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

Tony Aspler, Wine writer

“Chef Brian Henry puts one hundred percent of his energy into going all the way.”

Birgit Moenke, Editor Stir Media Read More Reviews

Gastronomically yours,

Ten degrees of separation

 

I truly enjoy tasting the first run of sap as it is being rendered down into maple syrup. To me it’s a double celebration of which I’m not sure as to which is more worthy of celebrating. You see the maple syrup harvest is like a reward or prize for surviving another Canadian winter; sort of our just desserts. Secondly I see it as the first crop that we harvest to herald in yet another season of locally produced foods.

Maple sugaring has been an early spring tradition in eastern Canada ever since the native peoples of the Eastern Woodlands discovered that maple sap cooked over an open fire produces a sweet sugar.

To make the sugar, a slash would be cut into the maple tree allowing the sap to be harvested as it dripped out. Logs were then hollowed out, and filled with the fresh sap. White-hot fieldstones were then added to cause the sap to boil. This process was continued and carried the sap through the syrup stage to end with crystallized sugar, which did not spoil when stored.

Sap flows best when we see the ten degree bounce happen which is when daytime high and low temperatures are ten degrees apart, with the high above freezing and the low below freezing.

Today we see most people using maple syrup like ketchup; drizzling if not pouring it over food. We simply use it as a condiment for baked goods and pancakes to salmon and pork dishes.

Making your own maple syrup in your backyard is fun and easy to do. It will provide you with expendable amounts of sap and syrup which will allow you to experiment with it in a variety of preparations.   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.

I like cooking with syrup at its different stages. Simply brewing a pot of coffee with the sap or poaching eggs in it makes for an incredibly hardy way to start the day. Using half reduced syrup in the braising of pot roasts and lamb shanks is a great way to enjoy the syrup before it becomes overly sweet or use the sap in place of stock to make a hearty root vegetable soup that can be served in mason jars.

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’ve 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.

The maple sugaring season is here and will only last 4-6 weeks. It’s a great reason to get out of the house with the family and visit any of our local sugar bush’s or make your own liquid gold.

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