This epic series of blizzards has meant a lot of time cooped up indoors here in DC. I’ve also found it a great excuse for doing a pantry/freezer/fridge audit. Oh, sure, there have been stores open intermittently over the past several days, but I’m having more fun challenging myself to make do with what I have. This has translated into a large number of simple, yet very satisfying dishes.
Fried Potatoes with Avocados and Sardines. This first one is kind of a cheat: I don’t always have avocados around, so I made sure to buy some before the storm hit. Yes, I know this sounds like a weird combination, but I drew my inspiration from Alton Brown’s adaptation of a traditional Spanish recipe for sardines and avocado on toast (I thought potatoes would be a good alternative for someone looking to reduce her gluten intake). I love tinned sardines, especially the ones that are lightly smoked and stored in olive oil. The oily saltiness pairs really well with the avocado. Simply fry up some thin-sliced potatoes and top with lightly mashed avocado pieces and drained sardines. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and (optionally) some lemon zest.
Lime Curd: I ran out of flour early in the weekend, but still I wanted to whip up something sweet (ModernDomestic’s snowbound sweet tooth is contagious). Fortunately, like most people panicking about the blizzards, I had remembered to stock up on eggs, butter, and sugar. I also had a bag of limes. So I made this fantastic lime curd tart recipe from Ina Garten, minus the tart. If you have any kind of citrus, plus basic staples, you can make a delicious curd without leaving your house. One thing to keep in mind: the acid of the lime juice will temporarily curdle your eggs, but stirring and heat will make everything re-integrate. I love eating lime curd on a piece of slightly stale multigrain bread, but it’s also fantastic with vanilla ice cream.
Squash Soup: Got a squash sitting around? Well, I usually do. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it difficult to resist buying pretty squashes at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market since that’s basically all there is during the winter, so I end up with squash just sitting around for weeks. A perfect thing to dispose of in my blizzard audit. I peeled and seeded a kabocha squash, cut it into quarters, and put the quarters in a dutch oven along with a few cups of chicken stock and a little olive oil. I put that all in the oven at 300°F and forgot about it for a while. When I pulled it out, I added salt, pepper, a little maple syrup, and the last of a batch of butter-sauteed onions that had been sitting in my fridge. I pureed it with a mixing wand and topped with a snowdrift of grated parmesan.
Maple Taffy: If, like me, you have a Quebecois friend, you will call this tire sur la neige. Otherwise you might call it “that maple candy they make in Little House on the Prairie.” It’s so simple, but so much fun. You just boil maple syrup until it reaches 240°F and pour it in little squiggles over a bed of clean, packed snow. Use a stick to pull up the cooling, sticky syrup and suck on the candy (or just pick up the cooled pieces with your fingers). And if you go too far and boil the syrup too long, you’ll end up with maple sugar. Not a bad alternative.