**Top 5 Recipes of 2018**

Where oh where did 2018 go?! This year has flown by, at least for me -- it seems like just yesterday I was swooning over my newest Smitten Kitchen cookbook -- and the last few weeks of it have perhaps gone by the fastest. Since I've been home here on break in Rhode Island I've had a wonderful, food-filled Christmas with my family; I've reunited with my closest friend from high school and met up with my best friend from University; I've spent a day in Boston with my brother and sister-in-law, an afternoon shopping with my mom in Providence, and made my annual stop at PVdonuts; I've baked my dad's favorite challah bread, caught up on my sleep, and gone out for a good American breakfast, pancakes and all. Most importantly, I've spent lots of time with family, most of all my nonni and in particular my beloved nonno, who at 97 is finally and reluctanctly showing his age. In short, I've been taking the timeto fully be with the people here I don't see nearly enough of, and it's been nicer than I can say. 

Having said all that, I couldn't close 2018 without an end of year post, now could I?! Given that this is the very last post for Pancakes and Biscotti before we ring in 2019, I thought that I'd share with you its Top 5 recipes this year; it is a summary of sorts of the blog's past 12 months, and what you, my loyal Pancakes and Biscotti readers, have loved best. I hope that they are dishes that you will also carry with you well in to the New Year, too. Links to all recipes in their titles!

5. Pollo fritto alla toscana
Is it any suprise that fried chicken -- a universally loved food! -- would make it on to this list?! This is the Italian take on fried chicken, a mainstay of Tuscan-Jewish cuisine traditionally eaten for and around Hanukkah, where the chicken is simply marinated in lemon juice, garlic, and spices, then battered in egg and flour before deep-frying. And this chicken is an experience, you guys -- it's juicy and deeply golden brown and beyond crunchy  there is an audible CRUNCH when you bite in to it – with a hint of tangy lemon and a bit of sharp garlic which temper the the richness of the frying. Lastly, there's a subtle nudge of nutmeg and cinnamon, leaving you wondering just exactly the secret ingredient was at the end of each bite. Intrigued, aren't you?!

4. Limoncello Olive Oil Cake 
I had you at "limoncello," didn't I?! This is a cake I worked a long time on to get just right -- the joys of obsessive recipe testing! -- and it seems my hard work paid off. This cake is heavenly, lemon-y and vanilla-y in just the right measures, with an incredible texture and crumb thanks to the combination of olive oil and yogurt, perfect topped off with a thick and swirl-y and barely sweet mascarpone icing. It's extra extra beautiful when adorned with a little extra lemon zest and fresh berries, too. It was the cake that celebrated Pancakes and Biscotti's 4th birthday (awww) and I'm so very glad you liked it as much as I do.

3. Nectarine and Blueberry Crumble
Ahh, summer crumble! **gazes off dreamily in to the distance** This dessert is truly spectacular, so much so that most of it disappeared in record time after coming out of the oven, and was declared perfect. And with good reason: the topping here is reminiscent of an oatmeal cookie, crisp and crunchy and spiced with cinnamon, with a good dose of buttery pecans throughout, all heaped a top a pile of very summery and super-sweet and very juicy nectarines and blueberries that emerge from the oven bubbling cheerfully. This crumble is sublime served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream -- I actually think the ice cream should be required here. Feel free to make this with winter fruit, too -- apples? pears? cranberries? -- and then invite me over for dinner.

2. Piadina Romagnola
One of my biggest culinary accomplishments this year was finalllllly learning how to make a good piadina, just like the ones I used to eat back during my days in Bologna as a student. Up until a few months ago, the seemingly simple piadina had always eluded me. Simple flatbread though it might have been, the piadina was deceptively tricky -- no matter what recipe I used, my attempts resulted in piadine that were tough or chewy or that broke easily once cooked, miles away from the ones I so enjoyed in Bologna. With the help of Carla Tomasi, I got the results I wanted (victory!) and ended up with piadine that are downright perfect, soft and pliable with a slightly salty, buttery flavor, the ideal vehicle for prosciutto, arugula, and stracchino -- my preferred combo -- or any other mix of vegetables, meats, or cheeses you might like. 

1. Wellesley Fudge Cake
Ahh, Wellesley Fudge Cake! I rang in my 29th birthday with this cake -- everyone needs a slice of chocolate cake when approaching the end of their 20s, don't you think? -- and what a cake it was! It's one of the best desserts I've ever made and my favorite birthday cake I've ever had. The cake is light and fluffy yet still deeply chocolate-y, dressed up with a glossy truffle-like frosting frosting and topped off with a snowfall of rainbow sprinkles, which are optional, but make the finished cake so festive and pretty they might as well be mandatory -- in other words, it's no wonder this was the recipe with the most views of 2018. Just FYI, the recipe comes from the cookbook American Cake, written by the lovely and talented Anne Byrn (also mentioned in this post here for another exceptional chocolate cake from her book).
And there you have it, Pancakes and Biscotti's Top 5 recipes of the year! But wait just a second -- the number 1 most viewed post of 2018, if we're not looking at just the recipes?! Turns out it was a post on my dad's week in Rome back in April, which blew all frosted chocolate cakes, pastas, and fried chicken out of the water, as only my stellar father can do. You can find the gold medal winning post here!
I'll be back soon with some new recipes and a few revamps in 2019. See you next year, everyone! Un bacione a tutti!

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