Perfect lemon posset: The most popular recipe of 2019
Curry remains a favourite with readers, but a citrus dessert was most read on irishtimes.com
Healthy, simple, quick dishes proved popular with readers in 2019. Photograph: iStock.
What was the recipe that people searched for online most frequently in Ireland in 2019? Was it curry, or chocolate cake, or chicken? No. According to Google it was vegan recipes that were most sought-after. Vegan cookbooks also proliferated, with Cornucopia: The Green Cookbook, from the Dublin wholefood restaurant winning best cookbook of the year at the Irish Book Awards.
At irishtimes.com, the most read recipe of the year from our team of food writers was for “the perfect lemon posset”. What is it about that particular recipe that appeals so avidly to readers? Is it that it contains only three ingredients – lemons, cream and sugar – or that it burst onto screens (and pages) as a glorious burst of sunshiney yellow in the dank early days of February?
A vegetarian curry of cauliflower and chickpeas ran it a close second, and curry, in all its guises, remains a perennial favourite with readers. The vegetable curry fulfils the demands of busy, time-pressed, cooks the country over, being quick and easy to pull together, healthy and delicious, and not requiring a trip to a specialist food shop.
Although not vegan, the recipe can be easily adapted by replacing the Greek yoghurt with unsweetened coconut milk yoghurt or another vegan alternative suitable for cooking.
Both top-performing recipes were created by chef and restaurateur Jess Murphy, who handed over the Irish Times Magazine recipe columnist mantle to Paul Flynn last month. Since beginning his tenure, Flynn’s most read recipes are Catalan chicken and butterbean bake, Flynny’s lamb hotpot and baked eggs with chorizo, cream and Parmesan.
Chocolate, another sure-fire recipe hit, makes an appearance at number three, and baking columnist Vanessa Greenwood’s chocolate cake has the added attraction of being suitable for those following a gluten-free diet, being made with ground almonds instead of flour. The chocolate and cream ganache is, literally, the icing on the cake with this popular and versatile recipe.
Fruit is a common theme among our most read (and we hope, most cooked) recipes of 2019, perhaps because sweet things performed strongly, accounting for nine of the top 20 recipes.
Rhubarb peaks twice, both times in the first week of March, when the bright pink stalks again brought a pop of colour into our kitchens. Lilly Higgins captured the imagination of cooks with her clever interpretation of that enduring favourite, rhubarb and custard. Her rhubarb swirl buns with custard glaze, a twist on yeasted cinnamon buns, is the fourth most popular recipe of the year.
Higgins also got readers cooking, in their droves, with her reconfigured column, Fast Family Feasts, which launched in the Irish Times Magazine at the start of Food Month in November, with her ditch the takeaway version of stir-fried chicken noodles.
But back to those fruity treats, and Vanessa Greenwood’s rhubarb pie, which makes the cut at number 12 most-read. This is one of several really traditional bakes that readers warmed to, another being her plain scones, which comes in at number 10. The same writer’s blackberry cake and summer fruit pavlovas, with a bonus recipe for lemon curd, also feature in the top 20 and continue the fruity theme.
Jess Murphy can always be relied on to come up with something unusual, and so it was with her Danish smorrebrod – open sandwiches of smoked salmon, cream cheese, boiled egg and celeriac – which caught readers’ attention on the first weekend in January and has ended up fifth most read of our columnists’ recipes.
We were also lucky enough to have contributions from the recipe collections of Yotam Ottolenghi and the late Anthony Bourdain that performed really well. Ottolenghi’s one-pan pasta with harissa Bolognese was a favourite (seventh most read), while many of us adopted Bourdain’s perfect roast chicken as a gold-standard.
We will be back with a whole year’s worth of great recipes from our regular columnists and guest contributors in 2020. Maybe we will even find the answer to that old chestnut – how to boil an egg? – Google’s most searched how-to query, across all topics, in Ireland in 2019.