Ms Marmite Lover recipes: Use maple syrup to make pea soup, griddled asparagus and pudding chomeur

PUBLISHED: 12:38 03 May 2016 | UPDATED: 12:38 03 May 2016

Kerstin Rodgers's pea soup

Kerstin Rodgers's pea soup

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The current thinking is to avoid sugar altogether but maple syrup is a good sugar, containing vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals.

Combine asparagus with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Picture: Kerstin Rodgers Combine asparagus with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Picture: Kerstin Rodgers

Although expensive, it is worth getting the real thing as opposed to corn syrup imitations.

Discovered by the native peoples of Canada and taught as a cure for the scurvy-ridden settlers, the running of the maple sap heralds spring after a harsh six-month winter.

The maple water, which tastes like ordinary water, is collected from each tree and slowly boiled down at a ratio of 40:1 to make a syrup.

You can use maple syrup on more than just pancakes. The three recipes below are inspired by sugar shack meals - a seasonal custom in Quebec, where families visit the maple sugar farms and enjoy a simple but lavish dinner. The table is lined with jugs brimming with the ‘liquid gold’, which is poured over each ingredient, ham, eggs, bacon, baked beans and even into pea soup.

Kerstin Rodger's Pudding Chomeur Kerstin Rodger's Pudding Chomeur

Pea and wild garlic soup with maple syrup recipe (Serves 6)

Pea soup is made from dried peas, a humble ingredient that early settlers would have relied on throughout winter.

As I mentioned in last month’s column, even when cooking with dried pulses, you’ll get a better result if you buy ‘fresh’, from a shop with a rapid turn over.

Canada's 'liquid gold' - maple syrup. Picture: Kerstin Rodgers Canada's 'liquid gold' - maple syrup. Picture: Kerstin Rodgers

Ingredients:

250g dried peas (soaked in water overnight)

800ml of vegetable stock

A large handful of wild garlic leaves

Maple syrup

Method:

Drain the peas and put them in a medium sized casserole with lid, covering them with the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer the peas in the oven for at least two hours, or until soft and collapsed.

Then process in a blender with the wild garlic leaves (this turns the soup a lovely vibrant green). Serve hot and drizzle maple syrup into the soup.

Griddled asparagus with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar (Serves 4)

While English asparagus is green, on the continent they favour thick ivory stems of white asparagus. These are exactly the same plant but the white asparagus is forced underground. Mixed messages on how to cook asparagus have led to soggy flavourless stems, which puts people off. I don’t boil asparagus; I griddle it using a cast iron frying pan, frying in butter or olive oil, then adding a little boiled water to steam it. It takes minutes.

Ingredients:

500g of asparagus, woody ends trimmed off

2 tablespoons of olive oil

50ml or so of boiling water from the kettle

1 tsp of Maldons salt

2 tbsps of good balsamic vinegar

A glug of dark maple syrup

Method:

Pour the oil into a heavy frying pan. When hot, add the asparagus, lined up in one layer. After a couple of minutes, add 50ml or so of boiling water to the pan, so that the water comes up halfway on the asparagus and steam billows out. Add salt and cook for another couple of minutes until the asparagus is tender.

Remove the asparagus from the pan and add the balsamic, the maple syrup and more salt if desired. Serve as a starter or side.

Pudding Chomeur (Serves 6)

The name of this dessert means pudding for a man on the dole, derived from the fact that the ingredients were cheap. (Previously, maple syrup was a fraction of the price of cane sugar in Canada.)

It’s very easy to make, a little like a sticky toffee pudding. Perfect for chilly nights.

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

350ml maple syrup

150ml double cream

60g butter

2 tsps cider vinegar

Pinch of salt

For the pudding:

100g brown sugar

100g butter, salted

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla paste

200g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

To serve:

300ml double cream

Method:

Make the sauce by putting all the ingredients into a medium saucepan and bringing to the boil, then removing it from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

For the pudding, beat the sugar and butter together until fluffy, then add the egg and vanilla until combined.

Gradually add the flour, baking powder and salt, stirring until well mixed.

Pour half the sauce into a baking dish (approximately 22cm square) then spread the pudding mixture on top. Add the rest of the sauce.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden.

Serve with double cream.

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