I was recently introduced to a new product called Ice Syrup, created by my old friend and long time Niagara-on-the-Lake grape grower, Steve Murzda. Ice Syrup is essentially unfermented icewine juice. The berries are left to freeze on the vine until the required -8°C temperatures set in. The frozen grape clusters are harvested and pressed. Rather than fermenting the juice to make alcoholic wine, the über sweet juice is concentrated further by evaporation. Once bottled, the Ice Syrup is ready to use for a variety of culinary purposes. Already, top chefs are endorsing Ice syrup. Susur Lee refers to Ice Syrup as “an exceptional and innovative Canadian product.” Ice Syrup is available in two grape varieties; Vidal and Cabernet Franc.
Over the holidays I had the chance to get creative with Ice Syrup. The results were delicious. Here are my recipes and wine pairings:
340 g chicken livers
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sliced shallots
1 thick bunch of fresh thyme
3 tbsp brandy
2 tbsp whipping cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 generous pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 cup of dried currants
1/3 cup of Cabernet Franc Ice Syrup
Fresh sprigs of rosemary
Soak currants in the Ice Syrup at least six hours before serving.
Rinse chicken livers; trim and pat dry. Set aside.
In large skillet, melt half of the butter over medium heat; fry shallots with the bunch of thyme, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to food processor or blender.
Add remaining butter to skillet; saute chicken livers over medium-high heat until browned but still slightly pink in center, about 5 minutes. Add chicken livers to the food processor. Discard thyme. Return skillet to heat. Add brandy, flambe, scrape the brandy and drippings into food processor.
Add cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg to liver mixture; puree, scraping down side occasionally, until smooth. Transfer to serving bowl. Refrigerate for at least four hours.
Cut the baguette into thin slices to make crostinis. Bake in the oven at 250°C for approximately 20 minutes or until lightly toasted. Turn slices over and bake until the other side is golden.
Arrange crostinis on a serving platter with the pâté and Cabernet Franc Ice Syrup and Currant Sauce. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.
Vidal Ice Syrup Glazed Pork Tenderloin on Brussel Sprout Hash
Paired with 2003 Cave Spring Riesling. (Any good quality Niagara Riesling will work well with this dish.)
1 pork tenderloin
1/3 cup Vidal Ice Syrup
2 cups of brussel sprouts
2 medium sized carrots
2 medium white potatoes
2 slices of bacon
1/4 cup of chopped almonds
3 king oyster mushrooms (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Remove pork from the fridge. Allow to come to room temperature.
Heat oven to 400°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Chop bacon, onion, carrots and potatoes in equal sized pieces (1cm x 1cm). Evenly distribute on the baking sheet. Season with thyme leaves. Bake for 20 minutes stirring and turning over the hash occasionally.
Wash brussel sprouts, move any loose or yellow leaves. Slice all brussell sprouts in half. Add brussel sprouts and almonds to the hash mixture, coating the vegetables in bacon fat.
Season pork tenderloin with salt and pepper. Place in baking dish. Pour the Vidal Ice Syrup on the tenderloin. Bake in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes, depending on desired colour of the meat. Continuously baste and turn the tenderloin with the Ice Syrup and juices in the roasting pan.
Slice the king oyster mushrooms in half and score the flat sides. Sear the mushrooms in butter.
Remove the meat from the oven and baking dish once cooked. Allow the meat to rest 5 to 7 minutes on a cutting board. Reserve the Ice Syrup liquid in the baking dish.
Remove hash from the oven. Season with salt and pepper. Plate the hash.
Slice the tenderloin diagonally, place slices over the hash. Garnish with the mushrooms. Finish the plate with the reserved Vidal Ice Syrup glaze.
Chocolate Lava Cakes with Strawberries and Cabernet Franc Ice Syrup
Paired with Grand Marnier.
5 tbsp butter
3.5 oz dark baking chocolate
2 extra large eggs
1 extra large egg yolk
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp flour
2 tsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 tbsp Cabernet Franc Ice Syrup, plus more to garnish
5 medium sized strawberries
Melt the butter and chocolate together over a double-boiler. Stir to combine. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture is light yellow in color, and the sugar is dissolved. About 3 minutes.
Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and whisk until combined. Sift in the flour, cocoa, and salt. Fold in with a spatula until combined. Spoon into 4 buttered 5-oz ramekins, and tap on the table to settle any air bubbles. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Dice the strawberries into equal sized small pieces. Mix in a bowl with the Ice Syrup. Carve four orange twists. Reserve for garnish.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm. Turn the cakes out on to plates. Spoon strawberry and Ice Syrup mixture on to each cake. Pour additional Ice Syrup over each cake. Garnish with orange twists.