Maple syrup is a truly Canadian thing and a deep part of my personal history. So much so, that when I’m travelling, I am always shocked to hear people ask me what maple syrup tastes like. I’m happy to try and find words to fully describe it. And, I find myself feeling a little sorry for people who have never had maple syrup. By the way, Google the nutritional values of our beloved nectar and you will leave the honey for the bees!
Spicy Maple Pecans
Perfect snack, great on salads and wonderful for gifting. Preheat the oven to 300ºF. In a bowl put 1/2 c. maple syrup, 1/2 t. cayenne pepper, 1/2 t. allspice, 1/2 t. smoked paprika, 1 t. sumac, 1 t. salt and mix well. Then add 2 c. pecan halves and mix to coat. Spread evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the oven. Remove and mix every 10 minutes until the pecans are lightly toasted and the glaze is no longer sticky, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to fully cool before serving or packaging. Makes 2 cups.
Maple Poached Eggs with Smoky Bacon and Pancakes
I have a lovely Tante Stella, who is an unbelievable cook. At some point in my history, my uncle thought it would be a fun “weekend farm” thing to have a sugar bush, which, for the grown-ups, was way more work than they imagined. But, as a kid, it was fun! Ma Tante, would do all sorts of cooking and treats for us kids. One thing she did was to poach eggs in half boiled maple syrup and serve them with smoky bacon and pancakes, and more maple syrup, of course. This is my homage. In a medium-size, deep pot, put 2 c. maple syrup and 1 c. water. Put it on medium heat and bring to a boil. While you’re waiting for this to happen, make the pancake batter and fry the bacon. In a large skillet, cook 8 smoky bacon rashers and set aside for later. To make the pancakes, in a small bowl put 1 c. flour, 1/2 t. baking powder, 1/2 t. baking soda and 1 T. sugar. Whisk together well. In a larger bowl, put 1 egg and 2 T. oil and beat until fully incorporated, then beat in 2 c. buttermilk. Stir in the flour mixture and don’t worry too much about some lumps – they will work their way out while cooking. Cook the pancakes in the bacon fat. When the syrup is boiling, add 4 eggs and poach to desired doneness. To serve, arrange pancakes on four plates, place the bacon on top of them, and then an egg. Add more syrup as needed. Serves 4.
Maple Mustard Roasted Green Beans and Cauliflower
The maple syrup, toasted sesame and mustard work in a mysterious way with these vegetables to create a flavour so bright and savoury. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a bowl put 12 cauliflower florets and 3 handfuls of trimmed green beans, drizzle with 2 T. toasted sesame oil and toss to evenly coat. Arrange on a baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and add 2 T. grainy mustard and 2 T. maple syrup, toss to evenly coat and return to the oven for another 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.
Maple Chile Glazed Scallops
Simple ingredients and fast, perfect for a quick appetizer or served on a bed of arugula as a “wow” starter course. In a small bowl add 1/4 c. maple syrup, 1 garlic clove minced, 1 t. fresh ginger grated, 1 t. chili flakes, mix well. Rinse and blot dry, 12 medium scallops, sprinkle each with some salt. Place a skillet over high heat and allow the pan to get very hot before adding 1/4 c. canola oil. While you are waiting for the pan to heat, arrange a handful of arugula onto four salad plates and set aside for later. Now add the scallops and sear for about a minute before turning over. Once you have turned the scallops, spoon some of the maple glaze over each. Then turn the scallops again and spoon the remainder of the glaze over the scallop and turn again. Remove from heat and place 3 scallops on top of the arugula and drizzle some of the glaze over all. Serves 4.
Maple Braised Kielbasa with Winter Veg
Too many people think braising has to be an all-day event. Not so. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a shallow casserole oven dish, put 8 3-inch pieces of kielbasa sausage, 1 large red onion, diced, 4 peeled carrots and 2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces, 1/2 a small cabbage, cut into wedges and 4 small potatoes, quartered. Over top of this, pour 1 bottle of beer and 1/2 c. maple syrup. Mix to evenly coat, sprinkle with salt and braise in the oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven about halfway through to stir and adjust the salt. When the vegetables are tender, it's ready to eat. Serve with maple mustard on the side. Serves 4.
So basic, yet so versatile. Great in sandwiches, as a dip, as a glaze or as an accompaniment for a braise, like the braised kielbasa. In a small bowl mix together 1/2 c. Dijon mustard, 2 T. maple syrup, 1/2 t. onion powder and 1/2 t. Sriracha hot sauce. This will keep for up to 6 months in your fridge.
Maple, Almond Chia Pudding
I have always loved tapioca pudding, comfort food from my childhood. However, I have never really been interested in the investment of time required to prepare it. This is shockingly simple and super nutrient dense. I love it with strawberry jam, any time of the day. In a bowl put 2 c. unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 c. maple syrup, a pinch of ginger, stir to dissolve the syrup. Stir in 1/2 c. chia seeds and place in the fridge, stir 3 times over the next hour or so. Ready in 1 hour, but best if you let it sit overnight. Makes 3 cups.
Maple Brandy Milk
This has been a Christmas tradition for me for more than 20 years, instead of eggnog. In a blender put 2 c. whole milk, 1/2 c. brandy, 1 c. ice, 1/4 c. maple syrup and a pinch of nutmeg. Blend until frothy, pour into glasses and garnish with some freshly grated nutmeg. Serves 4.