Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Throwing open the vault: The best recipes of the past 25 years

Opening the vault: The best recipes of '93, '94, '95 and '96


The L.A. Times Test Kitchen tests hundreds of recipes a year. So coming up with our favorite recipes of 2009 is not an easy task. As the L.A. Times Food staff winnows down the list to 10 favorites, we decided to throw open the vault of the "best of" lists from years past.

Keep checking back: We're starting with 1985 and counting down to 2009:

What were we dining on in 1996? Wild blueberry buckle, above.

--Rene Lynch

Photo credit: Patrick Down / Los Angeles Times

Opening the vault: The best recipes of '90, '91 and '92

Popcorn We're taking a look back at our favorite recipes to come out of the L.A. Times Test Kitchen over the past 25 years. Join our countdown -- and find the complete list -- here. Until we get to 2009, though, let's consider:

In 1990 we were dining on apple and cream crumb pie, Eureka butterscotch pudding and vegetarian red bean stew. In 1991 we were celebrating Georgian cheese bread and seafood in coconut milk.

And in 1992, we were tucking into chocolate-buckwheat tart, roasted duck with sauteed apples and honey, and readers were introduced to Farsumagru -- rolled steak, stuffed Sicilian style.

But if you must try one recipe from this stretch, you might consider 1991's recipe for caramel corn.


How good could caramel corn be, you ask?

Good enough that it is considered one of the best recipes to come out of the L.A. Times Test Kitchen in 25 years.

Photo: Unfortunately, this is not a photo of the actual caramel corn. While our recipe archives go back 25 years, our test kitchen photos don't. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.

Opening the vault: The top 12 recipes of 1987 and 1988

Counting down the L.A. Times Test Kitchen recipes that were honored as the best of the best over the last 25 years has been a fascinating study in recipe titles.

Consider the best recipes from 1987 and 1988. The titles range from the plainly descriptive -- Fluffy Orange Rolls, Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies -- to the more high falutin': Margaret Clark's Guenoc Winery Chocolate Chestnut Gateau.

What we were also cooking in 1987: Our own pasta. Here's the recipe for Lasagna Alla Pina.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Fresh pasta dries over the back of a chair. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Opening the vault: The top 12 recipes of 1986

Whipped cream

Join us as we count down the best recipes to come out of the L.A. Times Test Kitchen over the last 25 years.

These are, by definition, the best of the best dishes.

So what were we cooking in 1986? Fairy Pie, Baseball Bars, Beef Paprikash for Two, Vacuum Cleaner Cookies...

-- Rene Lynch
On Twitter @renelynch

More recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Opening the vault: The Top 12 recipes of 1985

The L.A. Times Test Kitchen tests hundreds of recipes each year before they are deemed fit to print. So coming up with its Top 10 or so recipes of the year is no easy task for the Times Food staff.

Fights break out. Cookbooks are thrown. There's spatula slapping. Actually, there's none of that. Everyone is asked to put together a list of their favorites -- no matter how long that list may be -- and thoughtful deliberations begin there.

While the jury is out on the Top 10 recipes of 2009, we're taking a look at the best recipes from the last 25 years. We're starting with 1985 because, well, that is as far back as our on-line library archives go. (Unfortunately, not all of the older recipes have photos. Today, we make it a point to include a photo with every recipe.)

Taking a trip through some of these recipes is a trip within itself. Way back then, we didn't bother with things like calorie counts. Recipes seemed simpler. And it appears Southern California's love affair with Mexican food was on the rise.

What were we eating in 1985? Nachos, chianti pesto, buttermilk cinnamon coffeecake, oatmeal coconut muffins...

Keep checking back for more vintage recipes as we unearth them. And if you have a favorite recipe that we've run in the last 25 years, please let know about it. Whether you want us to track it down or you just want to tell us why it continues to be a mainstay in your cooking repertoire, we'd like to hear about it.

And if you have a photo of an L.A. Times Test Kitchen recipe that you've made in your kitchen, we'd love to see that too. You can leave a comment here, or write to us at food@latimes.com

Bon Appetit!

--Rene Lynch
On Twitter @renelynch

Photo credit: Royal Sonesta Double Chocolate Cake, one of the Top 12 recipes from 1985. Click here for the recipe. Photo credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts
5 Questions for Thi Tran |  August 6, 2012, 8:00 am »
SEE-LA hires new executive director |  July 31, 2012, 9:34 am »
Food FYI: Actors reading Yelp reviews |  July 31, 2012, 9:16 am »
Test Kitchen video tip: Choosing a bread wash |  July 31, 2012, 6:04 am »



About the Bloggers
Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.