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Winter Cooking Tips

Posted 2/13/2012 8:38pm by Becky Kornmeier.

Winter cooking can be a challenge. Cooking seasonally and locally when markets are stacked with piles of peppers and bushels delicious corn is easy. But what about when it’s cold outside and local growing slows down or stops completely? Since seasonal winter produce in our area consists mostly of hearty greens, root vegetables, and squash seasonal winter cooking means a narrower range of ingredients if you want to avoid produce that has been flown in from a different hemisphere. These tips will help you adjust your winter cooking to the season.

It's obvious, but the best way to keep your winter cooking interesting is to find new ways of preparing it, so what better time to cook up those recipes you’ve been meaning to try? Looking for ideas?


 Have fun with root vegetables

Braised Root Vegetables:  Root vegetables become tender and deeply flavored when cooked slowly in a bit of liquid. You can cook one kind or, better yet, a mixture of root vegetables for a hearty side dish or casual vegetarian main dish.

Grilled Root Vegetables: Root vegetables aren't the first thing most people think to grill, but they can be delicious when cooked over an open flame. They develop a crusty exterior and their starches get a bit sweet and nicely tender (even fluffy!) inside. Cook small root vegetables whole; halve or thickly slice bigger root vegetables. Brush them liberally with vegetable or olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and cook on a meidum-hot grill until grill-marked and tender, about 10 minutes per side.

Mashed Root Vegetables: Mashed potatoes are well known, as are mashed sweet potatoes (often sweetened with brown sugar). Other root vegetables like parsnips, turnips, and celery root are also delicious mashed - either on their own or with the more traditional potato.

Root Vegetable Chips: The word "chip" brings to mind potatoes, but all root vegetables can be fried up into crisp, delicious chips for fun, homemade snacks.

Root Vegetable Fries: Cutting root vegetables into sticks and frying or baking them works best with the starchier root vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Root Vegetable Hash Browns: Root vegetables are delicious shredded and cooked until browned and crispy. Make big slabs of root vegetable hash browns or more delicate patties, as you like


Play with your Condiments

Not only do condiments offer flavor, they contribute color, texture and aroma to a dish. And they speak of culture and history. Here are a few to try in the winter months:

Malt vinegar: This brown vinegar made from malted barley is a favorite sprinkle on fish and chips in England (and Rhode Island too). Consider using in place of other vinegars in sauces, salad dressings

Soy Sauce: Fermented from soybeans, wheat flour, water and salt, soy sauce adds depth and complexity to foods. Soy sauces come in a range of flavors and intensities. Japanese soy sauce tends to be lighter than Chinese versions. Use in marinades for chicken, beef, fish; pour as a dipping sauce for sushi; use as a secret ingredient in meatloaf; jazz up a vegetable stir-fry with a few spoonfuls.

Red Hot Pepper Sauce: Made with chilies, salt and vinegar, different Latin hot sauces give heat to all sorts of dishes, from chili stews to tamales. Plus gumbo, stewed greens and chicken wings.

HERBS

You can find or grow fresh herbs even in winter months! You can also use dried if that’s what you have on hand.

  • Basil: combines well with most vegetables. Is great in pasta sauce, stews, soups and for making pesto.
  • Bay leaves: great in soups.
  • Chives: combines well with potatoes and tomatoes. Is great in dips, spreads, soups and salads.
  • Cilantro: good in Mexican or Asian dishes, dressings and salsas.
  • Dill: great on tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and green beans. Also good in soups, casseroles and sauces.
  • Marjoram: great in veggie burgers and combines well with carrots, green beans, potatoes and spinach.
  • Mint: good on carrots, fruit salads, tabouli and in beverages like tea.
  • Oregano: combines well with tomatoes and peppers and is good in pasta sauces.
  • Parsley: good in potato salad, other salads, dressings, soups and tabouli.
  • Rosemary: good on roasted potatoes, in soups, stews and tomato dishes.
  • Sage: good in soups and salads.
  • Tarragon: good in vinaigrette dressings and sauces.
  • Thyme: good on potatoes, tomatoes, lima beans and summer squash. Nice in soups.

Some great herb combinations are:

  • Parsley, chervil, chives and tarragon: great in salads.
  • Basil, parsley and tarragon: another good combination for salads.
  • Thyme, oregano, rosemary and savory: great on pizzas and in stews
  • Basil, bay leaf, marjoram, oregano and parsley: nice in tomato sauce.
  • Basil, parsley and savory: good on vegetables.
  • Basil, dill and parsley: great for tofu scrambles.

This winter, keep your cooking seasonal - even if just a little bit.  When it seems that there's no end in sight of cool weather crops and root vegetables, hopefully these tips will help jazz things up a bit.

Hope to see you at the Market!!

Winter Market Hours:

Saturday 9am until 1pm

 

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