Maple syrup is an indigenous North American product
It’s all natural and naturally organic. It needs no additives. It’s much imitated, but as they say, rarely duplicated.
We are talking Maple Syrup. You’ll find a lot of look-alikes on your store shelves. The majority of syrups today are ‘maple flavored’ but pure Maple syrup is still an original North American product. Quebec produces 75 percent of the world’s total supply, with Vermont as the most active of 17 U.S. states.
Maple syrup is not just made from the sap of the Sugar Maple; it actually is the sap of the tree.
Europeans in North America first learned to tap old Sugar Maple trees from native Americans. Although the origins of the ancient custom of tapping maples is unknown, European colonists were actively collecting maple sap in the 1600s. Maple sap cultivation got a boost with the passage of the 1764 Sugar Act that imposed high tariffs on imported sugar.
Nothing is added to the sap to make maple syrup. The sap is simply boiled down or evaporated until it becomes thick and sweet.
After sugar maple trees reach maturity in 30 years, they can be tapped every year. Many have been tapped for 100 years. Each tap produces 10-12 gallons of sap each spring. It takes 30-50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
Tapping maple trees does create a wound that the tree must spend energy to heal. Syrup producers have found that the smaller the tap, the easier it is for trees to heal over the wound in a single season. With modern maintenance and techniques trees thrive, even when tapped up to 70 years.
Reinventing old favorites
Over the past few years, the restaurant business has offered choices that are as diversified as they are interesting and entertaining. The trend is evolving toward healthy food, sometimes specialized, sometimes fusion cuisine. Today, dining out means tasting, discovering, experimenting, and exploring.
Over the past few years, people have been going to restaurants to try new dishes. They love being surprised while enjoying the familiarity of foods they have always loved. Forever searching for ways to meet their customers’ needs and expectations, many chefs and restaurateurs have risen to the challenge. Now restaurant menus include reinvented classics; a modernized grilled cheese, a hot dog, or redefined sophisticated hamburger. Our grandmothers’ dishes are recreated by adding oriental spices, and exotic dishes are transformed with local produce for a touch of regional flavor.
Over the past few years, bakers have rediscovered time-honored flours and now offer bread with a taste of yesteryear that can be found on many restaurant tables. Pastry cooks and chefs have rediscovered the passion of serving deliciously mouth-watering versions of traditional recipes. Menus are personalized according to season or special event and then deconstructed to be better reinvented later.
People want to eat better while searching for diversity and exoticism. Tastes are becoming more refined and specialized. Above all, there’s a prevalent desire to taste a little bit of everything that’s out there. Sought out are restaurants that serve a selection of tapas for a unique taste experience with every mouthful. Patrons are filled with wonder when presented with multilayered verrines and love dishes with samples of two, three, or four different miniature meals on the same plate.
Glazed fruit skewers
Sweet and juicy, fruit makes a great summer dessert. This delicious glaze enhances the natural flavor of the fruit to create a crowd-pleasing favorite.
• 10 strawberries, halved lengthwise
• 10 kiwi cubes
• 10 blueberries
• 10 pieces of pineapple
• 10 pieces of cantaloupe
• 10 wooden skewers
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
1. Combine the water and brown sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. If the mixture starts to boil, lower the heat slightly.
2. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 45 minutes.
3. Thread the fruit pieces one after the other on the skewers.
4. Brush the skewers with the simple syrup.
Even though pasta is usually linked with Italy, its origins, in fact, are in ancient China. Legend has it that Marco Polo brought back to Europe this culinary technique after traveling to the Far East. Wherever it comes from, “noodles” always make for a meal that is easily prepared and easily varied with limitless sauce possibilities. It’s no surprise that pasta is so popular around the world.
It usually takes less than fifteen minutes to obtain al dente pasta, which means it is tender on the outside but still firm inside. Be sure to use a large enough pan with plenty of water so that the pasta won’t stick together. When the water starts to boil, add a pinch of salt before putting it in the noodles. Use a wooden spoon to stir short pasta or a large fork for long pasta such as spaghetti, which should not be broken into smaller pieces for authenticity. Egg noodles take less time to cook than other types of pasta. Even after being drained in a colander, the pasta will continue to cook, so be sure to follow the cooking instructions as indicated on the package. You might even shorten the recommended cooking time by a bit if the pasta will be sitting for a while before serving.
One trick used by great chefs is to set aside a small quantity of cooking water before straining the pasta. They will then add this extra water to the sauce as they heat it up for service. This allows them to add volume back to the sauce as it reheats and reduces and helps the sauce stick better to the pasta.
Al dente means “firm when bitten,” or cooked ’till tender on the outside but still firm inside.
Roasted tomato and goat cheese bruschetta
Are you having guests over for a casual meal? These cheesy starters are sure to be a hit.
• 20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 8 slices of baguette bread
• 8 tablespoons goat cheese
• Fresh basil, coarsely chopped
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• Honey, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Toss the cherry tomatoes with olive oil and spread them into an oven-safe baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes start to pucker.
3. Lay the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until crisp.
4. Spread a tablespoon of goat cheese on each slice of bread.
5. Add some fresh basil and roasted tomatoes.
Drizzle some honey over the bruschetta before serving for a subtle sweetness.
Extra watermelon? Try these refreshing drinks
Forget broccoli and spinach for today — here’s the superfood everyone loves to eat!
The juicy pink smile of a watermelon slice (one cup diced) is actually a thirst quencher at 92 percent water. More than in a banana, its ample potassium also makes it a good preventative for heat stroke.
Additionally, it packs a giant dose of glutathione to deter free radicals and enhance the immune system.
Watermelon is second only to tomatoes as a key source of the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene, and it has a lot of vitamin C besides.
This superfood has as much fiber as a slice of whole-wheat bread and also features vitamin A, thiamine, and magnesium, and all of this for little more than 50 calories a cup.
Actually, it’s enough just to know you can eat this treat anytime and feel good about doing it.
Selecting: Look for one with a brown stem attached. Thump the center to see if it makes a nice thud. That means it’s ripe.
Storing: Uncut watermelons can be stored unrefrigerated for three to four days. After cutting, cover and refrigerate any leftover chunks.
For a refreshing thirst quencher, puree with apple and lemon juices, or freeze this puree for ice pops.
Though we don’t recommend eating them, watermelon seeds are a folk remedy for high blood pressure. The seeds contain the compound cucurbocitrin, which helps dilate capillaries and boost kidney function– key mechanisms to decrease blood pressure.
Is there anything more delicious than late summer watermelon, ripened in the hot sun until juicy and fragrant?
Not really, and when you find yourself wilting in the late summer heat, a cold watermelon agua fresca or icy watermelon slushie is perfect for helping you cool down and relax. Adults and kids alike will love them, and adding your own spin with extra flavorings or cantaloupe instead of watermelon is easy.
Watermelon agua fresca
4 cups cubed seeded watermelon
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar (or to taste)
24 fresh mint leaves
Combine watermelon and water in a blender and puree until smooth. Add sugar to taste. Slice lime into small wedges (you’ll need about 8), then place one wedge into each serving glass and three mint leaves. Crush with a cocktail muddler (a wooden spoon handle also works), then add ice. Pour the agua fresca over the ice, stir, then serve.
4 cups cubed seeded ripe watermelon (188 calories)
2 tablespoons sugar (32 calories)
1 tablespoon lime juice (30 calories)
About 3 cups of ice
Blend the fruit, melon, sugar, and juice until liquid. Add ice and continue to blend until the liquid reaches a slushie consistency.
In the whole blend, there are about 250 calories.
3 ways to make homemade ice cream
There are many ways to make delicious homemade ice cream. Here are three easy methods for making this delicious dessert.
1. In an ice cream maker
Combine egg yolks, sugar, milk, and cream in a large bowl. Then, place the mixture in the ice cream maker and turn it on. The machine will cool and mix everything together for about 30 to 45 minutes. After that, the ice cream is ready to eat.
2. In a dish
Use a hand or stand mixer to beat cream, eggs, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Stir in frozen fruit and condensed milk with a spatula. Then, place the mixture in the freezer in an airtight dish for at least four hours.
3. In bags
You can make ice cream in 10 to 20 minutes with this easy method. Pour heavy cream and vanilla into a small plastic bag. Then, place the small bag into a larger bag containing ice cubes and salt. Vigorously shake the bags until you reach the right consistency.
If you’re craving ice cream but don’t have time to make it yourself, visit a local ice cream shop or creamery.
If you want to make vegan ice cream, you can replace the dairy products with coconut or soy milk, coconut butter, coconut oil, or soy cream.