Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.
These are the 10 Genius Recipes that stole your heart in 2019, over and over again. In some ways, the list is predictable (you really like pancakes). And in others, not so much (you also really like coconut water soup—and I’m very happy for you, because I do, too!).
Go on and bookmark and print and cook them all (the ones you haven’t already, that is), but after that maybe swing by the 10 Most Overlooked Genius Recipes list. Even less predictable, but, in a new decade, they might just steal your heart, too
This recipe from cookbook author Leah Koenig is very much like other egg dishes made to use up stale breads around the world—matzo brei, migas, shredded roti and eggs, pain perdu. But there’s something about the way the pita toasts and crisps in a generous amount of butter that—if you’re like me—will lead you to keep pita bread on your weekly grocery list, so you’re always ready for speedy breakfasts, dinners, and midnight snacks.
When we asked beloved baker Dorie Greenspan to share one of her favorite Genius Recipes, this is the one she chose: a puckery-bright lemon cake from Maida Heatter, whose books taught Dorie how to bake. (She even brought her marked-up copy of Maida’s first cookbook to our video shoot!) One of the keys to the cake’s sunshiney flavor is an unusual uncooked lemon and sugar syrup that slowly seeps into the warm cake.
You might think with mochi in the name, Cynthia Chen McTernan’s pancakes would be gooey-soft and chewy like their rice-floury namesakes. Instead, with some sweet rice flour mixed in with the all-purpose, these pancakes just taste richer, milkier, and more complete, with the same light-and-fluffy vibes of regular buttermilk pancakes.
You may have tasted cottage cheese pancakes before (and they were probably wonderful). But you probably haven’t tasted pancakes with five times as much cottage cheese as there is flour. This recipe, from the women behind Cowgirl Creamery and Bette’s Oceanview Diner in Northern California, makes cakes that are more like mini-soufflés, and the lightest pancakes I’ve ever tasted.
This is how to get the closest thing to Zahav restaurant’s famous hummus at home in about five minutes (Michael Solomonov has even made it in under five with one hand taped to his head). It’s ultrasmooth and rich, and, maybe most thoughtfully of all, chef-owners Solomonov & Steve Cook designed the recipe to use up a whole jar of tahini, so there’s no need to stir the sticky paste or to wash an extra measuring cup.
Instead of having to choose between making a homemade broth or settling on a so-so store-bought one, now we have a third option: Pick up a box of coconut water. Writer and Food52 contributor Yi Jun Loh’s mom discovered this surprisingly effective substitute for the rich sweetness of meaty, long-simmered bone broths when his sister Jia became a vegetarian. You can use their trick to quickly improve any soup or stew, but this ABC soup—the Malaysian version of the classic simple chicken soup—is a great place to start.
Unlike a classic weekend lasagna layering project, this recipe is all cooked in one skillet—quick tomato sauce, pasta, and all. And it happens fast, thanks to frozen ravioli, the pasta that comes with its own cheese layers tucked right inside. Best of all, because it was created by star recipe developer Grace Parisi, what could be just a disappointing hack has all the good bits of the real thing (crusty edge pieces included).
This simple, summery pasta dish from Nancy Harmon Jenkins uses an Italian trick that no one talks about: boiling the vegetables right along with pasta in the pot. This shortcut is both dish-saving and faster than cooking the vegetables separately, and even makes the pasta taste better, as the noodles absorb some of the flavor from the potatoes and beans as they cook. The vegetables will cook slightly differently each time you make this dish, but that’s part of the beauty of it.
This revolutionary egg technique from Ideas in Food might not just change how you think about cooking eggs, but most other ingredients, too—in nothing but a thin layer of cream (which quickly breaks down into steaming buttermilk and brown butter). After you taste the eggs, you’ll want to try cooking more things in cream, and flavoring the cream with herbs, spices, garlic, or citrus zest. Whatever you make will be creamy-soft and brown-buttery-crisp, every time.
Molly Yeh taught me about one little step that I’ll never skip again for getting the finest, crispiest roasted potatoes: boiling in salty water first. Not only does it season the potatoes all the way through, but it also brings some of the potatoes’ gelatinized starches to the surface, so they get even crispier in the oven.