Recipe – Wild Mushroom Soup

Wild Mushroom Soup

Submitted by ~ Ann McKean

This simple and healthy soup can be made from any combination of mushrooms available, but I like to use nutritious, affordable and easily available cremini mushrooms boosted by the big flavor of dried porcinis. Serves 3-4

4 cups chicken, vegetable or mushroom broth
1 cup hot water
.5-2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 lb. fresh cremini mushrooms, stems on, sliced
2-3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, minced (or 1 small sweet onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup Madeira (or Marsala or Sherry if you prefer)
1 tablespoon flour
3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons mascarpone or heavy cream, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse then soak the porcini mushrooms in the hot water for 30 minutes. Strain off all the liquid except the last little bit which will be gritty. Add the strained mushroom liquid to the chicken broth and bring mixture to a simmer. Finely chop the soaked porcinis and reserve.
Melt the butter in a soup pot; add the fresh mushrooms in batches and sauté on medium high heat, turning occasionally until the mushrooms are beginning to brown. If you hear a squeaking sound when you stir, that is a good thing; it means they are browning and not boiling in their juice. Remove final batch and reserve. Add 1 tablespoon butter if necessary and cook the shallots or onions till soft and just beginning to caramelize on the edges. Add the minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds, then add Madeira to deglaze the fond and cook till reduced. Stir flour into mixture and add the reserved creminis, porcinis, 2 thyme sprigs and hot stock, stirring to smooth. Add the salt and pepper and bring soup to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Pour into soup bowls, swirl in the mascarpone or cream and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh thyme or other herbs. Makes a lovely meal when served with a simple salad and a good baguette.
To adapt as a rich pasta sauce, remove a good spoonful of mushrooms and reserve, raise heat to reduce liquid by third to half and stir in ½ cup of heavy cream. Remove half of mixture, puree and mix back in. Adjust thickness by adding cream or slightly reducing. Serve over pasta topped with reserved mushrooms and sprinkle of herbs and shaved parmesan cheese.
Note: Mushrooms should not be eaten raw. Their tough cell walls are made of chitin (same as shrimp shells) and are largely indigestible. Cooking breaks down those cell walls making their nutrition more available. Some raw mushrooms (including morels) can even make you sick.

Enjoy Squash From Your Garden All Winter Long

RECIPE by Elizabeth Waddington

Winter squashes should be allowed to mature fully on the vine. If the rind cannot be dented with your thumbnail, it is ready for harvest. Complete the harvest before the first hard frost. Stems and vines will be hard and dry at harvest time. Cut squash from the vine leaving 2 to 3 inches of stem above the fruit; this will allow the squash to store longer.

Cooking Basics

To roast most winter squash, carefully cut the squash in half through the stem, and scrape out the seeds inside. Then rub a small amount of oil or butter along the inner flesh of the squash and top with some salt and pepper.020 Place the squash face down on a baking sheet and roast in a 400-degree oven for between 30-45 minutes depending on the size of your squash. You’ll know it’s done when the skin has become brown and slightly blistered and the flesh has softened and can be pierced with a fork with no resistance. You also have the option of cutting the squash into pieces before roasting, which will take longer in prep time but will allow the squash to roast at a faster rate.

To boil your squash, you’ll want to first carefully cut off the skin and slice the squash into smaller chunks. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. While the timing will vary depending on the toughness of the squash you choose, check periodically if your squash is tender enough to easily pierce through with a fork. To steam your squash, place your chunks in a steamer basket above the boiling water and cook until tender.

For those in a time pinch, or working with limited appliances, you can also microwave many types of squash – depending on its size – by slicing it in half down the center, removing the seeds, and microwaving on high for seven minutes per pound.

Once you’ve cooked your squash via one of these simple methods, then you can easily incorporate it into recipes ranging from showstopping savory mains to festive desserts.

Here’s an easy side dish to prepare:

CHEESY BUTTERCUP SQUASH

1 buttercup squash, sliced and cooked (see above)
2 tbsp butter
½ cup shredded triple cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan
2–4 tbsp lowfat milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Scoop the squash out of the shell and into a bowl. Add the butter, cheeses, and enough milk to smoothly mash the squash (add even more milk if your squash is dry). Serve immediately.

Recipe – PICKLED CARROTS

1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal 1/8 thick
1 cup apple cider vinegar ¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt 1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon mustard seeds ½ cup water

Place the prepared carrots in a clean resealable jar. Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns, mustard seed and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour immediately over the carrots. Clean the rim and jar and screw on lid and ring. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate 2 hours (better after at least 24 hours) before serving. They can be stored up to 3 weeks (they won’t last that long).

These are so good with many dishes or as a snack. My next batches I doubled and tripled.

~Submitted by Sheri Kisch

Chokecherry Syrup

RECIPE by Sheri Kisch

Ingredients:
5 cups chokecherry juice
6 cups sugar
1 cup white corn syrup

Combine juice and syrup in a large pan and bring to a boil while stirring. Add the sugar and continue stirring to dissolve. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, skim off any foam that has formed and pour into hot pint jars to within ½ inch.

Clean the rim and screw on hot lid and band to hand tighten. Place in hot water canner and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a steady boil and process 15 minutes (or as to your elevation). Shut off heat, remove lid and let sit 5 minutes and then remove from canner. Let jars sit for 24 hours.

The biggest difference in whether you get jelly or syrup out of a recipe is the amount of water that is added to the juice (to make even cup amounts or straining the pulp again to get all the juice out).

Chokecherries have a lot of natural pectin. Pectin in fruit decreases as fruit ripens. It is good to pick 3/4 to 7/8 ripe, and 1/4 to 1/8 less ripe berries depending on whether you use dry pectin. It is not recommended to crush or grind the seeds in processing juice because they contain cyanide.

CREAMED SOUP FROM FRESH VEGETABLES

CREAMED SOUP FROM FRESH VEGETABLES

1 ½ cups chicken broth
½ cup chopped onion
Desired vegetable and seasonings (see list)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
½ tsp. salt
Few dashes white pepper
1 cup milk

In saucepan, combine the chicken broth, onion and one of the
vegetable-seasoning combinations from the list below. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer the time indicated below or till vegetable is tender. (Remove bay leaf if you’re using broccoli.) Place vegetable mixture in a blender container or food processor. Cover and blend 30 to 60 seconds or till smooth. In same saucepan melt the butter. Blend in the flour, salt, and pepper. Add the milk all at once. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Stir in the vegetable puree. Cook till heated through for a warm soup. For a chilled soup, refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

Submitted by Ann Guthals

Ostrich Ferns

Matteuccia struthiopteris has the apt common name of Ostrich Fern because its fronds resemble the elegantly graceful plumes of the ostrich. Native to North America, once established, this Zone 3 fern performs well under conditions that few garden plants prefer, while offering a culinary spring treat to boot. Ostrich ferns in the wild thrive in rich moist soil in part to full shade, yet they are one of the best performing ferns in our area. They tolerate our drier alkaline clay soil and with a little love will colonize an area with a northern exposure that few plants, much less ferns, will enjoy. Better still, they survive with benign neglect: no pruning and the deer and rabbits seem to leave them alone. If you have a difficult shaded area on the north side of your house, this plant will take that spot from barren to lush in a few years’ time.

When planting ostrich ferns, choose a site that will shelter the delicate fronds from burning sun and the strongest winds. It’s also a good idea to prepare the bed with an addition of sphagnum peat and compost. This will lighten the texture, provide nutrients and improve water holding capacity. In future years, a nice topdressing of compost and an occasional feeding will keep them happy. Plant them 18 to 24’’ apart, making sure to keep the crown just above the soil level, mulch lightly to hold moisture and prevent weeds and water in well. They will need regular water, especially in the first season, during which they should never be allowed to dry out. After they are established, they will survive with consistent but less generous amounts of water, while still appreciating a little extra during periods of drought. The first year or two they will work hardest on establishing a strong root system, spreading underground by rhizome. The fronds may appear shorter than the expected 36 to 48 inches and a little sparse. Don’t worry, in a few years’ time, your patience will be rewarded with a lovely soft colony of lush, almost tropical looking ferns. (Ostrich ferns can be feisty in wetter climates, but our dry conditions limit their ability to spread more than we want them to.)

They provide a graceful backdrop for other shade loving plants such as Dicentra and Hosta. It’s also fun to mix in early spring woodland plants that go dormant for the summer such as Dodecatheon, known commonly as Shooting Star. Although the leaf fronds die to the ground in autumn, once the ferns reach maturity, they will produce shorter, fertile spore-producing fronds which remain standing attractively through the winter.

Historically used by Native Americans, fiddleheads are a treasured wild forage food which appears fleetingly in restaurants and farmers’ markets in the spring. Once your002 ferns have established a healthy colony, you too can harvest the early unfurled leaves. Remembering to never take more than half of the shoots from a crown and only the early sterile leaf shoots, the fiddleheads must be tightly coiled at harvest, and must be washed and husked of their brown papery covering, then fully cooked before being consumed. When steamed for 10-12 minutes, they are reminiscent of asparagus. I have also boiled and pickled them successfully, which is an easy way to preserve them for later. They are especially tasty when boiled for 15 minutes then drained and quickly sautéed in bacon drippings with a little garlic. They can also be served cold on a salad by boiling them and chilling in an ice bath. A quick Google search will return lots of recipe ideas but, however you choose to eat them, make sure that you are eating Matteuccia struthiopteris and not a similar looking fiddlehead.

Even if they never make it into your kitchen, ostrich ferns are a beautiful plant for a difficult location in your garden.

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?
kempercode=e180

Bulletin #4198, Facts on Fiddleheads


https://food52.com/blog/6583-fiddlehead-fern-a-controversial-coil

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Submitted by Ann McKean