Pear and cardamom upside-down cake

  (Eric Boyd, Los Angeles Times)

LOOKING back on the hundreds of recipes published in Food this year (384, to be exact), we're wondering: How do we stay so thin?

OK, so we don't. Or not all of us, anyway. How could we, when there are so many wonderful dishes to sample week after week?

It wasn't easy to choose the 10 best. There were a few we knew had to be included. The Italian-style slow-roasted shoulder of pork that we perfected by testing it no fewer than nine times, from Laurie Winer's March story about porchetta. Nancy Silverton's burgers, which forever changed the way we think about hamburgers, from Emily Green's August cover story.

Then it gets tougher.

We went crazy for Russ Parsons' brilliant snap pea soup with Parmesan cream, from his April story on snap peas. But back in February, when he showed us a completely new way to look at quiche, those recipes were life-changingly great too. The lentil and duck salad from Regina Schrambling's January story about lentils was outstanding. But didn't we love her petrale sole with lentils and rosemary cream just as much?

Donna Deane gave us amazing slow-scrambled eggs on toast with prosciutto. But wait -- what about her mom's lemon meringue pie?

Lentil and duck salad with hazelnut dressing

Total time: About 40 minutes (may vary, depending on lentils)

Servings: 4

Note: In Regina Schrambling's article about the diverse varieties of lentils now available, this warm salad recipe showcased the unique texture and color of French green lentils. Confit duck legs are available at Surfas in Culver City, Nicole's in South Pasadena and select Whole Foods stores.

1 cup French green lentils

1 leek, white part only, cleaned well and diced

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste

1 carrot, peeled

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons Champagne

vinegar or white wine vinegar