Year-end lists can be very revealing. Take Spotify’s personalized lists of users’ most played songs and artists, for example, all of which are telling. Was there a lot of happy pop or groovy disco? Or was it all Death Cab for Cutie, a sign that the vibes weren’t that high? Be that as it may, The New York Times Cooking staff’s year-end review also reflected our general mood: Comfort and convenience were essential, as were reliable old standbys.
You know when you just want to eat cake and you want it now, and you don’t want to choose between vanilla or chocolate either? This is the cake for you! Quick to make with dollops of vanilla and chocolate, the recipe makes more chocolate cream cheese frosting than you actually need on the cake, which means more for you to snack on. And the Bundt pan makes it look nicer than it actually is! This cake has served me well this year — perfect for weeknights, Sundays, birthdays, and casual snacking. PRIYA KRISHNAI
2021 was my Cheez-It year. At one point, not long ago, I had a family box lying on its side in the closet, my very own Cheez-It dispenser. But when I didn’t eat handfuls of Cheez-Its during a difficult and exhausting year, I made tubs of Dety McKinnon’s spicy soy dressing. I’d keep it in the fridge along with a few blocks of silken tofu: a small meal pack, so steadfast, so comforting, so ready in five minutes or less to warm me up, night after night if I forgot to eat again . KRYSTEN CHAMBROT
I immediately turned to Sue Li’s caramelized onion galette every time I had to impress people at dinner, which was a lot this year, because dinner parties made a brief comeback and I’m a Leo. I also had a love affair with butter mochiconsistently leaning on Genevieve Ko’s recipe and Alexa Weibel’s adaptation of the raspberry mochi butter cake from bakery République in LA VAUGHN VREELAND
I think I made Pan fried feta with broccolini, tomatoes and lemon about a dozen times since last year. Before my grandmother died in January, she used to hang out with me at my house, and when I had lunch, it was usually this quick recipe.
Also, not to conjure my own horn, I made this sandwich many times this year, not just because I was developing the recipe. Even after it was published, I continued to make it in different variations: using smoked turkey, adding turkey bacon, and experimenting with cranberry sauce and different jams and preserves. CHRISTINA MORALES
Recipe: Pan Fried Feta With Broccolini, Tomatoes And Lemon † Elena Ruz Sandwich
Two things: Yossy Arefi’s frying pan caramel apple crisp, which delivers spectacularly for a not-too-hard dessert. (I sometimes make the salted caramel just to pour over ice cream or as a dip for apples.) I’m on a gougère run too, be it the recipe Dorie Greenspan or the simple one Cheddar cheese puffs Julia Moskin got from Bay Area chef Tori Ritchie. Take some out of the freezer when friends come over and you’ll look like a culinary wizard. Kim SEVERSON
This year I found myself cooking a dish I’ve eaten all my life: my mother’s kimchi jjigae with baby back ribs† As with any generational recipe, I fiddled endlessly with my mother’s formula. The real joy of a kimchi jjigae, or stew, is that it has many lives: the first night it is a clear, refreshing ointment, a trickling panacea. On the second night, the kimchi has continued to soften and the stock has darkened in both color and flavor. On the third or fourth night, I may add more sliced onions and instant ramyun noodles or chopped Spam to stretch it until it can’t be stretched anymore. On the fifth, sixth, or seventh night, when most of the moisture has been scooped out, I could stir the dregs—a jumble of overcooked onions and kimchi—into my congee in the morning, almost like a sauce. This stew is my beginning, middle, and end, and I’m so thankful for it. ERIC Kim
Every time I can use plantains in new ways, I’m happy! Yewande Komolafe’s asaro recipe, a dish of root vegetables stewed in a tomato-chili sauce, quickly became my go-to for comfort and coziness in a year full of ups and downs. GINA FERNANDEZ
Recipe: Asaro (Yam and Plantain Curry)
Eric Kim’s gyeran bap is one of those recipes that just sounds good — fried eggs, white rice, soy sauce, and sesame oil — those are all great things. But the addition of quickly browned butter and a pile of gim, which wilts into the rice as you mix it together to eat, gives the impression of a dish that took much longer than 10 minutes to prepare. BECKY HUGHES
I’ve also ordered way more take out this year than I care to admit. And who can blame me? My Brooklyn neighborhood offers endless options, each better than the last. There were many days when cooking was just too insurmountable a task to take on. The thought of chopping a vegetable? Hercules. Boil a pot of water? Offensive. Fortunately, Melissa Clark is a benevolent goddess, gifting hopeless mortals like me with a version of the viral TikTok feta pasta recipe that cooks the pasta in the same dish, rather than cooking it separately on the stovetop. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made it. KASIA PILAT
In June I visited my GP. Long story short, I’ve been on a “diet” ever since. The good news is that shortly after being in France I was visiting family at a time when the markets were overflowing with tomatoes and summer squash – the perfect time to make batches of Melissa Clark’s Ratatouille (Look, doc: no starch!). More recently, Ali Slagle’s Thai inspired chicken meatball soup has become an instant staple in our home thanks to its milky richness, warming spice — and no starch, too. BRETT ANDERSON