Asian Spiced Sticky Maple Sauce

29 03 2011

 

 

Maple syrup is delicious and versatile

It’s maple season!  March and April are the peak times for maple syrup production in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.  Warm days + cool nights = excellent sap flow.  It’s a time consuming and laborious process: it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup. However, the results are well worth it and there are countless delicious recipes that showcase this beautiful sweet elixir.

I enjoy maple syrup in many forms: as a topping for pancakes and french toast, cooked into desserts and occasionally in savoury dishes. Savoury dishes (ie. not desserts) are a less common way to use maple but the results are just as delicious. This Asian-inspired sauce is absolutely fantastic on chicken and pork. Note that the sauce is quite sweet so it should be brushed onto the meat in the last few minutes of cooking or it will burn to a crisp.

Most ingredients should be readily available at supermarkets but if you can’t find shao hsing rice wine (a.k.a. shaoxing or Chinese rice wine), you can substitute dry sherry or gin (or just leave it out). Chinese five spice powder can be made from common spices can’t find it already blended.

For more great maple ideas, check out the Maple Archives.

Asian Spiced Sticky Maple Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil such as canola or safflower
  • 3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely minced ginger (about a 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced)
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped (white and light green parts only, save the green tops for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon (more or less, to taste) red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons shao hsing (shaoxing) Chinese rice wine (see above for substitutions)
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
  • To garnish: toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onion tops (optional)
  1. In a medium saucepan, add the oil and heat on medium-high. Add the garlic, ginger and green onion and reduce the heat to medium. Sauté until softened, stirring constantly to prevent burning, about two minutes.
  2. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.
  3. Pour in the soy sauce, hoisin, maple syrup, ketchup, sesame oil, rice wine and white vinegar.  Stir until smooth.  Add the Chinese five spice powder and stir to combine.
  4. Simmer the sauce on medium-low heat until it begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool a bit.  Strain the sauce to remove the ginger and onion chunks, if desired.
  6. Brush sauce onto grilled, baked or roasted meats in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Sauce can be kept covered in the fridge for a few days.  Garnish the finished dish with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onion tops.

Suggestions: The sauce is delicious on pork, chicken, beef, shrimp and firm tofu.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Pork ribs are delicious with Asian Spiced Sticky Maple Sauce

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

 





The Friday Five – March 25th, 2011

25 03 2011

A weekly round up food and drink-related news stories:

1.  Salon creates a dinner menu based on food made by children’s toys such as the Big Burger Grill and Chuck E. Cheese pizza oven. A Snoopy Sno Cone makes an excellent palate cleanser between courses… (Salon)

2.  I used to love birthday parties when I was a kid in the late 70′s and early 80′s. Usually they involved homemade birthday cake, pizza and a rousing game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t quite cut it at these stylish parties: 10 Great Kids Party Ideas. (The Daily Meal).

3.  If you enjoy Tim Hortons’ Roll-Up-the-Rim contest, you’re going to love what happened at Starbuck’s: Last week a man walked into a Boston area Starbuck’s yelling, “I’m rich, I’m rich!” and threw around $100 bills before calmly walking out (the money was collected by staff and donated to Japanese relief efforts). (The Consumerist)

4.  If you’re looking for an excuse to celebrate something today, it’s International Waffle Day!  Why not whip up some Gingerbread Waffles or Crispy Waffles with Salted Caramel Coulis (or just doctor up some Eggos with a delicious topping). (The Independent, Toronto Star)

5.  Tired of the same old thing and are looking for something different when dining out? You might want to try one of America’s Weirdest Restaurants. Some of the unusual dining destinations include a restaurant in a cave and a Martian-themed resto (Bonus for South Park fans: Casa Bonita is real!) (The Daily Meal)

Have great weekend!

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Barolo-Braised Beef with Pappardelle

24 03 2011

Beef braised in barolo and served with pappardelle

As many of you know, I recently returned from a trip to Piedmont, Italy. The fantastic food and wine of the region has inspired me so I’ve been working on my own interpretation of recipes that reflect the foods of the region using ingredients that are accessible to North American cooks.

A popular dish in the Piedmont region is Brasato al Barolo, which is beef braised in Barolo wine. Unfortunately, Barolos can be quite expensive so you can easily substitute any inexpensive dry red wine, as long as it’s decent enough to drink.  I used a bottle of Cantina Terre del Barolo Barbera d’Alba 2008, which retails for $13.95 in Ontario. Luckily, the recipe only calls for two cups so you’ll have the rest of the bottle to enjoy with dinner!  I call for short ribs because they braise beautifully, resulting in a tender and flavourful dish.

To build flavour and add umami to the dish, I’ve used porcini powder.  Porcini are mushrooms that grow abundantly in Italy and are common in many Italian dishes. Unfortunately, fresh porcini are often difficult to find in North American stores because they are very perishable. However, many stores sell packages of dried porcini (I’ve seen them at gourmet stores, Italian specialty shops, some supermarkets and fruit and vegetable markets). It’s very easy to make porcini powder from dried mushrooms: just add a few to a mortar and use the pestle to grind them to a powder (if you don’t have a mortar-and-pestle, just crush them with a rolling pin or the flat side of a large knife). Extra powder can be kept in a sealed container and used in soups, stews or pasta sauces.

Porcini powder is easy to make with dried mushrooms and a mortar-and-pestle

A Note About Authenticity: Italians typically serve Brasato al Barolo with polenta instead of pasta (pasta is usually served as a separate first course).  However, egg noodles are delicious with the sauce, creating a rich and hearty main dish. Look for long, flat noodles made with eggs.  The beef will taste even better after a day or two so plan ahead and make extras!  Leftover shredded meat also makes a great filling for ravioli or agnolotti.

Pappardelle is delicious with wine-braised beef

Barolo-Braised Beef with Pappardelle

Makes about 6 servings

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 large meaty bone-in beef short ribs, each weighing about 10 to 12 ounces (300 to 340 grams)
  • 4 oz. (113 grams) slab bacon, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups Barolo, Barbera D’Alba or other dry red wine such as Côtes du Rhône
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup espresso or very strong coffee (equals about two shots of espresso)
  • 2 teaspoons porcini powder (made from about 6 dried mushrooms, see above)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. (500 grams) pappardelle or other flat egg noodles
  • Parmesan cheese to finish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pat the short ribs dry with clean paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. In an enameled cast iron pot (5.5 quarts or larger) or oven proof pot with a lid, add the olive oil and heat on medium-high.
  3. Add the short ribs. Let the ribs brown, about three to four minutes per side. Turn the ribs so that all sides brown. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  4. Add the bacon to the pot and sauté until it’s beginning to crisp. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about five minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste.  Add the flour and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Pour in the wine, beef broth and coffee.
  6. Add the herbs and the porcini powder, stirring to combine. Return the browned short ribs to the pot.
  7. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and place the lid on the pot. Put the pot into a preheated oven (350F).  Cook for two hours.
  8. Check on the ribs after two hours. Stir to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom.  Return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  9. Check on them again after 30 minutes – the ribs should be getting very tender and almost falling off the bone. Spoon some liquid over them (you can add another 1/2 cup of stock if the sauce is getting low).  Return to the oven for another 20 to 30 minutes or until they are fork-tender and falling off the bone.
  10. Remove the pot from the oven. Use tongs to extract the ribs from the sauce. Place them in a bowl and set aside. Strain the sauce into a large sauce pan, using a large spoon to press all of the liquid through a strainer. Heat the sauce on medium-low heat.  Spoon off as much fat from the top of the sauce as possible (you can also cool the sauce overnight – the fat will harden and can easily be removed).
  11. Place the cooked ribs on a cutting board. Remove any bones, fat and connective tissues and discard. Use two fork to shred the meat. Chop the meat into bite sized pieces and return the meat to the pot of simmering sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and heat through while preparing the pasta.
  12. Cook the pappardelle or other egg noodles according to package directions (usually about 6 minutes). Drain well. Toss the pasta with the braised meat and sauce and top with shaved parmesan cheese before serving.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Curried Parsnip Soup

22 03 2011

Parsnips are often overlooked but they are surprisingly delicious and versatile

We have finally welcomed spring after a long winter. Unfortunately, in many areas, there will not be a lot of new local produce available for at least six to eight more weeks.  However, there is an overlooked vegetable that is usually the first crop harvested each spring (sort of): Parsnips!

Parsnips are root vegetables that look like white carrots, although they taste a bit nuttier and sweeter.  In Ontario, parsnips are typically planted in the spring.  While most of crop is harvested in the fall and stored for the winter (much like potatoes and carrots), some parsnips are left in the ground through the winter and harvested in March and April. As a result, parsnips are considered both a winter and spring vegetable.  They are also delicious but sadly under appreciated. They can be used in soups, stews, dips and pasta sauces.

This soup is the perfect antidote to grey March days.  It’s hearty and warming and can be dressed up with the addition of seafood or shredded duck confit (the original recipe called for mussels but the soup is delicious without them). Be sure to use vegetable stock and skip the garnishes if serving vegetarians.

Curried Parsnip Soup

Makes about 6 cups

  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 lb. (454 grams) medium sized parsnips, peeled and cut into rounds 1/8” thick (equals about 8 parsnips)
  • 1 medium tart apple (such as a Granny Smith), peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (preferably low-sodium)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Items to garnish (optional) – shredded duck confit, steamed mussels or sautéed scallops
  1. In an enameled cast iron pot or medium stockpot, heat butter on medium until melted. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add parsnips and stir into the onions. Let parsnips cook until softened, about five minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning and sticking. Add the apple cubes and cook for another minute. Add curry and nutmeg and stir through until combined.
  3. Add stock and bring to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes, until parsnips are very tender. Remove parsnip mixture from the heat. Using a regular blender or immersion blender, carefully puree soup until very smooth. Return pureed soup to the pot and place back on medium heat.
  4. Add cream and stir through. Heat the soup until it’s warmed through and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. To serve: ladle some soup into each bowl.  If using any of the garnish ideas, place a couple of cooked mussels, sauteed scallops or a small amount of shredded duck confit in the centre of each serving.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Curried Parsnip Soup can be dressed up with steamed mussels, sautéed scallops or shredded duck confit

This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.

Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





It’s Spring!

21 03 2011

It will still be a while until new produce is available but we can start planning ahead

Welcome to spring!  We finally made it through winter (and it was a pretty tough one for many areas, weather-wise).  As exciting as the start of a new season is, the reality is that where I live we won’t have consistently nice weather and new produce for a while yet. However, we can start to transition into the new season by thinking about what lies ahead.  Here are some of my favourite spring recipes to get you in the mood for what’s to come:

Tempura Chive Blossoms

Pickled Radishes

Rhubarb Refresher (cocktail)

Crustless Asparagus Quiche

Sesame Noodles with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Roasted Asparagus Lasagna

Baby Red Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Spaghetti with Creamy Wild Leek Pesto

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes

Quick Strawberry Jam and Easy Drop Biscuits

Cherry Clafouti with Almonds

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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The Friday Five – March 18th, 2011

18 03 2011

The week is almost over so celebrate the weekend by rocking out to the latest viral hit (and one of the worst songs ever written): Friday!

1.  Do you remember the Seinfeld episode about muffin tops?  Apparently someone got the bright idea that people might want to make them at home and invented the Muffin Top Baking Pan.  Check out more of the Daily Meal’s 10 Food and Drink Inventions We Didn’t Need.  Tater Mitts, anyone? (Wikipedia, The Daily Meal)

2.  Bartender Sheldon Wiley recently won the Guinness world record title as the Fastest Bartender in the World by making 1,043 drinks in an hour.  I’ll be thinking of him the next time I’m stuck waiting forever for the bartender to make me a single cocktail. (Eater.com)

3.  Apparently an extended NFL lockout has more than football fans upset: the chicken wing industry is very concerned that it will be devastating to them because a large percentage of their sales occurs during games.  Although I bet chickens are happy about it… (Yahoo UK).

4.  If you’ve never had (or heard of) cherimoya, you might soon: the delicious fruit has been touted as “the next banana”.  However, researchers first have to figure out how to grow seedless versions in a commercial capacity. (LA Times)

5.  Do you have a waffle iron you rarely use?  An ice cream maker that’s collecting dust?  Get some ideas for new ways to use them from Real Simple: Repurpose Rarely Used Appliances. (Real Simple)

On a serious note: Like everyone, I have been following news of the horrible devastation in Japan following last week’s earthquake and tsunami.  If you’d like to help, you can visit your nation’s Red Cross website to make a donation: Canadian Red Cross / American Red Cross / British Red Cross.  For people living in the Toronto area, a benefit dinner to aid the victims will be held on Sunday, March 27th at Boehmer restaurant.  The dinner features some of Toronto’s top chefs so book early. For more information, visit nowtoronto.com: Support for Japan.

Have great weekend!

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Cock-A-Leekie Pie

17 03 2011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Today is the day we celebrate all things Irish whether you have Irish blood or are just Irish in spirit.  If you’re spending the evening at a pub or having a quiet night at home, an Irish-inspired dinner is a must to celebrate.  And of course, don’t forget the beer!

This is basically a pot pie, made with chicken, leeks and potatoes.  To save time, you can use leftover cooked chicken (a supermarket rotisserie chicken works well). However, if you don’t have a cooked chicken, you can poach some breasts and/or thighs quite easily:

Poaching Chicken: Select chicken breasts or thighs with the bone-in and skin on (you’ll need about 3 large breasts to yield enough meat for the pie).  Place the chicken pieces, skin side down, in a large pot and cover with chicken stock (about 3 cups). Peel and quarter a small onion and add to the pot.  Add a sprig of fresh sage and two sprigs of time.  Cover and simmer gently on medium-low heat (don’t bring to a hard boil).  Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces, or until the meat is just past pink.

Use tongs to remove the cooked chicken from the broth.  Let the chicken cool on a cutting board and bring the stock to a hard boil for five minutes.  While the stock is boiling, remove the chicken skin and discard. Use two forks to pull the meat from the bones and chop it into smaller pieces with a sharp knife. Place cooked meat in the casserole dish (as directed in the recipe below). Strain the stock and use the reserved stock in the recipe.  Extra stock can be kept in the fridge for a few days.

Cock-A-Leekie Pie

Serves 4 to 6

  • 3-1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken meat (white, dark or a combination – see above for instructions on how to poach chicken)
  • 1-1/2 cups cubed red potatoes (cut into 1/2″ cubes) – no need to peel them
  • 5 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, roots trimmed and cut into thin rings
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 package frozen puff pastry, thawed OR homemade pastry to cover a casserole dish

White Sauce:

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add cubed potatoes to a large saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover them. Cover the pot and heat on high until the water comes to a boil.  Cook the potatoes until just tender (do not overcook), about 12 to 14 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, add the butter and heat on medium-high until melted. Add the sliced leeks.  Sauté until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chopped thyme and sage and cook for another minute.
  4. Remove the leeks from the heat and spoon into an oven-proof casserole dish. Add the potatoes and chopped chicken and set aside while preparing the white sauce.
  5. To make the white sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high heat.  Stir in the flour and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook the flour-butter mixture for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Whisk in the chicken stock and stir until the mixture is smooth.  Add the milk, a half-cup at a time, whisking continuously.  Let cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Stir in the cream.  Cook for another couple of minutes.  Season with salt to taste.
  8. To Assemble the Pie: Pour the white sauce over the potatoes, leeks and chicken that are in the casserole dish. Stir to combine. Roll out the thawed puff pastry dough (or other dough) to fit the top of the casserole dish. Lay the pastry over the top of the casserole dish and use a knife to make a few slashes in the top so steam can escape.
  9. Bake the pie for 20 minutes at 425 F or until the top is puffed and golden.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Bon Appétit and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Cock-a-Leekie Pie with a green salad

Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.








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