Tag Archives: maple syrup

The Bounties of Vermont…

8 Apr

 

I recently visited Vermont for the first time…  The main purpose of my visit was to ski at SugarBush, a lovely ski resort right in the middle of Vermont.  My best friend’s dad has had a slope-side apartment there for the longest time, and it was this year the first time we’ve been able to sync our schedules and go together.

I am not the one to bring gifts or souvenirs back from a trip – but I like to purchase items that are indigenous to the place I am visiting…  so I need to share with you about these true Vermont beauties:

Vermont’s Maple Syrup

Oh goodie…  the variety of maple syrups can be overwhelming sometimes.  I learned about Vermont Fancy, Grade A Amber, Grade A Medium, etc.  I can get at home the Grade As, but I had never seen or tasted Vermont Fancy – so that’s what I bought as a souvenir.  I also bought some maple spread, maple butter and some maple candies.  You’ll be seeing some of these maple jewels in various upcoming posts… I see pancakes in my future… 

Vermont’s Apple Cider

We went past Cold Hollow Cider Mill…  but it is really hard to miss, because their cider bottles are EVERYWHERE!!!  Truth be told… I do not know the difference between apple juice and apple cider, but I LOOOOOVED this apple cider.  It’s like the freshest, sweetest unfiltered apple juice you have ever had.  If you’re ever in that neck of the woods, you need to try their cider.

 

 

Vermont’s Cabot Cheese

 I an a Cabot cheese lover.  What I love about Cabot cheeses is they explicitly mention in their packaging they do not use animal rennet in their manufacturing.  My favorite variety is the Extremely Sharp Hunter’s variety, which is as sharp as you can get here – to me, it’s perfect to eat with strawberries or green grapes.  We were able to go to one of Cabot factory store where we were able to taste test many varieties… and I found the Vintage Variety – aged for 24 months hand-selected by the company’s president… this is even sharper than the Hunter’s kind… it’s AWESOME!!!!  I just wish I could have been able to bring home a larger piece.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

We visited Ben & Jerry’s factory tour one afternoon after skiing.  Even though most Ben & Jerry’s ice creams are not karma-free (because they contain egg yolks in the base recipe), they do offer a variety of organic flavors and fruit sherbets.  The new flavors we tried at the factory were AMAZING!!!!  And if you have a B&J shop nearby, stay tuned to their FREE CONE day coming up on April 29th.

 

It’s all right there on VT Route 100 – Visit and taste all the bounties Vermont has to offer… you can take a stab at skiing too if you’d like, you know…

 

Roasted Pears – A Deux

7 Mar

I am on a pear thing…  it started because I wanted to do a pear butter, which I have not gotten around to do.   But I learned to make last year these poached pears and I decided to take the pear desserts a few steps further. 

This recipe is even simpler than the Poached Pears I posted recently…  less ingredients always scream easier to me.  The basic recipe for these roasted pears was given to me by Diane Carlson, as part of the Conscious Gourmet retreat I attended.  I decided to try some embellishments of my own and they ended up being really good combinations…  check them out.  I love the first photo – my pear had a belly button – sooooo cute!!

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 Let’s start with roasting the pears…

ROASTED PEARS

2 Bartlett pears – ripe but firm
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 1/2 tbs maple syrup
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450F. 
  2. Peel and cut the pears in half, vertically.  Core them using a melon baller – it’s the best tool for this.
  3. Place pears cut side down on a glass casserole dish and drizzle the maple syrup and lemon juice.  I rub the pears a bit trying them to be coated all over with the syrup/lemon juice liquid.
  4. Roast in oven for about 45 minutes.  I noticed that if pears are nicely ripen, the time can be cut to 25-30 minutes.  Just roast them until they’re cooked but still have their shape.

I think 1/2 to 1 whole pear per person is a fine portion – so feel free to double, triple or cuadruple this recipe as you need.

Now we play with the accompaniments…

ROASTED PEARS with ALMOND PRALINE

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  1. Serve the roasted pears with the sauce the maple syrup created in the baking dish. 
  2. Sprinkle Almond Praline around it. 
  3. Note: the almond praline does not need to look this dark… I walked away from the kitchen and had to live with the consequences.

ROASTED PEARS with BLUE CHEESE and HAZELNUT PRALINE

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  1.  Serve the roasted pears cut side up and in the indentation place some crumbled mild blue cheese.  I used this cheese…
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  3. Drizzle some of the sauce created by the maple syrup and sprinkle some Hazelnut Praline on the side.

This version also is screaming to be served for company… it tasted as if I was eating in a restaurant.  Scrumptious…  Need proof??

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Hazelnut Praline

7 Mar

I have been meaning to share with you some desserts, but I wanted to make them with Almonds.  Every-time I go to the market, I forget to buy them.  If I don’t write it, I will never remember it.

Then the other day I was reorganizing my fridge (in preparation to my upcoming trip to Costco) and I found along lost bag of shelled hazelnuts.  My dear mom helped me shell these hazelnuts I bought before Xmas and I never got to eat and they were sitting, very unassumingly, in this ziplock bag in the back of my fridge… how about Hazelnut Praline!!!  I am sure it will taste fantastic too.  It did…

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HAZELNUT PRALINE

1/2 cup shelled hazelnuts
1 tbs maple sugar
1 1/2 tbs maple syrup
  1.  I like to start with peeled hazelnuts.  I think the taste of the nut comes across better when the little skin is taken off.  So to do this with hazelnuts, I roasted them for a little while in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes.  They’ll start to smell a bit.
  2. Then place them in a clean kitchen towel and scrub them all together.  Most of the skins will come off.  Some I had to peel a bit of my hands.  Wait a bit until the nuts cool down some.  You don’t need to get your fingers burned.
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  4. Cut the hazelnuts in a smaller pieces.  I used a serrated knife and it worked very well.  The nuts did not fly all across the cutting board.
  5. Mix the nuts in a medium bowl with the maple syrup and maple sugar.  Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 350F oven for about 12 minutes.  I try not to leave the kitchen because nuts tend to burn fast and remember, you may have already roasted them a bit already to skin them.
  6. When they’re done, they’ll smell really sweet and nutty delicious.
  7. Be careful taking them out of the oven, but transfer then to a metal dish right away to help them cool off.  I sometimes put the nuts in the fridge to help keep them away from the humidity we always have here in PR.

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Snap the nuts loose and eat them alone as a snack or sprinkle them over your favorite dessert.  I particularly enjoyed them today with my Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese.

Poached Pears with Almond Pralines

3 Feb

This is an awesome dessert…  I love fruity desserts much more than cakes or other baked goods.  And even though pears are not something you can grow here in Puerto Rico, most every supermarket has them on sale these days.  I saw some lovely Bartlett pears on sale the other day and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to re-create a recipe I had originally learned last year at the Conscious Gourmet Cooking seminar Poached Pears with Almond Pralines.

The original recipe called for Bosc pears, but they were so much smaller than the Bartletts that I decided to go for size and beauty.  The recipe turned out perfectly, IMHO.

And the Almond Pralines – this is awesome!!!! They’re the perfect accompaniment to these pears or a great snack all by itself.  They would taste great on top of ice cream or yogurt drizzled with a bit of caramel sauce…  mmmmm!!!!  I feel another craving coming up.

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POACHED PEARS with ALMOND PRALINE

3 cups unsweetened organic apple juice
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves or a few whole cloves
pinch of ginger
6-8 Bartlett or Bosc pears – peeled, halved and cored
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Combine all ingredients, except pears, in a roasting pan.  Set pears in the poaching liquid. 
  3. Bake in oven for 45 minutes. 
  4. Check the pears for doneness – they should be soft when pricked with a knife. 
  5. Remove the pears from poaching liquid and transfer them to a separate dish.
  6. Transfer the poaching liquid to a skillet or wide saucepan and boil until the liquid is reduced by half.
  7. Serve by placing one pear half on a dish, drizzle with the reduced poaching liquid and sprinkle with Almond Pralines.  recipe below…

I have a confession to make… the original recipe calls for you to cover the roasting pan and bake covered.  I did not notice that in the recipe and forgot.  The results were good too…  I just had to leave them a few more minutes in and increased the temperature to 425 degrees and left them an additional 15 minutes.  They should be done by then.

ALMOND PRALINE

1 cup sliced almonds – but slivered or chopped almonds would work too
1 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs maple sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  3. Bake in a 350 degrees oven for 15 minutes until golden brown – you can take advantage of the same oven you’re making the pears in.
  4. Transfer IMMEDIATELY into a metal bowl to cool off and crisp up.

Vanilla Maple Carrots

21 Jan

Believe it or not… this is one of the recipes that started it all.  I found this recipe in the November 2007 issue of Martha Stewart Living, did it and was sooooo easy and tasty that I shared it with my friend Kathleen.  She made it, liked it and posted it on her blog Kathleen’s Vegetarian Kitchen.  The rest… is blogosphere history.

 So far, I have made this about 3 times at the Yoga Center I attend and I always get requests to make it again.  I know my pictures are not yet to Martha’s standards, but with practice, I hope to get there one day…  at least the flavors are already there.

 Again, the times I have done this, I have done 5 lbs. of carrots at a time.  So I will follow the original recipe’s quantities to adapt to the regular household amounts.

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VANILLA MAPLE CARROTS

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
1-2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Combine carrots and water in a large skillet or saucepan. Season the water with salt and scrape the insides of the vanilla pod and mix in with the water. Throw in the vanilla pod left as well.
  2. Bring to a simmer and cook carrots until they’re tender, about 10-13 minutes. Martha’s recipe says the water evaporates, mine never does evaporate a lot. So….
  3. Drain all the water from the carrots.
  4. Add syrup, honey, pepper and toss to combine. Be careful not to break up any carrots.

 This makes a great side dish on any night, but would also work particularly well for Thanksgiving or for any potluck dinner.

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