Chili Paste

Harissa is so simple to make that you never need to be without a jar. Get spicy recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

Many of my travel memories revolve around food, and what I ate during a month in Morocco lingers years later. My diet then was as it is today (mostly vegetarian with some fish thrown in), meaning I spent most of my time in country disappointing well-intentioned Moroccan women who wanted to celebrate my presence at their table with the rare treat of meat. Once they were convinced no one was being rude, we could all enjoy their everyday, mostly meatless meals. These simple dishes let the spices shine, and I soon learned to look for my favorite flavors at market stalls while I traveled from city to desert and back. One of my favorite snacks became a bag of olives heavily coated in a chili-and-spice blend known as harissa.

I discovered harissa in Morocco, but Tunisia often claims origination rights. Regardless, this spicy North African paste is served on everything from couscous to soup to toast, for the daring. I’ve tossed it with vegetables before roasting or, instead of Chermoula, with shrimp before skewering them for the grill. Harissa resembles sambal oelek, an Indonesian chili paste, but it can be harder to find in American stores. Fortunately, it’s so simple to make that you’ll stop seeking it out in specialty markets. You can make it any time of year, using fresh peppers in season and dried or even smoked ones the rest of the year—which is also fortunate, because you’ll never want to be without a jar.

Traditionally, harissa is preserved by an olive oil “seal” that is replaced each time you dip into the paste. I still store such sealed harissa in an airtight jar in the fridge to ensure it doesn’t spoil. It will keep that way for a couple of months, so I make it regularly in small batches.

Learn to make Homemade Harissa and Moroccan Shaved and Roasted Carrots

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Winter Warmers

I’ve adapted family recipes for spiced rum and wine to suit my tastes: less sugar and more spice. Get winter warmer recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
It may sound odd to have childhood memories of hot cocktails, but the scents of warm spiced rum and wine mingle with those of a freshly cut tree in my mind. My dad in particular is a fan of hot buttered rum, and for years my mom’s homemade mix was a holiday staple. Mulled wine was another family tradition, but I associate it with New Year’s Day, when my sister and I would go with my mom to a puzzle party. Several tables of complicated jigsaw puzzles would fill the living room, but the boxes showing the finished picture were always hidden away. We would spend hours linking together pieces, often the only kids amid a roomful of adults. The scent of warm spices hit you the moment the hostess opened the front door.

Now that I’m old enough to enjoy not just the smell but also the taste of winter warmers, I’ve adapted the family recipes to suit my tastes: less sugar and more spice. Don’t hesitate to adapt these recipes yet again until you decide they’re filled with everything nice. Learn to make Hot Buttered Rum and Gløgg

Quick Ferments

When vegetables are sliced or pureed before fermentation, it’s easy to use them straight from the jar. Get veggie ferment recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
If you’re new to vegetable fermentation, you likely look at recipes and think, “Can it be that easy?” This instantly leads to the terrifying thought, “It can’t; surely I’ll get it wrong.” So to kick off this month’s recipes for vegetable ferments, I offer my most foolproof recipe for your first foray into fermentation. Here, the carrots actually aren’t fully fermented; they sit barely long enough to kick off the process. Still, they use a lot of the techniques that apply to full fermentation of other vegetables: salting, weighting to encourage the carrots to release even liquid, and a rest period to pull even more water and sugars from the produce. Because these carrots are prepared as thin ribbons, it’s easy to open the jar and slide a few onto a sandwich, into a sourdough pita, or straight into your mouth. The recipe is so simple that while you’re at it, you might as well prepare your own horseradish to go in the jar—especially if you’re growing it.
Learn to make Barely Fermented Carrots and Horseradish Paste

Watermelon

The nose-to-tail approach to cooking meats could be called tip to top for vegetables and fruits. Get whole watermelon recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Amid summer’s bounty, as I haul bags and boxes of produce from garden to kitchen, I always want more. I clean and trim and slice and wonder whether each root tip and leafy top that lands in my compost bucket could find its way into a dish or jar instead. The nose-to-tail approach to cooking meats could be called tip to top for vegetables and fruits, and that remains my goal throughout the growing season. It’s a goal that aligns nicely with this week’s challenge for the Montana Local Food Challenge.

Some of your harvest lends itself easily to the idea: people eat beet greens as readily as beet roots. Others seem obvious when you think about it. Like peas? The shoots carry a similar flavor and can be turned into pesto or simply mixed into salads. Grow storage onions? The green tops can be used like scallions and even lightly trimmed while the bulbs are still growing. And the classic processed watermelon rind pickle can be ready to eat alongside the juicy pink melon.
Learn to make Quick-Pickled Watermelon Rind and Watermelon–Feta Salad