Tasty ideas using tree-tapped maple syrup.
Maple syrup might be the essential ingredient for flapjacks and waffles, but its utility extends far beyond the breakfast table. In its purest and most potent state, you have maple candy, and "sugar on snow," a traditional treat that doesn't even require a kitchen. Heat syrup to 232 degrees Fahrenheit, then drizzle the amber liquid over shaved ice, then twist it on a spoon until it becomes a gooey, caramel mouthful of taffy. There are also plenty of other ways to enjoy one of nature's sweetest creations. We asked some of our staff and contributors to volunteer their favorite recipes. From food writer Mark Bittman's homemade granola to a Vermont sugar maker's mint maple julep, these offerings span the cookbook.
From Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything
6 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
2 cups mixed nuts and seeds: a combination of sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, etc.
1 cup shredded coconut (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
1/2 to 1 cup maple syrup or honey, or to taste
1 cup raisins or chopped dried fruit
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine the oats, nuts and seeds, the coconut if you're using it, cinnamon, salt, and sweetener. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or a little longer, stirring occasionally. The mixture should brown evenly; the browner it gets without burning, the crunchier the granola will be.
2. Remove the pan from the oven and add the raisins. Cool on a rack, stirring gradually until the granola reaches room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator; it will keep indefinitely.
Peanut Butter Granola Any nut butter or tahini will work nicely here; toss in some chocolate chips if you like very sweet granola. Add 1/2 cup peanut butter and mix with the 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey until blended. Proceed with the recipe; stir the granola every few minutes while it's baking to prevent the peanut butter from burning.
Spiced Granola Add another teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon each of ground anise and cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon each of freshly grated nutmeg and ground cloves, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Ginger-Molasses Granola Crumbled gingersnaps are a great addition to this. Substitute molasses for half of the sweetener and add a 1- to 2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated into the sweetener. Add 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger along with the raisins.
From David Seideman, Editor-in-Chief, Audubon
Source: Apple Cookbook, by Olwen Woodier (Storey Publishing)
(Yield: 6 to 8 servings.)
1 cup granola
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
4 large apples (Winesap, Ida Red, Northern Spy, Braeburn)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a deep, two-quart baking dish.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the granola, oats, sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon. Using your fingers, blend the butter into the mixture.
3. Peel, core, and cut the apples into 1/4-inch slices. Place in the baking dish and sprinkle with the maple syrup and lemon juice.
4. Cover completely with the granola mixture and bake for 40 minutes, or until the apples are tender when pierced. Serve warm with ice cream, if desired.
Spinach, Apple, and Feta Cheese Salad
From Rene Ebersole, Features Editor, Audubon
(Yield: 4 servings)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup balsamic dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
2.6-ounce package baby spinach
2 large Granny Smith apples, halved, cored, thinly sliced or chopped
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Combine the maple syrup, balsamic dressing, and oil in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper (can be made one day ahead and stored in the fridge).
2. Combine the spinach, apples, cheese, and walnuts in a large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Maple & Browned Butternut Squash with Pecans and Blue Cheese
From Kevin Fisher, Art Director, Audubon
(Yield 3-4 servings, as a side dish)
11/2 pounds butternut squash, chopped into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons fresh sage, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
3 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1. Adjust oven racks to middle position and top position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. For easy cleanup, line a 12x17-inch sheet pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
2. Toss chopped squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and scatter in a single layer on the sheet pan. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the squash is tender and starting to brown.
3. While the squash is roasting, chop the pecans and toast them in a baking dish on the rack above the squash for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are dark and aromatic.
4. About 5 minutes before the squash is done roasting, melt the butter over medium heat in a small pan until the foaming subsides and the butter turns dark brown and smells nutty. Be careful to not let it burn. Toss the sage in with the butter and allow it to crisp up for about 30 seconds. Add the maple syrup and reduce the heat to low.
5. Remove the squash from the oven into a large bowl. Toss the squash with about half the pecans, 2 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese, and the sagey maple butter sauce.
6. Transfer the squash to a serving platter and sprinkle with remaining blue cheese, pecans, and parsley.
Hot Buttered Rum
From Mel White, Audubon contributor
While a kettle of water is boiling on the stove, find a heavy mug and add some maple syrup--maybe half a tablespoon or more, depending on how sweet you like a drink. Add a jigger or more of dark rum. Place a cinnamon stick in the mug. When the water boils, fill the mug, more or less, and stir. Float a pat of butter on top, and sprinkle the rest with a pinch of ground cinnamon. Don't stir. The pat of butter will melt slowly as you drink.
Mint Maple Julep
From Elise Tillinghast, Vermont Sugar Maker
(Yield: up to 15 servings)
1 cup fresh mint
4 cups water
2 2/3 cup maple syrup (darker is better, Grade B or C)
Bourbon to taste
Steep the mint in maple syrup in the refrigerator for half a day or more. Remove the mint and mix the syrup with water and bourbon to taste. Serve with mint garnish in a chilled Jefferson cup or other metal mug. If you have to make do with a room-temperature cup, you may want to compensate by putting in less water, and pouring the concoction over crushed ice.
Maple Roasted Rhubarb with Ricotta Bruschetta
(From L'Artusi, a New York City green-certified restaurant)
1/2 pound rhubarb
1/3 cup maple Syrup
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups ricotta
Dice the rhubarb into small cubes and toss with the maple syrup. Add 1 teaspoon of orange zest, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, juice of one lemon, and one teaspoon salt. Place mixture in a shallow baking dish and cover. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool to room temperature.
Slice baguette and toast slices (about 12 pieces). Place generous portion of ricotta on baguette and top with rhubarb mixture. Top with olive oil drizzle.
Makes 4-6 crudite portions.