It’s been a mild winter in northwest Montana—until now. Temperatures dropped more than 40°F over the weekend into negative digits. Our annual cold snap always makes me cozy up by the fire and crave the heat and taste of summer.
This craving ties directly to the effort I put into freezing, canning, and otherwise preserving the vegetables and fruits of summer: I know my coldest winter days will feel warmer if I don’t have to rely on mealy out-of-season tomatoes and tasteless lettuce. My wintertime food cravings can be summed up in one word: flavor. Here’s how I ensure I can satisfy my cravings on the coldest days.
I don’t deny it: Growing and saving produce takes work. You have to plan ahead, put in time, and find space to house your harvest. But the reward justifies the effort. You’re saving flavor that you wouldn’t enjoy otherwise in the dead of winter. Here are some of my favorite recipes that use flavors saved for winter days:
- Sourdough Waffles with Roasted Raspberry Syrup
- Asian White Bean Dip
- 30-Minute Cherry Tomato Soup
- Pasta That Pops
- Tomato–Basil Mac and Cheese
- Grilled Tomato Bloody Mary Mix
- Rhubarb–Huckleberry Galette
When it comes to adding flavor to meals, I agree with Madhur Jaffrey: “If you can put one spice into a pan, you can easily put in ten or even fifteen.” It’s part of what makes my Indian spice workshop so fun: we blend together and prepare a long list of spices so that even a single-ingredient dish pops with flavor. As you read through recipes on the blog, don’t be surprised if I give a dish with a long list of ingredients a difficulty ranking of 1 or 2: in my mind, spices and aromatics add up to a single ingredient that you simply store separately so that it’s easy to mix and match seasonings. Here are some of my favorite wintertime recipes that teem with flavor:
- Zucchini Sesame Bread
- Sweet and Spicy Nuts
- Hot and Sour Soup
- Vegetarian Smoked-Beet Reuben
- Potato–Mushroom–Spinach Curry
- Hot Buttered Rum
- Triple Gingersnaps
One of my biggest challenges in sharing recipes is nailing down the ingredients. I’m constantly adapting meals based on what I have at hand and to suit my preference of tangy, tart, hot, sweet, and salty. You should be doing the same if you’re making a Twice as Tasty recipe: whenever I call for Fresh Yogurt, homemade stocks, or my own Spicy German-Style Mustard, don’t hesitate to substitute a commercial variety until you find the time to start creating your own superior homemade version. And don’t hesitate to swap a fruit, vegetable, or spice—even store bought—into a meal to get the flavor you know you’ll prefer.
To encourage you to become flexible in your cooking, some of my recipes have “basic,” “improv,” or “ratio” in the title; read them and you’ll see they’re endlessly variable. In addition, many of my workshops are based on techniques rather than recipes. As the eminent Michael Ruhlman emphasizes in his book Ratio, “When you know a culinary ratio, it’s not like knowing a single recipe, it’s instantly knowing a thousand.”
In addition to my basic, ratio, and improv recipes, here are some of my midwinter favorites that can be easily altered:
- Sour Cream Scones with Tart Cherries
- Potato Salad
- Sunshine Risotto
- Roasted Squash Soup
- Seasoned Pot Beans
- Raw-Fruit Shrub
- Rhubarb Crisp
Twice as Tasty
This month, I’ll be sharing more recipes that make my tummy happy in winter. Next week, I’ll add a new easy-to-make condiment—harissa—to your refrigerator and explain how to bring a little summertime spice into your winter meals. This time last year I emphasized bean dishes; I’ll add some new bean soups to the list that you can adapt with a range of flavors. And I’ll bring on even more flavor in legume-based snacks that pack a healthy, crunchy punch.
Also keep an eye on Instagram this month: I’ll be doing some traveling and hope to share @twiceastastyblog some delicious tropical food photos that will put a little sunshine into your winter. My starters will both travel and chill during my vacation, so expect updates to my newest Instagram project: #forlornsourdough. Stay warm!
Like what you’ve learned? To learn more in a Twice as Tasty workshop—in your own kitchen, among friends, and with my personal help—click here. If you’re not yet a Twice as Tasty subscriber, get this newsletter and weekly post notifications delivered straight to your inbox by clicking here.