Canada – A Festival of Maple

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Unusual Fact: Canada is home to some of the most unique cities in the entire world. Montreal is known as the city of churches and actually has more churches then homes. Toronto has a population of about five million extremely smart people. There are more residents with college degrees then in any other city in the world.

When you look at a world map, there are some countries that automatically stick out to you. Everyone can name these countries and can point them out an a map. These countries are the ‘big players’. Canada is a member of this prestigious group. Some of its team mates are Russia, USA, Mexico, Brazil, UK, France, Egypt, China, India and Australia. So I am super excited to be doing Canada this week.

Oh, and we just hit 2000 views!

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There are three main types of cuisines in Canada. There are the aboriginal Canadians (the Inuits), the French Canadian and the rest, those who live every where else. We bought plenty of maple syrup for our Canadian day.

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Canada provided us with our first global breakfast, well brunch really. We had, as you may expect, pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. I have never had this combination before but I loved it. The salty and the sweet are perfect together. I used this recipe by Nigella Lawson. And the pancakes do puff up as much as they do in the picture.  Make sure you use pure maple syrup for all of these recipe, please, no imitation.

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For our second and third meal we made Chicken Breasts Cooked in Maple Syrup (Poitrine de Poulet au sirop) and a Potato Niçoise. I got both of these recipes from hereFirstly, the chicken. This was amazing.No doubt about it. I can’t express in words how good it was. If I had to recommend one recipe to cook from this blog it would be this one. The flavour of the maple syrup made the chicken sweet and the saltiness of the stock offset it perfectly. Because it was cooked in liquid it was really moist as well.

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Unfortunately our oven sometimes misbehaves and when we cooked Canada it decided to go particularly slow. So instead of taking 50 minutes as the recipe said, it took an hour and a half. The same happened with the potato niçoise. After frying off my chicken breasts I transferred them to a large baking dish as the dutch oven wasn’t large enough. We weren’t able to get chicken breast with the bone on so instead we used skin on. This helped the chicken retain its shape and it would soak up the left over sauce on you plate. I would suggest you to buy chicken breasts with the skin on. Don’t forget to keep basting the chicken throughout the cooking process as this adds to the flavour.

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For the second dish we made Potato Niçoise. This too was very nice. It was mixture of onions, potatoes and tomatoes all cooked up together in the oven. These had a really nice flavour from each other, however I couldn’t really taste the basil, nutmeg and tarragon, next time I would add a little more. I forgot to add the cheese on at the end. As I said earlier, our oven wasn’t behaving so this instead of taking 45mins it took about and hour and a quarter. What we did to get it to speed up was keep stirring it and put it under the grill.

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For our third dish we made grandpéres or grandfathers for those who can’t speak french. These are dumplings cooked in maple syrup. If I were to make these again, I would add another cup of water to the sauce as it was really strong, the original recipe asked for 1 cup but I have said 2 cups. I would also make the dumplings smaller. I didn’t realise that they would expand so much. I would suggest that you make them 1 to 1.5cm wide also use a really wide saucepan. We served these with some home made vanilla ice cream.

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Pancakes Maple Syrup and Bacon

Mum 8

Dad 6

Angus 9

Me 8

Chicken cooked in Maple Syrup

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Dad 9.5

Angus 6

Me 9.5

Potato Niçoise

Mum 8

Dad 8

Angus –

Me 8
Grandpères

Mum 5

Dad 6

Angus 6

Me 6

 

Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Bacon

Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk
2 eggs
10 slices bacon
1 to 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, for frying bacon
Butter, for frying pancakes
Best-quality maple syrup


Directions
Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly while you get on with the rest of the batter and the bacon.


In a large, wide-necked measuring cup, measure out the flour and add the baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir to combine.

In another cup, measure the milk, beat in the eggs and then the slightly cooled butter, and pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, whisking as you do so. Or just put everything in a blender and blitz.

In the vegetable oil, fry the bacon (cut into half crosswise), remove to paper towels and cover with more paper towels (because this will help them keep their crispness). Now, heat either a griddle or nonstick frying pan, smear with a small bit of butter and then start frying. I just pour small amounts straight from the cup (but you could use a 1/4-cup measure if you prefer). When you see bubbles erupting on the surface, turn the pancakes over and cook for a couple of minutes, if that, on the other side.
Or use a blini pan and, as just described, turn when the bubbles break through to the uncooked surface. There is a Russian saying to the effect that the first pancake is always botched.
Pile the pancakes onto plate,  with pieces of crispy bacon and dribble or pour over, depending on greed and capacity, maple syrup.

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Chicken cooked in Maple Syrup

Ingredients:
4 bone-in chicken breasts
1/4 cup unbleached flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock
Cooking Instructions:
Mix some salt and pepper into the flour and pour the flower into a plastic bag. Place the chicken into the flour, one or two at a time, and shake to coat. In a large dutch oven, heat the butter over med-high heat. When it starts to bubble, add the chicken breasts and brown on both sides. Pour the maple syrup over the breasts and sprinkle in the herbs. Arrange the onion slices on the top; pour over the chicken broth and place in the oven. Bake, basting the chicken with the pan juices, for about 50 minutes (Preheat oven to 350F).
To serve: Place one breast on each of 4 plates, drizzle on some of the cooking juices and serve hot.

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Potato Niçoise

Servings: 6
Ingredients:
1 clove garlic
3 medium potatoes, about 1 lb (450 g)
3 large fresh tomatoes, about 1 1/2 lb (675 g)
3 fresh parsley sprigs
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried basil, crumbled
1/4 tsp (1 mL) nutmeg
1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried tarragon, crumbled
3 medium red onions, about 1 lb (450 g)
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter OR margarine
1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded cheddar cheese
Cooking Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Cut garlic clove in half lengthwise and rub the cut surface on inside of a shallow baking dish. Cut peeled potatoes into 1/4-inch (0.6 m) slices. Place potatoes in bowl of cold water and set aside. Peel and core tomatoes and cut into 1/2-inch (1.2 m) slices. Chop parsley, and in a small bowl combine parsley with 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt, basil, nutmeg and tarragon. Peel and thinly slice the onions. Drain the potatoes and pat dry. Place half the potatoes in prepared baking dish; sprinkle with half the parsley mixture. Top with half the onions and half the tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes with 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Repeat layering with potatoes, parsley mixture, onions, tomatoes and salt. Cut butter in small pieces and dot top of casserole. Cover casserole tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Sprinkle top of casserole with cheese; bake, uncovered, until lightly browned.

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Grandpéres

Ingredients:

For the dumplings:

2 – 2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup whole milk

For the cooking liquid:

2 cups maple syrup
2 cups water

Method:

In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. Add the butter and use a pasty cutter or your fingers rub in butter. Do this until butter is spread throughout in small crumbs

Add milk, mix together – with hands – until it forms a loose dough

Roll dough into balls about 1cm wide

Pour water and maple syrup into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer

Drop in dough balls and simmer for about 20 minutes

Serve with some sauce and ice cream

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