Wintry weather — a catalyst for creativity in the kitchen

Wintry weather — a catalyst for creativity in the kitchen

In culinary circles, winter is the season that separates the wheat from the chaff. It's pretty easy to feel inspired during the spring and summer months, with bright ideas popping up like so many plants in a garden. From tiny spring greens to rhubarb and beyond, creativity flows along with the seasonal produce available to us. But when that access trickles to a standstill, and we're up to our elbows in root vegetables and kale, that's when our most ingenious ideas come to us.
To keep the winter food doldrums at bay, Zack and I have a few new tricks up our sleeves this season. Because we work with only local produce, we look for ways to boost or heighten the bass tones of our winter stores. Below are two of our favorite new concoctions, both of which marry perfectly with the fresh shellfish, brassicas, and root veggies that sustain us until Even Pull Farm traipses mud through the kitchen, bearing their first crates of spring greens and breakfast radishes. 

Grapefruit Kosho

We're hooked on the Japanese condiment yuzu kosho, a mixture of chiles, citrus, and salt that brings instant lift to winter dishes. Last summer we tasked Pollinate with growing us a mess of piment d'Espellete, the piquante Basque pepper that brings life to many a dish in the South of France. After carefully drying our peppers in-house, we ground them into a paste with fresh grapefruit zest and sea salt. A lengthy fall ferment in the kitchen gave us a bright, fragrant condiment that reminds us of the best summer days in the valley. 

From lobster tail grilled over the coals and basted with a grapefruit kosho butter to fresh Dungeness crab with kosho bearnaise sauce, we love how this flavorful paste elevates and brightens our winter seafood offerings.

Fava Bean Vinegar

While cauliflower, parsnips, and turnips might be comforting in November, winter vegetables begin to feel a bit lackluster come January. After all, grilling, roasting, and pureeing will only get you so far in the kitchen. To break the monotony, we concocted a fermented vinegar made with thin, translucent fava shells, a dose of SCOBY (that strange mass you find at the bottom of the kombucha bottle,) and neutral grain alcohol. The bottled result is an aromatic burst of fresh flavor that ramps up winter vegetables, moving them from simple, to simply fantastic.

Salad Fava Vinegar
Photography: Aubrie LeGault
Grilled brassica, like cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, literally sing with a dash of our fava bean vinegar.