The sap is running and the trees are tapped, the longstanding tradition of producing maple syrup having begun early this year.

The maple trees in the cold of winter store starch in their roots and trunks. As the weather begins to warm, the starch is converted into sugar rising up, sweetening the sap for spring.

This labour of love gives us the joy of sweet sticky syrup on pancakes, French toast, waffles and crepes for breakfast. A chef and baker can use this versatile ingredient for balancing acidic flavours in our vinaigrettes, sauces, enhancing soups, flavouring chicken and pork.

The natural sugars are easier for our body to digest. The sweet stuff also provides calcium, potassium and magnesium, perfect for sweetening tea, almond milk, coffee or latte.

In our busy kitchen we don’t reach for the cheapest ingredient; more often it is the best ingredient to do the job. Our maple syrup is produced by West Montrose Maple Products located just outside of Elmira, as we feel it’s important to have a relationship with the local farmers. The quality and flavour of their syrup directly relates to the success of our baking and catering.

The same can be said for the ingredients we use from other suppliers from locally roasted coffee – Eco Café – to the organic meats and produce from Sustainable.ca. This region is full of creative, committed individuals ready to make the offerings on your plate flavourful and memorable. Our little food shop in downtown Elmira features products from many local businesses for you to try.  We are looking forward to another tasty Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. See you then. Happy cooking!

 

Eco Café’s Maple Pecan Biscotti

 

1/2 cup softened butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup toasted pecans

 

Maple glaze:

1 cup of icing sugar

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking pan with parchment paper. 

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and both sugars. Add eggs one at a time and then drizzle in syrup and vanilla.

In another bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder and salt.

Add to the creamed butter mix, slowly, try not to over mix. Once the mix is close to being combined add the chopped pecans.

Shape into a rectangular log about 2” high. Bake in oven for approximately 50 minutes or until fully baked.

Once cooled enough to slice, cut into 1” thick slices. Place back on parchment lined tray bake for approximately 20 minutes at 325 F until the pieces are dry and crisp.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

To make glaze: Whisk together to combine icing sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir together and drizzle over the cooled biscotti. Serve with your favorite hot beverage.

 

Maple Ginger and Sriracha Bacon Lollipops

 

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp. chopped ginger

2 tsp. sriracha (more or less depending on your taste)

12 slices organic bacon (Edwards Family Organics)

Cracked pepper to season

 

In a small bowl combine syrup, ginger, siracha. Lay bacon on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake in oven at 350 F until fat is rendered but the bacon is not crisp – approximately halfway. 

Allow to cool slightly. Remove from tray and dab bacon with paper towel to remove extra fat.

Fold bacon in half, long way. Roll tightly into a circle. Skewer with a bamboo stick. Place back on clean parchment-lined tray.

Drizzle the syrup mix over the skewers, season with cracked pepper.

Bake until golden and crisp, approximately 12 minutes. Serve warm.

 

Roasted Chick Pea & Vegetable Quinoa Salad

 

1/3 butternut squash, diced 1” square

2 apples sliced

1 medium carrot, diced 1” square

1/2 medium sweet potato, diced 1” square

1/4 red onion, julienned

1 cup drained chick peas

1 clove garlic chopped

1 Tbsp. chopped ginger

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 sprig rosemary chopped

3 sprigs of thyme chopped

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. tumeric

2 Tbsp. maple sugar

Salt and pepper

2 Cups cooked quinoa

3 Tbsp. chopped parsley

1/4 cup dried cranberries

 

Maple Cider Vinaigrette:

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

3 Tbsp. cider

2 tsp. grainy Dijon

1 tsp. chopped ginger

1 Tbsp. diced onion

2 sprigs of chopped fresh thyme

2 Tbsp. Elmira  maple syrup

6 Tbsp. olive oil

 

Place diced vegetables, sliced apple, chick peas and onion into a bowl. Toss with garlic, ginger, rosemary, thyme, maple sugar, cumin, tumeric, olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in oven until tender and golden, approximately 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

To make vinaigrette: combine all ingredients in blender and buzz until well mixed.

Combine prepared quinoa with roasted chick pea and vegetable mixture. Add chopped parsley, cranberries and finish with vinaigrette.

Only add enough vinaigrette to coat the vegetables and quinoa.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.