Cooking at the Cove: Spring into maple season

Get a good char on a sheet pan full of cabbage and cauliflower then toss it all in maple-infused dressing. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Oh, maple season, I love you so. Never mind the mud, the potholes, the surprise snowstorm, and the thawing/re-freezing ice. Those warmish days followed by frigid nights are needed. It’s all OK when there’s an abundance of maple syrup to pour all over everything.

Here is a little sampler of what you can do with our favorite Maine condiment other than dousing a stack of pancakes.

Maple Ginger Chicken is a go-to entrée for me. I’ve used this recipe for all cuts of chicken, calculating cooking time with a meat thermometer.

This cabbage and cauliflower combo is so delicious! Don’t be afraid to take those veggies right to the edge of burnt. They taste yummy with those dark edges. Because the vegetables shrink so much when cooking, you may want to make a double batch. Just work quickly; this is best when eaten immediately. Trust me, you’ll want a lot of it.

Every maple season should include maple bars. These gooey, buttery cookies can be made with nuts or without. These cookies are unbelievably good warm with ice cream or, if you can stand it, wait until they cool completely. Hey, why not have some of each?

Maple Ginger Chicken

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup vegetable stock

1/2 white wine

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame seed

2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided

2 tablespoons sliced scallions

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Pound to 1½ inches thick. Place in a bowl with vegetable stock, white wine and salt. Marinate for an hour, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sear chicken until lightly browned, about 3 minutes on each side then place in a baking pan and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven.

Add remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil to sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic. Sauté until fragrant, for 1 minute. Add soy sauce, maple syrup and vinegar. Simmer until sauce starts to thicken.

Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Return to oven and bake until chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees, about 10 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with scallions. Yield: 4 servings

Crispy Cabbage and Cauliflower

1/2 pound cabbage (half of a small head)

1/2 pound cauliflower (half of a small head)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut cabbage into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Cut cauliflower into 1/2 to 1-inch chunks. On a large baking sheet, toss with olive oil until lightly coated and season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 10 minutes then remove from oven just long enough to toss everything so it colors evenly. Return to the oven for 5-7 minutes and toss again. As soon as the vegetables are crispy and charred, transfer them to a bowl and toss with dressing to coat. Yield: 2 servings

Dressing

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons well-stirred tahini

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil

Water, as needed

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk garlic, lemon, tahini, syrup and olive oil together. Whisk in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Maple Bars

Crust

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, brown sugar, and flour. Stir until mixture is crumbly then press into an 8-inch greased baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

Topping

1 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1/4 cup butter

2 eggs

2 tablespoons flour

Pinch of salt

In a saucepan, combine maple syrup, brown sugar and walnuts and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter and stir until melted.

In a bowl, beat eggs with flour and salt. Add egg mixture to maple syrup mixture and stir to combine. Pour over crust and bake at 350 degrees for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until set. Cool completely before cutting. Yield: 12 bars

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