Posts Tagged ‘Maple Recipes’

Maple Everywhere!

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019
Courtesy of Paul Franz/ The Recorder

March is Massachusetts Maple Month. Farmers in my area are working more or less around the clock to turn the sap that flows from maple trees in spring into the sweet elixir that New Englanders prize year round.

This coming weekend, March 16-17, is Massachusetts Maple Weekend, and members of the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association have a number of celebrations planned.

Every time I drive to Greenfield these days, I pass a sign at Hager’s Farm Market luring me with the promise of fried dough topped with maple cream on Saturday. I am trying to resist temptation!

Fortunately, most of my own culinary uses for maple syrup do not involve the extreme sweetness of fried dough or even pancakes. I love to use maple to add a slight sweetness to foods like salad dressings, coleslaw, pork, and even (as you’ll see below) cheese.

I also love to contemplate maple’s place in American history. Colonists learned of its sweet bounty from Native Americans; in early colonial times, maple syrup and sugar were significantly less expensive than imported sugar from cane.

Benjamin Rush (1746-1813), a prominent Pennsylvania physician and scholar who was among the signers of the Declaration of Independence, promoted maple over cane sugar not because of maple’s price but because of its means of production. Cane sugar was made by slaves, and Rush was an abolitionist.

Other abolitionists took up the cause of maple. Thomas Jefferson, who despite his own slave holdings opposed slavery in principle, fell in love with the idea of maple as an alternative to cane sugar as well.

“What a blessing,” he wrote in 1790, “to substitute a sugar which requires only the labour of children, for that which it is said renders the slavery of the blacks unnecessary [sic].”

My local maple sugarers could have told Jefferson that successful sugar production requires labor from more than children, but his heart was in the right place. He believed that maple production was a perfect occupation for the “yeoman farmer” he saw as the American ideal.

The sugar maples Jefferson planted at Monticello died; the climate of southern states proved dicey for producing maple syrup.

As sugar became less and less expensive over the decades, even hardy New Englanders (unless they were strict abolitionists) changed over to cane sugar as their primary sweetener. Maple was increasingly viewed as it is today: as an expensive and highly prized specialty food.

Maple played a part again in American history in the early 20th century in the campaign that led to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Maple syrup was among the products for which many false claims were made before manufacturers were held accountable by that law.

C.C. Regier noted in a 1933 article, “More than ten times the amount of Vermont maple syrup was sold every year than that state could produce.” Happily, if something is labeled “pure maple syrup” today, the labeling is accurate.

I am are lucky to live in an area where I can purchase pure maple syrup from neighbors and visit working sugarhouses. The photo above shows me getting ready for Saint Patrick’s Day with my beloved maple vinaigrette. (Thanks to Paul Franz at the Recorder for the festive picture!)

One of my current favorite maple recipes comes from the Massachusetts Maple Producer Association. I would never have thought of pairing feta cheese with maple, but the combination is wonderful!

I made it recently on Mass Appeal, along with my Irish Cottage Soda Bread. Here is the feta recipe—and of course the videos are below.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all, and happy maple season!

 

Maple-Baked Feta

I like to serve this sweet-and-savory cheese dish with homemade crostini I make with small, store-bought baguettes.

To prepare the crostini, I slice the bread thinly, rub it with a minimal amount of olive oil on each side, and sprinkle salt on one side. I then bake the crackers for 10 to 15 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven, turning them once.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 6-ounce block feta cheese (it’s hard to find a 6-ounce block; use part of a larger block if necessary)
1/4 cup golden raisins
a generous helping of fresh rosemary
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle half of the olive oil in the bottom of a small baking dish. (I use a brie baker from the potter Jeanne Douillard of Greenfield, Massachusetts.)

Cut the feta so that it is relatively thin and covers most of the surface of the baker. Sprinkle the raisins, rosemary leaves, and pepper over all; then top with the maple syrup and the remaining oil.

Bake until everything is bubbly and one or two raisins are starting to burn. This process can be tricky; you don’t want your dish to blacken, but you do want the cheese to soften.

Let the mixture cool slightly before serving it with crackers or crostini. Serve it with a spoon, and make sure that each little helping gets a bit of everything: cheese, raisins, rosemary, and juice. This cheese dish may also be served on the side of a green salad. Serves 4 to 6.

And now the videos!

Tinky Makes Maple-Baked Feta

Tinky Makes Irish Cottage Soda Bread

Pat’s Prize-Winning Maple Walnut Wafers

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Maple month is almost over—and I have one more maple recipe to share. It comes from Pat Leuchtman of Heath, Massachusetts, a gardener and gourmet cook extraordinaire who blogs at Commonweeder. I’m proud to say that she’s a friend of mine.

Pat won a prize for her maple-walnut wafers at the 2010 Heath Fair. I love this fair, which takes place the third weekend in August each year.

It’s just big enough to offer lots of activities for fairgoers. The fair features music, sales stalls, fair food (once a year I HAVE to eat fried dough with maple cream), exhibitions of produce and art, and animals galore.

And it’s just small enough to offer fairgoers a chance to catch up with friends and neighbors.

Pat’s wafers took second place in the maple-confection category. She kindly sent me the recipe. A cross between a cookie and a candy, her sweets resemble pralines but are less overwhelmingly sweet.

Not having any walnuts on hand, I substituted pecans. The wafers disappeared with remarkable speed.

If some of your wafers have trouble coming off the cookie sheet (this happens, particularly if they are a little underdone!), roll them into little balls before putting them on the rack. They are delectable that way, too, even if they are less elegant looking than the wafers.

The Wafers

Ingredients:

3/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans!)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter
1 cup maple sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cream

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Over medium-low heat combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Stir until the butter has melted and your mixture resembles a batter. Remove the pan from the heat.

Line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat. Drop one scant teaspoonful of the batter on the sheet at a time, leaving lots of room between dollops. (The cookies will spread!) You will need to make 2 to 3 batches to use up all of your batter.

Bake the cookies until they are bubbly at the center and beginning to brown at the edges. Pat says this can happen in 3 to 4 minutes. My wafers took about 6 minutes, but I would still suggest checking your oven after 3 to 4 minutes.

Let the wafers cool for a few minutes; then gently remove them from the pan and let them cool completely on a rack.

Makes 24 to 30 wafers.

Maple-Soy Glazed Salmon

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

We still have a week to go in maple month—and I’m doing a maple-cooking demonstration in Virginia on April 1—so I’m in a maple mood.

Years ago I tasted a fabulous salmon dish at the Green Emporium in Colrain, Massachusetts. When I asked creative chef Michael Collins about it, he explained that he had cooked the fish with equal parts of maple syrup and soy sauce.

This is not precisely his recipe, which I don’t have, but it was inspired by Michael. The flavor of the marinade is subtle but definitely perceptible.

I had never baked salmon before, but one of my dinner guests, Lot Cooke (thank you, Lot!), got me through this recipe with no worries. Of course, it helped that the recipe was really, REALLY easy.

The Salmon

Ingredients:

2 pounds salmon fillets
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup soy sauce (I used low-sodium, which was still salty enough)

Instructions:

In a saucepan combine the syrup and soy sauce. Heat until the mixture until it boils. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.

Place the salmon fillets in little pouches of foil inside a large baking dish. Pour the maple-soy mixture over them and spread it on top. Close the foil up so that the marinade will stay on the fish and not bleed into the pan. Marinate the fish for 1 hour, basting the marinade over it again every 20 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the fish and baste once more. Bake the fish on a high oven rack, uncovered, until it flakes (about 20 minutes), basting after 10 minutes. For the last 2 to 3 minutes you may turn your broiler on to brown the salmon.

Serves 6.

Eating a little leftover salmon EXHAUSTED Rhubarb.

 

Tinky’s Tangy Maple Coleslaw

Friday, March 16th, 2012

I’m continuing with my Maple Month theme by popping some syrup into a basic coleslaw. It only gives a TINY hint of sweet, I promise. In fact, when I served this as part of my (almost) all-maple meal, my guests pronounced it  their favorite part of the meal.

And OF COURSE it’s green (pale green, but green is green begorra!) for Saint Patrick’s Day.

If you’re looking for something else for Saint Patrick’s Day, I heartily recommend my Irish beef stew, Irish cheese fondue, or Irish soda bread. Don’t forget to wear green while you cook.

And please visit my new blog What’s a Girl to Do? to read a brief essay that talks about the name of THIS blog! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all……

Truffle may not cook, but she DOES wear green at this time of year.

The Slaw

Ingredients:

1 medium head cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
1 cup mayonnaise
3 to 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
kosher salt to taste (I used about 3/4 teaspoon)
lots of freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Instructions:

If your cabbage and carrots are a little elderly (as cabbages and carrots tend to be at this time of year), soak them in cold water for an hour. Drain the vegetables thoroughly before you continue with the recipe. The syrup makes this slaw a little wet to start with so you don’t want to compound the wetness!

In a bowl combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, syrup, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Taste this dressing to see whether you need more salt, vinegar, mayo, or syrup. (It may need adjusting depending on the strength of your vinegar and maple syrup.)

Pour the dressing over the drained cabbage, and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Stir and taste before serving, adjusting the flavors if necessary.

Serves 6 to 8.

Slightly Sweet and Slightly Spicy Pecans

Friday, March 9th, 2012

March Madness may mean basketball to SOME PEOPLE—but as far as I’m concerned it’s all about maple syrup. The weather is plum crazy, but the sugarhouses are boiling sap, and I’m thinking of new ways to use my favorite sweetener.

Last week I invited over some friends and relatives and concocted a maple meal for an article in our local paper, the West County Independent.

Actually, I didn’t quite manage to flavor the entire meal. I was going to do some kind of roasting thing with potatoes and carrots and chickened out at the last minute. I mashed the potatoes and threw the carrots into my maple coleslaw. The rest of the meal was all maple, however.

Glazed pecans were our appetizer.

I love spicy foods. I wasn’t sure exactly how much heat my dinner guests’ palates could takes, however. I therefore made my maple nuts just a little bit hot and just a little bit sweet. We loved them!

My Pecans

Ingredients:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (plus a bit more to taste later if you like)
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups raw pecans

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Melt the butter over low heat in a 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Stir in the maple syrup and spices. Add the pecans and toss them well to make sure they are coated.

Place the skillet in the preheated oven and bake the nuts for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Taste a nut after 1/2 hour to see if the seasonings suit your taste; if not, add a little more salt and/or even a little more spice.

When the hour is up remove the nuts from the oven and let them cool on wire racks lined with brown paper. They will be soft at first but will crunch up as they cool.

When the nuts have cooled completely store them in a tin, a jar, or a well sealed plastic bag … or just eat them!

Makes about 3 cups.

Little Rhubarb wonders what the heck these brown things might be.