Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sugar Shack Feast (Le Banquet de la Cabane à Sucre)

(Photo credit: Doug van Kampen, aka The Wooden Shoes on Flickr)

I have no idea what possesses me to do these things, but instead of completing the other million chores that needed to be attended to this weekend, I spent all day in the kitchen on Saturday preparing a feast to celebrate the high maple season. That's right, kiddies, the steam is up in these parts, and with our cold nights and sunny days, it should be a fine year for it! In fact, on the drive home tonight, one of the maple houses that we pass was completely packed out with cars; they were still sugaring at 9pm on a school night! I love it. And my favorite maple season tradition, the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at Sanger's Maple House in Ingraham, is the weekend after next (April 12-13). In the meantime, I took inspiration from--once again--An Endless Banquet for a fantastic, maple-based, sugar shack feast! I made a rather fancy tourtiere (Quebecois meat pie), homemade feves au lard (baked beans), the traditional and ubiquitous condiment, fruit ketchup, to go with both, and some fresh cole slaw dressed with a sweet vinaigrette. And to top it all off, I baked an apple crisp and churned up some maple frappe (ice cream) to make it fabulously a la mode! So good! (I even shared my leftovers with the French teacher at school. I'll hope I'll receive high marks!) Alas, I didn't take any pictures of the food, but I have lots of recipes for you if you want to celebrate the maple sugaring season yourself in a similarly grand fashion.

(Photo credit: a fabulous photographer of kitschy and retro pop culture named Julia Miller on Flickr)

Tourtière de Ville (Quebecois Meat Pie)
(Source: adapted from An Endless Banquet)

1 pie dough recipe (your favorite)
1 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal (I used ground beef)
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon butter
1 small potato, grated
1 small pinch ground cloves (I omitted the cloves, but added one tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce)
1 small pinch ground cinnamon
1 small pinch ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large pot, sweat the onions and the garlic in the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until the liquid released by the vegetables has evaporated. Add the white wine and continue cooking until the wine has evaporated as well. Add the ground pork, the ground veal (or beef), and the spices to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the chunks of meat. Add the grated potato and cook for another 10 minutes. Correct the seasoning, remove from the heat, and allow the mixture to cool.

Preheat your oven to 450º F. Roll out the pie dough and line a pie plate with half of it. Fill this with the ground meat mixture. Cover with the top half of the pie crust, brush it with the egg yolk, and poke or cut some holes in the top crust to allow the steam to escape during cooking. Bake the pie in the oven for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350º F and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Serve with ketchup aux fruits.

Ketchup aux Fruits (Winter Version)
(Source: An Endless Banquet)

1 28-oz can of whole tomatoes & their liquid
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup maple syrup (preferably, Grade B)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pinch of ground cloves (I omitted this, personal preference)
1 small pinch cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a saucepan, bring the whole tomatoes, the onion, the garlic, and the celery to a boil and then simmer them gently for about 15-20 minutes, and gently break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Remove the saucepan from the heat and using an immersion blender or a conventional blender, blend half the mixture, then return it to the saucepan. Add the apples, the maple syrup, the vinegar and the spices and simmer for another 30-45 minutes.

Fèves au Lard (Baked Beans)
(Source: An Endless Banquet and A Taste of Quebec)

1 pound dried navy beans
1/4 pound salt pork (I used bacon and also a medium onion, diced)
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar (preferably, dark)
1/4 cup maple syrup (preferably, Grade B)

2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak beans overnight in a large pot. Drain. Put soaked beans in a large pot with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to medium and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Drain beans, reserving the cooking liquid, and transfer them to a large bean pot or casserole. (I made mine in a crock pot—on high for about five hours, and then low for a couple more hours. But the traditional oven method follows.)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place salt pork in a small pot, add water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Drain the pork and add to the beans. (I just chopped the bacon and browned the pieces instead along with a diced onion.) In a small bowl, dissolve mustard in a teaspoon of warm water. Add dissolved mustard, molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup and bourbon (if using) to beans. Season with pepper and mix gently but thoroughly.

Pour enough of the warm reserved cooking liquid (about 1 1/2 cups) into the bean pot so that the beans are moist but not floating. Reserve the remaining cooking liquid. Cover pot and bake, checking occasionally to ensure that beans are not drying out, adding reserved cooking liquid as needed. Cook until beans are soft and the bean liquor has turned rich and hearty. This will take 5 hours, or so, although we recommend baking them for 7-8 hours if at all possible. The beans will be that much tastier; your house will be that much more aromatic.

Remove cover, gently stir beans, and return to oven. Bake uncovered until cooking liquid thickens into a sauce. Season to taste with salt (you'll need very little salt as the salt pork will have provided the beans with plenty of salty flavor). Serve with a crusty loaf of bread, ketchup aux fruits, and a salad or coleslaw.

--adapted from John Thorne's "Down-East Baked Beans" as found in Serious Pig (1996) and Saveur Cooks Authentic American (1998)

Salade De Chou
(Source: adapted from A Taste of Quebec via One Whole Clove)

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 large head of cabbage, shredded (I prefer Savoy—it’s milder)
2 carrots, peeled and grated1 medium onion, minced

In a saucepan over medium heat, mix together sugar, oil, vinegar, mustard, celery seed and salt. Bring to a boil, turn off heat and let mixture cool slightly. In a large bowl, mix together cabbage, carrots and onions. Pour the cooled sauce over the vegetables, mixing the liquid to incorporate all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. This salad can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week. Serves 8.

Maple Frappe
(Source: An Endless Banquet)

3 eggs beaten until creamy, 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup (I like amber here), 1/2 can of condensed milk, 1/2 can of evaporated milk, 1 cup of heavy cream whipped to soft peaks, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix together and freeze in an ice-cream freezer then “ripen” for a few hours in the freezer until firm. This makes a generous quart of frappe that by itself is pure nectar, but atop warm apple pie is a delicacy that must be tasted to be believed. (I served it with an apple crisp instead.)


Just the Right Size said...

Oh, lawsy mercy that sounds devine! I've never seen a sugar shack and honest-to-god, real maple syrup is as available as honey bell tangelos are for you up there (I'm in Florida)!

The meat pie sounds very yummy! Oh, and I bet the fruit ketchup can be processed for canning!

Randi said...

What???? No pics???? You have that fancy new camera and light box. I demand food pics!!

Anonymous said...

Next year you should post pics of the Sanger Sugar House when there's a long line (which is often during pancake weekend). Maybe you could even tell the history of the Sugar House as well as how the Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser started and how many years they've been doing it. I am sure many people would be interested in that info.

JoyBugaloo said...

I did a post about Sanger's! I love it, and I go every year! Here's a link to the post from last year's pancake breakfast.


buy viagra said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Viagra said...

That maple syrup looks great!