January: Upside-Down Fudge-Almond Tart
Coarsely chopped almonds, two kinds of chocolate, and golden cane syrup help give Upside-Down Fudge-Almond Tart its rich flavor and our highest rating. "Easy and beautiful, this tart will satisfy every chocoholic's need for a chocolate fix," comments Test Kitchen Professional Deb Wise.
"Duck fat, potato strips, and a topping of salty cheese is a divine combination," says Timothy Q. Cebula, Associate Food Editor. Oven-frying the potatoes in duck fat adds a rich, meaty flavor and gives them a gorgeously crisp texture. Look for duck fat in specialty markets, or order from Amazon.com.
January: Rösti Casserole with Baked Eggs
This dish embodies the alluring qualities you'd expect from rösti―shredded potatoes that are cooked until browned and crisp on the edges. Associate Food Editor Julianna Grimes notes, "This casserole fills the crispy, creamy, cheesy bill. Adding a salad rounds out the meal."
March: Sour Cream Coffee Cake
We slimmed down a classic and added whole grains to the mix. Our way trimmed 225 calories and a whopping 21 grams of fat per serving from the original. The result: a moist, satisfying breakfast cake so good you’re sure to echo the sentiments of Assistant Test Kitchen Director, Tiffany Vickers Davis, who raved: “If I could have this for breakfast every morning, my world would be a better place.”
March: Beef and Guinness Stew
This hearty stew, layered with complex flavors from caraway seeds, sweet raisins, and full-bodied Guinness Draught pays homage to the best of Irish cooking. Food Editor, Ann Taylor Pittman, promises “This meaty stew is so good, I sopped up every drop of the gravy-like broth with bread.”
March: Pear and Prosciutto Pizza
Peppery arugula resting on a base of creamy, sweet caramelized onions brings pizza to a whole new level in this surprisingly quick and healthy pie. You can have this version ready in the time it would take to have one of those weighed-down pizzas delivered to your door. Vanessa Pruett, Test Kitchen Director names this one of her favorites: “I love the idea of pizza and salad combined. And a premade crust makes it easy.”
April: Fried Catfish with Hush Puppies and Tartar Sauce
Proof that you can get fried food to fit into a healthy diet. Coat the fillets and prepare the batter for hush puppies while you wait for the oil to come up to temperature. You can also make the tartar sauce up to two days ahead and keep it refrigerated. If you don't like catfish, use halibut, tilapia, or another flaky white fish.
April: Fresh Coconut Cake
Rather than knocking you out with fake coconut extract overtones, this cake offers balanced flavor and nutrition—two things you can feel good about when serving a slice to your lucky guests. Associate Food Editor Julianna Grimes comments, "This cake has tall, moist layers with the finest crumb. Plus, I'm a really big fan of fresh coconut."
May: Pizza Margherita
Because this Neapolitan-style pizza is so simple, it depends on quality ingredients: Use the best fresh mozzarella and basil you can find. "Classic and delicious, plus the dough is a dream to work with," says recipe tester and developer Deb Wise.
May: Bacon and Wild Mushroom Risotto with Baby Spinach
Crisp bacon brings crunchy texture and smoky flavor to this creamy, cheesy risotto dish. Associate food editor, Tim Cebula, raves, "Bacon and risotto: can't go wrong."
June: Farmers' Market Potato Salad
Chopped seasonal produce like zucchini, red onion, tarragon, and fresh corn kernels add texture and flavor to potato salad. "As a tarragon lover, I went crazy for this vibrant salad," says Recipe Tester and Developer, Deb Wise.
June: Apricot-Thyme Galette
A sprinkling of fresh, fragrant thyme leaves over ripe apricots helps bring this flat cake to staff favorite status. Food Editor Ann Taylor Pittman agrees: "The addition of thyme is an absolutely ingenious, delicious touch."
July: Blueberry-Peach Cobbler
"Love the cakelike topping that's full of berries, with juicy fruit underneath," exclaims Test Kitchen Director, Vanessa T. Pruett. Be sure to use peaches that aren't superripe for this recipe so they'll hold their shape when cooked.
July: Sheep's-Milk Yogurt Cheesecakes with Grilled Figs and Pistachios
This delicate dessert blends sheep's-milk yogurt and a whiff of rose water into creamy cheesecakes served with grilled figs. "A total A++ experience with sheep's-milk yogurt," says Assistant Test Kitchen Director Tiffany Vickers Davis.
August: Hot and Hot Tomato Salad
Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Hot and Hot Fish Club's signature summer staple is adapted here, combining crisp fried whole baby okra and delicate lady peas served over fresh heirloom tomato slices and topped with smoky bacon and a creamy herbed dressing. "With fried, okra, fresh peas, and tomatoes, this would be hard to beat as the perfect summer meal," praises Test Kitchen Director, Vanessa T. Pruett.
August: Avocado-Buttermilk Soup with Crab Salad
Simple orange-infused crabmeat floats atop a rich, creamy soup. "This soup is to die for!" exclaims Chief Food Stylist, Charlotte Fekete. "Perfectly creamy and spicy and rich."
September: Quick Paella
Yes, it's possible to riff on the flavors of Spain's most famous dish and make a delicious Quick Paella. "It's amazing how a dish with so few ingredients has such big, smoky flavor," says Associate Food Editor Tim Cebula.
September: Eggplant Parmesan
We made over this classic casserole by losing the heaviness and the grease so you'll still have room for dessert. "Saucy, hearty, cheesy, meaty (with no meat)—this is a recipe that hits all the high notes," exclaims Associate Food Editor Julianna Grimes.
October: Bananas Foster Bread
This adult interpretation switches all of the sugar to brown sugar and cooks the mashed bananas with butter and cognac or dark rum. And it's topped with a slightly boozy glaze.
Test Kitchen Director, Vanessa Pruett compliments, "I love the buttery banana-cognac flavor in this moist treat. It feels decadent enough to be a dessert."
October: Mushroom Bolognese
Food journalist and author Mark Bittman retooled classic bolognese sauce giving it less meat, more flavor, and the same luxurious creaminess as the traditional version.
"This smells incredible as it cooks, with a deep, earthy, mushroomy fragrance," praises Food Editor Ann Taylor Pittman. "And the flavor lives up to the promise of the aroma."
October: Two Potato and Beet Hash with Poached Eggs and Greens
Sautéed yukon gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beets are topped with poached eggs for a meatless meal fit for brunch or dinner. To save time, you can purchase precooked, vacuum-packed beets at many markets in the produce section.
"Root veggies make this hash something special—it's an awesome weeknight dinner," notes Associate Food Editor Tim Cebula.
November: Toasted Guajillo and Pork Posole
Chiles flavor this soup and melt into the tender pork. Serve with lime wedges, chopped onion, cilantro leaves, and sliced radish and cabbage.
"The hearty, complex flavors of the soup are complemented by crisp, fresh garnishes," says Robin Bashinsky, Recipe Tester and Developer.
November: Vanilla Cake with Italian Meringue Frosting
Light and fluffy meringue frosting tops layers of moist vanilla cake making this a delicious and beautiful end to any meal.
"It's such an impressive-looking cake, and it tastes as good as (or better than) it looks," says Julianna Grimes, Associate Food Editor.
December: Truffled Wild Mushroom Lasagna
You don't have to spend a lot on truffle oil to make this luxurious meatless lasagna; look for small 2- or 3-ounce bottles, which are less likely to go bad before you use up the oil.
"Hearty and rich enough to satisfy the most die-hard of meat eaters...and the perfect touch of truffle oil to round out the finish," praises Nutrition Editor, Sidney Fry.
December: Roast Lamb with Pomegranate Sauce
This dish is elegant enough for company but easy on your wallet at only $2.44 per serving. Serve with steamed fresh green beans.
"So rich and satisfying—amazing that it's also budget-friendly," says Associate Food Editor, Tim Cebula.
December: Meringue-Topped Cranberry Curd Tart
A flaky homemade crust surrounds a smooth, luscious curd made of fresh cranberries and topped with meringue.
"It's a great way to showcase holiday season flavor," suggests Assistant Test Kitchen Director, Tiffany Davis.