Mustard-Maple Ham Steaks With Cider-Madeira Sauce

"As we approach autumn, I look forward to the fresh apple cider that is abundant at that time. And I look for many ways to incorporate it in my cooking. Sweet and salty, the ham is great served with roasted potatoes and applesauce for a fine fall meal."
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  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bay leaves in 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish. Place ham steaks side-by-side in dish, overlapping slightly, if necessary. Pur 1-1/2 cups cider over ham (more than likely, the cider will not cover the ham.).
  • Whisk 2 T. maple syrup and mustard in a small bowl to blend; spread over top of ham steaks. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake ham steaks for 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine 1 cup apple cider, 1 T. maple syrup, and the Madeira in a medium saucepan. Boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes.
  • Spoon sauce over ham and serve.

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I didn't start cooking until my early 20's, even though I come from a family of accomplished and admired home cooks. While I grew up watching my Italian grandmother in the kitchen, I remained uninterested in trying anything on my own. As a young lady, I was known for being particularly ignorant in the kitchen, with no idea how to even make a hot dog! All this changed, however, when I got engaged. I realized it was time to let my inherent talents out of the bag. At the time, the New York Times had a weekly column called The 60-Minute Gourmet by Pierre Franey. Each week, I would follow these recipes diligently, and taught myself to cook that way. From there, I began to read cookbooks and consult with relatives on family recipes. At my ripe old age now, I feel I know enough to put together a very pleasing meal and have become accomplished in my own right. Having an Irish father and an Italian mother, I'm glad I inherited the cooking gene (and the drinking one too!). One thing I have learned is that simpler is always better! I always believe cooking fills a need to nurture and show love. After being widowed fairly young and living alone with my dog and cats, I stopped cooking for awhile, since I really had no one to cook for. I made care packages for my grown son occasionally, and like to cook weekly for my boyfriend, so I feel like I am truly back in the saddle!!
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