Along with blueberry and cranberry, maple is a distinctly North American flavor. But beyond putting the syrup on pancakes and in frosting (with maybe some bacon bits, too), we don’t cook with it as much as we might.
In her new cookbook, “Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup” (Quirk Books, $22.95, 176 pages), Katie Webster makes a case for using this sweet food more often.
Webster is a Vermonter and a food blogger whose family has a “backyard sugarin’ ” hobby, so she knows whereof she speaks. Her recipes range from the traditional (such as maple-glazed carrots, recipe below) to contemporary (skewered seared duck with Tabasco plum sauce) to downright surprising (mapletini, anyone?).
She also offers an explanation of the various grades of maple syrup, tips on using maple syrup in place of other sweeteners and even how to try your own “sugaring.” (Not likely in much of California but you never know: Those silver maples can be tapped, it turns out.)
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And, yes, Webster includes delicious-looking pancake recipes, too.
Sugaring season hot cocoa
Total time: 10 minutes
Makes 3 cups
Katie Webster writes: March and April on our hill mean sugaring parties and hours spent outdoors in cold temperatures. To warm up chilly little ones, I make a pot of this dark hot chocolate and keep it warming on the camping stove. Though the cocoa powder mostly masks the subtle maple flavors, we are flush with syrup at this time of year, so it wouldn’t seem right to use anything but our own liquid gold to sweeten it up!
Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.
1⁄3 cup best-quality cocoa powder
1⁄3 cup dark maple syrup
2 1⁄2 cups low-fat milk
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, whisk cocoa and syrup. Heat milk in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring often, about 8 minutes, or until steaming. Pour hot milk into cocoa mixture, whisking constantly.
Transfer cocoa mixture to the saucepan and return to medium-low heat, stirring often, until completely smooth and steaming hot.
Stir in vanilla and drop in marshmallow (if desired) before serving.
Maple glazed carrots
Total time: 25 minutes
Makes 4 cups
Katie Webster write: What would a maple syrup cookbook be without a classic glazed carrot recipe? This one has the requisite butter, but only a touch.
Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄4 cup dark pure maple syrup
1⁄2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 cups sliced carrots, about 1⁄4-inch thick
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Heat butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes, until soft and browned. Add water, syrup, salt, and cinnamon.
Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and return to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
Cover, reduce heat to medium to maintain a lively simmer, and cook, stirring once or twice, 4 to 6 minutes, until carrots are crisp-tender. Remove lid and stir in vinegar.
Increase heat to medium-high and continue cooking, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes, until liquid has thickened and carrots are coated. Serve warm.
Smoky and sweet turkey chili
Total time: 40 minutes
Kate Webster writes: The famed New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne once said that chili con carne, not apple pie, might be America’s favorite dish. It certainly seems like it to me. My friends ask for chili recommendations more than any other recipe. So I knew this cookbook wouldn’t be complete without a maple-spiked chili!
2 tablespoons avocado oil or organic canola oil, divided
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground dried chipotle, or to taste
4 1⁄2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 cup water
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
One 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup dark pure maple syrup
1 avocado, diced
1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro
1⁄4 cup toasted pepitas
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add turkey and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until completely browned. Transfer turkey and any juices to a bowl and set aside.
Return pot to medium-high heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion, garlic, and salt and cook, stirring often, for 6 to 10 minutes, until onion is soft and browned.
Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, and chipotle and cook, stirring, for 30 to 90 seconds, until spices are fragrant and starting to toast and darken slightly.
Add vinegar and stir for 30 second to 1 minute, until liquid is evaporated.
Add water and bring to a simer, scraping up any brown bits and spices from the bottom of the pot.
Add tomatoes, beans, syrup and browned turkey, stirring to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 14 minutes, until turkey and onions are tender.
Serve topped with avocado, cilantro and pepitas.