Some of the best recipes of 2017 that wowed us over and over

Asian chicken noodle bowls includes ground chicken or turkey breast meat.
Asian chicken noodle bowls includes ground chicken or turkey breast meat. TNS

It was a year of plant foods, bowl foods and whole foods.

With whole foods that meant preparing foods as simple as possible using foods with few ingredients, it also meant Whole Foods Market chain being gobbled up by Amazon.

Not only did Amazon stun the grocery world by buying Whole Foods, the grocery store industry changed, too. More and more stores offer online grocery shopping with curb side pick-up or delivered to your door. And stores offer everything from groceries to clothing and toys.

In 2017, the Detroit Free Press spent its third year at the Great Lakes Culinary Center testing recipes and hosting events. And it’s some of those recipes that were deemed stand-outs and ones we will make over and over.

The test kitchen’s favorite recipe list includes an Asian chicken served the trendy bowl way from Henry Ford Health Systems won our vote.

For low-carb dieters, cauliflower continues its merry way especially with the help of the ketogenic diet. Riced cauliflower is now sold frozen and pearl cauliflower fresh, both are great for making faux mashed potatoes. One of today’s “Best-of” recipes using cauliflower in a simple form — thinly shaved in a salad with a yummy vinaigrette.

And so, here are our favorites recipes from last year. We are sure you will enjoy them well into 2018.

Dig in!

Creamy wild mushroom soup with leeks

You can use any mix of mushrooms in this recipe. The original called for 5 ounces of each. Because I love mushrooms and they tend to cook down, I used more.

6 to 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms

6 to 8 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms

6 to 8 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 carrot, peeled chopped

1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups chopped leeks, white and light-green parts (2 large leeks)

 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps  1/4 -inch thick and, if they are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and  1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4  1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream and parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot. Makes: 6 servings.

Adapted from

Shaved cauliflower salad

Bon Appetit magazine describes this recipe as “Thinly sliced raw cauliflower takes center stage in this salad, tossed in a bright, limey dressing and dusted with nutritional yeast.”

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

 1/4 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

10 ounces cauliflower florets (from about  1/2 of a small head), very thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast, divided

2 cups 1-inch-wide strips romaine

2 cups torn frisee or any artisan lettuce like petite tango

2 ounces Parmesan, finely grated, divided

In a large bowl, whisk lime zest, lime juice, mustard and honey. Whisking constantly, gradually add the oil until the dressing is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the shaved cauliflower and 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast to dressing; toss to combine. Add lettuce, frisee, and half of Parmesan and toss again; season with salt and pepper.

Transfer salad to a platter and top with remaining Parmesan and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast. Serves: 4.

Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, September 2016 issue.

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

Asian chicken noodle bowls


2 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, peeled, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound ground chicken or turkey breast meat

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1  1/2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon Thai chili garlic paste

1  1/2 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons water

5 cups cooked whole-wheat spaghetti noodles

1  2/3 cup shredded carrot

1  2/3 cup sugar snap pea pods (each pod sliced into 3 or 4 pieces)

1  2/3 cup sliced red bell pepper

 1/3 cup sliced green onions

To prepare chicken mixture, heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes, and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Add ground chicken and continue cooking, forming crumbles and incorporating into sauteed onions. Whisk together hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and black pepper. Pour mixture over chicken crumbles and cook, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated; 5 to 8 minutes. To prepare dressing, combine peanut butter, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, and chili garlic paste until smooth.

Gradually add soy sauce, vinegar and water and stir until smooth. To assemble each bowl, place 1 cup cooked pasta in bottom of bowl, top with  1/2 cup seasoned chicken,  2/3 cup shredded carrot,  1/3 cup sliced pea pods and  1/3 cup red pepper. Drizzle each serving with 2 tablespoons peanut butter dressing and garnish with sliced green onions. Serves: 5.

Created by Darlene Zimmerman for Heart Smart and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

465 calories (23 percent from fat), 12 g fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat), 59 g carbohydrates, 32 g protein, 511 mg sodium, 58 mg cholesterol, 82 mg calcium, 10 g fiber. Food exchanges: 3 starch, 3 vegetable, 3 lean fat meat.

Cedar-planked salmon fillets with broccolini

Be certain to allow time for soaking the cedar plank before grilling.

1 untreated cedar plank, 12 to 15 inches long and about 7 inches wide

1 skin-on salmon fillet, about 1  1/2 pounds and 1 to 1  1/2 inches thick

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 pound broccolini, stem ends trimmed and split lengthwise 1/2 -inch below florets

2  1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Soak the cedar plank in water for several hours or overnight.

Prepare the grill for medium heat about 375 to 400 degrees.

Cut the salmon into four equal pieces and generously season salmon with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl mix together the mustard and brown sugar into a paste. Spread the paste all over the salmon. Toss the broccolini with the oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Place the soaked cedar plank over direct medium heat and close lid. After 5 to 10 minutes when the plank begins to smoke and char, turn the plank over. Place the fillets, skin side down, in a single layer on the plank, leaving a little room between the fillets and place broccolini on the grates surrounding the plank.

Grill the fillets and broccolini with lid closed until salmon is cooked to desired doneness and broccolini is crisp-tender, about 12 to 15 minutes, turning vegetables and checking salmon for doneness every 5 minutes. The broccolini will char a little on the floret ends.

Transfer salmon fillets to plates. In a bowl, toss broccolini with orange zest and serve with salmon. Serves: 4.

Adapted from “Weber’s New Real Grilling” by Jamie Purviance (Sunset, $24.95).

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.