Djalali Cooks Reader Favorites 2021

Hello and welcome! We are continuing on with our Best Of, Reader Favorites today with the top 10 Djalali Cooks posts from all of 2021. There are definitely a few surprises on this list and I had a lot of fun looking through the numbers to find out what resonated with all of you the most this year. Let’s get right to it – it’s Reader Favorites 2021!

1. Tahdig (Persian Rice) in the Always Pan

I have talked a bit about the Always Pan and I just received the Noosh-e-Joon Platter, a shallow ceramic platter that has handles on both sides. Our Place sells it as an Always Pan accessory. The platter comes with a Damkoni, which is a cotton “pocket” that fits over the lid to absorb moisture to get perfectly cooked rice with a crispy bottom. It also came with a small bottle of saffron and a recipe for Tahdig. So that’s what we are making today: Farah and Sophia’s Tahdig Polo, courtesy of Our Place and the Always Pan.

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2. Best Ever Tuna Melt

The story of the Tuna Melt is that of an accident. The story goes that during a busy shift at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Charleston, South Carolina, a bowl of tuna salad perched above the griddle, fell atop a grilled cheese sandwich while it was open-faced, on the griddle. So maybe it’s more like the accidental invention of Toasted Ravioli, when a ravioli accidentally fell in the deep fryer. I love it when an accident becomes an icon! 

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3. The Classic Steakhouse Wedge Salad

Today I have one of my favorite steakhouse starters; the Classic Steakhouse Wedge Salad. Buttermilk blue cheese drizzle, dressed tomatoes and bacon pieces; this salad is so simple, yet so refreshing and savory. I think the Wedge Salad is often maligned because of the iceberg lettuce (mostly), but then also the bacon and blue cheese don’t do it any favors in the nutrition department. But I don’t care what anyone says; I love a well-balanced Wedge Salad.

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4. Campari Olive Oil Cake

If you’re a subscriber, you may have noticed that I have often included recipes for Campari-based cocktails in the emails – it’s no secret, it’s my favorite apéritif! I came across this recipe for Campari Olive Oil Cake, by Melissa Clark. I was so intrigued, I had to try it! So today, we are making this citrusy cake with an easy whipped crème fraîche to top.

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5. Neapolitan Semolina Cake with Citrus and Cardamom

Today we are making a Neapolitan Semolina Cake (Migliaccio di Semolino), which is like a cross between cake and flan; its texture is dense and creamy, yet it’s light and refreshing. The flavor is only lightly sweet, perfumed with citrus, vanilla and spice. This cake’s base is a semolina porridge, mixed with ricotta and eggs. I found this recipe in the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated and it sounded so interesting, I thought it would be fun to try.

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6. Spanakopita Pasta Bake

I am not surprised this one made the Reader Favorites list – it’s regularly a top post. I came across My Greek Table, a show hosted by Diane Kochilas from Maryland public Broadcasting. She makes classic Greek dishes look simple and amazing. In one of the episodes I saw, she did a Spanakopita Mac and Cheese. Well, I had to try this. Today’s recipe is a little different, it’s a recipe I found on the NY Times Cooking site, but the idea is the same.

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7. Our Kitchen Renovation

Today, I am sharing the images and details of our 2020 Kitchen renovation. The kitchen was only part of the house renovation, but it is by far the most dramatic transformation of the entire project. I have been looking forward to sharing this with you for a while now, so I hope you enjoy this inside look at Our Kitchen Renovation.

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8. Pineapple Marinated Chicken

Today’s recipe is a really great way to prepare chicken breast. We often do whole chickens, so we are fine with breasts, but typically when I do a recipe that is just pieces of chicken, I always go for thighs. Well, I wanted to try this recipe I found on the New York Times Cooking site because it promises to deliver a tender, juicy chicken breast. I was skeptical. So we are doing it here today; let’s see how this Pineapple Marinated Chicken goes!

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9. Updated Classic: Not So Sloppy Joe’s

As a kid in the 70s and 80s I have fond memories of eating Sloppy Joes; mostly at my Grandma’s house in the summer time. I am sure she made hers with the recognizable packet of McCormick Sloppy Joes Seasoning; and I loved them. The loose meat sandwich wasn’t new then, in fact its origins go all the way back to the 1930s; with the first mention of Sloppy Joes in the 1940s. A classic, in my book. I hadn’t had Sloppy Joes in probably 30 years, and never from scratch, so I thought it might be a fun recipe to do here.

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10. Classic Ballpark Soft Pretzels

I was surprised this one made the Reader Favorites list, but I am glad it did because it’s really easy and super fun. it’s a Our favorite activity so far this summer has been enjoying our favorite teams’ games, snacking on ball park snacks, with ice cold beers out on the screen porch, cheering on our teams. So today, we are making Classic Ballpark Soft Pretzels.

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Thank you so much for joining me for Djalali Cooks Reader Favorites 2021! I have to say that I think it’s so great that Tahdig (Persian Rice) is the number one post of 2021! It’s a pleasant surprise that the classic Tuna Melt and the Wedge Salad were high on the list; when I posted those recipes I wondered if folks would think they’re a little “old School”, but it just goes to show that classic recipes are classics for a reason – sometimes we just need to be reminded of them. Take care and be well, everyone! xo Kelly

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  • Mari
    December 27, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Oh crumbs! How is it Monday already?! We know the Grinch stole Christmas, but I’m beginning to wonder if he has a brother or a cousin that steals weekends. I’m going to say he does, because once I wake up on Saturdays, a feeing of deja vu sets in. No matter what I do or fail to do, it will be Monday in five minutes, and I will have missed two days that I will never get back. I would love to know what I’m doing during that missing 48 hours, but I suspect I will never find out, and I would be bored if I did…
    This was a super fun post to wake up to. I am bookmarking this page because it has some of my favorite recipes, and I loved reading about your kitchen reno again. The pictures were so good too. It gives me some idea of what to expect when I do mine next year. One thing for sure, the birds and I will sublet an apartment because the three of us hate noise, dust, and messes.
    I do love the products and links that you show after the posts. The one yesterday really captured my attention. In particular I loved the Mercer low bowls. They look very chic and they don’t look like everything else. The price was really good too. Most kitchenware comes in eaches, fours or sixes. I have rarely seen anything sold in sets of eight. The closest thing I saw on Amazon was six bowls and they didn’t have that fabulous sculptural look. The Mercer bowls are totally worth the price. At my house, we are all about the bowls for everything, and I am buying those bowls.
    Happy Monday, smiles and hugs to Kelly, Alex, the pups and the blog sisters. Does anyone actually like Mondays? I will admit that any day where the week begins is a bummer. One of my jobs switched the schedule for two of us on the office staff from Monday through Friday, to Tuesday through Saturday. We loved the idea, but we soon found that there wasn’t much difference between Monday and Tuesday!

    • Kelly Djalali
      December 27, 2021 at 11:13 am

      Hi Mari, Monday again! I know Monday feels like a bit of a drag when I haven’t spent time thinking about the week ahead on Saturday or Sunday. I like to get the week organized before Monday rolls around, because then Monday feels a lot less like Monday! Lol. You will love the Mercer bowls. We have had the Mercer dining set for about 6 years and I am still in love with them. They look great stacked on the open shelves too – I love their asymmetry, very sculptural, indeed. Hugs to you, xo Kelly

  • Terry
    December 27, 2021 at 11:00 am

    These are great recipes to look back on. I appreciate the memory jog… with the snow we’ve been getting I have a lot of these ingredients in the house. Have a great Monday ❄️⛄️?❤️Mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      December 27, 2021 at 11:14 am

      Good thing you won’t have make a trip to town for grocery shopping, Mom! Have a great Monday, talk soon. xo Kelly

  • Sandra
    December 27, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Kelly
    I like your “greatest hits”list!
    Also, your kitchen renovation is beautiful!!! Your home is awesome.
    All that’s missing is a camera crew to film your new show Djalali Cooks — maybe one day?
    I think you would get a lot of viewers.
    Oh, I made the Aussie Zucchini Slice and it will be made again for sure!
    And I also tried the drizzle for the sliced apples (didn’t wait to make the pork chops again!) and I really liked it, especially with lots of Dijon mustard.
    Have a wonderful last week of 2021!
    Take care

    • Kelly Djalali
      December 27, 2021 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Sandra, Thanks so much! I am so happy you made the Zucchini Slice. We had it as part of our Christmas brunch and it was just as great the second time! Also glad you liked the Dijon drizzle! Wishing you a relaxing last week of 2021! xo Kelly