The maple syrup harvest is in. Production would have started back in February but because we had such a mild winter, the season was short. The blue plastic tubing running from maple tree to maple tree collecting the tree sap was still evident when I drove past maple groves on March 11, but the harvesting had just ended with a small production.
Again, because the winter was mild it affected the duration and the quantity of the harvest. That said, we can still enjoy this first harbinger of spring on pancakes, French toast, over ice cream or in any one of these recipes.
When you are choosing maple syrup for cooking, consider using the stronger-flavoured amber or medium syrup, which has a more intense maple flavour, giving the recipe a rich maple taste. Once the container of maple syrup is opened, it must be refrigerated.
Spinach-kale salad with maple syrup vinaigrette
This vinaigrette is good on any salad, particularly if fruits are included.
4 cups (1 L) baby spinach leaves
2 cups (500 mL) baby kale leaves
1 cup (250 mL) strawberries or navel oranges, sliced
1 cup (250 mL) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup (60 mL) each, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries
Maple syrup vinaigrette:
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) vegetable oil
1/2 cup (125 mL) cider vinegar
1/4 cup (60 mL) maple syrup
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1 clove minced fresh garlic
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
In a mixing bowl, combine spinach, kale, strawberries or orange slices, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. Cover and refrigerate. This can be done several hours before serving. Makes four to six servings.
In a food processor or blender, combine oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper until smooth and well blended. Pour vinaigrette into jar and refrigerate until serving time. Dressing keeps well in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Makes about 2-½ cups (525 mL) vinaigrette, enough dressing for several salads. Use only enough dressing to lightly coat leaves.
Maple-glazed pork ribs
Recipes for these ribs often called for expensive back ribs, but less expensive side ribs can be used very successfully, especially if cooked until tender as in this recipe. Ribs can be barbecued or baked in the oven for yummy results!
3 lbs (1.5 kg) pork ribs
1 cup (250 mL) maple syrup (for best flavour, use medium syrup)
2 tbsp (30 mL) packed brown sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) ketchup
1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, dry mustard and salt
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, arrange ribs. Cover with cold water; bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer covered about 1 ½ hours or until ribs are tender. Every half hour or so, skim the froth that rises to the surface and discard. Once ribs are cooked until tender, they are ready to bake or barbecue. Discard cooking liquid.
While ribs are cooking in water prepare glaze. In medium saucepan, bring maple syrup, brown sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and salt to a boil; reduce heat and simmer about three to five minutes.
To prepare ribs: Arrange in a container large enough to hold ribs in a single layer (eg. a roasting pan). Pour glaze over and marinate two hours or overnight, covered and refrigerated.
To barbecue ribs: Preheat barbecue to medium-high. Drain ribs, reserving marinade. Barbecue over medium for about 20 minutes, basting with reserved marinade. Cut into serving portions and serve ribs hot. Makes four to six servings.
To bake ribs: Pre-heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Arrange ribs in a baking dish large enough to hold in a single layer. Pour glaze over and turn ribs in glaze to coat thoroughly. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, turning occasionally and brushing on glaze until ribs are heated through. Serve immediately, spooning any glaze over ribs. Makes four to six servings.