Maple is a book of beautiful sweetness and sumptuous photography. The author Katie Webster is a Vermont photographer, blogger, chef and food stylist. She is also a contributing editor to Eating Well Magazine. In Maple she has compiled recipes covering breakfast, dessert and everything in between, all with a generous helping of pure Vermont maple syrup.
This book was a gift from my dear cousin-in-law who is a friend and neighbor of Katie Webster.
The cookbook opens with an introduction to all things maple: sugaring history, sugar science, tips for those interested in maple syrup production, and guidelines for subbing maple syrup into recipes in place of sugar. These guidelines were of particular interest to me, as I haven’t done much by way of experimentation with changing out regular sugar in recipes for alternative sweeteners
I went through this cookbook adding bright pink sticky notes to pages with recipes I wanted to try, and particularly to try and share in this post. The result is that my copy is now fringed on all sides in pink stickies. There are just so many tempting dishes in that thing!
The recipe for Maple Turkey Breakfast Sausage is easy and comes together in a jiffy. The sausages have a mild flavor and pleasant, subtle sweetness thanks to maple sugar. They are perfect for breakfast, particularly breakfast egg sandwiches which is where we used them.
The Cheesecake Swirl Brownies were a great treat. As a card-carrying member of the Fudgy Brownie Fan Club I declare these to be irresistible. (True, I do not actually have cards but I am willing to print some off. The FBFC mustn’t be shown up by the Cake-Like Brownie Fan Club.)
The recipe calls to have the maple cheesecake layer of batter swirled into the dark, chocolatey layer. This I did and it was picture-perfect. I found the maple taste came through the strongest on the pieces with the thickest patches of cheesecake batter. On the next batch (and there will be many next batches) I may swirl less, nay barely, to get the most intense maple flavor in every piece. These brownies were a favorite and home and at work.
I made the Smoky and Sweet Turkey Chili to enjoy on a night of board games with friends. Chili has been a favorite food for get-togethers since our Chili Cook-off, where we sampled Ancho Turkey Chili and Spicy White Chili. The most enjoyable step was toasting spices in the pan before adding the liquids. This process filled the house with peppery heat and aroma. I may have let the spice roast a few seconds too long, this fact becoming clear when my son began to complain about stinging eyes. (You know what they say about the kitchen and standing the heat. It’s a literal thing. It was a nice day open the windows anyhow.)
The chili came together quickly just before our friends arrived. The simmering step is brief, only about 15 minutes. I had time before we actually dug in, so I let it simmer longer on low heat. The chili’s total low simmer time grew to about an hour, and the longer simmer only enhanced it further. The chili had been brothy, and after the longer simmer was thickened and hearty. We really enjoyed the combination of smoky heat and sweetness of maple, which was prominent but balanced with the spice. Cubed avocado dotted the top and gave cooling, creamy relief in every bite of chili. The pepitas provided salty crunch. This is a recipe I will make often.
I pleased to share also that a standard corn bread I made to go with the chili was imbued with much more than the standard amount of moistness and flavor… because I traded out the white sugar and replaced it with maple syrup! Give this a try, you will be convinced.
And just as I had named the Smoky and Sweet Turkey Chili as my all-time favorite from Maple, I then prepared the Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese and Candied Bacon. I was not expecting to be blown away by a salad, even though the headnote warned that it was life-changing. It was that bacon. That bacon. Crisp, dark and after a spell in a hot oven, coated with a glassy, hardened sheet of maple. This sweet-smoky delicacy, crumbled and scattered through the spinach with blue cheese and radishes is then crowned with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette.
I honestly think I have never enjoyed a salad more than this salad! I have solidified my status as a food dork by the enormous amount of time that I have spent gushing about this bowl of greens, to all who will listen.
This is a lovely, delicious cookbook. While it would of course be a very thoughtful gift to someone you feel needs a sweet taste of Vermont, it really should be on the shelves of Vermonters too. We love maple more than anyone! My proof? Caramelized Maple Onion Spread and Maple Vanilla Ice Cream with Crushed Sugar Cone. Because you must, you must have that salad.
The book is Maple and the author is Katie Webster. Maple Syrup season is upon us and Katie is book-touring now! Check out book tour dates, and more deliciousness at her website: HealthySeasonalRecipes.com.