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Anna’s Veal Meatballs from Dean ZanellRhapsody. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Anna’s Veal Meatballs from Dean Zanella of Rhapsody. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 20, 2012 8:01AM

The meatballs on the menu at Rhapsody are named for chef Dean Zanella’s grandmother Anna, and they are hers for the most part. But not exactly.

Zanella has fiddled with the recipe over the years. Where Nonna Zanella used a combination of veal, pork and beef, he uses all veal — though the fresh bread crumbs are non-negotiable.

And this is how it should be. Recipes, even those from your dear, beloved grandmother, are guides. To tether yourself to them takes all the joy out of cooking.

Try any of our 10 best recipes of the year and, if you allow yourself to do so, you might find yourself tweaking them a little.

Amanda Rockman’s buttermilk tart would be as appropriate a showcase for juicy peaches or figs as they are for the cherries around which the Bristol pastry chef created the dessert.

A chevre tart, from writer Katherine Sacks, is literally a canvas — creamy goat cheese spread across puff pastry and lined with asparagus stalks. But if it’s August, and you’ve got tomatoes, wouldn’t that be gorgeous?

There are certain combinations that just work — smoked trout, crunchy fried green tomatoes and pickled onions, a Giuseppe Tentori creation; sweet melon, salty fish sauce and flecks of mint from the book Cooking in the Moment. Celebrate them, but also look at them as a jumping off point.

This is my last issue as food editor. Thank you to the writers who contribute to this section, whose words I hope make you hungry. And thank you, readers, for following us every week, keeping us on our toes and sharing your recipes and stories. I look forward to revisiting these 10 recipes with each turn of season, and as I make them my own, I hope you will, too.


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