An Unexpected Maple Syrup Duo

by Marina Chotzinoff

Yesterday I had made an apple tarte tatin in Dutch cheese crust to do away with the pile of apples collecting on our counter. I rarely make desserts like this and when I do I usually eat one piece and give the rest away. And so it was that I delivered a slab of tarte tatin to our friend (and mama of my daughter’s best friend) Andra Zeppelin, author of French Press Memos. While we were visiting she asked what I had planned for my daughter’s dinner to which I replied with a numb kind of stare. Because in my tarte frenzy I had no dinner plans of any sort for anybody. This is not normally so tragic, but in Meatless March I find that if I have not at least brainstormed an idea, I might be ordering take out. So once again, Andra heated up some tasty soup to feed my child and while the girls ate, I began pondering the sweet potatoes we had and what on earth I would do with them.

Earlier that day I saw that the current Food 52 contest was maple syrup so I figured that was as good an inspiration as anything. The first thing that came to mind were these Chinese Bistro Ribs I found in Gourmet years ago that I have made in many, many iterations since. Most recently we used country style pork ribs and served them along chinese tea eggs, roasted sweet potatoes and kale in a sesame dressing. Rearranging that combination a bit (and omitting the pork…oh sorrows) I decided to make the sweet potatoes the star of the show with some zucchini noodles and charred broccoli with a sesame vinaigrette.

To begin slice the zucchini, salt it, and let it sit. Brown the sweet potatoes in some oil and remove them to a bowl. Sautee in the same pan:

1 large shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T black beans, rinsed, chopped
2 T grated ginger (I keep it frozen and use a microplane)
1 T orange zest

until very aromatic. To this add:

1 lapsang souchong teabag steeped in 1 cup boiling water
2 T soy
2 T maple syrup
2 T sherry

and simmer about 5 minutes. Add back the sweet potatoes and cook over high heat until the sauce becomes a glaze. Meanwhile, cook broccoli florets over very high heat until charred in places. Add a splash of water, lower the heat and cover to steam until crisp tender.

For the sesame vinaigrette, toast 2 T sesame seeds in a dry pan for just a couple minutes until fragrant. Grind in a mortar and pestle and add:

1/2 T maple syrup
1 T brown rice vinegar
1/2 t chili garlic sauce
1/2 t toasted sesame oil

Whisk together while adding a thin stream of oil (I have used light olive oil or walnut oil) until emulsified (about 1/4 c). Rinse the zucchini and pat it dry.

To serve, place a pile of zucchini on the plate and top with sweet potatoes. Drizzle vinaigrette over broccoli. Top with a sprinkle of cilantro. Enjoy!

I don’t know yet how these Food 52 contests work, but maybe you can go view my recipe there and then click the I want to eat this button (or something… ??) Ideas?

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