Friday, September 08, 2006

Pear pieces

I'm having some success and some failure when processing the current bounty of pears. I made pear sorbet,
though I would call it more of a granita than a sorbet. It has some Poire William brandy in it (maybe a little too much brandy if you wanted to serve it to small people, though Fiona lapped up the stuff) and whether it is the alcohol or the relatively low sugar content (only 1/3 C) or maybe just my not-so-schwoopy ice cream maker, it never really hardened up. But the slushy stuff was delicious.

Then I made some pear muffins that weren't so great.
They looked kind of pretty and used two whole cups of pear pieces, but the batter was too cakey for my liking (I like a sturdier muffin) and had a weird after taste--like the bitterness of the baking powder was the final flavor on your tongue. Ewwwww. The pear pieces were the best part of the muffins and I found myself picking them out and leaving the cakey bits.

I love the suggestions folks have been sending in but unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to do any of the whole (or even halved) poached pears which require long stretches of intact fruit. Compared to commercial pears, these lovely little honey bombs are 1) small and 2) likely to have at least one wee worm residing inside.
See the difference?
I like the idea of turning the rest of my lumpy supply into chutney, as one person suggested in the comments section of my previous pear post. I love a grilled sharp cheddar and chutney sandwich, preferably on Zingerman's Farm Bread.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A timely post

This week I made the Calabacitas that Halla brought to our most recent Gluttony Fest and I must report that it is a fabulous way to use up a whole LOT of summer squash in a very pleasant, easy dish.

It drives me batty when (this time of year) magazines or newspapers publish articles on how to diminish the overload of zucchini and summer squash and then include recipes that call for, say, 1/2 of a grated zucchini. People, we got squash coming out our ears this time of year! We need recipes that deal with quantity (quality too, of course). This one fits the bill deliciously.Patience is the secret to this squash tasting so good. Don't cook the onions or the squash over high heat--keep the heat on the low to medium side and let the vegetables become meltingly tender. There is no butter in this dish (ok, there is a sizeable quantity of cheese) but the squash tastes buttery when cooked slowly. I'm sure zucchini would taste just as good, but I'd miss the sunny glow of the summer squash since zucchini can get a bit muddy colored when cooked.

I took Halla's advice and made the effort to roast a couple of poblano chiles which were really great, just a mild background heat. The rest of the dish is so absurdly easy that roasting the chiles didn't even seem like much of an effort, despite the little bits of singed skin that are all over the stove now.

We ate this as a side dish tonight (with Pork and Hominy Stew) but it could make a nice light, vegetarian supper when accompanied by a salad and bread or quesadillas.

Calabacitas (Skillet Squash)

5 cubed small summer squash
1 diced large onion
2 roasted peeled diced poblano chiles or about 1 small can diced green chile
1 tablespoon neutral oil
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in oil over medium heat until soft--do not brown. Add squash and keep the heat medium low, stirring once in a while until the squash is tender (not tender crisp). Add chiles; simmer briefly. Sprinkle on cheese and stir until melted.

Pear Greed

My greed overcame me on Sunday when I went out to Ami and John's house. I brought over a raspberry buckle and came home with a cubic foot of pears. Lest you think I am exaggerating I show the proof:
These were all windfalls from Ami and John's trees--and there are plenty more pears up there that have not let gravity get the best of them (yet). For a free-fruit-freak like me, this is a wonderful way to start a week.

So now I am accumulating pear recipes to manage the bounty--so far I have a pear sorbet recipe and three different pear tarts to attempt (I'll post recipes or links if any of them turns out decent). I'm also planning on a pear/walnut/blue cheese salad. Suggestions for other favorite pear recipes I should try would be gratefully accepted at this time.

Excellent news for the caffeinated among us

If you are a coffee-loving Ann Arborite, there's good news to be had! Amazing Beans, the local coffee roaster who delivered your coffee to your doorstep the next day, has re-opened for business under the new name Mighty Good Coffee Roasting Company.

The former owner/roaster Johann Lee sold the business to two of his customers and today I received the following letter that I thought I'd share:

Dear Amazing Beans Customer,

I am writing to you for two reasons. First, I'd like to thank you for supporting Amazing Beans when it was in operation. I started Amazing Beans because I thought that Ann Arbor deserved and could support a local business that provided freshly roasted coffee using the best beans money could buy. I was, and remain, passionate about coffee, and I am grateful to you for your past support. I closed Amazing Beans because I could not make it work while working full time in another demanding professional job. I was simply unwilling to compromise on the quality of my product, and so I closed up the roaster. I am now headed to a new job out of state.

The second reason I write is to give you some good news. Fortunately for all of us, two of my former customers have bought the operation and will shortly resume roasting. Ann Arbor will again have access to the highest quality freshly roasted coffee delivered to your door. I have been working closely with the new owners. We have been roasting a lot of coffee together and I am convinced that they share my passion for delivering the best possible coffee. They will be buying their beans from the same sources I used. They will be using the same roaster and equipment I used. They will even be using the same roast profiles I used so you can again buy just what I was selling. While I'’m sure that there will be some changes, one thing won't change, a commitment to providing the best coffee you can buy anywhere.

I decided I was too fond of the name Amazing Beans to sell that too. The new business will be run under a name the new owners chose: Mighty Good Coffee. Their web site is simply I hope you'’ll support Mighty Good Coffee. I plan to be drinking it myself, and I'’ll be working with the new owners over the next several months as Mighty Good Coffee starts showing up at your doorstep.

Best wishes,
Johann Lee

As soon as I'm finished with the current bag of Peet's I'll be placing my order!