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The best recipes of 2017 that wowed us over and over

Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Variety Menu

It was a year of plant foods, bowl foods and whole foods.

With whole foods that meant preparing foods as simple as possible using foods with very few ingredients, it also meant Whole Foods Market chain being gobbled up by Amazon.

Not only did Amazon stun the grocery world by buying Whole Foods Market, the grocery store industry changed, too. More and more stores offer online grocery shopping with curb side pick-up or delivered to your door. And stores offer everything from groceries to clothing and toys.

In 2017, the Free Press spent our third year at the Great Lakes Culinary Center testing recipes and hosting events. And it's some of those recipes that were deemed stand-outs and ones we will make over and over.

The Test Kitchen's Favorite Recipe list includes Ham and Cheese sliders that are easy to put together and are crowd-pleasing. These baked sliders are versatile and should be at least in everyone's Super Bowl party play book.

Everyone is usually on the hunt for new chicken recipes, and we had plenty to choose from this year. There's a version of the famed Silver Palates Chicken Marbella served with sauteed kale. A healthy version of a Asian Chicken served the trendy bowl way from Henry Ford Health Systems won our vote.

Looking for more party food? We've got an appetizer for that: Sweet and Savory Bacon Twists. Staffers couldn't keep their hands of these.

Big juicy burgers were everywhere including the opening of downtown Detroit's first Shake Shack. There was also the arrival of the Impossible Burger, an all plant-based burger, at B Spot Burgers, which got rave reviews. But our fave burger recipe uses a blend of two cuts of beef for a juicy and flavorful burger. (Be sure to watch the recipe video on freep.com).

For low-carb dieters, cauliflower continues its merry way especially with the help of the ketogenic diet. Riced cauliflower is now sold frozen and pearl cauliflower fresh, both are great for making faux mashed potatoes. One of today's "Best-of" recipes using cauliflower in a simple form -- thinly shaved in a salad with a yummy vinaigrette.

And so, here are our favorites recipes from last year. We are sure you will enjoy them well into 2018.

Dig in!

CREAMY WILD MUSHROOM SOUP WITH LEEKS

Makes: 6 servings / Preparation time: 20 minutes / Total time: 2 hours (not all active time)

You can use any mix of mushrooms in this recipe. The original called for 5 ounces of each. Because I love mushrooms and they tend to cook down, I used more.

6 to 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms

6 to 8 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms

6 to 8 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 carrot, peeled chopped

1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups chopped leeks, white and light-green parts (2 large leeks)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps \-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream and parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

Adapted from www.foodnetwork.com.

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

CHICKEN MARBELLA AND SAUTEED KALE

Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 1 hour

Hartwig writes that "This gorgeous dish, inspired by one of the most popular recipes from the classic Silver Palate Cookbook, hits a whole host of complementary flavors. It gets sweetness from dates, saltiness and piquancy from olives and capers, sourness from vinegar -- plus the piney astringency of rosemary. It's simple enough to make on a weeknight but impressive enough for company, especially with everything arranged on top of a bed of bright green kale."

CHICKEN

4 large bone-in and skin on chicken thighs (about 11/2 pounds total), trimmed of excess fat

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup pitted dates, halved

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, drained

2 medium shallots, peeled, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chicken bone broth or good quality chicken broth

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

KALE

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly sliced

2 bunches kale, tough stems removed, leaves chopped

1/2 cup chicken bone broth or good quality chicken broth

Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Pat the chicken skin dry with paper towel. Season the thighs all over with salt and pepper.

In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until skin is browned, turning once, about 5-8 minutes.

Remove the skillet from heat. Add dates, olives, shallots, broth, vinegar, capers and rosemary and transfer skillet to oven.

Roast, uncovered, until internal temperature of chicken is 165 degrees and meat is no longer pink, 25-30 minutes depending on the size of the thighs.

Meanwhile, saute the kale. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the kale (don't worry if it looks like too much in the pan; it will cook down) and broth, and stir to combine. Cover and cook until kale is wilted, about 5-8 minutes.

Cook, stirring frequently, until all liquid has evaporated, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange chicken, olives and dates on top of kale on serving platter.

Drizzle with the pan juices. Sprinkle with parsley if desired and serve.

Adapted from "Whole30 Cookbook: 150 Delicious and Totally Compliant Recipes to Help You Succeed with the Whole30 and Beyond" by Melissa Hartwig (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30).

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

SHAVED CAULIFLOWER SALAD

Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 20 minutes / Total time: 20 minutes

Bon Appetit magazine describes this recipe as "Thinly sliced raw cauliflower takes center stage in this salad, tossed in a bright, limey dressing and dusted with nutritional yeast."

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

10 ounces cauliflower florets (from about 1/2 of a small head), very thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast, divided

2 cups 1-inch-wide strips romaine

2 cups torn frisee or any artisan lettuce like petite tango

2 ounces Parmesan, finely grated, divided

In a large bowl, whisk lime zest, lime juice, mustard and honey. Whisking constantly, gradually add the oil until the dressing is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the shaved cauliflower and 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast to dressing; toss to combine. Add lettuce, frisee, and half of Parmesan and toss again; season with salt and pepper.

Transfer salad to a platter and top with remaining Parmesan and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast.

Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, September 2016 issue.

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

CHICKEN WITH CHARRED-ROSEMARY VINAIGRETTE

Serves: 4 / Prep time: 15 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes

Four 4-inch rosemary sprigs

3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar

1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

One 10-ounce package frozen artichoke heart quarters, thawed, or use equal amount of canned artichokes, well-drained

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

1/2 cup drained caperberries, or 3 tablespoons capers, drained

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roast 2 of the rosemary sprigs directly on the oven rack for 5 minutes, until charred. Leave the oven on. Strip off the leaves, then finely crush them; discard the stems. In a small bowl, whisk the leaves with the vinegar, mustard and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook skin side down over moderately high heat, turning once, until well browned, 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Stir in the artichokes, tomatoes, caperberries or capers and the remaining rosemary sprigs. Top with the chicken and roast for 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the chicken registers 165 degrees. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve, passing more vinaigrette at the table.

Adapted from Food and Wine magazine, May 2017 issue.

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

BAKED HAM AND CHEESE SLIDERS

Serves: 6 / Prep time: 30 minutes / Total time: 1 hour

You can use any type roll or bun for these sandwiches. If you use larger rolls, consider adding more than one slice of ham to each one. You can brush the sandwiches with the sauce, cover and refrigerate up to 1 day in advance.

24 slider buns

6 to 8 tablespoons Dijon, coarse grain brown or yellow mustard

24 slices favorite ham or turkey (use more if the slices are very thin)

24 thin slices provolone or Swiss cheese

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

 

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange slider bun bottoms on a sided baking sheet or arrange in a baking dish (you may need 2). Brush some mustard on the bottom bun. Fold ham slices in thirds, and place 1 slice (or 2 if they are very thin) on each roll bottom. Fold the cheese the same way and then place over ham. Season with pepper. Brush the inside of the bun cap with more mustard if you'd like. Place bun cap on ham.

In a small bowl, combine the butter, onion, and poppy seeds. Microwave until butter is melted and onion is softened, about 1 minute. Whisk in Worcestershire, garlic powder, and remaining 2 tablespoons mustard into butter mixture until combined. Generously brush tops and sides of the sandwiches with all of butter mixture. Spoon any remaining solids over sandwiches.

Cover dish with aluminum foil and let sit for 10 minutes to allow sandwiches to absorb sauce. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until cheese is melted around edges and tops are slightly firm, 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve.

Adapted from www.cookscountry.com.

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

ASIAN CHICKEN NOODLE BOWLS

Serves: 5 / Prep time: 20 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes

CHICKEN:

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, peeled, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound ground chicken or turkey breast meat

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

PEANUT BUTTER DRESSING:

1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon Thai chili garlic paste

1 1/2 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons water

5 cups cooked whole-wheat spaghetti noodles

1 2/3 cup shredded carrot

1 2/3 cup sugar snap pea pods (each pod sliced into 3 or 4 pieces)

1 2/3 cup sliced red bell pepper

1/3 cup sliced green onions

To prepare chicken mixture, heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes, and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Add ground chicken and continue cooking, forming crumbles and incorporating into sauteed onions. Whisk together hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and black pepper. Pour mixture over chicken crumbles and cook, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated; 5 to 8 minutes. To prepare dressing, combine peanut butter, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, and chili garlic paste until smooth.

Gradually add soy sauce, vinegar and water and stir until smooth. To assemble each bowl, place 1 cup cooked pasta in bottom of bowl, top with 1/2 cup seasoned chicken, 2/3 cup shredded carrot, 1/3 cup sliced pea pods and 1/3 cup red pepper. Drizzle each serving with 2 tablespoons peanut butter dressing and garnish with sliced green onions.

Created by Darlene Zimmerman, MS, RD, for Heart Smart and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

465 calories (23 percent from fat), 12 g fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat), 59 g carbohydrates, 32 g protein, 511 mg sodium, 58 mg cholesterol, 82 mg calcium, 10 g fiber. Food exchanges: 3 starch, 3 vegetable, 3 lean fat meat.

CEDAR-PLANKED SALMON FILLETS WITH BROCCOLINI

Serves: 4 / Prep time: 20 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes

Be certain to allow time for soaking the cedar plank before grilling.

1 untreated cedar plank, 12 to 15 inches long and about 7 inches wide

1 skin-on salmon fillet, about 1 1/2 pounds and 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 pound broccolini, stem ends trimmed and split lengthwise 1/2-inch below florets

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Soak the cedar plank in water for at several hours or overnight.

Prepare the grill for medium heat about 375 to 400 degrees.

Cut the salmon into four equal pieces and generously season salmon with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl mix together the mustard and brown sugar into a paste. Spread the paste all over the salmon. Toss the broccolini with the oil, salt and pepper to taste

Place the soaked cedar plank over direct medium heat and close lid. After 5 to 10 minutes when the plank begins to smoke and char, turn the plank over. Place the fillets, skin side down, in a single layer on the plank, leaving a little room between the fillets and place broccolini on the grates surrounding the plank.

Grill the fillets and broccolini with lid closed until salmon is cooked to desired doneness and broccolini is crisp-tender, about 12 to 15 minutes, turning vegetables and checking salmon for doneness every 5 minutes. The broccolini will char a little on the floret ends.

Transfer salmon fillets to plates. In a bowl, toss broccolini with orange zest and serve with salmon.

Adapted from "Weber's New Real Grilling" by Jamie Purviance (Sunset, $24.95).

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

CLASSIC BEEF BURGER WITH BACON AND BEER-SIMMERED ONIONS

Makes: 6 / Prep time: 45 minutes / Total time: 1 hour

For the burgers, fresh-grind your own mix of chuck, short rib and brisket or have a butcher do it for you.

BACON AND ONIONS

1 teaspoon canola oil

4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into \-inch thick pieces

2 medium onions, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, diced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup favorite ale

1 heaping teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 small bay leaf

1 star anise

BURGERS

1 1/2 pounds very cold blend of ground beef (preferably 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat)

Canola oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

8 slices favorite American, Cheddar or Swiss cheese

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 potato hamburger buns or favorite buns

Condiments of choice (see note for Shack Sauce)

Leaf lettuce

Tomato slices

In a medium saucepan, add the oil and bacon. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the bacon is golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, butter and salt and stir until the onions are evenly coated. Cover the pan and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Add the ale, vinegar, bay leaf and star anise. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the liquid has almost evaporated and onions are very soft and caramelized, about 40 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf and star anise.

While onions cook, prepare burgers. Preheat the grill to medium. Shape the meat into generous 6-ounce patties and into an even 1/3- to 1/2-inch thickness. Make a shallow indentation in the center of the burger. Brush both sides of the burgers with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the burgers to desired degree of doneness, turning them only once. About 2 minutes before burgers are done, top with cheese slices and allow to melt. At the same time brush the inside of buns with melted butter and place butter side down on the grill and toast until golden, about 2 minutes.

Remover the burgers from the grill, place on buns, add desired condiments and top each with a dollop of the onion mixture.

Cook's note: To make a sauce similar to Shack Sauce, mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 3/4 teaspoon ketchup, 1/2 teaspoon kosher dill pickling brine and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Adapted from "Shake Shack Recipes & Stories" by Randy Garutti & Mark Rosati (Clarkson Potter, $26.)

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

SWEET AND SAVORY BACON TWISTS

Makes: 14 to 16 / Prep time: 30 minutes / Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

This recipe originally appeared Dec. 24. The amount of cheese listed in the directions should have made clear that you sprinkle 1/2 to 1 cup of the cheese on the bottom half of the puff pastry. This recipe can be easily doubled.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg beaten

Cayenne pepper, optional

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese finely shredded (or your favorite)

1 pound center cut bacon

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degree. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray the rack with nonstick spray.

Open the puff pastry with the short side facing you. Press out the seams using a rolling pin. Brush the surface lightly with some of the beaten egg. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper if using. Sprinkle bottom half of the puff pastry surface with 1/2 to 1 cup of cheese to evenly cover entire surface. Fold the top half over the cheese. Dust a rolling pin lightly with flour and then roll the rolling pin over pastry pressing the cheese into the pastry.

Cut the puff pastry lengthwise into about 1/2-inch-wide strips. Place a bacon strip on each strip and twist several times and pinch the ends together.

In a pie plate mix together the brown sugar, rosemary, salt and pepper. Roll the twist into the sugar mixture coating on all sides. Place each twist back on the wire rack and repeat with the remaining twists.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until bacon is cooked. Be certain to check every so often to make sure the bacon isn't burning. Remove from oven and cool a few minutes before serving.

Try Sweet and Savory Bacon Twists as a holiday appetizer. Susan Selasky/Detroit Free Press

Adapted from several recipes.

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

(c)2018 Detroit Free Press

Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com

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