Cool Weather Cooking

(Photo: Rachel Birdsell) Pumpkin curry soup makes a great cool weather meal when combined with crusty bread and sliced pears. For more recipes, visit

By Rachel Birdsell

TFW Contributing Writer

Eat It is going to be a little different this week. OK, a lot different.
I have been sick for what seems like 14 years, and I have barely been able to heave my bedraggled self out of bed, much less go out to eat anywhere. Even if I’d felt like leaving the house I wouldn’t have been able to taste anything I ate, and that just doesn’t make for a very fair restaurant review. So, in lieu of a review, I thought I’d share some of my favorite cool weather recipes with you.


The yearlong pumpkin shortage is over, which means we no longer have to hoard those cans of pumpkin. One of my favorite pumpkin recipes is Pumpkin Curry Soup. It’s rich and creamy and wonderful. Pair it with sliced pears and crusty bread for a perfect cool weather meal.

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons curry powder (I always add more to taste)
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups half and half

Melt the butter in a 5 quart stock pot. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic. Cook over medium high heat until almost tender; stirring frequently. Add flour and curry powder; stir until smooth. Slowly add stock. Reduce heat to medium. Add pumpkin and honey and stir until smooth. Slowly add half and half. Once warm, set heat to low and let simmer for at least 15 minutes before serving. Don’t let it simmer too long because it cooks down rather quickly and gets very thick. Makes four to six servings.


Fresh cranberries are easy to find this time of year, and there’s no better way to have them than candied. They’re simple to make, and not only do they make a beautiful garnish, they’re also a yummy snack.

2 c. water
2 c. granulated sugar
2 c. fresh cranberries
1 c. ultrafine sugar

Heat granulated sugar and water over medium heat until sugar is dissolved; remove from heat. Add cranberries to sugar mixture. Cover and refrigerate eight to 48 hours. Remove from refrigerator, drain and lay cranberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Toss with ultrafine sugar until well coated. Spread into single layer and let dry at least one hour, but overnight will produce better results. These will keep up to a week unrefrigerated. Makes 2 cups.


And finally, for a beautiful dessert that will impress your guests, nothing beats a trifle. This one is a bit time consuming to make, but it’s so totally worth it.

1 vanilla bean
3 tablespoons butter, melted
6 ripened pears, peeled, cored, and halved
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream, cold
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
12 slices (from about 2 8-ounce loaves) pound cake, sliced 3/4 inch thick
▲ Roast the pears at 350 degrees. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use the dull side of a small knife to scrape out the pulp from one half. Reserve the other half. Stir the pulp into the butter and brush each pear on all sides with the mixture. Place the pears, cored side up, on a baking pan in a single layer, keeping them about 1 inch apart. Drizzle any remaining butter over the pears and roast until just tender — about 30 minutes.
▲ Make the custard: Set a clean bowl in a large bowl a third filled with ice water. Set aside. Bring the remaining half of vanilla bean, salt, milk and 1 cup heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat in a large saucepan. Whisk the egg, yolks, sugar and cornstarch together until thick and pale. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture in a thin stream while whisking continuously. Stir in the maple syrup, return the mixture to the saucepan and cook while stirring continuously with a wooden spoon over medium heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the wooden spoon. Immediately remove custard from the heat and strain into the prepared iced bowl. Stir to cool. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
▲ Assemble the trifle: Whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream to soft peaks and fold into the reserved custard. Lay four slices of pound cake in a trifle dish or large glass serving bowl. Arrange four pear halves over the cake and top with a third of the cream mixture. Repeat with two more layers. Chill until ready to serve. Makes 12 servings.

Happy eating! More of my recipes can be found at my food blog:
And, as always, if you know of a restaurant you think I should review, drop me a line at

Categories: Legacy Archive
Tags: featured