**Top 5 Recipes of 2019**

Another year of blogging in the books! I'm not quite sure where 2019 went, but it flew, at least for me, and here I am writing not only the very last post of the year but also of this decade (!!!) It's been a year defined by many things; grief, for one, with the loss of my beloved Nonno in February, and subsequent adjustment to his absence (namely lots of must-tell-Nonno Jim-about-this or Nonno-Jim-would-appreciate-this sort of moments, only to stop myself and remember the reality). That being said, it has also been a year full of positive change, too, something my Nonno would've been pleased and proud of; I moved into a new and improved apartment, discovered the cooking school Grano & Farina, began to work more closely with Carla Tomasi, turned 30, bought a pasta machine, dabbled in cheese-making, traveled, began to revamp the look of this blog, got a promotion at work,  and on a more personal note, made some changes that have overall made me a happier, more content person at the end of this year. Overall, 2019 has been eventful, constructive, and important, and for that I am grateful.

But I digress! Before we ring in 2020, I thought that I'd share its Top 5 recipes this year, a summary of sorts of the blog's past 365 days, and what you, my loyal Pancakes and Biscotti readers, have loved best (translation: the most viewed and read posts). I hope that they are dishes that you will also carry with you well into the next decade, too, and keep tucked into your repertoire so you can enjoy them as much as I have. Links to all recipes in their titles!

5. Gnocchetti sardi + pesto alla trapanese

Since delving into the world of pasta-making this past year (as chronicled in the blog's Pasta Series) I've arrived at the conclusion that pasta-making is bewitching, and fascinating, and I can't get enough of it. I find both the subject and process to be something I can only describe as magical, from start to finish, and discovering and beginning to learn this art was no doubt a highlight of 2019 for me. Gnocchetti sardi, or little gnocchi from Sardinia -- which also go by the name malloreddus -- are a water and semola based pasta with a seashell-like shape, formed with a roll-and-flick motion that makes one feel incredibly nonna-like. There are few things more gratifying than seeing a pile of them accumulate in to a flour-dusted heap on your pasta board as you roll, and they are hands down my favorite pasta I learned to make this year (it would seem you all felt the same way). Pasta aside, the pesto alla trapanese these are served in -- pesto from Trapani in a Sardinia-meets-Sicily combination -- is also fantastic, fragrant with basil and garlic with a little crunch from the almonds and a punch from a generous helping of Pecorino cheese. Pure pasta perfection. 

4. Semifreddo alle fragole

Think of this semifreddo -- a recipe I learned from the great Carla Tomasi -- as a sort of homemade ice cream, minus the ice cream machine that most of us don't have, and requiring less work and time (think of it as ice cream's cool, low-maintenance cousin). Ease aside, this sweet is dreamy, unabashedly lush and strawberry-centric, reminiscent of a bowl of strawberries dolloped with freshly whipped cream, refreshing and indulgent all at once, and what kept me going on Rome's all too common 98 degree days (that's 37 degrees for the rest of you). Very much looking forward to summer 2020, when this will be back in season. 

3. Polpettone alla ricotta

My Nonno -- great entrepreneur that he was -- launched a recipe contest in the 1960s to promote the mozzarella and ricotta that his business produced. He asked all of New England to send in there best recipes made with Supreme Dairy products, and he, the company founder, would not only choose a winning recipe, he would also compile the best recipes and put them in to a Supreme Dairy cookbook. The resulting book was given to me by my nonno five or six years ago, and now resides here with me in Rome (you may remember it from this post here, actually). It is a compilation of very Italian recipes (cappelletti, cannoli) and very Italo-American recipes (veal parmesan) and some very, very '60s era recipes (frozen cheese and pineapple salad, anyone?!). The winning recipe, in all this, was a humble but tasty meatloaf with ricotta. It's ultra flavorful (Parmesan! onion! parsley!) and juicy and tender and best of all, its filled with ricotta, more in line with the Italian polpettone than the typical American meatloaf. I'm glad you all loved this recipe as much as I did; it's a nice reminder of my nonno.

2. Brownie Ciambellone

Ahh, Brownie Ciambellone! This was my cake of choice to celebrate my 30th birthday, an Italian/American cross between a ciambellone --a plain, simple ring shaped cake usually eaten at breakfast -- and the rich and fudge-y and intensely chocolate-y American brownie. This cake comes together in a snap -- no softening or beating of butter, no frosting or layers here -- and it's a lovely cake that wears many hats, one whose functions include, but are not limited to: 30th birthdays, birthdays in general, middle of the week cake cravings, sudden chocolate cravings, extra special breakfasts, a simple dessert with a dusting of powdered sugar, a sweet way to say I love you/I'm sorry/Congratulations/just-because-I-wanted-to-make-a-cake/TGIF, etc etc. I am quite unsurprised that this recipe made the Top 5 most viewed recipes this year.

1. Focaccia alla Tomasi

**DRUMROLL** The number one most viewed recipe of 2019 is this fluffy, soft, light as air, completely addictive focaccia a recipe I learned from Carla Tomasi, one of my favorite people and culinary mentors. This focaccia has an excellent crumb, is olive oil-y and a little salty, superb sprinkled with a generous dose of earthy rosemary if you're going the classic route or topped with whatever ingredients your carbohydrate-loving heart desires, preferably seasonal ones. I was delighted to bring focaccia alla Tomasi in to my own kitchen, and from blogger to reader, can confirm the following: this recipe makes focacce that are simply perfect, and if you're smart, you'll make more than you think you need, because you'll soon discover that you can never have enough of this focaccia (you've been warned). If you're iffy about bread making, rest assured! Like most Tomasi classics, the recipe is low maintenance (just a few stretches and turns of the dough and a little waiting, probably the most difficult part, if you, like me, are always eager to get fresh bread in your sights) and the result is spectacular.
There you have it -- the Top 5 posts of 2019! I'll be back in 2020 with new recipes and posts; as I write this, I'd say to expect slightly lighter recipes in the first month of the new year, something I am personally feeling in need of/perhaps we are all craving? after decadent holiday/vacation eating (when was the last time you ate a vegetable?!) In any case: Happy New Year, everyone!

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