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I recently invited work friends, all good cooks, over for dinner and hunkered down to practice lessons from Slow Fires: Mastering New Ways to Braise, Roast, and Grill, written by Justin Smillie, the chef-partner of Upland—a gorgeous California-centric restaurant in Manhattan. I brined head-on shrimp as instructed and pureed garlic, roasted red peppers, and toasted bread with olive oil and smoked paprika to make a Spanish sauce romesco. Pork chops marinated in the fridge. On the stove simmered dashi, a Japanese broth, in which I later steeped dried shrimp and bits of prosciutto for a "tea" that would flavor paella. My senses—and kitchen—had come alive.

Friends arrived. We seared the shrimp on a cast-iron griddle and set them out on a platter, their flesh snappy and sweet from the brine, with the romesco. We grilled pork chops and served them with sweet potatoes roasted directly in the coals. Good food tastes better in good company.

Don’t let the cold weather keep you from enjoying fresh produce. You're only two steps away from enjoying flavorful, fresh fruit and vegetables year-round.

1. Wrap carrots and beets in a foil packet and steam-roast directly on the oven floor, which will give them a bit of uneven, rustic caramelization on their smooth surfaces.

2. Brown the fruit over medium heat in the skillet to get gentle, even caramelization before adding the sage and finishing in the oven.

Use this method in our Roasted Winter Fruits and Vegetables with Farro Porridge, adapted from Smillie's Slow Fires.

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