Battle of Ingredients #2: Maple Syrup

Welcome to Round 2 of Battle of Ingredients!
If you missed the first round, you can find it here. I will be putting something on the side or above so that it’ll be easier to track soon.

This month’s Battle of Ingredients is all about maple syrup! Why? Because here in our lovely province of Quebec, we have the cabane a sucre (aka sugar shack) tradition. Maple syrup is a big deal around this parts (and apparently also in Riverdale according to the new TV series). It was a no brainer for myself and Phoebe that it would be our choice ingredient as well as trying out a new formula of doing a collaborated full course meal. All our dishes had maple syrup so lets just say, we were in for a sugar rush.

Let’s check out our menu, along with the wines we used to pair with it (although one of them we didn’t end up drinking…yet).

Wine

Wine

We drank the Kung Fu Girl which is one of my favorite wines. Apparently, it has somewhat of a sour taste which I never really thought about but always found it smooth. Regardless, hopefully we’ll keep the Fetzer in our fridge till the next Battle.

Appetizer – Kim

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bourbon_maple_glazed_chicken_wings/

A very simple recipe to put together in general although you do need to simmer the sauce before putting it on the chicken wings and then have to simmer again to thicken it. I somehow managed to get it thicker the first time so that it wasn’t necessary to simmer again. I did have extra sauce however it was covered enough so I put it to the side in case anyone wanted anymore. This one was delicious and definitely a hit. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I used our good bourbon without knowing it. Whatever the reason, these turned out much better than I expected and honestly, I kind of want to make another batch already.

From our friends: Not dry at all with the sauce, and it matched well. No extra sauce needed for me!

Main Meal + Side – Phoebe

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Recipe via Pinterest: http://gardeninthekitchen.com/prosciutto-maple-salmon/

Phoebe chose this recipe off Pinterest. We don’t usually get the chance to use prosciutto frequently and never had thought to use to wrap around fish and yet, it came together really nicely. She hadn’t worked with dill before and I haven’t been a fan either, however we do have dill lovers at the table. This came together really nicely. Phoebe was a little nervous about the whole grilling part before baking it and we timed it all very nice to serve this and the sides, which we will talk about below.

From our friends: I personally find the dill to match well with the fish. Again, not dry the way it was made, the only slight annoyance was that the prociutto is hard to cut through, so putting any sort of pressure would crush the salmon under… But with patience of sliding your knife back and forth, it’s perfect.

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.thewholesomedish.com/maple-syrup-roasted-brussels-sprouts/

Huge fan of brussel sprouts here, I found this recipe for Phoebe and she was totally into it, which is great. I’ve always wondered how maple syrup in Brussel Sprouts would work and actually it was the one the absorbed the maple syrup enough to actually taste it the most. It was much more subtle in the salmon for example. However, in the balance of the meal, it worked well.

Dessert

Chewy Maple Cookies

Chewy Maple Cookies

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.cleverlysimple.com/chewy-maple-cookies/

I decided on making these cookies very last minute. Like an hour before our cooking meet-up. Fact is, I was going to make Maple Ice but that needed Maple Water and Ice Cream Maker, both things that I don’t have or haven’t figured out how to use yet. Then there was the idea of making little maple syrup tarts but that was really complex with heating the pizza stone plate in the oven beforehand and the worry that it would just fail because I was changing this complicated tart recipe from a pie pan to little tarts. Anyways, point is cookies are the safe bet and thankfully, it worked well to not hog up the oven and we were able to get everything we needed done and ready on track.

From our friends: Cookies were good! Wasn’t dry, but wasn’t butter fest either! Maybe it would be even better with some nut in it like cashew, but then again, might alter the taste… But it was great.

Maple Flavored Popcorn (Bad Monkey)

Bad Monkey Maple Flavored Popcorn

In addition, Phoebe brought this Bad Monkey brand Maple Syrup flavored popcorn to match with the theme. I don’t eat a lot of popcorn for health issues but I did try a few and it was pretty delicious. Phoebe did find it a little on the sweet side however our friends did like this one as well. they actually put the popcorn and the cookie together and apparently, it went well together particularly because of the contrast in textures.

That’s it for this Battle!
Maple Syrup was a fun adventure and on all fronts this was a win.
We learned some new recipes and had a great time with friends.
Next month’s Battle is still deciding what will be the star(s) of the show! 

Perhaps this will be the structure from now on as it is easier to get together an acceptable meal but we will shift the courses around to who is responsible next time.
We will see…like I said in the first round, a work in progress. If you have any suggestions, do share with us. 🙂

Cabane à Sucre: Érabliere au Palais Sucré (Mont Saint Gregoire, Quebec)

After a few years ago’s little sugar shack incident that left quite the sour taste in our mouth, which you can find here, my girl friends and I decided to head out to give it another try but of course, at another location. With that experience in our pockets, we made sure to get how everything worked here before even beginning the meal. I’m getting ahead of myself already.

Let’s get ready to sugar off! 🙂

Érabliere au Palais Sucré

erabliere au palais sucre

The site itself was really nice. There were some farm animals to look at. There were also swing sets around a little fire and a playground area for the kids. Inside a house was a the tir a sirop which is a little maple syrup thing that I’ll show you later. We had a bit of time to walk around while we waited for our table to be available since we got there a little earlier than the reservation. It was a beautiful day so made the walk very enjoyable.

Now for the meal!

 

erabliere au palais sucre

Pea Soup

Erabliere au Palais Sucre

Main meal

In the main meal, there’s the scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, sausages, fried potatoes and cooked potatoes, coleslaw, beans, and the crunchy thing. Most of these have maple syrup already but you can always add more maple syrup since that is the point.

erabliere au palais sucre

Dessert

All the desserts had milk so I couldn’t have any of it but my friends said that it was incredibly sweet so it was very filling as well. There’s some sugar pie and mini pancakes and little cakes and the pudding.

Finally, after we left, it was time to use the ticket for the “tir au sirop” which is maple syrup on ice and you use a popsicle stick to roll it up to eat.

Erabliere au palais sucre

This is actually one of my favorite winter highlights and I love it a lot. Its pretty awesome. And this tasted really good. It is pure maple syrup so every place has a little variety and I like this place’s quite a bit.

A quick little outing but its always fun with my girl friends. It was a ton of fun and the meal was pretty good. Most of all, the service was very good. Our waitress tried her best to even offer options for the dessert when she knew that I couldn’t have any. I always appreciate these little gestures.

A fun little outing!
Have you been to Sugar Shack (aka Cabane a Sucre)?

Baking: Homemade Granola Bars

We’re back on the next baking adventure.  I’ve never made any granola bars but my husband and I both love to bring granola or protein bars as snacks to work.  I had bought some granola at the store a little while back and I’ve been hoping to give it a go soon.  Finally, I felt like it was time to do it so here we are!

Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars

I confess that they look a little like Granola Squares.  But that’s okay.  The husband says they taste good.  If you want to give this a try, you can use the recipe in this simple infographic below.  Also, click on the image to go to the original post and get more insight on this.

only granola bar recipe I didn’t make my own granola and had bought it like I mentioned and actually used one with boosted protein in it for the husband.  This was for him and that is why I went with using daily milk instead of the almond milk that I have. So for the dry ingredients, mine was simple.  The granola mix, which I only have 4 cups of and the baking soda.  In the wet ingredients, I used mashed bananas, peanut butter and like half-half of honey and maple syrup (because I ran out of honey).  I probably should have decreased the portions a little because I was short 1 cup of granola but I didn’t and that’s probably why its not the texture that I think it should be.

homemade granola bars

Regardless of those little changes, the husband did think it tasted good.  I personally like the recipe because its natural from honey and maple syrup as more natural sweeteners to the moistness coming from fruity bases like puree or mashed fruits. Its really easy to put together. And you all know how much I like quick and efficient recipes.

This one is definitely a winner but I believe that mixing honey and maple syrup might not be a good idea and that I would do a dairy-free version next.  I’d give this recipe a second go with a different flavor.  Let me think about what to use and we’ll be doing a round 2 of homemade granola bars

What do you like in your granola bars? 

Breakfast: French Toast

How about that? I finally got around to make some French Toast after talking about it for… *thinking* a few months, maybe a year.  Point is: being back on track with Zumba classes and working out has put me in a fantastic mood and I’m motivated to get a ton of stuff done, except when it comes to writing.  I guess I’m not into sitting down.  Last Sunday morning, I was all pumped up and happy and whipped together the batter for the French Toast and my husband, who is much better at stovetop cooking that I am, took over and cooked it up! Teamwork is awesome! 😉

French Toast

French Toast

Recipe via Pinterest: http://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/2015/02/classic-french-toast.html

You will find the ingredients and how to make it there! 🙂

There were some little changes:

  • Milk replaced by almond milk
  • Flour replaced by Coconut flour
  • Batter made 7 slices of bread (POM brand) instead of 8

I have no idea why it took me so long to put together French Toast.  Honestly, it was so simple to do.  The hardest part was thinking of how to replace the flour, mostly because I don’t have all-purpose flour since I haven’t baked since I tried to go gluten-free. The brand I currently have is really disgusting and I can’t imagine using it for this but luckily, I did have coconut flour and man, it was so great.  It wasn’t enough for the taste or the smell to be an issue.

I haven’t eaten French Toast due to dietary issues since I was a little girl and this was so good! My husband says he burnt it but I thought it was great.  He also isn’t a fan of cinnamon spiced sort of bread-like desserts so I think he wasn’t quite as much of a fan as I was.  I didn’t even think the cinnamon was too overbearing.  It added a nice delicately spiced taste to it.  I topped it with some powdered sugar and maple syrup and that was so good. I’m addicted.  I already want to make a second batch and explore the world of French Toast to see what variations there are.

Do you like French Toast?

Erabliere Charbonneau…

Sugar shacks are a huge thing in Quebec.  I haven’t been since…I was really young.  Young enough that I don’t quite remember much from it.  I think it was somewhere around Grade 1 or 2.  But then, I remember going to apple picking in Grade 1 and Granby Zoo in Grade 2 so maybe its in kindergarten?

Sorry, thinking out loud again (Ed Sheeran song pops in my head for a little).

Gosh, I really don’t want to write this, eh? It’s just going off on tangents.  You’ll see why in just a little bit.

Me, my boyfriend and some good friends all came for this little trip to Erabliere Charbonneau at the end of season sugar shack dining.  Before we start, if you live in Montreal, chances are you know about the highly reputable Erabliere Charbonneau.  Everyone goes there and its fantastic and all that jazz…today, I’m going to tell you why I will never go again.  Our experience was not too pleasant.  As most of you know, I’m a pretty chill person and I don’t criticize all that much but thinking about this experience makes my blood boil just a little (well, today its just a little).  But I like to start on a positive note so let’s do this!

The Food!

Starters

Erabliere Charbonneau

Homemade Ketchup

Erabliere Charbonneau

Pea Soup

The “marinade” starters included bread and pea soup.  Maybe there was something else but I don’t remember.

Main course

Erabliere Charbonneau

Maple flavored Sausages, meatballs and Tourtiere

Erbaliere Charbonneau

Ham, Eggs and Potatoes

Think breakfast/brunch with lots of sweetness added in 😉 Thats what all this was.  To be fair, the sausages and meatballs were pretty delish.  You can order seconds if you so desired.

Dessert

Erabliere Charbonneau

Mini pancakes

Erabliere Charbonneau

Sugar Pastries

Erabliere Charbonneau

Sugar Pie

Last group is desserts.  Although who knows when dessert starts when everything is all about being rather sweet with maple syrup. I didn’t have anything in this because of the lactose intolerant issue.  From what I gathered, it was over the top sweet for some and alright for others…I guess it all depends on how much sweet is too much for you.

The Reason Why I Won’t Go Back Here

First up, remember that pretty much everyone in our group hasn’t gone to a sugar shack in a while and we don’t quite know how it all works.  As customers, you’d expect to have the benefit of the doubt and even then, one of my friends does quite a bit of research in advance so we knew that we could ask for seconds but from what we understood, we could have it after our dessert portion.  Sure, that seems a little out of order and unconventional, that’s okay.

So, we decided after it finished that we wanted to have another serving of sausages, meatballs and potatoes and the waitress looks at us like we’re crazy but she still does it.  A few minutes later, the manager comes out and starts literally scolding us in front of everyone about how she’s been working there for 20 years and this has never happened.  We explained our side rather calmly but still she kept raising her voice about how this was not how its done.

We’re not an unreasonable group.  My issue isn’t even with how we made an unconventional request and she seemed to want to refuse (even if she did end up serving it to us after our scolding), it was the way she handled it that got me pretty angry. For one, the kitchen is still running and our reservations are only up at noon.  We asked at 11:30am.  But also the point that, as a business, you don’t go up to your customers and yell at them in front of a room full of other customers.  We’re all adults.  She could have explained calmly so we understood and not belittle or be all condescending.  Even if she refused and was explaining nicely to us, I’d have probably been less pissed.  Because what this shows me is that she doesn’t want our business and to be honest, I don’t really want to come back here to be insulted.

Its a pity because the food here is good.  They have a good thing going but sometimes, good (even great) food doesn’t make bad service feel better.  Maybe we had fault by asking for something out of their normal routine but they also had fault because our assigned waitress was not clear about the details of how this works and when we could ask for our second rounds before clearing our table.  Plus, its not exactly proper customer service to have a manager yell a table of adults instead of explaining calmly.  Her attitude bothered me so much.

Still, if you do decide to give this a shot, the perks of this place is that you get a free sampling of one cider/wine at their orchard and it includes the “tir de glace” which is the maple syrup on ice thing.  I don’t know the proper term for it.

Have you been to somewhere like this? Where was it? Did you enjoy the experience?

Peanut Butter Granola Clusters!

I got back into the kitchen and baked! I’m super proud of myself…not that proud since it took me two weeks but I had work to blame.  I worked for 12 days straight and today due to an extra early morning drive to the airport, I ended up having to get half a day off from work because I was just drained.  It was all dizzy and fuzzy and concentration was shot.  Anyways, that aside, I napped, ate, rested and even watched the 2nd NHL playoff game for Montreal Canadiens and then decided to bake! I gave my boyfriend the choice of these granola clusters or cinnamon rolls. Guess which one won 😉

P1210841This recipe is from my Looneyspoons book by Janet and Greta Podelski.  This is called GOODY TWO CHEWS!

Makes 12 clusters

Ingredients

1/3 cup light peanut butter

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

2 egg whites

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 1/2 cup low-fat granola

3/4 cup chopped dried cranberries

How to make them:

1. Preheat oven to 250F.  Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, beat together peanut butter and maple syrup on medium speed of electric mixer.  Add egg whites and pumpkin pie spice and beat again until smooth.

3. Stir in granola and cranberries.  Divide mixture evenly among muffin cups.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven to cool completely on wire rack before removing clusters from pan.  Store in an airtight container

P1210832

Fresh out of the oven! They look absolutely wonderful and filled the house with peanut butter smell.

Just for a few modifications:

– I misread the peanut butter quantity and put more around 1/2 cup…

– I have no idea where to buy pumpkin pie spice but the books gives you a little tip as to combining 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg.  It was from earlier in the book, so now I’m wondering if the quantities were in proportion…

– I only used granola because I had bought one with fruits in it and the book recommends one with pumpkin flax. I obviously didn’t read it beforehand.  In turn, I eliminated the dried cranberries since the granola mix already had it.  This was the one I bought:

P1210847

After it cooled down and I had pried it out of the muffin tins, I gave it a whirl to see what it taste like.  Suffice to say, I’ve never eaten any clusters before.  This seemed like a healthier choice too. It works well with the whole staying fit 😉 This tasted AMAZING! I had this really interesting texture.  On the top is was crunchy a bit and near the bottom, it felt like the bottom of a muffin type of chewy.  Not dry just a bit fluffy and chewy.  I don’t really know how to describe it but it was so great 🙂

P1210844

The fruits gave a little sweet taste and then it mixed well with the peanut butter and maple syrup mix 🙂

If you like to make clusters or enjoy granola, you should give this shot! Its quite delicious and super easy to make.  The baking time is a bit longer than my usual but its well worth the wait 🙂 If anything, the aroma that circulates around the house while its in the oven just starts making your mouth water..I know it did that for me!  Its perfect as snacks and I’m sure if you have little ones, they’ll probably enjoy it a lot too 🙂