The Main Menu: Spring is here and maple syrup is on the menu

Pairing with pancakes is just the beginning when it comes to ways you can use maple syrup in the kitchen, writes Jan Main.


Our first crop is being harvested – maple syrup. Yum!

The middle days of March to the late days of April have the right combination of cool nights with warmer days to get the sap flowing in maple trees. This tree sap, when boiled down, becomes one of life’s unique culinary pleasures- maple syrup. It takes 40 litres of sap to make 1 litre of this” liquid gold”.

The natural combination of pancakes and maple syrup, is a long- time favourite. However, that pairing is just the beginning. The unique sweet taste of maple syrup is a wonderful complement in baking, sauces and dressings both sweet and savory as these recipes will attest.

Salmon with Spicy Maple Sauce

This simple sauce is quick and easy to make but is a perfect companion to the salmon. Leftover sauce can be mixed with mayonnaise as an accompanying sauce. Rice and steamed asparagus are ideal side dishes.

24 oz salmon, whole or cut into 4 individual servings

Spicy Maple Sauce

1/4 cup (50 mL) pure maple syrup
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 425 F (230 C). Line a baking dish with parchment paper.

In a measuring cup whisk together maple syrup, mustard, lemon juice, soy sauce and minced garlic.

Arrange salmon fillets skin side down in baking dish, pour sauce over fillets then turn fillets over to cook in sauce. Bake about 15 minutes or until salmon flakes easily. Gently remove skin and discard. Serve fillets at once, right side up on warmed plates.

Any sauce left in baking dish can be mixed with a spoonful of mayonnaise and served along- side the salmon.

Maple Ice Cream

You don’t need an ice-cream machine for this simple but addictive ice cream. Garnish ice cream with a sprinkling of granola (recipe follows) or lightly toasted chopped walnuts.

1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream
1/2 cup (125 mL) maple syrup
1-2 tbsp (15-25 mL) whisky, rye or Scotch
Garnish: toasted walnuts or granola

In a deep mixing bowl using an electric beater, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in maple syrup and whisky to soft peak stage.

Immediately spoon maple cream into small, attractive serving bowls. (wine glasses can be used) Cover and freeze. May be served an hour after making as soft ice-cream or may be made the day before; covered and frozen.

To toast walnuts: Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line baking tray with parchment paper and sprinkle nuts in single layer on tray. Bake about 10 minutes or until starting to turn golden and are fragrant. Immediately remove to cooling rack. Chop coarsely to serve.

Maple Granola

Many thanks to Lily Levitt-Kesler who let me use her recipe for granola. It is the tastiest combination of cereal, nuts and yes, maple syrup that I have ever tasted. Yummy for breakfast, it is equally tasty on salads and this homemade ice cream. Keep a jar on hand for daily treats.

3 cups (750 mL) old-fashioned oats (rolled oats)
1 cup (250 mL) natural almonds, walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup (75 mL) pumpkin seeds
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/2 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) maple syrup, preferably dark
1/3 cup (75 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
3/5 cup (175 mL) dried sour cherries

Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together oats, nuts, seeds and salt. In a pot over low heat combine brown sugar, maple syrup and oil together until sugar dissolves. Pour over dried mixture and toss to combine well. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet.

Bake 35 – 40 minutes stirring occasionally or until a pale golden brown. Cool on rack. Stir in dried fruit.

Store in jars in cool, dry place. Makes about 5 cups (1.2 L).

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