Cooking Smart: It's maple syrup season

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Chef Dave Smart is the chef at Front and Central restaurant in Wolfville and author of the Cooking Smart column in the Kings County Advertiser and Register.

It’s that time of year again: spring is around the corner and the sap is running through a huge network of tiny tubes that will collect it and transfer it back to the sugar shack. There, it is transformed into pure, sweet magic with a long, slow cooking process. We all grew up with it and to this day, I look forward to Sunday mornings where I can slather it on my pancakes.

I personally love maple syrup, and as a chef, its versatility as an ingredient. Not only does it add sweetness, you get that subtle smoky flavour with deep, complex caramel notes. While it’s great on pancakes and French toast, it is equally at home in such things as maple mustard vinaigrette, a sweet cranberry sauce, sweetener for homemade granola or to toss with some oven-roasted root vegetables. 

So to kick off your maple syrup culinary exploration, here are some recipes for you to try. 

Maple vinaigrette


¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Salt – to taste

2/3 cup Vegetable oil


Combine maple syrup, vinegar, mustard and salt in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in oil.  Serve.


Maple cranberry sauce


8 oz cranberries

1 cup water

1 cup maple syrup

¼ teaspoon table salt


Bring cranberries, water, syrup, and salt to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. 

Strain through fine mesh strainer to remove skin and seeds.

Let cool to room temperature. 


Roasted Root Vegetables


1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

½ lb parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 lb celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

½ lb turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

½ cup maple syrup


Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss carrots, parsnips, celery root, and turnips with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Transfer vegetables to baking sheet in an single layer and roast for 20 minutes.  Stir vegetables and return to oven, rotating the pan.

Continue to roast until vegetables are tender and lightly colored, another 15-20 minutes longer.

Transfer to large bowl and toss with maple syrup.  Serve immediately.




1 cup walnuts, crushed with the flat of a knife and chopped into small pieces

½ cup slivered almonds

3 cups rolled oats

¼ cup sunflower seeds

½ cup infused maple syrup

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup dried apricots – diced

½ cup dried ginger

½ tsp salt



Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix ingredients together in large bowl.

Spread mixture onto baking sheet, spreading mixture in an even layer.

Bake, stirring and re-spreading mixture into an even layer every 5 minutes, until granola is light golden brown, about 15 minutes.

When granola is cooked, turn granola onto another sheet pan to stop cooking.

Cool to room temperature.

Break up granola and store in airtight container.


Let Chef Dave Smart know if you have any favourite maple syrup recipes of your own. And, if you have any culinary questions, please feel free to email here at the paper at

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