Friday, March 23, 2012

To Keep Costco from Going to Waste

If you have a Costco membership, chances are you've done this before: bought way more of something than you can ever hope to use up, because the price tag is less than it would be for the amount you would actually use, and justified it all to yourself that you would share, or freeze, or still save money even if half goes in the trash. Of course, the "cost" of this is not a savings, because waste is not cheap, and we all pay for this somewhere along the line even if it isn't immediately obvious in our wallets.

I have to say I'm pretty good about being able to use up everything I buy, even if it means an achingly-dull freezer full of the same old ingredient. I thought I was verging on this with my pound of portobellos purchase. However, the thing with mushrooms is that they don't freeze well unless you cook them, and they have so much moisture that when cooked, they evaporate way down so they really don't seem to be such an overwhelming quantity in the end. 

I first started buying these for parties when I would make a mushroom filling for individual tartlett hors d'ouvres. This time I figured I could use them up in salads and scrambled eggs. For two people. Ha.

As the inevitability of a white fuzz sheen drew near, I decided I had to act. What I determined to make was a mushroom soup, and in what ended up making two full dinners and two full leftovers, those baby bellas became baby bye-byes.

Mushroom Soup
1 1/2 onions - about 3 cups
1/4 cup butter
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced evenly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 4-inch sprig rosemary
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry

And what goes better with a warm bowl of soup on those frustrating "transitional" days from Winter to Spring than a hearty loaf of freshly-baked herbal-scented crusty bread?
Fennel Bread
adapted from Nami-Nami
10.5 grams active dry yeast (or about 3 1/2 teaspoons)
1 Tbsp honey
13.5 ounces water, 105-115 degrees F

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 - 1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp fennel seeds, slightly crushed

Dissolve the yeast and the honey in the water, stir until smooth. Add the all-purpose flour, kneading with the dough hook of a stand mixer (or with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula). Mix in the salt and crushed fennel seeds. When combined, begin adding whole wheat flour, a couple tablespoons at a time, until dough pulls easily from the side of the bowl but isn't dry. 

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap let rise in a warm, draft-free place until double in bulk (about 90 minutes.)

Punch down dough. Divide it into two equally sized pieces. Form each dough piece into an oblong loaf on a lightly-floured baking sheet. Cover loosely with a towel and allow to rise another 20 minutes or so while the oven preheats. Set oven to 480 F.

Bake the loaves in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 300 F and continue baking for about 18 minutes longer, until the bread is light golden brown, and the bread sounds 'hollow' when you tap onto the bottom. Let cool on a metal rack, loosely covered with a towel. Best enjoyed fresh.

No comments:

Post a Comment