Tag Archives: syrup

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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Nectarine Blondie Parfait

IMG_4434 Perhaps you’ve caught yourself doing this before:  you’re lost in thought — truly daydreaming about nothing in particular.  Then you wonder, “How in heck did I end up thinking about that?” and you proceed to trace back which thought led to what until you either figure it out (depending upon whether you have more patience than I do) or give up because in the long run, it truly doesn’t matter.

That’s the best way to describe how I ended up with these Nectarine Blondie Parfaits.  I’d seen Sunset magazine’s photo of “Chocolate Liliko’i Parfaits” ingredients layered deliciously in glasses, and wondered about the combination of flavors I’d use for a treat like that.  I just happened to have gelato, and had just finished making a batch of blondies.  Of course there were beautiful nectarines on my counter destined for a salad that I might also use.

And then there was a jar of Arequipe de Antano in the fridge.  Surely something good could come of a few of those ingredients if I stacked them nicely in a glass.

Right?

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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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Daring Bakers: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Brown Butter Frosting

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Here I am on a Saturday morning, writing the post for the Daring Bakers’ November challenge.  It’s due today, but with all the chaos of construction in our house, and cooking for Thanksgiving, somehow there wasn’t time to write. Let me rethink that:  I didn’t feel like writing until this morning. In fact, baking hasn’t been all that enjoyable since the space I normally work in is being shared with this Mac, a printer, and all sorts of other lovely things that usually have places somewhere upstairs, like bills, and catalogues, magazines I’ve got recipes tagged in, and things I don’t want to lose track of — like the check book we couldn’t find yesterday when we needed it for the contractor.  It’s a complete dust covered disaster.

To complete the image, my son’s computer is set up on a card table directly behind mine, so it’s a tight squeeze with the two of us sitting back to back, clicking and pecking away.

Needless to say, my kitchen is always in some stage of being used and in a reduced space, I’m exhausted with trying to make it look reasonable, too.  Good thing this month’s challenge was such a breeze — and a completely delicious one!

This month, we’ve had the opportunity to delve into Eggbeater author & chef Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe for Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting.  Additionally, we could choose to make Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels, but I bowed out on this one to save for another time.  Many thanks to this month’s hosts, Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, and Jenny of Foray into Food, for such excellent choices. Natalie of Gluten a Go Go assisted with quantities and ingredients for alternative diets.  Nice job, ladies!

Browned Butter and Caramel? Oh my.  Absolutely perfect flavors for the season!  Wait.  Isn’t browned butter good in any season?

That’s what I thought.  Now add some lovely hazelnuts and pear crisps and voila!

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