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Archive for Honey/Sugar/Syrup

BOOK: The Gefilte Manifesto, New Cooking For The New Year

The Gefilte Manifesto

Gefilte Fish Terrine

[1] Modernize Jewish cooking with The Gefilte Manifesto. Cover photo: parchment-wrapped trout roasted with sliced onions. [2] The new gefilte fish: a two-fish terrine (photos courtesy Flatiron Books).

 

Those who don’t celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, can still participate in one of the sweetest treats: sliced apples with honey for dipping. It symbolizes a sweet start to the new wear.

This year, Rosh Hashanah spans Sunday, October 2 through Tuesday, October 4*.

If you’re guesting for Rosh Hashanah and need a host/hostess gift, we like the new cookbook from Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, owners of The Gefilteria, a culinary venture that reimagines Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine.

THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO: ADAPTING CENTURIES-OLD RECIPES FOR THE PRESENT

THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods, combines respect for culinary tradition with modern culinary preferences.

The authors—Brooklynites Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz—took more than 100 recipes “pulled deep from the kitchens of Eastern Europe and the diaspora of North America.”

They re-thought the recipes, taking into consideration modern palates, seasonality and consumers’ desire for easy-to-follow recipes.

The authors’ variations on time-honored favorites add modern spins to both everyday and holiday dishes. Consider:

  • Fried Sour Pickles With Garlic Aïoli
  • Kasha Varnishkes With Brussels Sprouts
  • Kimchi Stuffed Cabbage
  • Savory Blintzes
  • Smoked Whitefish Gefilte Terrine
  • Sour Dill Martinis
  • Spinach & Leek Kreplach
  •  
    You’ll see how easy it is to make home-cured corned beef and pastrami, farmer cheese and honey-sesame chews—just like Great-Great-Great Grandmother did, but with modern conveniences like electricity, food processors and refrigerators.

     
    Get your copy here.

    Plan B: Bring a really fine honey like Savannah Bee, and a bowl of apples.
    ________________
    *In the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, the dates of Jewish holidays vary yearly. They are based on the Hebrew calendar, which is not in sync with the Gregorian-Wester-Christian calendar.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Bacon Bourbon Cider

    Bacon Cocktail Garnish

    Cinnamon Sticks

    [1] Another way to enjoy fall’s apple cider: with bourbon and bacon (photo courtesy Davio’s | Manhattan). [2] Make your own cinnamon simple syrup with cinnamon, sugar and water (photo by Ben Fink, Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran).

     

    As restaurants and lounges switch to their autumn menus, we’re getting lots of fall cocktail recipes. We test cocktail recipes each weekend, typically inviting friends to stop by between their errands.

    This week’s cocktail recipe: Bacon Bourbon Cider from Davio’s Manhattan, one of New York’s fine steakhouses with a Northern Italian-accented menu.

    Two fall favorites—apple cider and maple-candied bacon—will make this a favorite fall cocktail. It’s so easy that it may well end up on your favorite home cocktail list.

    Davio’s uses Bulleit Bourbon for the cocktail. We used another top brand/
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1 ounce cinnamon infused* simple syrup
  • 3 ounces apple cider
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a cocktail shaker; shake and pour into a Collins glass.

    2. GARNISH with a slice of candied bacon.
     
    ________________
    *You can add ground cinnamon to plain simple syrup or use the recipe below.
     
    RECIPE: CANDIED BACON

    This recipe is for 8 pieces, but trust us: You’ll want to candy the entire pound package.
     
    Ingredients

  • 8 pieces thinly sliced bacon
  • 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons maple syru
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 300°F. Place the bacon strips flat on a cooling rack screen placed over a baking sheet. Bake the bacon for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, or until thoroughly brown and crisp.

    2. COOL the bacon; then brush both sides of the strips with maple syrup, using a pastry brush. (We long ago replaced our bristle pastry and basting brush with a silicon pastry brush—so much easier to use and clean).

    3. PLACE the bacon back on the rack in the oven and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes.

    4. RESTRAIN yourself from eating all the candied bacon.

     
    RECIPE: CINNAMON SIMPLE SYRUP

    You can make simple syrup up to a month in advance and keep it in the fridge, tightly capped. It can keep even longer, but why take up spice with an item you don’t use?

    Instead, use the cinnamon syrup to sweeten tea or coffee, or to drizzle over desserts: baked goods, fruits, puddings, etc. You can also give it as gifts in a Mason jar tied with a ribbon.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BREAK the cinnamon sticks into pieces (1 inch or longer), using a rolling pin or other implement (or break them by hand). Place them in a small sauce pan with the sugar and water.

    2. BRING to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

    3. STRAIN out and discard the cinnamon stick pieces, and refrigerate, tightly covered.
     
    SUBSTITUTING GROUND CINNAMON FOR CINNAMON STICKS

  • For each 2-inch cinnamon stick piece a recipe requires, substitute 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
  • Taste to see if you want more cinnamon flavor, and proceed 1/4 teaspoon at a time. Ground cinnamon has a stronger flavor than cinnamon sticks.
  • However, the flavor of ground cinnamon dissipates after 6 months or so (the minute a spice is ground and has much more exposure to air, the flavor begins to fade). If you don’t use cinnamon often, buy cinnamon sticks instead: They keep their flavor for up to 2 years. Grind them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder as needed.
  •  
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CINNAMON AND CASSIA

    Who knew that most of our ground “cinnamon” is actually cassia—not true cinnamon?

    Check out the different types of cinnamon.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Honey Dessert Sauce

    chocolate-tart-honey-230

    A chocolate tart, drizzled with orange blossom honey. To the right of the tart: chocolate biscotti pieces. Photo courtesy Bestia | LA.

     

    Caramel to crème anglaise, hard sauce to sabayon: For many centuries, good cooks have known how to garnish a dessert with a sauce.

    Even if the dessert tastes delicious as is, a bit of sauce dresses up a brownie, ice cream, pudding, or slice of plain cake or pie.

    While you can buy them off the shelf, all dessert sauces except one require that someone create it. The one that is ready-made: honey.

    You can use generic honey—whatever you have on hand. Or, match the honey to the dessert:

  • Black sage honey with pear desserts.
  • Basswood or lavender honey with apple.
  • Orange blossom honey with lemon.
  • Raspberry honey with chocolate or fruit desserts.
  • Sourwood honey with peaches.
  •  
    Here are more honey pairings.
     

    HOW TO GARNISH WITH HONEY

    Drizzle the honey straight from the cap of the Honey Bear* or other squeeze bottle, or from a teaspoon.

  • You can start by creating a drizzle pattern—circles, dots, zigzags—on the plate.
  • Then place the dessert on the plate.
  • As you like, drizzle some honey on top of the dessert.
  •  
    See the different types of dessert sauces Dessert Sauce Glossary.

     
    *Never throw away an empty Honey Bear bottle. Fill it with a varietal honey and use it to drizzle. The Honey Bear bottle design is a registered trademark of the National Honey Board, which licenses the design to honey bottlers.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Grow Your Own Stevia

    Stevia is a sweet herb from South America, 20 to 30 times sweeter than sugar cane. Yet, it has no calories. It’s been a boon to many people who want a calorie-free sweetener but don’t want the chemically-derived aspartame (Equal), saccharine (Sweet ‘n Low) or sucralose (Splenda).

    (Check out the different sugar substitutes.)

    A wholesome alternative to processed sugar and chemically-derived sweeteners, Stevia is becoming more and more popular among health-conscious individuals.

    The plant Stevia rebaudiana has been used for more than 1,500 years by the Guaraní peoples of South America. For hundreds of years, it has been used in Brazil and Paraguay to sweeten teas and medicines, and to chew as a sweet treat.

    It came of notice to Europeans in 1899, when Swiss botanist Moisés Santiago Bertoni, conducting research in Paraguay, first described the plant and the sweet taste in detail. He named the genus in honor of the Spanish botanist and physician Petrus Jacobus Stevus (Pedro Jaime Esteve, 1500–1556).

       

    stevia_rebaudiana_wiki-230

    The sweet leaves of Stevia rebaudiana. Photo courtesy
    Wikimedia.

     

    Stevia is also known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf and sugarleaf. It is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae), which includes:

  • Other food products, including artichokes, coffee substitutes, herbal teas, lettuce, sunflower seeds and cooking oil.
  • Flowers such as chrysanthemums, dahlias, daisies, marigolds and zinnias.
  •  

    stevia-sweetleaf-potted-burpee-230

    Grow your own pot of stevia. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    GROW YOUR OWN

    Stevia is an easy care plant that grows well indoors in a sunny window (and in the garden, of course), yielding small white blossoms in summer.

    You can dry and grind the leaves into a powdered sugar substitute. Or, do what the South Americans have been doing for generations: Pluck a leaf from the plant and drop it into your hot or cold beverage.

    You can also use it like a bay leaf to sweeten dishes as they cook.

    You can buy the seeds from Burpee.

    The plant reaches maturity, 12-20 inches, in 40-60 days.

    Or, you can buy plants that are already growing. Here’s one online source.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Simple Syrup

    lemon-vanilla-twist-vodka-nielsenmassey-230

    This cocktail uses homemade lemon-vanilla
    simple syrup. Photo courtesy Nielsen-
    Massey. The recipe is below.

     

    Granulated sugar does not dissolve easily in cold beverages. That’s why simple syrup (also called bar syrup, sugar syrup or gomme, the French word for gum) is used to add sweetness to drinks such as cocktails, lemonade, iced tea and iced coffee.

    Over the last decade, flavored simple syrups have become popular with mixologists. In addition to sweetness, they’re also used to add an extra layer of flavor to drinks.

    There are lots of flavored simple syrups on the market. In addition to common flavors—blood orange, lavender, mint, pomegranate, raspberry—you can find cardamom, peach basil, pineapple jalapeno cilantro, saffron and tamarind.

    Most people buy a bottle of premade simple syrup (also available in sugar-free.) Others simply make their own—not only because it’s easy and so much less expensive, but because they can create special flavors—everything from ghost chile to strawberry rose.

    It couldn’t be easier: Just bring equal parts of water and sugar to a boil and simmer, then add any flavorings. You can even make agave or honey simple syrup by replacing the sugar.

    SUGAR TIP: Superfine sugar dissolves much more quickly than granulated table sugar. You can turn granulated sugar into superfine sugar by pulsing it in a food processor or spice mill.

     

    RECIPE: SIMPLE SYRUP

    Ingredients

  • 2 parts sugar
  • 1 part water
  • Optional flavor: 1-1/2 teaspoons extract (mint, vanilla, etc.)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING the water to a boil. Dissolve the sugar into the boiling water, stirring constantly until dissolved completely. (Do not allow the syrup to boil for too long or it will be too thick.)

    2. ADD the optional flavor once the sugar is fully dissolved. To infuse fresh herbs (basil, mint, rosemary), simmer them in the hot water for 20 minutes and remove before adding the sugar.

    3. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Allow to cool completely and thicken.

    4. STORE in an airtight container in the fridge for up to six months.

     

    COCKTAIL RECIPE: LEMON LIME RASPBERRY TWIST

    For spring, try this Lemon Lime raspberry Twist cocktail (photo above). The recipe from Nielsen-Massey, using their Pure Lemon and Tahitian Vanilla extracts.

    If you like heat, add some jalapejalapeñoo slices as garnish.

    Ingredients For ½ Cup Lemon-Vanilla Simple Syrup

  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Ingredients For 1 Cocktail

  • 6 fresh raspberries
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce Lemon-Vanilla Simple Syrup
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 2 ounces lemon-flavored sparkling water
  • Lime twist
  • 2 frozen raspberries
  • Orange wedge
  • Optional garnish: sliced jalapeño (remove seeds and pith)
  •  

    simple-sugar-ingredients-zulka-230

    Just mix equal parts of sugar and water, plus any flavorings. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the syrup. Combine the water, sugar and lemon extract in a small saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the syrup reduces, about 10-15 minutes.

    2. REMOVE from the heat. After the syrup has cooled, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Refrigerate the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge.

    3. MUDDLE in a cocktail shaker the fresh raspberries, lime juice and simple syrup. Add vodka and sparkling water; shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Drop the lime twist and frozen raspberries into glass. Top with a freshly squeezed orange wedge.
     
    WAYS TO USE SIMPLE SYRUP IN BEVERAGES

  • Cocktails
  • Nonalcoholic drinks: agua fresca, iced coffee and tea, lemonade, mocktails, sparkling water (for homemade soda)
  •  
    WAYS TO USE SIMPLE SYRUP TO SWEETEN FOODS

  • Candied peel (grapefruit, orange, etc.)
  • Glaze baked goods
  • Snow cones
  • Sorbet
  •  
    Bakers brush simple syrup on layer cakes to keep the crumb moist. If you use flavored simple syrup, it adds a nuance of flavor as well.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Sugar

    You can buy Christmas sugar cubes decorated with tiny candy canes, gingerbread men, reindeer and snowmen.

    Or, you can serve something more subtle in appearance and sophisticated in flavor: a bowl of spiced vanilla sugar. You can make it or buy it.

    To buy it, head over to Silk Road Spices, where handmade vanilla sugar* is blended with allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, mace and nutmeg.

    In addition to sweetening drinks, you can sprinkle it on cereal, plain yogurt or toast. Try it in whipped cream, too.

    For $7.99, give jars as stocking stuffers.

    To make your own, try the recipe below. It takes only five minutes to blend the ingredients, but you’ll need to wait 48 hours for drying.

    The sugar will keep for several weeks in an airtight container. Since the recipe makes four cups, you can share it with friends.

     

    spiced_vanilla-sugar-silkroadspices.ca-230

    Spice up your sugar for the holidays. Photo courtesy Silk Road Spices.

     
    RECIPE: SPICED VANILLA SUGAR

    Ingredients For 4 Cups

  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 20 whole cardamom pod
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cups fine granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all of the spices in a cast iron pan. Turn the heat to medium and stir until the aroma fills the air. Remove spices from pan just as they start to crackle. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind the spices roughly.

    2. PLACE the sugar in a large bowl and sprinkle the vanilla over it. Stir thoroughly; the sugar will turn a light brown color.

    3. MIX the spices with the vanilla sugar. Leave the bowl uncovered overnight to dry. The next day, break it up until it returns to granulated form (you can pulse it in a food processor or spice grinder).

    4. COVER the sugar bowl and let it rest overnight. The following day, sieve through a mesh strainer. Store in an airtight container.
     
    *You can make regular vanilla sugar by placing a vanilla bean in an airtight container of sugar. Try a turbinado sugar like Sugar In The Raw for a more aesthetic effect. Or, purchase it from premium sugar companies like Nielsen-Massey.

      

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    FOOD 101: Real Maple Vs. Maple Flavor

    gradeA-light-and-medium-amber-federationdesproducteursacericolesduQuebec-230

    Grade A Light maple syrup (left) and Grade A
    Medium maple syrup. Photo courtesy
    Federation des Producteurs Acéricoles du
    Quebec.

     

    While maple flavor can be enjoyed year-round, traditionally it’s a fall and winter flavor: We’re in prime maple season. So here’s a lesson on the difference between real maple syrup (also called pure maple or 100% maple syrup) and maple flavoring from the Vermont Maple Sugar Maker’s Association.

    There are numerous grocery products promoting maple as an ingredient, from oatmeal and granola to yogurts and sausages. They display the word “maple” on their packaging and include images of maple syrup or maple leaves—even when the product contains not a single drop of maple syrup!

    That’s because the permitted labeling can be deceptive, starting with the number one use of maple, breakfast syrup.

    “Pancake syrup” and “maple-flavored syrup” don’t contain any maple syrup*. They’re corn syrup with artificial colors and flavors that emulate maple syrup.

    Maple syrup is a largely unrefined sweetener made from the sap of maple trees: simply sap that is boiled down.

  • The real deal: To be sure that you are getting real maple syrup in a product, look for the words “maple syrup” or “maple sugar.”
  • The bad deal: While “artificial flavor” is a dead giveaway, phrases like “natural flavor” and “natural maple flavor” are also indications that the product contains no maple syrup. The “natural flavoring” is made of ingredients that are natural (as opposed to artificial), but not maple syrup. Otherwise, it would say “maple syrup” instead of “natural maple flavor.”
  •  
    *Some products contain a small percentage of real maple syrup, 1% to 5%. This will be stated on the ingredients label. By the way, pure maple syrup has just 40 calories a tablespoon, compared to 50 for granulated sugar and 56 for corn syrup.

     

    THE GRADES OF MAPLE SYRUP

    If you’re confused about the meaning of the different grades of pure maple syrup, you’re no different from most people. Is Grade A better than Grade B? What about Light, Medium and Dark?

    The grading system for maple syrup is based on color, and was established by the USDA. Color is neither indicative of the quality nor the purity of the syrup, but it does indicate the strength of the maple flavor. Generally, the darker the color, the stronger the flavor—so the grade you like will depend on how mapley you like your syrup. And the color is based on the length of time the sap is boiled down.

    Thus, unlike in the U.S. school system, a grade of A isn’t better than a grade of B. With maple syrup, it’s a question of what you’re going to do with it. Grade A, which is made in Light, Medium and Dark, is for table syrup. Grade B is used largely in baking and cooking, and in cleansing diets.

     

    gradeA-dark-amber-gradeB-federationdesproducteursacericolesduQuebec-230

    Grade A Dark Amber syrup, left and Grade B maple syrup. Photo courtesy Federation des Producteurs Acéricoles du Quebec.

     

    Grade A Versus Grade B

    Grade A Light Amber Maple Syrup has a very delicate maple flavor, the lightest of all options.

    Grade A Medium Amber Maple Syrup is the most popular grade sold, but that doesn’t mean it’s the connoisseur’s choice. Stronger than Grade A Light Amber yet still mild in maple flavor, it’s closest in style to the artificial-flavored supermarket pancake syrup.

    Grade A Dark Amber Maple Syrup has hearty maple flavor, and is our choice for the best maple syrup for pancakes.

    Grade B Maple Syrup has much more robust maple flavor. Once reserved primarily for cooking and baking, it is growing more popular as a table syrup among those who relish the greater intensity.

    Commercial Grade maple syrup is not available for consumer sale. It has exceptionally strong in flavor and is used as a commercial ingredient.

     
    CHECK OUT ALL THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SYRUP & SUGAR IN OUR TASTY GLOSSARY.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Honey & Food Pairings

    honey-colors-230-NHB

    Based on the plant from which the pollen is
    harvested, each varietal honey has a distinctive
    flavor and color. Photo courtesy National
    Honey Board.

     

    Mass produced “supermarket honey” is blended specifically to have a generic flavor. As with table sugar, it delivers a uniform, sweet, simple taste to consumers time after time.

    But raw varietal honey—varietal referring to the variety of plant from which it was derived—can be compared to wine, tea and coffee in its character and complexity. Different varietals produce different flavors (and colors, too).

    As wine aficionados pair different flavors of wines with specific foods, so do honey sophisticates. The pairings can be revelations, similar to discovering how well a fruity red wine goes with grilled salmon.

    The pairings below were developed by Zeke Freeman of Bee Raw Honey, using his American honey varietals. They just beg to be served at a honey-pairing brunch.

    You may find other pairings you like even better. Make a party of it!

    And check out the recipes at Bee Raw Honey, which recommend, among other ideas, blueberry honey for glazed carrots, buckwheat honey for salmon fillets and orange blossom honey for a chicken or turkey glaze.

    Basswood Honey

    Basswood honey is light in color, delicate and mild, with warm herbal notes and a clean finish.

  • Cheese Pairing: Fromage blanc
  • Fruit Pairing: Fresh green apples
  • Dairy Pairing: Vanilla ice cream
  • Tea Pairing: Mint and spice teas
  •  
    Black Sage Honey

    Golden in color, black sage honey is mild, with a mouth-warming hint of pepper and a smooth clean finish.

  • Cheese Pairing: Parmaggiano Reggiano
  • Fruit Pairing: Wine-poached pears
  • Dairy Pairing: Goat cheese ice cream
  • Tea Pairing: Black tea, especially Ceylon
  •  
    Blueberry Honey

    A medium amber in color, blueberry honey is strong and sweet, with earthy components.

  • Cheese Pairing: Stilton and other milder blue cheeses
  • Fruit Pairing: Lemon, melons
  • Dairy Pairing: Crème fraîche, sour cream, yogurt
  • Tea Pairing: Oolong tea
  •  
    Buckwheat Honey

    You can tell from the deep brown color that this honey is a different experience from the “simple sweetness” most people expect. Strongly-flavored like sorghum or molasses, this honey has hints of mossy earth, malty notes and less sweetness in general.

  • Cheese Pairing: Fresh goat cheeses, ricotta cheese
  • Fruit Pairing: Broiled grapefruit
  • Dairy Pairing: Greek yogurt
  • Tea Pairing: Elderflower tea
  •  

    Clover Honey

    Lighter yellow in hue, delicate, sweet and buttery, a top yellow clover honey can deliver warm undertones of cinnamon and nutmeg.

  • Cheese Pairing: Chevre
  • Fruit Pairing: Figs
  • Tea Pairing: Hot and iced chai
  •  
    Cranberry Honey

    True to its floral source, this medium amber honey has a delicate cranberry aroma and amildly tart flavor with subtle floral hints and a light, fruity finish.

  • Cheese Pairing: Gruyère
  • Fruit Pairing: Apples and tangerines
  • Tea Pairing: Chamomile tea, iced green tea
  •  

    butternut-squash-buckwheat-honey-beeraw-230

    Stout and complex buckwheat honey, with earthy notes like sorghum or molasses, pairs nicely with sweet butternut squash. Photo courtesy BeeRaw.com.

     
    Orange Blossom Honey

    The light amber color and subtle flavor notes of citrus are a hint that you’re enjoying orange blossom honey.

  • Cheese Pairing: Manchego and other aged sheep’s milk cheeses
  • Fruit Pairing: Lemon, lemonade
  • Tea Pairing: English Breakfast, Ceylon
  •  
    Raspberry Honey

    Light amber-hued raspberry honey is delicate and floral with a raspberry finish.

  • Fruit Pairing: Raspberries, peaches, pears
  • Dairy Pairing: Sour cream
  • Tea Pairing: English Breakfast, Earl Grey
  •  
    Sourwood Honey

    Sourwood honey is dark amber: highly floral, rich and buttery with a maple finish.

  • Cheese Pairing: Camembert and other bloomy rind cheeses
  • Fruit Pairing: Grilled peaches
  • Dairy Pairing: Clotted cream
  • Tea Pairing: Classic iced tea, strong green tea
  •  
    Star Thistle Honey

    One of the palest gold honeys, yet thick and creamy, star thistle honey has soft notes of cinnamon and a long, sweet finish.

  • Cheese Pairing: Fresh cheeses: chèvre, ricotta
  • Fruit Pairing: Oven-roasted apples, pears
  • Drink Pairing: Hot apple cider
  •  
    MORE ABOUT HONEY

    Honey was treated as a fine edible in ancient Egypt, with its terroir noted on each honey vessel. How did it become a product of simple, sticky sweetness?

    As with much of the food in our culture, our palates have become dulled by over-salted, over-sweetened, processed food. Since producing and harvesting honey is extremely labor intensive; one worker honey bee makes just 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime!

    So producers give most consumers what they want—an acceptable price, as opposed to superior quality. Some honey isn’t even 100% honey, but has been cut and extended with fillers to keep the price down.

    Pick up a copy of The Honey Connoisseur: Selecting, Tasting, and Pairing Honey, With a Guide to More Than 30 Varietals.

    And if you’re a honey fan, start to look at honey the way you look at wine: Spend less on the honey you use in baking or cooking, spend more on the honey you enjoy on a piece of toast.

    Each region is known for honey derived from their local crops: blueberry honey from Maine, lavender honey from Provence (France), orange blossom honey from Florida, sourwood honey from Georgia.

    Check out farmers markets and specialty food stores that let you taste different honeys. You’ll find herbal, floral, spicy, tart and other nuances that will sing to you.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Arrope

    arrope-beauty-mieldepalma.com-230

    Arrope syrup. There’s also an arrope
    preserve with pumpkin (see photo below).
    Photo courtesy Miel de Palma.

     

    Arrope (ah-ROE-pay), a cooking and condiment syrup, is a product that few of us have in our kitchens. Yet, if you’re a serious cook (or eater), it’s an ingredient you should know about.

    If your parents are serious cooks/eaters, it’s an idea for a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift—so much tastier than another scarf or tie.

    And if no one cooks, there’s a delicious arrope pumpkin preserve, a recipe that derives from the ancient use of arrope to preserve or stew fruits. The pumpkin is cooked in the arrope until it is candied. It’s delicious as a sweet-and-earthy bread spread or a condiment with creamy goat’s or sheep’s milk cheeses (see photo below).

    In fact, when you go to purchase arrope, you need to be specific. Otherwise, you can easily be sold the preserve instead of the syrup, or vice versa. Tip: If the word “pumpkin” appears, it’s the preserve.

    WHAT IS ARROPE

    A reduction of grape must, arrope is a condiment that dates to ancient Rome, where it was called defrutum or sapa. It survives as a gourmet Spanish condiment. The name comes from the Arabic word rubb, syrup.

     
    Arrope is closely related to saba (also called sapa, mosto d’uva cotto and vin cotto). This group comprises ancient precursors to “modern” balsamic vinegar, which appeared in the 11th century.

    So if you’re a balsamic vinegar fan, chances are good that you’ll be happy to discover arrope.

     

    Like honey* and saba, in the days before sugar was widely available arrope was used to add sweetness. Today it is used in everything from drinks to salad dressings to sauces to desserts (try it with fruit salad or drizzled over ice cream). We use it as a glaze for roast poultry and meats. It easily substitutes in cooking for sweet wines such as sherry and marsala.

    As civilization embraced massed-produced foods over artisan products in the latter half of the 20th century, the craft of making arrope—which involves carefully cooking down the must into a syrup over a period of weeks—has almost disappeared. It survives among a handful of artisan producers, carrying on family traditions. (Before modern times, arrope was made by the cook of the family.)

    In Spain, the few remaining artisans produce arrope syrup (grape must reduction) and preserved pumpkin.

    While it’s no leap to combine arrope in Spanish recipes, you can port it over to any cuisine—just as with Italy’s saba and France’s verjus.

     

    arrope-jam-forevercheese-230

    A Spanish cheese plate with typical condiments: fig cake, fresh figs, and in the back, a bowl of arrope preserve with candied pumpkin.

     
    *Honey is sweet and syrupy straight from the hive (or straight from the hive and pasteurized). Arrope and saba are cooked to develop sweet-and-sour flavors including notes of cooked caramel.
     
    HOW ARROPE IS MADE

    It starts with a large quantity of grape must, freshly pressed grape juice that still contains all of the skins and seeds and stems. The must is very flavorful with high levels of sugar.

  • The fresh-pressed grape juice can be strained and sold as verjus, where it is used instead of citrus juice or vinegar.
  • Or, it can be cooked down into arrope or saba.
  • To make arrope, the must is boiled until the volume is reduced by at least 50%, and its viscosity is reduced to a thick syrup. There is no added sugar or pectin.
  • Saba is similarly boiled down into a syrup.
  •  
    Ready to try it? Check at your local specialty food market or order it online:

  • Arrope syrup (grape must reduction)
  • Arrope with pumpkin (preserve)
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    FOOD HOLIDAY: International Waffle Day

    International Waffle Day, which originated in Sweden, is celebrated in the U.S. on March 25th. There is a separate National Waffle Day, celebrated on August 24th, that was originally created to honor the waffle iron.

    The net of it is, you can celebrate a waffle holiday twice a year! Prepared sweet or savory, they can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    In different parts of the world, waffles are topped with confectioners’ sugar, honey, jam, even peanut butter. But in the U.S., what are waffles without maple syrup?

    And what’s with the different types of maple syrup?

    GRADES (VARIETIES) OF MAPLE SYRUP

    Because maple syrup is tapped in the winter, it has traditionally been seen as a winter flavor. But just like honey and sugar, it can be enjoyed year-round in recipes from cocktails to salad dressings and marinades to desserts.

    If you’re confused by the four grades of maple syrup (A Light Amber, A Medium Amber, A Dark Amber and B) here’s an explanation of the different types.

     

    chicken-waffles-2-sweetchickbklyn-230

    Chicken and waffles. Photo courtesy Daniel Krieger | Sweet Chick | Brooklyn.

     
    In brief, at the beginning of the season, the syrup runs light in both color and flavor, and is called Grade A Light Amber. By mid-season it’s Grade A Medium Amber, followed by Grade A Dark Amber and Grade B. At the end of the season, it’s the strongest in flavor and color, commercial grade syrup.

    CROWN PREMIUM MAPLE SYRUP

    We recently received a bottle of Crown Maple syrup, certified organic. It is produced by Madava Farms, a family business in the historic Hudson River Valley of New York (Dutchess County).

    There, 800 acres of century-old, sustainably managed groves of sugar and red maples enjoy perfect soil and ideal seasonal weather conditions to produce a superior sap for maple sugaring.

    But production is a key determinant of quality. Far from the old primitive sugar house, Crown premium maple syrup is made at the most advanced maple syrup production facility in the country. The pristine sap collected from the maples is cooked using the latest in green, organic production techniques to produce syrups of exceptional quality.

     
    CROWN SYRUP VARIETIES

    As you can see from these tasting notes, different grades pair better with specific recipes.

    Light Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: Flavors of popcorn, vanilla bean, roasted nuts, salted caramel and brown butter. Although light in color, the body has a pleasing weight and depth, with a sweetness and finish that lingers.
  • Uses: Pair with salty flavors, for example glazing pork belly or bacon. Try it in cocktails with whiskey as a base: Replace the muddled sugar cubes in an Old Fashioned. Use it as a substitute for palm sugar in Thai recipes.
  •  
    Medium Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: Aromas of gingerbread and roasted chestnut with flavors of rye, butterscotch and spice.
  • Uses: Pair with baked breads, chocolate and ginger cookies and heavier spirits—barrel-aged bourbons or peaty, smoky Scotch. Use as a topping for chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
  •  

    light-amber-crown-230

    The handsome bottles are nicely boxed for
    gift giving. Photo courtesy Madava Farms.

     

    Dark Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: The flavor and aroma are similar to Medium Amber, but the syrup has more weight, depth and concentration. Aromas of coffee and cocoa beans are present, along with flavors of brown sugar and toasted almond.
  • Uses: Use instead of other sweeteners in coffee, and as an alternative to honey as a condiment for cheeses.
  •  
    Crown Maple Extra Dark for Cooking

  • Tasting Notes: A robust maple syrup with a great depth of flavor, richness and a bright finish.
  • Uses: For cooking and baking. The richness shines through even the boldest of food pairings.
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    Where To Purchase

    A 12-ounce bottle, gift boxed, is $16.95; a samplers of all three is $59.95; and a “petite trio” of three small bottles (1.7 ounces each) is $15.95. An 12-ounce bottle of Extra Dark Syrup for Cooking is $27.95.

    A 10-ounce bag of maple sugar (see below) is 10.95.

    Buy them online at CrownMaple.com.

     
    MORE ABOUT WAFFLES

    The Ur-Waffle. Before there were modern waffles, there were the rustic hotcakes of the Neolithic Age (ca. 6000 B.C.E. to ca. 2000 B.C.E.). Made of cereal pulps, they were cooked on heated stones. Honey is as old as written history, dating back to 2100 B.C.E., where it was mentioned in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writings, the Hittite code and the sacred writings of India and Egypt. We don’t know when man first decided to unite honey and hotcakes, but here’s the honey history.

    The Waffle Iron. The waffle iron—enabling pancake-type foods to be turned into textured waffles—was created in the 1200s, when a [presumably] pancake-loving craftsman combined cooking plates that reproduced a pattern of honeycombs.

    The Electric Waffle Iron. The electric waffle iron was introduced in 1911 by General Electric.

    Types Of Waffles. There are at least 11 varieties of waffles: American, Belgian/Brussels, Liège, Hong Kong Waffle, Krumcake, Malt, Pizzelle, Potato, Soft, Stroopwafel and, yes, Toaster. Take a look at the types of waffles.

    Here’s the complete history of waffles.

    The Center Of Syrup. Canada produces more than 80% of the world’s maple syrup, the vast majority in Quebec. Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer, followed by New York and Maine. But no matter how much is produced in the U.S., we need to import the majority of our syrup from Canada. (We have the trees to produce more syrup, but not the people who want to tap them.)

     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE WAFFLES WITH A TWIST

    Here’s a recipe from Crown that uses maple sugar instead of table sugar for even more maple flavor.

    Ingredients For 6 Large Waffles

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple sugar (see note below
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups warm milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT waffle iron to desired temperature.

    2. COMBINE all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and set aside.

    3. BEAT eggs in a separate bowl; stir in milk, butter and vanilla. Pour milk mixture into the flour mixture; beat until blended.

    4. LADLE batter into heated waffle iron and cook until golden brown; serve immediately with maple syrup.

     

    WHAT IS MAPLE SUGAR

    Maple sugar is made from the sap from the maple tree, as opposed to the juice of sugar cane, from which table sugar is made. It has the same strong maple flavor and aroma as maple syrup.

    The sap is boiled until almost all of the water has been evaporated; the remaining product has crystallized. The sugar can be sold in large blocks, molded into small shapes or simply ground into a granulated version that can be used like regular sugar.

    Maple sugar can be used in the same way as cane sugar: in coffee, tea, baked goods and cocktails. It adds more complexity and richness than cane sugar.

    However, is almost twice as sweet as regular sugar, so when replacing cane sugar, you need to reduce the amount. Try using one-third less, and adjust to taste.

      

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