What draws you to a recipe? Is it a single ingredient — pomegranate for instance — that's popped up on your radar? Could it be a technique for a specialty that you've...

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What draws you to a recipe? Is it a single ingredient — pomegranate for instance — that’s popped up on your radar? Could it be a technique for a specialty that you’ve been wanting to try? Or perhaps it’s a combination of flavors such as chocolate and mint that you’ve always loved.

At The Seattle Times, we are attracted to all of those elements. We also look for a mix of ideas that will tempt readers with differing tastes and levels of cooking experience.

Each year at this time, we gather together 10 recipes that we’ve published over the past 12 months. All have been tested in our kitchen — and were favorites of our tasters. We hope you enjoy them, too.

From our monthly Seattle Times Cooking School series

* Sautéed Pork Chops with Apricot-Wild Mushroom Sauce (“Perfect pan sauces,” Jan. 14) This recipe serves as a template for preparing quick sauces that are simple and delicious. Pork loin chops are soaked in a salty brine, drained and cooked in a hot skillet. It’s then deglazed with a sauce of dried porcini mushrooms that have been softened in a combination of smoky Lapsang Souchong tea and chicken broth. Apricot preserves add a fruity sweetness.

* Halibut Poached in Saffron Broth (“Secrets to flawless fish,” May 12) Poaching fish in a seasoned broth is a classic technique, one of several that were highlighted in this installment of the cooking- school series. A golden saffron broth flavored with fresh basil and a bit of tomato is combined with fresh halibut for a light, subtle dish.

* Shrimp Salad with Burnt Honey and Orange Vinaigrette (“Chef’s salad — the making of a classic,” June 16) The chef’s salad has been updated with a wider choice of ingredients used in creative ways. Here a dazzling dressing combining caramelized honey, orange and sherry vinegar is drizzled over sweet shrimp, sugar snap peas and Asian greens for a delightful departure from tradition.


Focaccia al Gorgonzola

* Focaccia al Gorgonzola (“Fantastic focaccia” Sept. 22) More than just a flash-in-the-pan trend, focaccia has become a staple in restaurant bread baskets and panini shops. It’s also one of the easiest flat breads to make at home. Our recipe pairs the golden yeast bread with pungent gorgonzola and heady thyme for a luscious topping.

Intriguing ingredients

* Pomegranate-marinated Chicken with Tabbouleh
(“Pomegranate’s sweet-tart flavor adds kick to Mediterranean dishes” Feb. 25) Both pomegranate juice and the intensely flavored pomegranate molasses enhance dishes from the Middle East and Eastern Europe with bold, striking flavors. We used the molasses in a lively marinade for chicken that’s served with an herbed-and-spiced tabbouleh and dressed with a sparkling vinaigrette.


Bean and Farro Soup with Chard

* Bean & Farro Soup with Chard (Heirloom farro is a great grain in soups, salads” Feb. 11) Farro, an ancient Italian grain of the same genus as wheat, may be unfamiliar. But our tasters were surprised and impressed by its nutty flavor and chewy texture. Farro pairs with white beans, tomatoes, chard and rosemary in a robust soup that takes the chill off dreary winter days.

* Miso-marinated Flank Steak (“From sweet to salty, miso seasons” July 21) Just a spoonful of earthy miso paste will cure the culinary blues. This powerhouse ingredient is made by blending soy or other beans with a grain, which is then salted and aged. In a knockout marinade of fresh ginger, lemon zest, sake and crushed red pepper, it’s the miso that gives the beef an incredible flavor and juiciness.

From cookbook reviews

* Grilled Salmon with Red Currant Glaze (From “Celebrate the Rain” by the Junior League of Seattle, May 26) There are lots of great recipes in this cookbook, but this salmon dish was special. Just a few ingredients — red currant jelly, lemon, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard — collaborate in a lovely rendition that’s easy enough to serve on a weeknight and elegant enough for a special night.

* Quick Cinnamon Buns (From “Baking Illustrated” by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, March 31) Known for its thorough research and testing methods, Cook’s Illustrated developed a cinnamon roll that’s leavened with baking powder instead of yeast. The buttermilk dough is filled with brown sugar and spices, and cream-cheese icing glazes these finger-licking-good rolls.

Sweet endings

“Research tells us that 14 out of every 10 individuals like chocolate,” said cartoonist/author Sandra Boynton, so we couldn’t end this list without it.

* Chocolate-Mint Thumbprints (Holiday Cuisine, Nov. 10) We chose these because of the irresistible powdered-sugar-peppermint-candy icing that fills the centers of the dark chocolate cookies. It’s a classic combination that’s always a winner.