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March 14, 2013 By adminHADLEY, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – No plate of pancakes…or waffles… is complete without a helping of syrup. But how is this sticky goodness made? Well we Read More »
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Maple syrup farmers not the only food producers facing climate change
could mainline maple syrup. Ever since I was a kid, I loved it so much I would hone in on it like a wasp at a barbecue if there was even a whiff of r-e-a-l maple syrup within a 50-km radius.
Albertans back then had a unique way of drawing out the adjective “real” that they invariably paired up with “maple syrup” like they were conjoined twins. The emphasis not only heightened the distance from those phony maple-flavoured imitators with ersatz flavouring in a fructose-corn syrup concoction, it also connoted values like rare, expensive — something proudly Canadian to be treasured and measured out of the tiny jug bottles that were carefully brought out from secret hiding places in the cupboard or fridge (the jury was still out on where it should be kept).
The “real” also proved you knew better.
Today, Luc Bergeron’s Canada No. 3 dark (foncé) organic maple syrup transforms my porridge, my pancakes, and my sinfully fatty organic yogurt. Gorgeous maple sugar transforms my equally sinful vanilla ice cream, along with a handle of toasted walnuts, organic, again, and straight from the orchards in Summerland. These are simple but heavenly treats for a woman who hates to spend time making desserts — treats only afforded by the luxury of real maple syrup.
So my graying eyebrows arched even higher the other day when I read that maple syrup producers in Quebec, who are responsible for three-quarters of the world’s supply, are akimbo this spring over what some are calling disastrous; catastrophic; the worst maple syrup season in memory.
“Not since the 1940s has there been a year with such a strange transition in weather patterns from winter to spring. And this radical swing from cold to hot in a matter of days has played havoc with maple syrup production,” says a report in the Haliburton Highlander, which circulates in central Ontario not far from Quebec, smack in the heart of Ontario’s maple sugar country.
The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association predicts a multimillion-dollar loss for producers due to output that’s down at least 50 per cent in parts of the province. Quebec’s association of producers says it’s too early yet to tell how their producers will be hit financially.
But everyone from industry spokespeople to the farmers who turn on the syrup taps on the trees lays the problem squarely at the feet of climate change. And they expect to see even more impacts in the future as maple tree ecosystems are stressed with drought, heat waves and other extremes.
In fact, eastern maple syrup producers, including those in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, are worried that if a cold snap follows the recent heat wave, which caused the sap to flow too early, trees could be irrevocably damaged.
This kind of extreme weather back east — where hot days are making people turn up in shorts and Hawaiian shirts at maple syrup tastings where they used to huddle in parkas while the boiled syrup was poured over fresh snow — is occurring all over the world.
Canadians are famous for giggling that they love climate change. Previously known as global warming (warming temperatures around the world are only one aspect of climate change), I remember Canadians laughing and saying, global warming — bring it on, with visions of, yes, tropical shirts and shorts dancing in their heads.
Now many have stopped laughing as they witness the gravity of the situation — including how finely tuned, carefully balanced ecosystems are at stake, with our food supply systems at the top of the list.
The World Meteorological Organization released its annual report for 2011 a few weeks ago, and although world temperatures last year did not reach the record-setting highs of 2010, last year was the 11th warmest year on record since 1880, and the warmest year during which a major La Niña event occurred in the Pacific. And we West Coasters know that La Niña, especially a big one like last year’s, always has a cooling effect.
More to the point, the WMO report calls 2011 a year of “climate extremes”.
You don’t have to tell that to the maple syrup producers. Nor to our farmers in Pemberton, impatient to get their seed in the ground as they wrestle with unseasonably cool, wet weather. Or to the wheat farmers in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan who, looking out over their tinder-dry bare fields that saw wildfires in January, are recalling the dust bowl of the “Dirty Thirties”.
One of the most terrible “extremes” last year saw flooding in many parts of the world, especially Southeast Asia where one-third of Thailand was under water at one point. More than 20,000 sq km of agricultural land was damaged and millions of people impacted in that country’s worst flooding ever.
Last spring, the U.S. saw 173 tornadoes in 24 hours — a new record according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And, like Thailand, the Mississippi River valley also saw extreme flooding on some of the most fertile farmland in America.
On top of extremes like these, more general changes in climate have experts around the world scrambling.
Scientists are warning corn farmers in the American Midwest that changing climatic patterns that will bring more rain could decrease crop production by up to 30 per cent. In the Middle East and Eurasia, they’re witnessing the alarming spread of an unusually virulent variety of wheat rust out of Africa. Yes, horticulturalists can breed rust-resistant wheat, but on average it takes 12 years to do so. The rust’s life cycle is months.
While food security is just one issue hooked into our changing climate, it’s one that is so universal and palpable it makes me hopeful that policy makers and my fellow citizens alike might finally find the courage to face climate change — action scientists have been urging us to take for decades.
In eastern Canada, in one hopeful example, an innovative professor is using the maple syrup dilemma to develop an educational package for teachers to share with their classes about climate change.
In the meantime, as for storing that treasured maple syrup properly, you really should keep it in the fridge or even the freezer, no matter what Albertans do.
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning freelance writer who sees the climate changing all around her.
As we march through April the effects of warm winter weather and record temperatures in March have left a bitter taste in the mouths of maple syrup producers.
Cold nights and warm days are needed to produce this sweet surprise, but record warmth in March stopped the flow of sap as maple trees quickly went into bud.
In fact many in the industry are saying this is the worst maple syrup season they have ever seen. The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association says producers will have a multi-million-dollar loss due to output that’s down at least 50% in parts of the province.
The good news is most feel this season shortage of sap will not significantly impact on the price as previous maple syrup seasons have produced ample supply. More good news is research from the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Rhode Island found a total of 54 antioxidants in maple syrup, five of which were new compounds with several of them reported to have anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-bacterial properties.
With this great news we must remind ourselves that maple syrup is sugar-laden, making blueberries or other antioxidant-rich fruits better choices for healthy eating.
But — there’s no denying maple syrup is one of the best natural sweeteners. On top of pancakes or used as a glaze on foods like pork, chicken, duck, salmon or trout, maple syrup brings practically anything from drab to fab in moments.
On root vegetables maple syrup helps enhance their natural sugars and in sauces and dressings the sweet taste of spring is easily added.
On twitter @shalsroy claims the best way to enjoy maple syrup is through a combination of buttermilk and green onion placed on top of a salad of fresh Ontario hydroponic Boston lettuce.
In salads, mains, desserts — maple syrup’s the way to go!
Frank Ferragine is the weather and gardening specialist for Breakfast Television Toronto on Citytv, and appears regularly on CityLine. His first book, Frankie Flowers Get Growing (HarperCollins) is now available. Follow Frank on twitter @frankferragine or email email@example.com.
SWEET POTATO, MAPLE AND PECAN TARTS
These are somewhere between a butter tart and pumpkin pie but with a hint of maple syrup and toasted pecans — mmm good! Recipe courtesy of Foodland Ontario. (Foodland.gov.on.ca.)
1 medium sweet potato, about 12 oz (375 g)
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) butter, melted
1 cup (250 ml) maple syrup
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) vanilla
24 3-inch (8 cm) frozen tart shells, thawed
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped toasted pecans
Scrub sweet potato and trim off ends. Pierce with small knife in several places; microwave at High for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender, turning over halfway through. Let cool enough to handle; remove skin and mash with fork until smooth. Measure 1 cup (250 ml) and place in bowl. Whisk in butter, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until smooth.
Bake tart shells on baking sheet, in batches if necessary, in 375F (190C) oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle pecans among partially baked shells, gently pushing down any puffed-up pastry. Divide sweet potato mixture among shells. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes or until filling is slightly puffed, almost set and pastry is lightly golden. Let cool on rack.
TIP: Make filling in 4-cup (1 L) glass measuring cup and it will be easy to pour into tart shells.
Yield: Makes 24 tarts.
For three months each year, one of Canada’s top chefs trades the comforts of his Montreal restaurant for a “sugar shack” in the Quebec outback to study a local favorite: maple syrup.
Sporting a lumberman’s jacket, Martin Picard of the much-touted “Au Pied de Cochon” drives his tractor through melting snow to a wooden cabin deep in the forest, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of the city.
His aim: to concoct recipes and serve up dishes made with the sweet, gooey sap of Canadian maples right at the source.
“Everywhere in the world, maple syrup is associated with pancakes,” said Picard who promotes the ingredient’s use in haute cuisine.
“The possibilities for it have not been fully capitalized. So we decided, ‘Let’s research it thoroughly and publish a book on maple syrup’,” he told AFP.
Hailed as a gastronomic star, Picard fuses traditional dishes of “New France” — today Quebec — with hot new ideas.
And his experiments with maple syrup have foodies flocking from all over Quebec, neighboring provinces and across the border in the US to the backwoods kitchen he opened to customers in 2009.
He touts the sap’s culinary qualities but calls it recalcitrant: boil it too long and it foams and burns and won’t crystallize as it should.
For some dishes, he has devised special techniques. For ice cream, instead of using syrup Picard got better results when he transformed the sap into taffy, heating it to 113.5 degrees C (236 degrees F) then pouring it over fresh snow to create a soft caramel-like texture perfect for mixing.
The bearded chef has paired maple syrup with wild game, pork, shellfish, and a variety of exotic foods for a sweet, woodsy flavor. His cookbook includes a chapter on the properties of maple syrup, along with some 100 recipes using the ingredient in everything from marshmallows to meat pies, veal curry, lentil stew and jackrabbit.
It also instructs more daring foodies how to make maple squirrel sushi and maple beaver tail.
“I’m interested in trial and error with this product,” he said. “In classic French dishes we made, you couldn’t just substitute maple syrup for white sugar, for example. It doesn’t work.”
Syrup and sugar, he explained, have very different compositions. Fresh syrup contains two to three percent invert sugar (valued by bakers, sweeter, moist and less prone to crystallization). As the syrup ages, its invert sugar content can rise to 20 percent.
“So when we use it in recipes,” he said, “it can have a significant impact,” as in his syrup-stuffed duck. “It didn’t taste of maple, but the quality of the foie gras was extraordinary,” he said.
Picard’s cabin sits in the midst of his own Canadian maple grove from which he harvests the sap first collected and used by aboriginal peoples in North America.
Each year he plants 4,000 spiles — a spout poked into the tree to extract sap, a modest operation but one that produces enough sap for the three-month sugar shack season and his Montreal restaurant the rest of the year, with hundreds of liters left over to test new ideas.
Reservations for the sugar shack, which opens from late February to early May, must be made months in advance. The 2012 season is booked up, with some 13,000 reservations made in the first few hours of the first day of booking on December 1.
“We are leaving our mark and if someone wants to do other things with maple syrup, they will have a starting point,” the chef said.
Picard’s next project is pork. He also raises Duroc and Tamworth pigs on his wooded property, letting them roam free even in winter. He is keen to discover whether the Canadian cold will affect the quality of the meat.
The warmer winter has affected the timing of when maple trees are tapped for their sap, but for maple syrup producer Jonathan Flynn, this year’s yield will be about average.
Flynn was out tapping trees much earlier than usual this season, although yields per tap were down a bit. He was hoping for one more cold spell over this past weekend to get a chance at a final yield.
“I’m hoping for the cold nights, but they’re calling for 60s by the end of the week. If that’s the case, that’s the end of me,” said Flynn. He taps trees in the Pine Grove area.
Flynn said the relatively warm winter just got him out into the woods earlier.
“Normally, this is the busiest week of the year,” said Flynn. “But it hasn’t been that bad this season. With it being that warm, I just tapped trees two weeks earlier. It hasn’t had a real negative effect on me. It’s an off-year slightly, but it’s not terrible.”
Flynn still has some sap to reduce into syrup, and he estimates that he’ll finish with 15 to 18 gallons of maple syrup made from Schuylkill County trees.
“I got 17 gallons last year. The last few years I’ve had four-week seasons,” he said. “I’ve had eight-week seasons before, but not for a while.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania is not a large maple syrup producing state as compared to New York and the New England states. In 2011, Pennsylvania produced 128,000 gallons as compared to Vermont’s production of 1,140,000 million gallons, making it by far the largest maple syrup producer in the country. Last year was a much better year overall for maple syrup production than in 2010, when Pennsylvania producers ended that season with only 54,000 gallons.
According to Flynn, the northern tier counties are just starting the tapping of trees. He said above normal temperatures in winter are not a major problem.
“The people I know up in Potter County are tapped and in production right now,” said Flynn. “The nights where we (in Schuylkill County) got to 30 to 35 degrees, they were well below freezing, so they’re in good shape.”
For good sap flow, daytime temperatures must go above freezing, and nighttime temperatures must drop well below freezing. The temperature changes cause the sap to surge up the tree. The optimal temperatures are daytime readings of about 45 degrees and nighttime temperatures about 25 degrees.
“When winter starts getting to a point when you see a forecast of above freezing daytime temperatures consistently, that’s when I go out to tap trees,” said Flynn. “For this year, I started the third Saturday in January. By Jan. 30, I was boiling. It was first time ever I was boiling in January.
“When you get the sap from the tree, you’ve got 1 1/2 to 2 percent sugar. It takes about 50 to 55 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.”
Flynn’s interest in producing maple syrup began during his visits as a child to his aunt in Vermont. He brought the interest back home, starting by tapping a few trees and reducing the sap into syrup on a stove.
“I started doing this when I was a kid. I use to tap five or six trees here on the farm,” said Flynn, 36. “I’ve been producing syrup here on a bigger scale since 2003.”
As the amount of taps grew, the need to purchase specialized equipment became necessary. He currently uses an evaporator that measures 2-by-6 feet, which is heated with a wood fire.
“With my evaporator, I can easily cook off 30 gallons of sap an hour,” said Flynn. “You’re constantly feeding it sap and boiling it off.”
When the syrup is almost ready, it is drained into a smaller evaporator to be finished. The finishing unit is heated with propane so the heat can be turned off when the maple syrup is ready to be bottled.
“When it comes to the temperatures, you’ve got to roll with the punches,” said Flynn.
The New York State Senate has approved two pieces of legislation that will ease regulations on New York’s farmers: a bill that will allow greater public access to maple sugar facilities and a bill that will allow land used for silvopasturing – grazing livestock on wooded land – to be recognized as a legitimate use of wooded land for the purposes of agricultural land assessment.
The bill, S. 3542, will include maple houses and production facilities under the definition of agricultural buildings, qualifying them for exemptions granted to agricultural buildings from the fire-prevention and building code council. In 2010, the state Legislature added the production of maple syrup and pure maple products to the definition of Agricultural Tourism, but the structures associated with maple syrup production and sale are not currently recognized as agricultural.
“I agree that (maple sugar facilities) are clearly agricultural buildings. There’s no question of that,” said Lloyd Munsee of Big Tree Maple in Lakewood. “The maple sugar industry is part of an agricultural pursuit.”
Munsee hopes the bill will also pass in the Assembly.
This bill will allow the public to tour “sugar shacks” and production facilities, helping grow New York’s maple products industry through agri-tourism. Ranking second in the nation behind Vermont, New York’s maple products industry plays a significant role in the state’s agricultural industry and seasonal tourism.
The other bill passed, S. 5160, would make wooded land used for silvopasturing part of a farmer’s agricultural assessment. Under the state’s Agriculture and Market laws, land used for these purposes is not eligible for agricultural assessment for property tax purposes, though similar land used for the production of timber is eligible. Silvopasturing is a scientifically based and ecologically sound practice that allows farmers to benefit from the land as part of livestock production in the short term and to produce high-quality timber in the long term, enabling farmers to manage timber resources and pastures as an integrated resource.
State Sen. Patricia Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie and Agriculture Committee chairwoman, introduced the two bills as part of her effort to “to cut red tape on family farmers.” Sen. Ritchie sponsored five laws last year intended to ease regulations on family farms and agribusinesses.
“Central and Northern New York has many small farms that are working hard to develop new agribusinesses, like producing maple syrup, and looking at new ways to expand the use of their property to raise livestock,” said Sen. Ritchie. “I’ve been working with a lot of small farm owners to reduce government regulations that make it more difficult for these family farms to succeed.”
The two bills will now proceed to the Assembly for approval before becoming law.
The news is sweet for maple syrup producers.
Among those praising a Conservative senator’s motion to change maple syrup standards to make it harder for watered-down versions to be sold as pure are owners of Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush in the Pakenham area.
“For one thing, it’s increased the profile of maple in general, which is always a good thing,” said Fulton’s owner Shirley Deugo, following Senator Nancy Green Raine’s tabling of a motion last week that would make it more difficult for table or blended syrup to be labelled ‘pure.’
“Maple has such a great reputation and such a great flavour that everyone wants to get on the bandwagon,” said Deugo.
Raine has obviously been keeping abreast of issues faced by producers, said Deugo, as the standards are being discussed at various levels of associations in the maple industry.
“I think what she’s doing is wonderful,” said Deugo.
The new standards would help clear things up for customers, she added.
“There is some confusion of our customers between pure maple syrup and table or blended syrup,” she explained.
“People look at the label and they see the word pure but don’t realize it’s only 10 per cent pure,” said Deugo.
The proposed changes would create four classes of pure syrup, based on taste and colour.
Deugo says the changes are also in keeping with the societal trend to be more aware of where food comes from, said Deugo.
“It’s transparency, that’s what we’re looking for, and clarification for our customers,” she said.
A standardized grading system will help clear up consumer confusion, too, between syrup made in Ontario, Quebec and Vermont, which are all using slightly different systems.
The product’s state or country of origin is already required to be on the label and that won’t change.
Transitioning to the new system will not happen overnight and will certainly have a “huge impact” on producers.
“It’s going to take a lot of learning,” said Duego.
Government is hoping to start the process of introducing the changes next year, she said.
Fulton’s is gearing up for the season with several upcoming activities planned, including March Break and Easter events.
If you love the rich taste of maple syrup, you’re in luck. December 17th is National Maple Syrup Day. Sweeet! While the origins of this annual food holiday are unknown, maple syrup has been enjoyed since Native American’s “invented” the syrup centuries ago.
It’s all in the Sap
Made from the sap of the maple tree, it takes between 30 and 50 gallons of the sap to make one gallon of pure maple syrup. It takes about 40 years before maple trees can be “tapped” and only healthy trees are tapped. While many trees have only one sap, larger trees may have several taps. Each tap yields about 10 gallons of sap during the 4 to 6 week season. Healthy trees can provide sap for over a hundred years.
While many folks enjoy a heapin’ helping of pure maple syrup slathered all over their pancakes, French toast or dribbled over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, maple syrup is also used in baked products, candies, cocktails and even beer. Pass the syrup, please!
Maple Syrup Cocktails
- Maple Leaf – In honor of our neighbors to the north, this cocktail includes bourbon, lemon juice and of course, maple syrup.
- Cherry Maple Leaf – This pretty cocktail calls for brandy, Cherry Heering, dry vermouth, lemon juice and maple syrup.
- Jack Rabbit – You’ll need fresh lemon juice, orange juice, maple syrup and applejack for this cocktail.
- Apple Cider Cocktail – This popular recipe calls for apple cider, Calvados, brandy, apple slices, lemon juice and pure maple syrup.
- Mule Hind Leg – This cocktail calls for gin, applejack, Benedictine, apricot-flavored brandy and maple syrup.
- Maple Sour – Mix bourbon, maple syrup, fresh lemon or lime juice and Angostura bitters and shake until nice and frosty.
- Vermont Maple Blaster – You’ll need rum, water and maple syrup for this cocktail.
- Brown Derby – This cocktail calls for dark rum, lime juice and maple sugar or syrup.
- Silver Dawn Cocktail – You’ll need Galliano, gin, fresh lemon juice and some maple syrup for this cocktail.
- Vessel 75 Cocktail – This drink calls for Bourbon, egg whites, lemon juice, Peychaud’s bitters and maple syrup.
- Shooter – You’ll need Canadian whiskey, raspberry schnapps and maple syrup for this one.
- Clermeil – You’ll need Anejo rum, Green Chartreuse, Allspice Dram, lime juice and maple syrup for this one.
Hot and Cold Maple-Inspired Cocktails
- Ice Cream Hogarth – OMG! This recipe calls for vanilla ice cream, Bailey’s Irish Cream and maple syrup all mixed up in a blender. Yum!
- Chocolate Maple Moo – Here’s another fabulous “cool” cocktail. You’ll need Bailey’s Irish Cream, milk, chocolate, chocolate syrup, chocolate ice cream and of course, maple syrup.
- Hennessy Hot Toddy – Perfect for a chilly night or afternoon, this hot drink calls for Hennessy Cognac VSOP, lemon juice and maple syrup. Add nutmeg and a cinnamon stick and you are good to go!
- Hot Buttered Wine – You’ll need Muscat wine, butter and maple syrup for this one.
- Canadian – Speaking of Canada, this warm cocktail includes dark rum, allspice, butter, brown sugar and maple syrup.
- Wynter Wynde – This hot cocktail with the super-cool name, calls for cinnamon, Sea Wynde Rum and maple syrup.
Non-Alcoholic Maple Drinks
- Maple EggNog – Perfect for the holidays, this non-alcoholic drink calls for eggnog and maple syrup. Add nutmeg for garnish and chill.
- Coffee Cola Cooler – This non-alcoholic beverage includes instant coffee, cola and maple syrup.
The holidays are the best time to cook! But they’re not always the most vegan-friendly time of year. With this Seitan Wellington, you can be sure that you are not going to get stuck eating only side dishes when your Holiday feast comes around. We have to warn you: this dish is so delish that even distant cousins will want to try – so make extra!
Yields two small or one large Wellington. Serves six to eight.
Mushroom Filling Ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon non-dairy butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cups crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 large shallots, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegan red wine (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Seitan Filling Ingredients:
- 2 packages “chicken-style” seitan or 3 cups homemade seitan
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons mustard, stone ground or German
- 2 tablespoons vegan red wine (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 3⁄4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 1⁄4 cup flour for rolling
- Grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 1 package vegan frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
Creamy Spinach Sauce Ingredients:
- 3 cups baby spinach, packed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon soy milk creamer
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
For the mushroom filling: In a large saute pan, heat butter and olive oil. Add mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add thyme, wine, sea salt, black pepper and flour, and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.
For the seitan filling: In a large food processor, combine seitan, thyme, mustard, wine, maple syrup, flour, lemon zest, paprika, sea salt and black pepper. Pulse until uniform, about 20 times, and set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry out to about 1/2-inch thickness. To make one large Wellington, overlap two sheets by about 1 inch and press them together at seam. Place mushroom filling in center of pastry and spread out, leaving a 1- to 2-inch border on all sides.
- Top mushrooms with seitan filling and fold puff pastry border over to form a log shape, completely sealing filling.
- If making two small Wellingtons, divide seitan and mushroom filling in half before forming each log shape, and proceed as directed above.
- To bake, place one large or two small Wellingtons seam side down on a greased baking sheet with rims. Make a couple of slits in top of pastry with a small knife.
- Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
For the spinach sauce: Sauté spinach in a large saute pan over low heat with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper, until wilted. In a blender, combine with soy milk creamer, and purée until smooth.
Serve sliced Wellington warm with spinach sauce.
The Sporkie scoop
For your smarts: Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, who helped defeat Napoleon, is credited with the name of this dish. He probably never set foot in the kitch to create this masterpiece — and we can almost guarantee he had never heard the word “seitan” — but we adore this recipe. So thank you, Duke!
For your parts: The crimini mushrooms make this dish so much more healthful than the beefy version. Criminis contain a lot of water and are low in calories but taste amazing, yay! They are also high in potassium, which is great for regulating blood pressure.
- In a stockpot large enough to hold turkey combine water, syrup, salt and brown sugar; stir to dissolve salt and sugar.
- Rinse turkey. Carefully add turkey to brine.
- Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
- Remove turkey from brine; discard brine. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels.
- Place turkey breast up on a rack in a roasting pan. Brush with oil. Cover turkey loosely with foil.
- Roast in a 325F oven for 2 3/4 to 3 hours, removing foil after first 2 1/4 hours.
- When done, cover turkey and let stand at room temperature to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Brining a turkey makes for a moist and flavorful bird, and keeps it from drying out when you cook it. But first things first, if you have a kosher turkey brining is not necessary to brine because it has already been salted.
No matter how you plan to prepare your turkey you should always start with a brine. Your end result will come out impeccable and your guests will be salivating for seconds and thirds.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to brine a turkey.
- Give yourself proper time. You will need to brine your turkey overnight, so start the night before and clear out space in your fridge for the turkey. You can brine the turkey in a large stainless steel pot or oven roasting turkey bags from Reynolds or Ziploc. Be sure that the container for the turkey in brine is non-reactive, like enamel, glass, crockery, stainless steel, even a plastic bucket – never cast iron or aluminum.
- Remember I mentioned that you should not brine if using a Kosher or self-basting turkey. With that said start with a fresh or thawed out fully cleaned turkey. If you using a large stainless steel pot add the turkey and fill with water to completely cover turkey. Remove turkey and measure out the water. This is a great starting point. You’ll want at least 1 gallon of water for your brine.
- To make a simple brine, mix 1 cup of salt in 1 gallon of water. Making sure that the salt is completely dissolved before adding your other seasonings. The type of salt you use is also very important. I recommend using Kosher salt, never table salt. (Table salt shouldn’t ever be consumed to begin with). Sugar or other types of sweeteners, like brown sugar, maple syrup or honey, are also very popular ingredients added to brines, about 1 cup. It helps to balance out the flavor of the salt. I will give you brining recipes below.
- After you’ve adding all your seasonings, fully submerge your turkey in the brine and place it in the refrigerator. The size of your turkey will depend on how long you brine it. If you have a small turkey brine for 1 hour for every pound of turkey. If you have a large turkey, 10 hours minimum and no longer than 24 hours. You can over brine a turkey which will result in toughness instead of juiciness.
- If you do not have room in your fridge for the turkey, there are other options for you. Try a cooler filled with some ice or if you live in a cold climate you can even place it outside, as long as it is not below freezing.
- When you are ready to cook your turkey, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse off the turkey thoroughly inside and out with cold water and pat dry. You can discard the brine. Cook your turkey with your preferred method and you will have a moist, juicy and flavorable turkey. Brining doesn’t have to stop with your turkey. You can brine any kind of poultry, shrimp or pork.
Maple Bacon Caramel Corn
5 slices bacon
6-8 cups air popped popcorn
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup or corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla or maple extract
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup pecan pieces or halves (optional)
Preheat oven to 250° F. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer to a plate, crumble or chop into chunky pieces and reserve 1-2 tablespoons of the drippings.
Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray and put the popcorn in it, along with the pecans if you’re using them.
Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and reserved bacon drippings in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally, for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. It will foam up at first.
Quickly pour over the popcorn and stir to coat well, adding the reserved bacon. Tongs work really well for this! Spread onto a cookie sheet or roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Cool.
Makes about 7 cups.