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Maple-Apple Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca pudding is a comfort food classic and an all-American favorite. Since it’s sugaring season in the Northest, I thought it would be nice to make a version of tapioca pudding using maple syrup.

On the farm where I grew up in Vermont, my brothers still make maple syrup. The method for gathering the sap and boiling it down into syrup has changed over the years, but the result remains the same—a delicious product that has many uses beyond a sweet topping for pancakes and waffles. Try substituting  maple syrup in marinades and dressings (like balsamic vinaigrette) that call for a small amount of sugar to add an extra depth of flavor. It’s also a great ingredient for experimenting with cocktails.

The key to making a good tapioca pudding is to cook the pearls until they’re just cooked—not crunchy, but also not mushy and falling apart. Soaking the pearls in water before cooking helps to achieve the perfect texture, and it shortens the cooking time.

 (makes 4-6 servings)

2          medium           Apples—tart and crisp (Gala or Granny Smith work well)

2          Tblspn             Butter

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½         cup                  Maple Syrup

½         cup                  Tapioca

¾         cup                  Water

1 ½      cup                  Milk

1          large                Egg – lightly beaten

½         tspn                 Cinnamon

  • Place tapioca and water in medium sized heavy bottomed pan. Let tapioca soak for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, peel and core apples and cut into small dice.
  • Melt butter in sauté pan over medium heat. Add ¼ cup syrup and bring to a simmer. Add  apples and toss to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes or until syrup has thickened a bit and apples are just beginning to soften.
  • Add milk and egg to tapioca, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a low simmer and cook until tapioca pearls are completely opaque and have lost all of their crunch, but still hold their shape.
  • Add apples, remaining ¼ cup syrup and cinnamon and stir to combine. If too thick, add a bit more milk or water.
  • Serve warm, at room temperature or cooled.

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Fall Colors

IMG_0151I always enter the food doldrums when fall rolls around. You see, I’m really passionate about the flavors and colors of spring and summer. Asparagus, peas, plums, corn, nectarines, blackberries, tomatoes, fava beans…well, you get the idea. I think it’s more the change of season (cooler weather and shorter days) that actually brings me down. Because when you think about it, autumn’s bounty isn’t just about the brown and earthy. There’s a lot of color and flavor right now, too. So bring on the winter squash, the blood oranges, the Brussels sprouts, the persimmons and the apples! And try this bright and tasty recipe for Braised Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage.

(serves 4 as a side dish)

2          tspns                Canola Oil

½         medium           Yellow Onion—thinly sliced

6          cups                Red Cabbage (about 1 small or ¾ of a medium cabbage)

1          tspn                 Salt

½         tspn                 Ground Cardamom (optional)

½         cup                  Sherry or Cider Vinegar

¼         cup                  Maple Syrup

¼         cup                  Dried Cranberries or Cherries (optional)

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  • Heat oil in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until softened—about 2-3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut cabbage into quarters and remove core. Cut into strips about ½” in width and add to the pan. Stir to combine. Cook for 8-10 minutes until cabbage has wilted a little.
  • Add salt, vinegar, syrup and cardamom. If you’re not a fan of cardamom, try ground coriander seed or even a pinch of ground cloves or nutmeg. Just something to perk up the flavors a bit.
  • Lower heat to simmer and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally—about 25 minutes. IMG_0149The longer you can cook this dish, the creamier the cabbage will be.
  • Add cranberries or cherries (or even some grated apple) and cook for 5 more minutes.

Works well as a side for roasted pork or braised short ribs or served over polenta.