For some reason, people feel compelled to make lists this time of year. Christmas wish lists. Top 10 films of the year. Best new restaurants. Weirdest websites. Things that occurred to us while we waited for the light to change. New Year's resolutions.

We at the Food section aren't immune, which is why we're happy to present our annual Best Recipes List.

Each of the hundreds of recipes we publish annually is tested in The Times' kitchen. They come from chefs well-known and obscure, from our staff writers and far-flung contributors, from new cookbooks we're reviewing and from historical archives. Whatever their source, it is the sacred duty of each Food section staffer to faithfully examine, poke, prod and taste every dish that comes out of the kitchen. Mind you, it is work. We're not just sitting here at our desks daydreaming. There's serious aesthetic evaluation going on here. Especially now, as we look back over the 350-odd dishes we've sampled in the last 12 months in an attempt to choose our top 10.

If the recipes have something in common, it's a lovely simplicity, a casualness that's the essence of Southern California. Rich, meaty short ribs braised with mushrooms. Duck legs appetizingly roasted with mustard. A carne asada sandwich garnished with avocados and a smoky dose of chipotle. An irresistible polenta enlivened with chile poblano.

This was also a banner year for desserts. A luscious pear cobbler with crisp hazelnut biscuits. Drop-dead honey-brandy ice cream topped with fig jam. A light, gingery creme fraiche cheesecake. Or even the simple majesty of the biggest chocolate chip cookie you ever saw, a cookie as big as a pizza.

Here, then, is our modest contribution to listomania.

Pear cobbler with hazelnut biscuits

Total time: 40 minutes, plus at least

1 hour chilling time

Servings: 8

Note: Our favorite dish of the year appeared in a September book review of Wayne Harley Brachman's "American Desserts" (Clarkson Potter). It's a pear cobbler made luscious with cream and Marsala, garnished with irresistible hazelnut-scented biscuits.

Hazelnut biscuits

1 3/4 cups cake flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup skinned, roasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pea-size bits

1/2 cup heavy cream