just a pinch: maple syrup

November 9th, 2012
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I’ve been thinking about ingredients lately.

As many of us are trying to eat with more thought and good intent, the quality of the ingredients we use becomes even more important. And overall, I think I’m pretty good about that. I support our local farmer’s markets. I try to avoid processed foods. I buy a decent amount of organic produce, and always strive for grass-fed meats.

But I never really consider the staples. Oils, vinegars, salts – you get it. Whenever I go to Italy, I’m always amazed that: a) I don’t gain 200 pounds after all that eating, and b) I always feel full and satisfied after a meal –  even though the portions are smaller than in restaurants here.

Why? Because the quality of every item on my plate – from the cheese, to the pasta, to the olive oil – is the absolute best there is. And what happens is a beautiful thing – you don’t need as much, and yet you finish your meal feeling full and satisfied.

So I thought, why not try this at home?

Over the next few weeks I will be cooking with commonly used ingredients, but using the best quality I can find. And with the holidays just around the corner (eek!), these would also make unusual and much appreciated gifts. Imagine a pretty jar or bottle, wrapped with a ribbon and accompanied by a recipe – perfect, right?

Let’s get started!

The talented guy who upgraded my blog recently informed me that he has a maple syrup company, and could he send me some samples to try?

Why, yes please!

maple syrup from vermont

What I noticed immediately was that his syrup was LESS sweet, yet MORE flavorful than the stuff I had been using. It was delicate, not at all cloying and absolutely delicious. I couldn’t wait to start cooking and baking with it, and I asked Jackson for some basic facts about maple syrup, and guidelines for using it in recipes:

Maple syrup is around three times as sweet as regular sugar with fewer calories. It contains many properties that are good for the body, making it a sweetener plus a healthy boost. With antioxidants that support the body’s immune system and heart health as well as several beneficial vitamins and minerals, maple syrup is a great sugar substitute in any recipe. The conversion  for recipes can vary, but typically one cup of white sugar can be replaced with 2/3 to 3/4 cup of maple syrup.”

I was also curious about the different grades of syrup, and what they mean – here’s the explanation:

“As far as the grades go, the sweetness is the same. What’s different is the color and the corresponding amount of maple flavor. Late in the sugaring season, the sap runs more watery, and more gallons must be evaporated to reach the same sugar content. As a result the flavor and color get more concentrated making it darker and more flavorful.”

As for what to do with it, Jackson had a whole list of ideas – maple glazed root vegetables, maple sugar cookies, maple dill dressing – but here’s his favorite:

maple glazed roasted salmon

I made it recently and oh my, it was delicious. Typically recipes using maple syrup lean way too much on the sweet side for my family. But the lightness of this syrup, combined with the fresh ginger and rice vinegar, made for a perfectly delicious marinade – you will love it!

Maple-Glazed Roasted Salmon

1/4 c. grated fresh ginger
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 salmon filet (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
6 shallots, halved lengthwise
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 T. maple syrup, divided
chopped parsley

Combine the first three ingredients in the bottom of a large platter. Add fish, skin side up, to marinade; cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 450. Remove fish from marinade; pat dry. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and heat it in the oven for 5 minutes.

Place shallots and fish skin side down on the heated baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and brush the fish with 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup.

Bake for 10 minutes; brush fish with the remaining tablespoon of maple syrup.

Bake an additional 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Sprinkle with parsley; serve immediately.

(print this recipe)


This delicious recipe brought to you by Donuts, Dresses and Dirt
http://sherisilver.com/2012/11/09/just-pinch-maple-syrup/

To receive 10% off any order of $19.95 or more, simply enter the code “sheri10”.

http://maplesyrupfromvermont.com/

Note: I was not compensated for this post. I was provided with samples of maple syrup to try, but all opinions expressed here are completely my own.

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