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Freshen up happy hour

Posted: August 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.
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This summer, take a hint from America’s best restaurants, and spice up your happy hour with fresh and pure tastes, vegetables from your yard and natural ingredients from the farmers market. Drinks and dishes are full of flavor and come in smaller portions, so guests can mix and match little bites and mouthwatering sips all night long.

These recipes from America’s best chefs and bartenders make use of an unexpected, wholesome ingredient — pure maple syrup from Canada. This all-natural syrup adds a hint of sweetness and depth of flavor that makes each cocktail pairing shine.

Maple syrup is a healthy and tasty pick when choosing a sweetener. It comes directly from tree sap, and has a wide range of nutrients and antioxidants not found in other sweeteners. According to the University of Rhode Island, maple syrup from Canada features 54 antioxidants, some of which are similar to those found in super foods, such as berries, tea, red wine and flaxseed.

Visit, become a fan of Canada Maple Syrup on Facebook, or follow @PureCanadaMaple on Twitter for more recipes to redo your happy hour and cook with maple.

Cooking with maple syrup
Maple syrup comes in different grades. Syrup made from sap tapped at the beginning of harvest is clearer, and more delicate in taste. As the season advances, maple syrup becomes darker and more intense in flavor. The natural sweetener offers a variety of flavor components, including nutty, vanilla, coffee, caramel and floral notes.

Grade A maple syrup is meant for everyday use and can easily be found at the grocery store.

Curious how to use the different grades of maple syrup for cooking? Grade A light works well in salad vinaigrettes, and Grade A medium or dark taste delicious on breads or as a rub on meats. All pure maple syrup grades are a great substitute for sugar or simple syrup in cocktails or nonalcoholic drinks.

By Luciana Autilio, assistant beverage director of Anfora — New York City
Yield: 1 cocktail

6     fresh blackberries
3/4     ounce Grade A dark pure maple syrup from Canada
3/4     ounce fresh lime juice
1.5     ounces rye (Rittenhouse) or Bourbon
2     ounces white cranberry juice

Muddle five blackberries, maple syrup and fresh lime juice. Add rye and cranberry juice, shake and strain over ice. Garnish with one blackberry.

Callos de hacha
Maple deglazed scallops and butternut squash puree
By Chef Patricio Sandoval, Mercadito restaurants — Miami
Yield: 4 small plate servings
4     cups butternut squash
2     chiles
16     ounces butter (divided)
1/2     cup de pico de gallo (see separate recipe)
2     tablespoons canola oil
12     large scallops
9     tablespoons pure maple syrup from Canada
1/4     cup lemon juice
2     tablespoons capers
6     lemon segments, cut in thirds
Cilantro, finely chopped to garnish
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a deep sheet pan, arrange squash, chiles, and half the butter. Roast for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven. Smash roasted ingredi­ents to make a puree. Add pico de gallo to puree and season with salt.

In a pan, add oil. When hot, sear scallops on both sides until golden brown. Add maple syrup to pan to deglaze, and let it reduce until thick.

Heat up another pan and when really hot, add the rest of the butter and cook butter for 10 to 15 seconds until brown. Add lemon juice, capers and lemon segments to make a sauce; no additional cooking time is needed.

To plate, spoon 1/2 cup of butternut squash puree in the center of a plate.

Arrange three scallops over the puree. Sauce with brown butter and add a touch of the maple reduction to finish it. Garnish with microcilantro.

Pico de Gallo
Yield: 1 small plate serving
1/2    cup tomato, diced
1/8     cup Spanish onion, diced
2     tablespoons cup cilantro, finely chopped
In a bowl, combine all ingredients, making sure the tomatoes are more visible than the onions.

Maple roasted rhubarb with ricotta bruschetta
By Gabe Thompson, executive chef Anfora, L’Artusi, dell’Anima — New York City
Yield: 4 to 6 crudité portions
1/2     pound rhubarb
1/3     cup pure maple syrup from Canada
1     teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1    teaspoon orange zest
1     teaspoon salt
2     cups ricotta
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Dice rhubarb into small cubes and toss with maple syrup. Add orange zest, one teaspoon lemon zest, juice of one lemon, and one teaspoon salt. Place mixture in a shallow baking dish and cover. Bake for thirty minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Slice baguette into about 12 slices and toast slices. Place generous portion of ricotta on baguette and top with rhubarb mixture. Top with olive oil drizzle.

By Erik Adkins, The Slanted Door — San Francisco
Yield: 1 cocktail

2     ounces rye whiskey     (suggested: Sazerac 6-year)
3/4     ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2     ounce pure maple syrup from Canada (Grade B preferred)
1/2     ounce of egg white or the white of a small farm egg
Angustura bitters garnish, or freshly grated
Without ice, in a cocktail shaker quickly shake the cocktail ingredients to emulsify the egg. Next, add ice and shake for 10 seconds and strain into a coupe glass.

Using an eye dropper, deposit a ring of bitters drops on the egg white, then drag a toothpick through the circle to create a “starry nights” effect.

Or, grate fresh nutmeg on top.


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