Tag Archives: maple

Maple Mousse in a Phyllo Nest with Strawberry and Mango Sauce and a Maple Balsamic Reduction

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After all the years I’ve spent experimenting with recipes I feel I’ve got a decent grasp of which flavors work together, but tend to be a traditionalist — especially in the savory department.  Cilantro goes with onion, tomatoes, spicy peppers, and citrus.  Basil goes with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil.  Bell peppers go with celery and onions.  Once in a while, I’ll play around with one of the combinations, but not often.

I scan the ingredient list of an accomplished chef’s recipe and think, really? wondering where their inspiration comes from.  I dissect it with my own familiarity of and opinion about each flavor in an attempt to understand how one works with the other, but know that my simple lack of experience is my biggest obstacle.  It’s a slow process, but it works if I’m in the mood to tackle one of the often complicated recipes.   Again — not very often.  And even when I do, the experience is rarely if ever repeated, so my ability to grow knowledge beyond my traditional ingredient choices peters out.  Well, except for that dense, rich, dark chocolate tart I’ve made a few times with cayenne and chipotles in adobo.  But still.

A good example of my semi lack of awareness would be with maple syrup.  It makes me think of breakfast:  bacon or ham, eggs, hash browns.  I think of Fall for some reason because I think of apples.  Apples + maple syrup + walnuts = great with a German pancake.  Chalk this up to someone who grew up about as far as one can get from maple trees and their accompanying “sugaring-off” season which occurs as winter’s cold temperatures wane into spring.  Sasha Chapman’s article “The Sweet Life:  Maple Syrup Season in Quebec” published this past March in Saveur magazine provided an excellent foundation to restructure my thinking about maple flavored anything — authentically, of course.  I was drawn into Chapman’s nostalgic description of how Canadians gather in the “sugar shack” and work within the family to make syrup, waiting for that first taste of the season.

Why use maple syrup as an example to explain my not so edge-cutting ingredient combining ability?  Because it’s what the Daring Bakers were challenged with this month.  Color me surprised.  The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

I had to do a bit of reading to get my head out of my maple syrup rut and consider what flavors might work with a mousse.

It’s spring…

There are berries everywhere…

…and mangoes.

Resisting the addition of a chiffonade of basil, a piquant maple balsamic vinegar reduction was added, and voila.

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Pumpkin Maple Bread

It’s as good an excuse as any to say I still seem to be decompressing from our vacation, slowly coming back to Earth, but not quite willing to sit down and harness my thoughts long enough to write anything.

Thinking it might be motivational, I did spend time in my kitchen dabbling with some traditional flavors of the season, incorporating them into a variety of dishes — including baked goods, casseroles, and soup. Pumpkin and cranberries often took a lead role, and in the case of this moist bread, provided quite a treat with coffee or tea in the morning.

It’s delicious toasted or not, but especially so with a smear of maple cream cheese butter.  On the motivation front, written words are elusive, but time to sit and ponder it all just might produce something.

I’m thankful for that.

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Raspberry Heart Scones

Raspberry Heart Scones

It’s Saturday morning after a busy week and the slightest hint of Fall is in the air, taunting me.  Condensation dots the leaves of the plants on the patio outside the kitchen window and the occasional web of a familiar orange garden spider wafts lazily between the trees.  I know the cool air coming through the window needs to be appreciated because in a day or so, we’re expecting blistering temperatures even though the calendar is edging toward the autumnal equinox.

Flipping through the small stack of food magazines and cookbooks that seem to be a permanent fixture on my counter, I sip my coffee and talk about nothing in particular to my husband who is already perched in front of his laptop.  He’s usually the one in the kitchen on weekend mornings, but I remember the small container of raspberries in the fridge that were destined for yet another Bittman salad and ask, “Muffins or scones, honey?”

“Mmmm…scones,” is his quick response and I smile because I feel an experiment coming on.  Do I have to mix the raspberries in the batter?

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Maple Oat Apple Crisp

Sliced Fujis with Maple Syrup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think one of the nicest aspects of the food blog world is meeting people and having someone take the time to say, “I like your blog.”  It’s not expected even though ultimately, that’s what most of us are working for, isn’t it?  Maybe it’s not what we began blogging for, but it seems that in the long run, it’s a lot of work if no one’s enjoying what we produce.

Keeping a non-digital scrap book would be far less time consuming, but oh, so quiet.  At this point, I could never give up the spirited noise that greets me each day that I sit down to work — whether it’s from twitter, or reading blogs, or responding to comments made on mine, the positive energy that greets me is invaluable!

Recently, I was tagged by Karen of Mignardise to share six random things about myself, and I’m grinning, because I like to have fun with these things.  But I’m thinking you may need the bribe of a nice bowl of some warm Maple Apple Crisp and a cup of coffee to go with my random nuggets of information. I have a tendency to blather on a bit.

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