Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Maple Vinaigrette: A Superb Dressing for Salad or Slaw from Cleo Coyle

Freezing nights and warmer days are essential to a good maple syrup season. That swing between freeze and thaw is what brings the sap out of the trees near the end of winter (and before spring budding). In short, in many areas of North America, this is the season for tapping trees and boiling down maple syrup. 

For those of you interested in how maple
syrup is made, join me for a virtual trip
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Maple can offer a superb, smoky-sweet note to many dishes. In this salad dressing, it serves as a sultry substitute for honey. I use this dressing on all kinds of salads, including coleslaw. It's absolutely delicious, bringing sweet, bright, and tangy flavors to the fresh, crunchy greens or slaw.

The dressing is also easily adaptable. If you'd like more tang, splash in more vinegar. I leave the amount of salt and pepper to your own taste, but don't leave either out, they provide good balance to the dressing. One last note, be sure to use fresh lemon juice (not bottled) for the very best flavor. Happy Maple Season...

May you eat with joy and in good health!

~ Cleo 

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Free Recipe PDF

Cleo Coyle's
Maple Vinaigrette

Servings: This recipe makes about 1/4 cup of dressing, enough to dress 4 small salads or 2 large ones


2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white vinegar*
4 teaspoons maple syrup
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice*
Salt and ground pepper (to your taste)

*I use rice vinegar in this recipe, though you can use any white vinegar. As for the lemon juice, be sure to use freshly squeezed (not bottled) for the very best flavor.

Directions: First, please note that I'm using both Tablespoons and teaspoons in this recipe, so be sure not to confuse those measurements. Use a whisk to properly blend the ingredients. Whisk well, until you've created a smooth dressing. Add the salt and pepper to your own taste (but don't leave them out;  they provide balance to the overall dressing). Pour over fresh greens or coleslaw and toss. 

Cleo's Baby Leaf Spinach Salad 

with Maple Vinaigrette

Here's a delicious and nutritious salad that I like to eat in a big bowl as a light lunch or serve in smaller portions before dinner. The sweet, bright, and tangy notes in my Maple Vinaigrette pair wonderfully with the classic bitter-green flavor of baby spinach.

Servings: This recipe makes 4 small salads or 2 large ones


9-10 ounces (about 12 cups) fresh, raw baby spinach (see my note)*
1/4 cup maple vinaigrette (see recipe above)
2-3 slices bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
1 hard boil egg, chopped

*I often use the triple-washed packages for convenience. Fresh, bunched spinach is delicious, but be sure to wash at least three times to remove all grit.

Directions: Toss baby spinach leaves with vinaigrette. Garnish with bacon bits and chopped eggs, and...

Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author
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Alice and Marc in Central Park. 
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Monday, March 25, 2019

Puff Pastry Apple Strudel

 A while back, I bought several packages of puff pastry and promptly forgot about them. They've been waiting patiently in the freezer, which is actually a great recommendation for puff pastry. It's always there ready to go.

The one key thing about using it, though, is it has to thaw 40 minutes. If you find that your puff pastry is stiff or breaking, then it hasn't thawed sufficiently. When it has thawed, it's pliable enough to work with, and you can roll it out without much difficulty.

I chose to cook the apples before baking them in the recipe. While I would have preferred to use raw apples (so much quicker, right?), I wasn't sure the puff pastry could stand baking for the amount of time the apples would need to bake to be soft. So when I sliced the apples, I cooked them. After all, I was waiting for the puff pastry to thaw.

They turned out great. I'm not convinced that it's necessary to roll it up quite a tightly as I did here, but it works and it's a lovely treat.

Puffed Pastry Apple Strudel
(makes two strudels of roughly six to eight servings each)

2 pieces frozen puff pastry
2 good-sized apples (I used Fuji)
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons bread crumbs (Panko will work)
1 egg
1 teaspoon water

Set out the puff pastry to thaw for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and core the apples and slice about 1/8 inch thick. Melt two tablespoons butter in a pan large enough to hold the apple slices. Add the apples, sugar, and cinnamon, and turn to coat. Cook over medium heat for about six to eight minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Roll out the puff pastry in both directions, making a rectangle. Along the longer side, one inch from the edge, sprinkle half the breadcrumbs in a line. Ladle 1/2 of the apples on top of the breadcrumbs, leaving one inch of extra space at each end. Fold the one inch side over the apples and roll, taking care to keep the apples in place. Pinch the ends well and turn them under. Place on the parchment paper.

Repeat with the second piece of puff pastry.

Whisk the egg with the water and brush over top of the two pieces. Cut diagonal slices in the tops as vents.

Bake 35 minutes. Let rest before cutting. Eat plain, with ice cream, or top with whipped cream.

These are in a glass bowl! LOL!

Melt butter.

Mix apples with sugar and cinnamon.


Sprinkle the breadcrumbs in a row.

Place the apples over the breadcrumbs. You can add a bit of the juice from the pan.

Roll so the apples will be in the middle.

Brush with egg wash, and slice vents.

After baking.


The Diva Sweetens the Pie is coming in April!