Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A melange of winter goodies

My CSA is winding down, but that doesn't mean I have any fewer vegetables. In fact, I have more than ever. So I decided to use some up with cream of mushroom soup by Julia Child, pickled beets from my favorite canning website, and pumpkin bread from BH&G.

Potage velouté aux champignons

(or cream of mushroom soup)

I knew I was getting some white button mushrooms with today's CSA share, so I figured I'd make Julia Child's cream of mushroom soup. I've been drooling over the cookbook for days, so I knew I needed to make something out of there, and fast.

The recipe is easy enough, though you can see what makes it so good:
  1. Sauté onions in butter. Add flour to make a roux.
  2. Add chicken stock and mushroom stems & simmer for 20 min.
  3. Meanwhile, chop mushroom caps & sauté in butter.
  4. Remove mushroom stems, add mushroom caps.
  5. Meanwhile, whip egg yolks and cream.
  6. Add a little hot soup to the egg-cream mixture, then stir. Add more; then all of it.
  7. Return to the pot and heat just to cook egg yolks; do not simmer.
  8. Off heat, add butter and serve.
Yeahhh, so that's a lot of butter. Still, the soup was shockingly good, and I'm not even a huge fan of mushrooms. I think the super-fresh CSA mushrooms really were perfect.

Dave experienced a lot of groaning while he ate this, so I knew he was a fan. I served these with turkey sandwiches on mini-ciabatta loaves that Dave picked up from the grocery store. What a nice winter meal!

I have a lot of beets. From the last few CSA shipments, I have about three and a half pounds. That is more than Dave and I will really be able to eat before they go bad, so I decided to pickle and can them - and share with interested coworkers, of course!

First, I scrubbed the beets, then chopped the top and bottom off. (I shouldn't have done this, the recipe says, because that means some color leaked out. Oh well.) Boil the beets for 30-45 min. until they are tender, then chill them. Add sliced onions and bring to a boil with vinegar and spices.

After that, it was the usual canning process with my pint jars. Look at these little guys:

I kind of forgot how involved the canning process is, what with baking the jars & boiling the lids (to sterilize them), then packing the jars and putting them through a water bath. This is especially true when the beets turn everything bright pink. But they are happy and red, and hopefully they taste like pickled beets!

Pumpkin bread

I have some leftover canning pumpkin purée left over from the numerous batches of pumpkin cupcakes I made, so I've been meaning to use it up. I decided pumpkin bread from my Better Homes & Gardens binder would be perfect!

The bread is even simpler than banana bread, once you already have the pumpkin ready. In two separate bowls, mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cloves, and ginger) and brown sugar & shortening. Add two eggs to the sugar-shortening mix, then the pumpkin and some milk, then the flour ingredients. The result was a surprisingly light and pale batter:

I am bringing this to work tomorrow as a treat for my judges & clerk crew, probably with some butter. Mmmm.

So that does it for my post today - kind of a lot of stuff, but I was seriously in the mood for some cooking tonight.

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