Start by adding a quarter cup of second season maple syrup to a cup of full fat sour cream. Whisk well, but gently, to incorporate. 

Spread the maple cream mix over a six-inch plain tortilla. Lay thin slices of Havarti cheese over the sauce. Cover with chiffonade of fresh basil. Add maple marinated Celebrity brand Maple Toffee goat cheese coins. Prepare the goat cheese log coins by using a sharp wet thin blade knife or a strip of unwaxed dental floss. Each log should provide six to eight pucks. 

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Drizzle the pucks with maple syrup. Sprinkle with crushed homemade candied hazelnuts from your pantry jar. 

Fold the tortilla in half and serve. Drizzle with a little more maple syrup sour cream. 

ALTERNATE Savoury: Add a half cup of my garlic cognac cream shrimp sautéed in their shells. You can make the shrimp a day ahead (definitely do not overcook); remove shells and refrigerate, covered in a glass container. 

Spritz with just a little fresh squeezed lemon juice only when ready to serve. You might like a little salt and fresh ground pepper and a dust of sweet paprika. Enjoy! 

ALTERNATE Sweet: Add fresh picked raspberries, strawberries, peaches and/or blueberries to the Maple Toffee pucks and maple sour cream. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Fresh fruit loves ground peppercorns. Try pink peppercorns (they aren’t really pepper.)

Now for something totally different: Prepare my marinated stove-top sautéed pork loin recipe. It is ready to eat in no time. When sliced and ready to serve with your favourite vegetables, or even as crostini tapas, surround the pork with maple syrup marinated maple toffee goat cheese pucks. Oh, my! Your taste buds will appreciate this unusual combination. Always choose several mid-size pork loins if serving extras, rather than a larger loin, which of course would have come from a larger animal. Or offer a side serving of the maple syrup marinated maple toffee goat cheese pucks alongside a pork schnitzel or a chicken schnitzel to create some great table talk.

Maple toffee goat cheese coins and frisée salad

Marinate Celebrity Goat Cheese coins cut from a heat-sealed packaged log sold by many supermarkets. Or try the Maple Toffee Goat Cheese.

Core a head of frisée lettuce, turn it inside out, rinse thoroughly under running cold water and shake to dry. Wrap in a clean white tea towel and refrigerate to stay crisp, and then pull apart in segments, or crosscut using a large thin-blade serrated knife. 

Prepare a delightful salad dressing using a half cup of second season room-temperature maple syrup mixed with a quarter cup of top-quality white balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and sweet soft petals of fresh oregano. If you must use dried oregano, use just a pinch. As with most herbs and spices, the dried ones are far more powerful. 

Add one cup of extra virgin olive oil. Whisk in the oil a few drops at a time until emulsifying starts, then increase gradually; you could put all the ingredients in a mason jar and shake. 

Maple syrup loves rum. So add a spritz of Bacardi Black (Puerto Rican) Rum to the dressing. 

Mince a couple of Medjool pitted dates (they are very sweet naturally and the dates last for ages in the pantry so it’s easy to always have on hand) and stir the chopped dates into the dressing, along with a few chili flakes if you enjoy a little heat. Or, add a few drops of Sriracha sauce, but it’s not necessary. Add the maple toffee cream cheese coins to marinate.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Drizzle the dressing over the frisée lettuce. Make a concentric circle on a generous salad plate using my maple syrup marinated maple toffee cream cheese coins and place the dressed frisée in the centre of the plate. 

This is an ideal starter for a full-course entree, or a delightful brunch salad on its own. 

Such pretty eye candy when served on a black plate for contrasting colour. Many dollar stores sell inexpensive china black plates in various sizes. 

If you are fortunate to have black charger plates, place a charger with a dollar store paper doily under a see-through plain glass salad plate for a little upscale presentation.

A dessert idea: Offer a maple syrup-flavoured panna cotta topped with plumped golden raisins marinated in just a little Bacardi Black Puerto Rico Rum. Drizzle the raisin marinade jus, reduced, over the panna cotta. Top with a little orange zest to enhance the orange peel undertones of the black rum. 

This combination shouldn’t be reserved for guests. Even someone living alone can enjoy this salad as a special everyday-gourmet treat. 

Note: You could fill readymade store-bought tiny dark chocolate cups with the panna cotta to set up until firm in the refrigerator. Serve cold. Top with the rum marinated raisins and reduced jus only when ready to serve. 

A maple chicken sandwich

I had some artisan olive bread and toasted two slices. Buttered them using unsalted butter. Built a sandwich with a couple of slices of leftover chicken breast and oh mercy! Topped it with my maple syrup marinated maple toffee cream cheese coins made a few days ago and drizzled the chicken with a spoon of the date/cream cheese marinade. Lots of salt and pepper. I’m not a big salt user but the body does need some salt and everything needs pepper.

Cut in half on diagonal. I had to eat it with a knife and fork because the maple syrup marinade jus was so drizzled. 

I haven’t had anything sweet in a long, long time, since I mostly eat savouries. So it seemed extra sweet, but incredible. 

I’m thinking that instead of chicken you might use my “Dine in tails” lobster poached salad between toasted, buttered slices of the artisan olive bread and top with the maple syrup marinated maple toffee cream cheese coins. Maybe if you have sliced lamb chops, use that to make a sandwich, or my stovetop sautéed garlic sliced pork loin. Maybe even choose a sandwich made from barbecued salmon on black-olive bread with the maple syrup maple toffee cream cheese coins.

Pantry use-ups: Roasted red peppers in jar (and panna cotta)

From your pantry shelf, use an unopened jar of roasted red peppers packed in oil, as hors d’ouvres. Drain the peppers and sprinkle with fresh ground peppercorns. Save the packing liquid.

Wrap each red pepper piece around a piece of poached rock lobster claw meat. Poke in a little piece of haloumi cheese as it keeps its consistency. Mound on a rimmed baking sheet on a layer of rock salt and place on the top oven rack under the broiler with the oven door open, for just seconds. 

Remove from the oven and dress with fresh hollandaise on a grilled or toasted artisan slice of black olive bread from your freezer. Spritz with Benedictine liqueur just when ready to serve.

Alongside, serve beer-battered scallops and mussels poached in Winzertanz. Do not overcook. 

You could make your favourite plain eggy french toast and top with the stuffed roasted red peppers straight from the oven, drizzled with hollandaise or any of your homemade aioli. On a separate plate, offer my deep-fried vegetables including stuffed pimento manzanilla olives. 

Serve a with a side of your favourite greens dressed in just lemon juice and white balsamic vinegar with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and your favourite herbs – a pinch of homemade fried sage works. Ratios as you prefer. You could add a little second season maple syrup or your favourite honey (mine: orange blossom honey from Israel; if you happen to visit Israel or have connections who do, stock up since it’s difficult to find locally). 

In a shot glass, offer a made-day-before lobster panna cotta served with an espresso spoon. You could let the panna cotta set up in a champagne flute and serve with a long-handle drink spoon. Top with candied pink grapefruit segments. 

A ruffled Boston Bibb (butter) lettuce leaf added to the serving plate makes a nice presentation. 

Offer a variety of cordials from which to choose: perhaps Elderflower St. Germain, Mampe Halb and Halb (from Berlin monks), Benedictine, Chartreuse or your personal favourites. Serve straight up as a schnapps. 

A perfect guest nibbles brunch or a midnight snack to end a celebration feast, if you operate a bed and breakfast. 

© “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary "From Lady Ralston's Kitchen" additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.


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