A few posts ago, I mentioned that I would be traveling, as I have done for the last four years now, to Medora, a hamlet in Southern Indiana to be a judge at the National Maple Syrup Festival, held at Burton’s Maplewood Farms each year on the first two weekends of March. This year was even more special as I stayed at the Story Inn in Story, Indiana (even tinier than Medora) and was invited to dinner along with 36 Chicago area food professionals including chefs, bloggers, photographers, culinary instructors and Food Network host who were also participating in the festival. One of the people sitting next to me was David Posey, chef de cuisine at Blackbird Restaurant in Chicago, and now one of five finalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards for Rising Star Chef of the Year.
Also at the dinner was Tim Burton, who with his wife Angie, own Maplewood Farm as was Jeremy Turner, a Native American who each year with his wife (she was back at the hotel sewing some buckskin fringe, I kid you not) and family re-enact how the Delaware tribe would have made maple syrup once they lived in the forests around Medora. Jeremy also hunts and traps critters and cooks them up during the festival.
The contest, sponsored by King Arthur Flour, was divided into Adult and Youth Divisions, each with three categories — Savory Main Dish, Dessert and Breakfast. Below are two winning recipes from Sally Sibthorpe of Shelby Township, Michigan in the adult savory category and Jessie Grearson of Falmouth, Maine in the adult dessert category.
Like the last few years, I missed the beaver and raccoon stew and though someone promised to save me some in a Tupperware container, they forgot. Which I think is okay. Anyway, here are two of the winning recipes.
Ham and Apple Pies with Maple Balsamic Gastrique
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced ham (small dice)
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup crumbled herbed goat cheese
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon 100% Pure Maple Syrup, divided
2 cups King Arthur All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
8 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons cream
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 small cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium setting. Add onion, and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes, Add apple ham, and 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup, and sauté 4 minutes more. Remove from heat and reserve.
Preheat oven to 375° F degrees.
In a medium sized bowl, place flour, butter, and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add egg and water, and toss mixture with a fork to distribute liquid. Gather into a ball, and roll out on a floured surface. Cut into 6” circles (you should get about 8 of them)
Stir goat cheese into ham filling. Place equal amounts filling unto one side of each circle. Moisten edges with water, and fold crust over filling. Use a fork to seal edges. Brush with cream, then cut a vent for steam to escape. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheets, and bake until golden brown, about 30-40 minutes.
While pies are cooking, place remaining maple syrup vinegar, cinnamon, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer; cook until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick, and keep warm until the ham pies are done.
Serve pies with the maple gastrique drizzled over.
Maple Nut Sandwich Cookies with Maple Cream Filling
1 ½ cups walnuts
¼ cup quick cooking oats
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup King Arthur’s whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup almond butter
1/4 cup white sugar
½ cup maple sugar (brown sugar may be substituted)
½ cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon maple flavoring
4 tablespoons softened butter
4 tablespoons softened Neufchatel cream cheese
1 ¼ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon each, maple and vanilla flavorings
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper. Pulse walnuts in food processor until finely chopped. Add in oats, pastry flour, baking soda, and salt and pulse to mix.
Whisk butter, almond butter, granulated sugar, maple sugar, syrup, egg and flavorings together in second bowl. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture until combined.
Using #60 scoop or tablespoon measure, place 12 mounds, evenly spaced, on prepared baking sheets. Using fingers dampened with water pat into 2 inch rounds.
Bake until deep golden brown and firm to touch, 14-17 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking to brown evenly.
Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Repeat with rest of dough. Make filling by creaming together butter, cream cheese confectioner’s syrup and flavorings into a soft filling.
Place 24 cookies upside down and scoop about a Tbsp of filling in centers. Place second cookie on top of filling, right side up, pressing gently until filling spreads to edges. Allow filling to set.