varieties of apple pies, but I definitely prefer the cooked (some say “apple sauce-like”) varieties more than the slightly crunchy apple slices stacked high style. I think it’s just because they’re sweeter.

Asparagus, Mushroom, Leek, and Cheese Galette

asparagus, mushroom, leek, and cheese galette

We made this for Christmas dinner, and it’s great. Highly recommended as a vegetarian main.

I think I had some issues with this particular one. I had used a pie crust I found in the freezer, and later on, I determined the crust was a different recipe than I thought it was. It wasn’t rolling out very well, so I ended up making it a little small and trying to squeeze everything in.

Fortunately, the dish is supposed to have a “rustic” look to it anyways, so it doesn’t obviously look wrong. The crust didn’t have the flavor I was hoping for either, but I hope these were all just in my head.

Final Thoughts

I led that these dishes aren’t representative, and having gone through the year, I might even say that they’re misleading. Previously, Julie and I were pretty tuned in on what we liked and how we would go about cooking meals, but with children, everything changes. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when push comes to shove, it’s easier to fall back on making staples rather than exploring new dishes.

To start this year, we already have had a few interesting baking projects, but we’ll have to see what this post looks like in 2025.

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