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Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.
Brian’s cooking is seasonal, inventive and smart, but in no way unapproachable or fussy. When he is coaxed out of the kitchen and starts talking about food, his passion and knowledge are instantly recognizable.
"Chef Brian Henry cooked a series of delicious appetizers for us as we sat around a table in the kitchen". Thanks
“Chef Brian Henry puts one hundred percent of his energy into going all the way.”
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Sticks and Stones
Who cannot resist the aromas of a BBQ? We cannot deny that when we smell foods licked by fire and smoke that our appetite is whetted and we start to salivate. This ancient method of cooking dates back to the days of cave dwellers cooking chunks of meat over a fire. Through its evolution we can come to understand the basics of BBQ and harness the elements used for creating memorable back-yard feasts.
The word barbecue originated from the Spanish word barbacoa and made its way to Central America. The Arawak people traveled from Central America to the Caribbean taking their style of barbacoa with them. The Caribbean was also inhabited with the Carib Indians who were a fierce society of warriors who led to the demise of the Arawak’s 1000-year existence in the Islands. It is believed that the Carib’s dinned on barbacoa Arawak at their victory feasts.
From Central America the barbecue traveled north to Texas and the barbecue scene has never rested since as it gave birth to a sub-culture of BBQ rib and sauce competitions that are as hot and fiery as the foods served at these annual national events. We must also acknowledge Australia for the “Barbie” and the Japanese for the “Hibachi” and the influences made on our way of backyard grilling. As well as tailgate party goers and the various flavors found in such societal delicacies as Beer Can Chicken.
Here in Canada we can trace our cooking styles back to the Pacific Northwest native peoples with the art of plank-grilling where one splits open a freshly caught salmon, binds it to a piece of cedar driftwood and cooks it over a fire. From the Pacific Northwest also comes hot-rock cooking. Here we use heated slabs of granite for cooking fish and seafood on the surface of heated stones. These methods of cooking allow us to infuse or impart natural aromatic flavors into our food.
Plank-grilling and hot-rock applications are fun and easy to do however there are a few precautions and rules to be observed. When choosing a plank use an aromatic wood like untreated alder or cedar. I do not recommend Eastern cedar, pine or birch. It is necessary to soak the planks in water for a few hours before the grilling begins as this allows the wood to slowly release smoke and flavor, as with dry planks you will have a fire and no dinner.
If you choose to cook with stones do not use porous rocks as they sometimes retain water and explode with extreme heat. Use slabs of granite, marble or even terra cotta. By incorporating stone slabs into your BBQ you can try doing mussels and oysters or BBQ pizzas and cheeses to make unique appetizers. Dessert is a necessary course needed to finish any great repast and this too can be done on the Q by cedar planking apples and peaches served with ice-cream.
This May long weekend is the perfect excuse for taking the time and trying something new on your Bbq. Our local grocers, farmer’s markets and farm gate purveyors are sure to have something for you to experiment with.
Below is this years BBQ Class Schedule from Friendly Fires for more details check them on line
I’ve had the pleasure of judging many food related competitions over the year’s but none of them compares to judging yesterday’s Butter Tart Taste-Off at the Flavour Festival held in Peterborough, Ontario.
Searching for the best crust, best filling, most creative and best overall was a daunting task. Ontario.choose the best crust, best filling, the most creative butter tart, and the overall best Butter Tart.
Round one had 11 butter tarts
The judging panel was
Dan Duran and Linda Kash of Magic 967 FM
and yours truly .
The winners were…
Best Crust: Argyle Country Mart
Best Filling: Doo Doo’s
Best Creative Tart: Doo Doo’s
Overall Best Tart: Betty’s Pies & Tarts
People’s Choice: Cravings Bakery
Full details can be seen at http://ptbocanada.com/journal/2013/4/29/ptbopics-coverage-winners-of-2013-butter-tart-taste-off-at-f.html
Here are some suggested recipes for making your own Butter Tarts
remember to fill unused muffin cups halfway with water to prevent them from drawing too much heat.
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vinegar
Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.
In a measuring cup, beat the egg and the vinegar, then add enough cold water to make one cup.
Add one pound of Tenderflake or shortening (whichever you like) to flour/salt mixture. Mix just until the flour looks moist, not too much. Add the liquid and use your fingers to toss it together — do not mix or knead.
Chill the pastry while you make the filling
Butter Tart Filling
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice
Beat together the butter and sugar.
Add the next three ingredients and beat again. Beat the eggs, and add to the mix.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Roll and cut the pastry, and place in tart pans. In the bottom of each shell, put a few raisins or pecans or walnuts — whatever your taste buds like.
Pour in liquid filling to within half an inch of the top.
Bake for 18 minutes. Take the pan out, turn it around and return it to the oven for a few minutes longer — until golden brown and not really runny.
Let tarts cool before removing from pan. Makes two dozen.
2 cups cake & pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces
3 tbsp cold shortening, cut in pieces
2 tsp lemon juice
4 to 6 tbsp ice water
1/2 cup sultana raisins
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For pastry, stir together flour and salt in medium bowl. Using pastry blender or large fork, cut in butter and shortening until pieces are about the size of peas.
In measuring cup, stir lemon juice into 4 tablespoons ice water. Stir into flour mixture with fork. Add remaining ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to just moisten dry ingredients. Using hands, press mixture into ball. Flatten into disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Roll out dough about 1/8-inch thick. Using 4-inch diameter cookie cutter or top of drinking glass, cut out 12 circles. Place circles in lightly greased cups of 12-cup muffin tin, ruffling edges to fit. Refrigerate while you prepare filling.
For filling, in small bowl or measuring cup, cover raisins with hot water. Set aside.
In medium bowl, using back of wooden spoon, blend corn syrup, sugar, butter and salt, until smooth, with no butter streaks. Blend in egg and vanilla.
Drain raisins well. Divide among tart shells. Top with equal amounts of sugar mixture.
Bake about 18 minutes in preheated 400F oven, until pastry is golden and filling is puffy and brown.
Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Remove tarts to rack to cool completely. Store in covered container. Makes 12.
I love the aromas produced by foods being prepared in a kitchen. One of these favorite culinary induced aromas I can only smell in the bathroom. It is the smell of metabolized compounds found in asparagus. These sulphur based compounds give our urine a distinct perfume within 20 minutes of ingesting this member of the daffodil family.
The effect of eating asparagus on our urine has been of curiosity and study since the 1700’s. Most recently a study published in 2010 found that while almost everyone who eats asparagus produces the aromatic asparagus-urine only 22% of the population has the autosomal genes required to smell them. This trait is unique to asparagus as these compounds originate in asparagusic. The aromatic producing elements of asparagus are more concentrated in young asparagus are more present in young asparagus, with the observation that the smell is more pronounced after eating young asparagus.
Another food study in the 1700’s saw the cross breeding of Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chiloensis which lead to the creation of the cultivar more commonly known as the common garden strawberry.
These naturally sweet aromatic orbs are related to the rose family and have been used for centuries in the kitchen but also in cosmetic applications and of course the perfume industry. The strawberry is the first fruit to ripen and be harvested in the Kawartha’s. Their flavor can be influenced by weather and this year’s hot dry spring should produce exceptionally sweeter fruits than usual.
Asparagus and strawberries have a number of similar traits. They are both related to flowers; make great companion plants, they require human hands to harvest them, and are only available locally in season for a short period of time. Pick up both of these ingredients at farmers markets and grocery stores throughout our region while still in season and try them together in this week’s recipe that will welcome the delicious aromas of summer into our homes. The many textures and flavors of this salad are best served with barbecued chicken to making it a satisfying meal.
Asparagus and Strawberry Salad
2 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
2 tbsp. lemon juice
4 cups arugula
1 tbsp. Honey
3 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
In a medium sized bowl combine the asparagus and half of the olive oil together and toss it until the asparagus is evenly coated with the oil. Cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes in either a preheated oven or barbeque at around 400 °f. Once cooked remove asparagus from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.
Place about a cup of arugula onto four dinner plates. Top the arugula with the strawberries and asparagus. Lightly drizzle each salad with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
You be the Judge
Geographical regions are often defined by their terroir or their sense of place which is personified through its geography, environment, culture and cuisine. This weekend our region will display all of its characteristic qualities that define our somewhereness here throughout the Kawartha and Northumberland counties at the Flavour Festival being held this Sunday at The Morrow Building.
My childhood summer memories are filled full of drives with my father throughout Central Ontario. Our regular road trips through the countryside were serenaded by baseball games on am radio while squeaking our way through lightly salted bags of curd, softened on the dashboard in the sun. Often these road trips were interrupted by stopping to try butter tarts from corner stores and church bake sales.
To me curd and butter tarts define our region like nothing else when it comes to food. Personally, I have never met a curd I haven’t enjoyed and our region is full of brilliant cheese makers. Finding a great butter tart is more redolent of spending a lifetime in pursuit of a fish that got away and faded memories of summers past.
What makes the best butter tart? Is the most personal question one can be asked and can include other questions like “Do you like a runny or firm filling?” or “Do you prefer raisins in or out of your tarts?” These questions as well as who makes “The Best Crust”, who makes “the Best Filling”, who makes the “Best Overall” butter tart and who makes “The Most Creative Filling” will be asked and answered at the Flavour Festivals Kawarthas Butter Tart Taste-Off.
A panel of judges including myself have been tasked with the difficult job of answering these questions while finding our local area’s best butter tart. This will be no easy task but I will fulfill my public service duties to our community to the fullest.
There is another category that will be awarded at this competition as well and it’s the most prestigious of all “The People’s Choice Award”. I personally invite you to come out and discover the flavours of the Kawarthas and Northumberland County at this year’s Flavour Festival and I further challenge you to come and help us decide who makes the best butter tart in the region.
For those of you who enjoy butter tarts and their pastry I suggest you try the following recipe for Vodka Pie Crust using Kawartha Dairy Butter.
Vodka Pie Crust
13 oz unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. sugar
6oz cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka that has been infused with vanilla bean
1/4 cup cold water
Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined. Add the butter and shortening and pulse the mixture until it reaches a uniform consistency. It will appear clumpy and curd-like.
Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the remaining flour. Again pulse the mixture until evenly incorporated. Turn the flour mixture out into a medium sized mixing bowl.
Sprinkle the vodka and water over mixture. Use the rubber spatula, to fold the dough over on itself while pressing down on the mixture to combine it into a slightly sticky dough mass. Divide dough in half and form it into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Tofu or not Tofu that is the question
Tofu is a highly concentrated form of protein that resembles whose form is similar to cheese. Its origins are disputed as to whether the Mongol’s or Chinese discovered the tofu making process but it is believed that this food staple entered the culinary world somewhere between the 2nd to 10th centuries. It was originally known in Chinese as dou-fu or tou-fu but today we refer to it by its Japanese name tofu or simply bean curd.
The process of making tofu is quite similar to making cheese as it is made from the pressed curds of coagulated soy milk. The coagulation of soy milk proteins happens with the adding of salt, acids and / or enzymes, just like cheese.
From these curds we see four basic categories of tofu. Soft or silken tofu has a high moisture content which makes it ideal to be used in smoothies and sauces as its texture is similar to pudding or custard.
Firm tofu crumbles nicely like feta cheese and works well in casseroles and pasta dishes. Extra firm tofu quite dry and holds its shape well and can be barbequed or pan fried. Dried tofu is also available and needs to be rehydrated for consumption and is often added to soups.
Regardless of what texture of tofu you use its flavour or should I say lack of flavour for the most part is always the same; none existent. This lack of flavour is what makes tofu such an incredibly versatile ingredient to work with as it readily absorbs whatever flavours you add to it.
Once you have chosen what texture of tofu you want to useit should be stored in the refrigerator with respect to its expiration date. One you open your tofu you will need to drain the water that it is packaged in and change it daily to preserve freshness. Unopened packages of tofu can be stored in the freezer.
Ontario produces about 3 million tonnes of soybeans annually on over 2 million acres of farm land. Most of these protein packed legumes are destined for livestock feed with a small portion of this annual harvest destined for human consumption. Sol Cuisine is an Ontario vegetarian based food producer, who has been using organic, GMO free Ontario grown soybeans since its inception in 1997, to produce its line of soy based products. Sol Cuisine tofu is available at Joanne’s Place in Peterborough.
Regular readers of this column know my appreciation of all animal based sources of protein with a fondness for butter, bacon and all forms of beef. What you may not be aware of is that I have in past lives been vegetarian, owned vegetarian restaurants and to this day offer an extensive list of vegetarian courses and meals for my clients. As such I have learned that introducing tofu into anyone’s menu or diet can be a challenge for a number of reasons. This week’s recipe is one that I have used for over 20 years to assist people in trying tofu for the first time, or for those wishing to have some fun with tofu. I like to call this recipe KFT or Kentucky Fried Tofu as its flavour is reminiscent to the Colonel’s secret recipe. It can be served with hominy grits, corn on the cob, okra and some slaw just to give it a down home kind of feeling.
Be sure to pick up the nutritional yeast needed for this recipe while at Joanne’s too.
Kentucky Fried Tofu
1 lb. extra firm tofu
2tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 tbsp. de-bittered nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp. ground sage
1 tsp. thyme leaves, dried
1 tsp. oregano leaves, dried
1 tsp. marjoram leaves, dried
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder
¾ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Oil for frying
Drain all of the water from the tofu and slice the block into four equal sized rectangles. Squeeze the rectangles between your palms to remove any water absorbed within it. Slice the tofu rectangles corner to corner to make triangles. Place the tofu triangles on a plate and drizzle them with the soy sauce and set aside.
Combine all of the remaining dry ingredients in a food processor and grind them together using the pulse setting until you have evenly incorporated them into what resembles a flour like mixture. Transfer this dry mixture into a mixing bowl.
Preheat a frying pan over medium heat with just enough oil to cover its bottom. Dredge the tofu triangles in the almond flour mixture, making sure that the tofu is fully coated on all sides and gently place them in the fry pan. Turn the pieces frequently while frying them until they reach a nice golden brown. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Legumes are any plant that produces fruits that are enclosed in a pod. Common examples of legumes would be fresh peas or peanuts. Pulses are any member of the legume family whose seeds have been harvested and dried. Chickpeas and lentils are the most common selections of pulses.
Although lentils come in a variety of sizes we generally find the large green lentil and red lentil in the grocery store. When lentils are labelled as split this tells us that the tough seed coat around the lentil has been removed and the embryo or inner part of the lentil has been split in half. Split lentils cook twice as fast as a whole lentil and are preferred in soup based recipes as they can be pureed where we prefer to use whole lentils in salads or rice dishes as they hold their shape well and have a firmer berry like texture.
Canada exports lentils to over 100 countries making Canada the world’s largest exporter of lentils. Most of Canada’s lentils are grown in Saskatchewan with most production being focused on the large green and red lentil varieties. Lesser produced varieties include smaller sized French green lentils and Spanish brown lentils.
Lentils do not need to be soaked prior to cooking them but should always be rinsed off. Canned lentils are available in a precooked state and will reduce all recipe cooking times however the flavour of them is somewhat bland in comparison to cooking them yourself.
Some people are predicting that pulses like the lentil will become our planet`s super food as they are high in fibre, protein, iron and B vitamins and are easily grown without the use of fertilizers. Lentils in their dry form have a one year shelf life when stored in a dry, cool and dark environment.
Canadian grown lentils are available on most grocery store shelves throughout our area. I suggest that you use a smaller green lentil in the following lentil soup recipe as they have a slightly firmer texture than other lentils; especially in comparison to the brown lentil which soaks up a lot of liquid and is quite soggy in texture.
3 tbsp. canola oil or butter
2 cups peeled and diced yellow onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 liter chicken, beef or vegetable stock
1 1/4 cups dry split green lentils, rinsed
4-5 medium sized Ontario Hothouse tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed soup pot. Stir in the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Stirring frequently, gently cook them in the oil until the onions start to brown up. Stir in the stock, lentils, and tomatoes. Increase heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low setting allowing the soup to simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
For a thick soup pulse it with an immersion blender until you reach your preferred consistency. If you make it to thick, simply thin it out with more stock or water. Season to your tastes with salt and pepper. Serves 4-6.
I want you to visualize swimming in a lake on a hot summer day. You’re floating freely, looking at the sky completely relaxed when you feel some aquatic plant brush against your leg causing you to thrash about screaming seaweed. I can only imagine how you may react if I served up some seaweed on a plate to you.
Most people aren’t aware but they consume seaweed numerous times a day. More specifically we consume aquatic brown algae known as kelp which has mucilaginous ergo slimy properties which are extracted and used as emulsifiers. These emulsifiers are used in food stuffs like salad dressings or ice creams to stop them from separating. Kelp is also used in toothpaste, soap and body lotions.
Kelp is harvested from the cold North Atlantic waters with the North Pacific waters producing wakame. Like kelp, wakame is used in a number of culinary preparations but is most famed for being served as seaweed tea known as kombucha in Japan. When kelp is dried and ground into a powder the slimy bits become concentrated and are used as a food thickening agent or emulsifier known as alginate. It is praised by vegetarians as it can be substituted in recipes that normally are thickened with eggs.
Chefs have been playing with gastronomy or the science of food in their kitchens turned laboratories and have created a number of novel new ways of preparing and serving food. One of these concepts is to take two main components from dried ground kelp and separate them. The first being alginate which is rehydrated with a variety of natural ingredients causing it to turn into a firm gelatinous liquid. This liquid is then dropped with a spoon, eyedropper or pumped by a machine through something similar to a shower head producing into a coagulation solution of calcium extracted from the kelp which causes only the surface of the flavoured alginate drops to coagulate into uniformly shaped pearls. The firm surface of these pearls encapsulates the inner free flowing liquid. Simply put the pearls are like a biting into a soft jelly filled candy.
Unless you are Chef Nye the science guy the aforementioned procedure may have sounded exceptionally complex or merely put you to sleep. Either way I want you to know that kelp pearls are now easy to enjoy at home without any fuss or lab experiments. Kelp Caviar is a Canadian company harvesting Canadian kelp to produce an entire line of flavoured kelp pearls.
I recently discovered this product line at The Firehouse Gourmet in East City where I sampled a few varieties of Kelp Caviar which included wasabi and sturgeon flavours. It was profoundly refreshing in my opinion compared to fish egg caviars. The little pearls popped just like fish egg and tasted mildly of the ocean.
This fat free, all natural gourmet condiment, is loaded with minerals with it being notably high in iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It is further packed full with the following vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, E, and amino acids, which all contribute to a healthy diet and are easily assimilated in the body.
These tasty little beads would accompany cheese, meats, crackers, potato skins, sandwiches and an endless list of other possible food items. This incredibly shelf stable product will hold for three months in the refrigerator after opening is a must try condiment.
Sometimes it`s hard to find locally sourced foods in the dead of winter, but sometimes if you adventure outside of the normal realms of your culinary universe you might find yourself in East City, eating vegan kelp pearls.
@KelpCaviar or www.facebook.com/kelpcaviar
Cooking lamb has never really received the recognition it deserves. When it comes to eating lamb, I am always amazed at the number of people who fervently proclaim their distaste for the idea. It appears that many people have memories of eating the strong tasting mutton that was left in the field to graze on grasses a little too long. Pasture fed lamb whose diet includes alfalfa and clover will develop exceptionally high levels of red myoglobin and skatole. The myoglobin forms the pigments that are responsible for making meat red. Skatole is an organic compound that is formed in the intestine by bacterial decomposition and has a strong fecal odour. That explains the taste and odour found in sheep meat of the past.
That has all changed now, with the milder, more delicate flavour of today¹s lamb.
Lamb in grocery stores comes from five to 12-month old sheep.
The flavour is quite mild, especially if it¹s locally raised lamb.
Most local lamb producers are raising lamb that is grain-fed, or finished on grain for a month.
This produces very mild-flavoured meat, while imported lamb is still allowed to graze on grasses, producing a slightly stronger-flavoured meat.
I recently had the pleasure of working with lamb from Ruco Braat’s Golden Fleece Farms located in Bailieboro. I highly recommend trying it whether you are a long-term lamb lover or hater. Ruco’s lamb is available at Country Corners in Peterborough.
The following marinade will work on lamb loin chops, rib chops as well as the shoulder chops featured below. Try serving them over rice with some crumbled feta cheese.
Pan-Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt,
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Four 8 to 12-ounce lamb shoulder chops
One medium sized cooking onion sliced
One cup white wine
Whisk the lemon juice, mustard, rosemary, garlic, and salt together in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil and season with pepper.
Transfer the marinade to a large re-seal able plastic bag. Put the lamb chops in the bag, seal, and shake vigorously to evenly coat the meat. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Remove the chops from the marinade and transfer them to a plate. Discard the marinade.
Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place chops in skillet, and cook until the chops have begun to brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the chops over and reduce the heat to medium low setting. Add the sliced onion and cook the chops until medium-rare, about 2 minutes for medium 3-4 minutes. Remove the chops from the pan and allow them to rest for about 5 minutes. De-glaze the pan with white wine and allow the wine to reduce by half creating a natural pan gravy. Drizzle the chops with the onion pan gravy and serve. Serves 4-6 people
The very first harvest of the year is Maple Sap, and this year my kids and I have collected over 200 liters of sap from our humble maple farm. This we have boiled down into approximately 4 liters of pure maple goodness.
As the season has just begun our first 3 liters of syrup would be classified as Canada No. 1 Light which is a pale, honey like delicate syrup produced only at the beginning of the season. Maple syrup is divided into five grades, based largely on color. Canada No. 3 Dark lies at the other end of the spectrum, as a richly colored full-flavored syrup which is harvested towards the end of the season. Canada No. 1 Medium is the most popular grade; it’s produced midseason.
Most people will take maple syrup and drizzle it over food just like ketchup. My point being that neither is considered to be an act of culinary genius, we just simply use it as a condiment and pour it over anything from baked goods and pancakes to salmon and pork dishes.
One should try any of the following ideas If you are harvesting your own sap or have access to fresh sap I recommend any of the following ideas and concepts to appreciate maple sap and syrup to the fullest..
Of course you have to try drinking maple sap fresh from the tree. Consuming fresh sap can be an invigorating experience as it is a pure, raw, living food that is low in calories and high in nutrients. My son has referred to sap as the blood of trees.
Anywhere that you use water in your kitchen you can replace it with maple sap so try making your coffee and tea with sap instead of water. I will freeze a few liters of sap to make iced teas with in the summer. A maple-mint julep can take the edge off of any lazy summer day.
Some of my favorite ways of cooking with sap is to reduce by half it until it just starts to thicken and turn a slight amber color. At this point the sap will have a slightly pronounced maple flavor, now you can get adventurous, try cooking your oatmeal or other hot cereal grains in this reduced sap. It is perfect for cooking wild rice and quinoa as well.
I recently cooked baked beans with sap in a crock pot for several hours. I only added some salt, chopped onion and bacon. I didn’t have to add any brown sugar or molasses to the recipe as I found them to be delicious with just the maple sweetness.
This sap reduction can be used as a poaching medium as well. Try poaching salmon or chicken in it. For a taste of a true Canadian breakfast poach your eggs in the reduced sap and serve it up with smoked bacon.
Enjoy the first harvest of the Kawarthas’ and support our local maple syrup producers. For the more adventurous ones out there I recommend trying this week’s recipe for wine.
Maple Sap Wine
Four liters maple sap
Up to 1kg granulated sugar
1/8 tsp tannin
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 package of Riesling wine yeast
First measure the specific gravity of the sap with a hydrometer to determine how much sugar to add to achieve a starting specific gravity of 1.085-1.090. Different saps will contain different amounts of natural sugar, and even the sap from the same tree will differ from year to year. In a stainless steel pot stir the required amount of sugar into the maple sap and bring to a low boil for 15 minutes, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. In a separate pan, combine a cup of the sap with the cloves and zest of the lemons and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the clove mixture back into the sap and sugar pot and add the juice from the lemons and the yeast nutrient. When cooled to 22° c., add the activated wine yeast. Cover the pot and store it at room temperature. Be sure to stir the mixture daily for 8-10 days. Transfer to a secondary carboy fitted with an airlock. Ferment for 6-8 weeks. Rack into a sanitized secondary, refit the airlock and bulk age for 12 months.
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