29 September 2010

Maple Syrup Cookbook

It might just surprise you to learn that the state tree of West Virginia is the Acer saccarum. But we just call it the Sugar Maple. They call it the Sugar Maple in Vermont, too, but we had it first, on 7 March 1949. Three days later those johnny-come-latelies in Vermont adopted the Sugar Maple.*

My neighbors Have quite the maple sugar factory, tapping many trees on their property and boiling up some excellent syrup. Recently, Sandi, added a volume to my cookbook collection, Maple Syrup Cookbook by Ken Haedrich. The book is filled with maple history, maple tips, and maple lore along with a bunch of recipes. Probably the best information in the cookbook is the simplest one -- how does one substitute the syrup of sugar in general recipes. He states that one measure of sugar requires only 3/4 of a measure of maple syrup. Baking is a bit more complicated.

As you might have guessed, many of the recipes in this cookbook have a autumnal feel to them, like skillet cake, brad pudding, four-bean bake and curried soup. My favorite recipe is a variation on my favorite way to cook root vegetables -- veggies, salt and pepper, butter, syrup and a dash of liqueur. I have an old bottle of maple liqueur someone brought me from Vermont. Its only use is added to vegetables cooked in maple syrup.
But if you don;t have any, by all means, use bourbon!

Maple-Roasted Root Vegetables

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/4-inch chunks
3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 1/4-inch chunks
1 small ( 1/2-pound) yellow turnip, peeled and cut into 1 1/4-inch chunks
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup bourbon or rum
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the carrots, parsnips and turnips in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan.

2. Heat the butter and maple syrup in a small saucepan just until the butter is melted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the rum.

3. Pour the maple mixture over the vegetables, and toss to coat. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, stir the vegetables and bake, uncovered, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes longer.

Vermont -- eat your heart out, or your vegetables.

* to be fair, Wisconsin picked the Sugar Maple in 1893, with New York coming in way behind by naming the Sugar Maple its state tree in 1956.

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