Our relationship with nature has waned so much that it is nearly inexistent and we no longer revere Mother Earth as our so-called primitive ancestors did long before our mind became corrupt by our quest for power and the accumulation of goods. By destroying the link to our surroundings and behaving like mere "parasites" instead of being in harmony with the universe and respecting our environment, we have created our own downfall.
Those folks which we like to consider as "barbarians" and "uncivilized savages" were in fact a lot wiser than us who are supposed to be the illusively titled "evolved homo-sapiens". Let's not forget that they were true ecologists thousands of years ago. We have absolutely not invented this movement at all, all the contrary.
"Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence."
- Mourning Dove Salish 1888-1936
In the past, people saw Nature as being a manifestation of the Almighty Power (not necessarily God, but the force behind all things) and therefore admired it and treated it with the utmost respect. The entirety of what graced our globe had its place (nature is very balance focussed), reason for existing and humans didn't try to change this order of things.
In our times society sees things very differently and acts selfishly. After centuries of taking without giving and raping the Earth as if we had the supreme right to pillage everything according to our will, we are starting to understand that we no longer can ransack our "terra firma" without paying the price for our greediness and irresponsability.
"When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money."
- Cree Prophecy
Now that the world is polluted and that Nature is rebelling, we are forced to rethink our behaviour and stop believing that we can act like gods. We have become conscious that nothing is free, that all forms of existence deserve to be considered with deference as we live in a place of great beauty and wonder, and that at the end humanity will not have the last word. Men are doomed to disappear if the continue destroying their patrimony, but earth, just like a phoenix, will always be reborn of its ashes.
We are just travellers that have been accepted on board, temporary guests in these bodies and on this planet. We own nothing from birth till death, but owe a lot. Earth will never cease to exist with our without us...
Plastic Verrine supplied by Restauranware.com (plastic plates & catering supplies).
We live in an era where travelling is easy and export-import represents the base of our economy. We are spoilt with all kinds of exotic foods that hail from various far away lands. Supermarkets stalls are chock-a-block full of articles which were difficult to find even in the second half of the last century (50's-80's) and we are so accustomed to having effortless access to them that we are rarely aware of how lucky we are...
People are enclined to not care about where their food comes from or to learn more about the origin of the produces they purchase. They are totally detached from reality. It is for that reason that certain children are driven to believe that milk is made by a machine, that they don't recognize common vegetables and fruits or that they cannot associate meat to animals. For example, we all use litres of maple syrup, but how many have much knowledge about this liquid gold? Well, let me enlighten you a little.
Maple syrup is a 100% natural syrup made with the sap of sugar, red, black or Manitoba maple trees from Canada (Quebec, mainly but Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well) and USA (Vermont is the biggest producer, then there is New York, Maine, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Masachusetts and Connecticut). On a smaller scale, maple syrup is also produced in South Korea and Japan.
Its origins can be traced back to the early Amerindians living in the northeastern part of North America. They were the first to have produced "sweet water" and who recognized its nutritional qualities (a big source of sucrose, potassium, calcium, zinc and manganese). The Europeans settlers were shown how to harvest the sap and adopted this ancestral technique from the Native Americans.
Nowadays, the production methods are basically the same as during the colonization. People start to collect the sap in early spring when it begins to flow. V-shaped incisions are made in the tree trunks and then metal spouts or plastic tubes are placed in the holes to drain out the precious juices into buckets or a large central container to which a few trees are linked. Once the sap has been recuperated it is brought to the sugar shack where it is boiled in a big kettle positioned over an open fire, so that most of the water evaporates in order to obtain a thickish syrup.
Maple syrup is graded according to scales based on its density and translucence. In Canada there exists three grades containing several color classes (#1 - Extra Light or AA, Light or A and Medium or B, #2 - Amber or C and #3 - Dark or D) and in the US there are two major grades only, the first one being broken into three sub-categories (Grade A - Light Amber/Fancy, Medium Amber and Dark Amber & Grade B). In order to qualify as maple syrup, this sweet liquid must contain at least 66% sugar. Canada is the largest producer. It makes more than 80 percent of the world's maple syrup, thus producing about 26,500,000 litres every year.
Unfortunately, there exists many deplorable imitations too. Those "Maple-flavored" syrups contain maple, but also other less expensive and unnatural ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup that is perfumed with an industrial aroma. Yuck!
This wonderful gift of nature can be used in a multitude of manners. Most often it is eaten with pancakes, waffles, crumpets, oatmeal (porridge) and French toast, but at the same time, it can be employed in savory dishes (marinade, baked beans or BBQ sauces), as a substitute for sugar (applesauce, candied sweet potatoes, winter squash, pies, breads, cakes, candy, tea, coffee, fudge and milkshakes) or to flavor desserts as well as baked goods (mousse, panna cotta, biscuits, fritters, ice cream and cereals). A very versatile and unique ingredients that tastes heavenly. Its wonderful warm hints of caramel with overtones of toffee make it an exquisite, irresistible and must have item that should be found in any kitchen!
So, when I discovered that the April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge, hosted by Evelyne of the blog "Cheap Ethnic Eatz", was all about maple syrup, I was delighted by the idea. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a "Maple Mousse" in an edible container. That sounded promising even if I must say that I didn't find it to be as adventurous as I would have wished it to be (maybe I have become a blasé "experienced" baker who is in need of riskier and more off the beaten track challenges - I still have to learn a lot, but I feel that I have to take it a step further).
As I didn't have much time left to make anything too elaborated before the deadline, I opted for "Maple Mousse & Mahlab Tartlets". I was sure that the mousse would be the ideal filling for my sweet tartlet shells and that the refined flavor of mahlab (a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern aromatic spice made with the seeds of the St Lucie cherries) would blend perfectly with that of the maple syrup.
As expected, my fuss-free tartlets were to die for. The flaky pastry had an ethereal heady aroma of cherries and almonds, and the airy mousse was delightfully light and pleasantly creamy as well as rich, earthy and smokey tasting. A terrific combo!
~ Maple Mousse & Mahlab Tartlets ~
Recipe for the tartlets by myself and the mousse by Webgrrl74 at "Jamie Oliver Is Not My Boyfriend".
Makes 8 tartlets (I divided the mousse ingredients by two and it was just enough for my 8 tartlets).
Ingredients for the "Sweet Crust":
175g (6 oz) Plain flour
3/4 Tsp Mahlab
35g (1 1/4 oz) Castor sugar
1/2 Tsp Sea salt
85g Unsalted butter
1 Egg yolk
2-3 Tbs Cold water
Ingredients for the "Maple Mousse":
1 Cup (240ml/8 fluid oz.) Pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
4 Large egg yolks
1 Package (7g/1 Tbs) Unflavoured gelatine
1 1/2 Cups (360ml/12 fluid oz) Whipping cream (35% fat content)
Method for the "Seet Crust":
1. Place the flour, mahlab, castor sugar, salt and butter into a food processor.
2. Mix at full speed until evenly blended.
3. Combine the egg yolk with the water and add to the mixture.
4. Mix until just combined and a soft dough comes together.
5. Wrap the dough in platic wrap and place for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator.
6. Preheat the oven to 190° C (175° F).
7. Press the pastry evenly into 8 greased tartlet moulds.
8. Prick the bases with a fork.
9. Line with baking paper and add the weights (or beans).
10. Place the tartlets in the refrigerator for another 10 minutes.
11. Bake blind for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and bake for another 5-6 minutes.
12. Remove from the moulds and let cool on a rack.
1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).
3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
4. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmerin g water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.
5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.
8. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your tartlet shells.
Wrapped airtight, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or frozen for a month.
Baked crusts can be kept in an air-tight container at room temperature for about 1 day.
In the maple mousse recipe, after the gelatine has bloomed (softened) in the cold whipping cream, the gelatine must be heated to melt completely, but never let gelatine boil or it will become stringy and unusable.
Serve with whipped cream and accompany with a good coffee, ice coffe or a glass of ice cold milk.
Etant donné la longueur du texte original, je n'ai malheureusement pas p u faire une traduction française de ce billet et je m'en excuse auprès de tous mes amis lecteurs et blogueurs francophones!
C'est pourquoi je vous suggère de vous rendre sur le blog mentionné ci-dessous. Vous y trouverez cette recette de mousse en version française.
Chez Isa de "Les Gourmandises d'Isa" (Canada)