Saturday, December 21, 2013

Modern Maple with Dara Moscowitz Grumdahl

I had the pleasure of being an in-studio guest on Dara Moscowitz Grumdahl's “Off the Menu” program on WCCO radio this morning (available as a podcast on WCCO radio's website. Click on the December 21 show; my segment is about halfway through... and yes, that is me, even though they have my name listed as Tessa!). We chatted about maple syrup, including how it's made, how to cook with it and how syrup was made by the Native Americans who were the first inhabitants of this area. I also shared a batch of Maple Crispy Bars with Dara; the recipe, from my book, Modern Maple, is below. As a bonus, I'll also include instructions for making Candied Bacon, which was included in the cooking class I presented on Wednesday, December 18, at Byerly's Cooking School in St. Louis Park.

Modern Maple includes 75 recipes, as well as information about the fascinating history of maple syrup. It also has easy instructions on how to tap the maples in your yard, using inexpensive supplies available from any hardware store. Maple season generally begins anywhere from the end of February through mid-March in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. You don't need acres of trees to make your own maple syrup; even if you've got only one or two maples, you should give it a try next spring!

Maple Crispy Bars
18 servings

When I decided to try using maple syrup in the traditional rice crispy bar recipe, I looked online for ideas, figuring that there would all kinds of maple versions out there. Surprisingly, there weren’t; the few I found that use maple syrup also included chocolate chips, white chocolate, brown sugar and other add-ins, which I didn’t want to try. So I decided to simply cook the maple syrup and butter together to caramelize it a bit before adding the marshmallows. The mellow caramel flavor is a nice addition to the traditional treats.

6 cups crisp rice cereal
1/3 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
4 cups mini marshmallows

Coat the inside of a very large mixing bowl and a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add the rice cereal to the mixing bowl. In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, combine syrup and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until butter melts and mixture turns bubbly. Continue to cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and stir for about 30 seconds longer, then add the marshmallows and cook, stirring constantly, until the marshmallows melt and the mixture is smooth. Immediately scrape into the mixing bowl with the cereal and stir to mix thoroughly. 

Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread out as best you can, then use a sheet of waxed paper to press the mixture evenly and firmly into the pan (or coat your hands with cooking spray and use them instead of the waxed paper). Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into 18 pieces—3 the long way and 6 across. Let cool completely in baking dish before transferring individual pieces to a serving plate. These bars are best the day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container for a day or two; they can also be frozen in an airtight container with wax paper between the layers.

Candied Bacon
4 servings (pictured at right with Cranberry-Maples Scones, also from Modern Maple)

Candied bacon is a fairly recent “blogosphere phenomenon” that is usually made with brown sugar. Maple syrup is even better, and takes this decadent but simple preparation to another level. The recipe is written for ½ pound of bacon, but it’s easy to change the amount since the preparation is so simple. You might want to make extra and use the cooled, crumbled candied bacon to top ice cream, stir into muffin batter, add to sandwiches or burgers, mix in with cookie dough (especially chocolate chip cookies), or sprinkle over salad or thick soup.

1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon (8–9 slices)
1/3 cup maple syrup

Position oven rack in center of oven, and heat to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil, bringing it up at the sides to form a lip, then place a wire cooling rack on the lined sheet. Arrange bacon in a single layer on the rack, keeping slices separate. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and use tongs to turn bacon over. Use a pastry brush to dab maple syrup liberally over the bacon, using about one-third of the syrup. Bake for 7 minutes, then remove from oven. Use tongs to turn the bacon; brush the bacon with half of the remaining syrup. Return to oven and bake for 7 minutes, then remove, turn the bacon and brush with remaining syrup. Return to oven and bake for 4 to 7 minutes longer, or until edges are crisp and bacon looks glazed. Remove from oven and let stand for about 3 minutes to allow the glaze to set, then transfer bacon to a serving plate. (If you don’t remove the bacon after a few minutes, it will stick to the rack—and don’t even think about lining the serving plate with paper towels!) Serve immediately; refrigerate leftovers.

Recipes copyright (c) Teresa Marrone, 2013; from Modern Maple (Minnesota Historical Society Press)

Other recipes in Modern Maple use maple syrup in ways both traditional and unexpected. Here is a list of a few, including breakfast, breads, salads, main courses, desserts and beverages, that work well this time of year.

  • English Muffin and Berry “Hash”
  • Northland Sweet Sausage Gravy and Biscuits
  • No-Knead Oatmeal-Sunflower Focaccia (pictured at right)
  • Cardamom-Maple Swirl Bread
  • Beet, Fennel and Winter Fruit Salad
  • Watercress and Grilled Pear Salad with Serrano Ham and Gorgonzola (photo below)
  • Pizza with Brie, Caramelized Onions, Basil and Maple (photo here)
  • Baby Back Ribs with Maple Glaze (see the recipe in an earlier blog entry)
  • Apple-Pear Pandowdy with Cranberries
  • Profiteroles (Mini Cream Puffs) with Maple Cream
  • Bacon-Infused Bourbon with Maple
  • Mulled Apple-Maple Cider
Modern Maple is available at your local independent bookstore (I saw a pile of them at Magers & Quinn in Uptown the other day, but others should have it also), from the Minnesota Historical Society Press website, and through the major online retailers such as and Barnes & Noble.

If you've found my blog because you're looking for recipes and cookbooks, you may also be interested in some morel recipes I posted in May: Pan-Fried Fish with Morels, and Morels and Oyster Mushrooms with Dumplings. A list of other my books is here. This year, I completed work on a field ID guide, Mushrooms of the Upper Midwest (co-authored with Kathy Yerich); the book will be out in March. Right now I'm also finishing review of the proofs for The Beginner's Guide to Making and Using Dried Foods, to be published in 2014 by Storey Publications.