Fall flavors seem to be my theme the past couple of weeks, apples followed by squash. To continue the fall flavor roundup, let’s talk maple syrup.
When you hear the words “maple syrup,” what comes to mind? Probably pancakes or waffles drizzled with maple syrup or, perhaps, the maple leaf bottle, tan jug or can in which it is packaged. What we are not talking about here is the high-fructose, corn syrup-laden product with artificial coloring and many other unappetizing ingredients. I codon’t know why some think it is the real thing or, worse yet, think it tastes like pure maple syrup. I am embarrassed to say that when my parents pick me up at the airport on my visits to the Sunshine State each winter, they request sugar-free “pancake syrup” when we stop at one of those 24-hour pancake houses, just about the only restaurants open late at night. At those inexpensive prices, it sure isn’t real syrup they serve.
Although March typically is the peak of maple syrup production in the United States and Canada, it is fall when we begin to think about the upcoming holidays and recipes using the delicious syrup. During maple sugaring season, the sap starts to flow and sugar makers begin making the year’s crop of syrup with its subtle bouquet and complex flavors that set it apart from all other sweeteners. If you haven’t tasted pure maple syrup, chances are, you won’t go back to pancake syrup. I’m still trying to convert my parents — though mom is more concerned about calories than taste.
You’ll have to wait until the next sugaring season when many of the producers in the Northern United States and Canada, the only region in the world where maple syrup is made, welcome visitors, allowing them to learn about the process, taste and purchase pure maple syrup and other maple products. Connecticut has its share of festivities, too.
Maple Syrup 101:
It takes roughly 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.
It comes in several color-based grades.
Quebec, Canada, is the largest producer of maple syrup, producing about three-quarters of the world’s output.
Vermont is the largest producer in the United States, generating about 5.5 percent of the global supply, followed by New York and Maine.
A maple tree is usually at least 30 years old and 12 inches in diameter before it is tapped.
Alfred University offered a maple syrup course where students discussed “everything” maple syrup including cooking with the syrup. They went on field trips to local producers, restaurants and festivals.
I was delighted to add another book in the same series of recent columns to the collection, “Maple Syrup: 40 Tried & True Recipes,” by Corrine Kozlak (2020, Adventure Publications, $16.95).
This versatile ingredient goes beyond simply putting it on flapjacks as shown by Kozlak’s recipes. Before getting to the recipes, she gives a brief history of maple syrup, and discusses how it is made and graded. And, if you have access to a maple tree that is at least 12 inches in diameter, the “Do-It-Yourself Maple Syruping or Backyard Sugaring” pages tell you what equipment you will need, when and how to tap the trees, as well as how the sap is made into syrup. The maple syrup cooking tips will come in handy. For the recipe for Carrot Cake with Maple Syrup Frosting, visit bit.ly/307abZp.
Maple-Basted Roasted Turkey Breast
The headnote says, “This is really good when you are hungry for roast turkey but don’t want to make a whole bird. I serve this with Company’s Coming Salad (page 78) and Maple-Bacon Brussels Sprouts (recipe below) for a delicious maple-flavored meal.”
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a shallow roasting pan with aluminum foil. Pour 1 cup water or apple juice in bottom of pan.
To make turkey breast, rinse with cold water; pat dry and sprinkle cavity with salt. Place turkey upright in pan, and stuff cavity with apple, onion, celery, rosemary and thyme.
To make glaze, melt butter with maple syrup in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour over turkey to coat.
Roast turkey 2 to 21/2 hours, basting with pan juices as desired, until an instant-read thermometer registers 175-180 degrees.
Let turkey rest 20 minutes before slicing. Heat pan juices and pour over sliced meat. Serve hot. Makes 6-8 servings.
*This recipe can be used for a whole turkey as well; increase ingredients as needed.
Maple-Bacon Brussels Sprouts
The headnote says, “This recipe will turn any Brussels sprouts hater into a Brussels sprouts lover. Be careful not to burn them.”
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place Brussels sprouts in a shallow roasting pan; top evenly with bacon pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup, and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes or until sprouts are cooked and caramelized, stirring after 10 minutes. Makes 4-6 servings.
Maple-Roasted Root Vegetables
The headnote says, “Oven-roasting brings out the best in these vegetables, while maple syrup adds just the right amount of sweetness.”
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Arrange carrots, parsnips and turnip in a shallow roasting pan.
Heat maple syrup and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until butter is melted; remove from heat, and stir in bourbon. Pour syrup mixture over vegetables and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake, covered with aluminum foil, 25 minutes. Uncover; stir and bake 25 additional minutes or until tender. Makes 6 servings.
Maple-Frosted Pumpkin Muffins
The headnote says, “Pumpkin and maple marry well. Every year, the flavor of pumpkin signals the beginning of fall.”
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease muffin pans.
To make muffins, sift together whole-wheat flour and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in center of mixture. In a large glass measuring cup, beat together pumpkin, oil, 1/4 cup maple syrup, milk, and eggs. Pour pumpkin mixture into well of flour mixture and gently combine. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.
To make glaze, melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan; whisk in 1/3 cup maple syrup. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in maple extract. Sift in powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth and slightly thick; drizzle onto muffins. Garnish, if desired. Makes 10 muffins.
Maple Leaf Cocktail
The headnote says, “Maple syrup and bourbon make for a great combination that’s not too sweet and naturally good.”
Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour maple syrup over ice. Add bourbon and seltzer, stirring to combine. Add orange peel and desired amount of cherries. Makes 1 serving.
BASTA Trattoria, 1006 Chapel St., New Haven, 203-772-1715, Pasta Trio, menu at bit.ly/2WPnmwy, choose three different pastas and three different sauces for $20 per person. Served for lunch (noon-3 p.m.) Saturdays and Sundays for dining indoor or outdoor. bastatrattoria.com
Geronimo Tequila Bar and Southwest Grill, 271 Crown St. New Haven, 203-777-7700, happy hour from noon to 4 p.m., with $1 sliders, $1 drafts and $2 cans and bottles. These specials are available for dine-in only (indoor or outdoor). bit.ly/2ZW5cek
Shell and Bones, 100 S. Water St., New Haven, 203-787-3466, re-introduces happy hour, Monday through Thursday from noon to 4 p.m, offering $1 oysters, half-price bottles of wine and $1 drafts. Specials available for dine-in only (indoor or outdoor). shellandbones.com
Worth Tasting, culinary walking tour of downtown New Haven, Oct. 24, 10:30 a.m., reservations required, 203-415-3519, $68. Enjoy tasty samplings from several of New Haven’s favorites. Tickets at bit.ly/2FjiwMP.
What chef would you like me to interview? Which restaurant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? Which food products do you have difficulty finding? Do you have cooking questions? Send them to me: Stephen Fries, professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, at email@example.com or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven 06510. Include your full name, address and phone number. Due to volume, I might not be able to publish every request. For more, go to stephenfries.com.