Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cookbook Review: Modern Maple

By: Michelle Hershman
The book’s title, Modern Maple, is kind of ironic because the book itself looks rather old-fashioned. The book is formatted like a paperback novel with low-quality, off-color paper, a lot of type and almost no pictures. I know that the page quality of a cookbook might not seem that important, but when you want your recipes to pop, I think it matters. Without colorful pictures, design, or even font changes, the book was a little monotonous to read – even for me, and I love reading cookbooks.
However, if you can muddle through, you won’t be disappointed. Modern Maple is filled with comforting, unique recipes that, of course, feature maple syrup. In fact, it almost makes sense to keep the formatting simple and old-fashioned. Maple syrup and old-fashioned go hand in hand – good old pancakes drizzled with maple syrup, anyone? However, this book takes maple way beyond breakfast. Author Teresa Marrone shows readers how you can make any meal – salads, veggies, desserts – better with maple syrup.
I added maple to dinner when I tried Modern Maple’s Pecan Crusted Chicken with Maple Apples. I don’t usually like eating warm fruit for dinner, but the combination of pecans, maple, and apples seemed too good to pass up. Verdict? I am very glad I gave this dish a shot. The maple apples were a deliciously-sweet compliment to the crispy, nutty chicken. The recipe was easy to follow and the dish gave me a little taste of fall in the spring. Marrone does a great job with the recipe directions. Not only are the directions clear and comprehensive, but she gives descriptive tips. For example, in the directions for the Pecan Crusted Chicken with Maple Apples, Marrone explains that, after chopping the pecans medium-fine in a food processor, “the texture should resemble uncooked quinoa.”
I’m looking forward to trying more of Marrone’s recipes. From the expected Pork and Maple Sausage to the unexpected Pizza with Brie, Caramelized Onions, Basil and Maple, they all sound delicious. Some of the recipes are more intensive and time consuming such as Apple Donut Holes with Maple Glaze but doesn’t that dessert (or breakfast!) sound worth the time? And, with Marrone’s notes and detailed instructions, I’m confident that I can get through some of the more challenging recipes without a major kitchen disaster. Plus, Marrone includes a chapter on how to work with maple syrup in the kitchen – her tips will help keep you away from any sticky situations (pun intended).
If you can’t find good maple syrup at the grocery store to make your recipes, Marrone provides a chapter on making maple syrup in your yard. Of course, you must have a healthy maple tree. If you do, according to Marrone, it’s “surprisingly easy to tap the maple trees in your yard.”
I don’t think I’ll be making my own maple anytime soon, but I do know that I cannot wait to make Baby Back Ribs with a Maple Glaze, Chocolate-Striped Maple Caramel Corn, and all the other yummy maple dishes!

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