From Sap to Stack: Ohio Maple Syrup

It takes 40 gallons of sap to generate just one gallon of pure maple syrup.  It’s a labor and time intensive commodity.  But when you pour it on a stack of hot cakes or incorporate this liquid gold into a recipe…you know it’s worth it.


My family and I, along with some friends, headed to Lake MetroParks Farmpark in Kirtland for their Maple Sugaring Weekends.  Lots of hands on activities to show visitors how maple syrup is produced.  


We took a wagon ride to the Woodland Center.  We were shown how sugar maples are tapped, and given a taste of what sap, pure from those trees tastes like.  (Water, sweet and slightly thick).  


My kids got a look at collection buckets hung on those trees.  Once inside we saw how the water like sap is transformed through a boiling process to make pure maple syrup and other naturally sweet products.

  

Visitors can tap a tree by hand, see how maple candy is made, sample syrup, maple stirs, and maple candy.  The schedule also has backyard sugaring lessons, sugar bush tours, maple leaf crafts, mukuk (bark) bucket making, and maple candy making.  


The history of maple sugaring is also on display inside.  Very cool to see a more than 100 year old tree marked by all the places it was tapped throughout the decades and the significant things that were happening in the world when it was.

 

National Pancake Day is coming up this week. Seems only fitting to study its lifelong companion.  Head out to Lake MetroParks Farmpark and check it out for yoursefl! 

Cooking with Craft Beer: Market Garden’s Beer and Butternut Squash Cheesecake

Yes, you read correctly.  We are baking…with beer and butternut squash.  It’s fall, y’all!  So it’s time to incorporate seasonal flavors like pumpkin ale and squash.  I went to my favorite beer experts, the team at Market Garden Brewery to get some great ideas on how to cook with beers.  Cheers!

Executive Chef, Andrew Bower, concocted something up for just this occasion.  The restaurant and brew house has a Pumpkin Beer Fest coming up on October 8th, so he dreamed this dessert up for use then too. If you’ve ever cooked cheesecake, the process will be familiar to you.  It’s the inventive ingredients that will surprise and delight your palate.

The full list of ingredients and measurements, plus instructions are listed below.

market-garden-brewery-mixing

We started by mixing softened cream cheese with both dark brown and white sugar.

Market-garden-brewery-eggs

Next, Chef Bower added four eggs (and some vanilla) one at a time.  Then the magic happened.

market-garden-brewery-pumpkin ale

To that mixture he added 1 cup of Franklin Castle Pumpkin Ale and 15 oz. of butternut squash puree.  (A lesson he learned and shared with me after experimenting with this recipe: make sure you cook and cool the beer before added it to the the rest of the ingredients to prevent bubbles or air pockets)

Finally he added a mixture of your classic pumpkin pie spices.  And that’s it folks.  Pretty simple, yet pretty genius.

market-garden-brewery-graham-cracker-crust

He buttered his home made graham crackers after crumbling them to create the crust.  There is also some cinnamon and brown sugar in there.  (Recipe for those is also below)  Then we poured the cheesecake batter in to a springform pan and placed it inside a water bath to prevent breakage in the crust.

market-garden-brewery-baking-cheesecake

To stick with the theme of fall’s favorite indulgences, Bower whipped up a Pumpkin Ale Caramel and a Bourbon Spiced Whipped Cream to top off this boozy autumn dessert. (Recipes for both of those are also below) 

market-garden-brewery-beer-and-butternut-squash-cheesecake

When it came out to the table and it was time to dive in, I was surprised at how subtle all the strong flavors had become.  The beer and squash notes were mild and worked so well with the classic pumpkin pie spices.  Chef Bower had dreamed up a deeply divine dessert!

market-garden-brewery-cooking-with-beer

A couple of tips about cooking with beer per my conversation with Brewmaster, Andy Tveekrem and Chef Bower:

The reason Bower chose the Franklin Castle Pumpkin Ale for this particular dish was because of the aromatic tones of the beer…allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and chamomile.  Their more mild, subtle tones played well into what he was creating.  Keep that in mind when you’re choosing your brews.

When incorporating beer into a dish, avoid using IPAs…too bitter. (unless you’re doing spicy food).  Stick to mild/malty beers like a Scotch Ale, for their caramelized flavors.  Brown Ales are a great addition to a chili.  Stouts are good mussels.

Now I want to go out and but a growler of all of these to start experimenting…don’t you??  Let me know what you come up with and send along pictures of your fall flavored triumphs!

Market Garden Brewery Beer List

Recipes:

Butternut Squash Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups- crushed graham crackers
2 tbsp- brown sugar
1/4 tsp- cinnamon
4 tbsp- melted butter
1/2 cup- brown sugar
1 cup- white sugar
24 oz- cream cheese
4 each- whole eggs
2 tsp- vanilla paste
15 oz- butternut squash puree or pumpkin puree
1 tsp- ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp- ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp- ground ginger
1/8 tsp- ground cardamom
1/8 tsp- ground clove
1 cup- Cooked and cooled pumpkin ale
For Graham Cracker Crust:
Crush all graham crackers and combine with cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter and set aside.
For cheesecake: (preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit)
1. Let cream cheese sit out to soften (about one hour should work)
2. Cream softened cream cheese, brown sugar and white sugar on high in stand mixer for about 4 minutes.
3. Slowly add eggs one by one and let the eggs fully incorporate into the cream cheese before adding the next. Then add the vanilla paste.
4. Add butternut puree and beer and let fully incorporate.
5. Add spices to cake batter and let mix fully.
6. Using a spring-form pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and line the paper with the graham cracker crust.
7. Pour the cheesecake batter into the spring-form pan and put into a baking dish.
8. Pour hot water into baking dish until it reaches halfway up the spring-form pan and place into the oven.
9. Cook for 45-60 minutes until cheesecake is set but still jiggly in the middle.
Pumpkin Ale Caramel
1 cup- white sugar
1 cup- water
3 oz- pumpkin ale
3 oz- heavy cream
1. simmer sugar and water together until they reach a caramel color, then cut off heat.
2. add the heavy cream in intervals and whisk between each addition.
3. add pumpkin beer in intervals and whisk between in addition
4. Set aside and cool
Bourbon Spiced Whipped Cream
2 oz- Bourbon
8 oz- Heavy Whipping Cream
3 oz- White sugar
1/8 tsp- Nutmeg
1/8 tsp- Ground Cardamom
1/8 tsp- Ground Cinnamon
1. Heat bourbon and sugar together just until sugar dissolves and set aside to cool.
2. Whip heavy cream until stiff peaks are formed.
3. Add bourbon sugar mixture and spices to whipped cream.

Mangia Mojo Shrimp Skewers

Shrimp cocktail is a real treat…one you shouldn’t waste when there’s excess. (I’m still unsure why there ever is!) But it has a short shelf life.  So when there was a bowl full of shrimp leftover from my birthday dinner (Thanks, Mom) I moved quickly to execute some Cheftovers magic. 

shrimp cocktail

I recently connected with the fine folks and fellow foodies at Mangia Dry Rub(http://www.mangia.tv/) They invited me to try a couple of their products and incorporate them into some of my Cheftovers concoctions.  Since one of them was labeled “Shrimp Mojo Dry Rub,” I took this as a sign!  It’s packed with Cajun flavors (Ingredients: onion powder, garlic powder, salt, sugar, spices: paprika, celery, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper and turmeric)

mangia dry rub

I followed the instructions on the package, and mixed two parts spice mix with one part oil (I used canola) then added that to a Ziploc bag full of the  cocktail shrimp for a kind of “reverse marinade” since the shrimp was already cooked.  I stuck that in the fridge for about an hour until I was ready to grill ’em up.

marinating shrimp

When it was time to fire them, I found some wooden skewers and a long grill pan.  I threaded six or seven shrimp on each skewer, and was pleased with how well the Mangia Mojo rub stuck to the shrimp. I hate when all the marinade (and the flavor) is left in the container you marinated in, instead of on the meat.

bringing shrimp up to temp

Here was the tricky part.  The shrimp was already cooked, and it’s really easy to over cook it, of course.  So to prevent tough, overdone shrimp, but also grill in that “mojo” I let the shrimp sit out on the counter for a few minutes to bring it up to room temperature.  I cranked up the burners below the grill pan to high.  What I was going for was a nice sear or grill marks on the outside…just a quick fire to change the flavor of the shrimp.  It only took a minute or two on each side.  (it’ll depend on the size of the shrimp you’re working with)

grilling shrimp

It was as easy as that!  I grabbed a nice pasta salad (also made with leftovers https://www.facebook.com/Cheftovers) from the fridge to accompany it.

pasta salad

Suddenly this meal was starting to feel like I was bringing the cook-out indoors.  The Mangia Mojo Dry Rub gave the shrimp cocktail a new personality, and it helped turn an appetizer into a satisfying supper.

mangia mojo shrimp skewers

mix one part