If you could bottle autumn, it would look and taste like maple syrup. From light gold to deep amber, its colors softly echo the glorious fall landscapes of changing leaves.

If you could bottle autumn, it would look and taste like maple syrup. From light gold to deep amber, its colors softly echo the glorious fall landscapes of changing leaves.


Tourists can’t leave such landscapes without a souvenir bottle of the stuff often bought after scarfing down a pile of fluffy, buttery pancakes doused in the thick, sweet syrup. And so they leave, thinking of pancakes, or French toast, as the only conveyor of this delicious condiment.


But wait! We know there’s a whole lot more to maple syrup than pancakes.


Julia Child, who lived just outside of Boston for much of her life, whisked it along with her beloved Dijon mustard into salad dressing. The formula included about a quarter cup of decent olive oil, a few tablespoons of lemon juice, a teaspoon of maple syrup and a half-teaspoon of the mustard along with salt and pepper.


She whisked it madly so the mixture held together in suspension. Then, she used it as a dressing for soft leafy greens, like the baby greens. As yellow hot dog mustard would never do in this dressing, so, too, won’t iceberg lettuce in this salad.


An experienced executive chef once told me that, when making salad dressing, a cook needs to keep tasting with each ingredient until he or she likes the balance of flavors.


On the other end of a meal, cooks from the cold corner of the country enhance desserts with maple cream. It’s made by slowly drizzling about 5 tablespoons of maple syrup into a cup of heavy cream while whipping it with an electric mixer until peaks form. This is delicious on fall desserts —warm apple pie or a pear-and-apple cobbler or crisp. The cream holds its shape for a few minutes, and then it gently melts into the dessert.


Between the salad and the dessert, maple syrup enhances main courses or vegetables from shellfish to Brussels sprouts. Bottled barbecue sauce or canned baked beans get a sweet spark of flavor with a few teaspoons of maple syrup. Plain chicken pieces turn into party fare when coated with syrup stirred into melted canned cranberry sauce.


Maple glazed root vegetables, roasted singly or together, will fill the house with wonderful aromas when they share an oven with a whole chicken or a pork tenderloin cook. The syrup can also transform predictable scallops and bacon.


SCALLOPS WITH BACON AND MAPLE SAUCE


A great dinner when scallops are on special at the supermarket, the finished plates look like they came out of a restaurant kitchen. If scallops are not your thing, white fish fillets turn out nicely given the same treatment.


2 1/2 cups heavy cream


1/3 cup real maple syrup


1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard


1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg


Salt, ground black pepper


1 1/2 pounds bay scallops, cut into 2-inch pieces


1 pound sliced maple-cured bacon


1 cup cooked corn kernels (canned, frozen or fresh-cut from the cob)


2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives


1. To make the sauce: Bring the cream and maple syrup just to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook, stirring from time to time, until reduced nearly by half, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in mustard, nutmeg, salt, and pepper while simmering 2 to 3 minutes longer. Set aside off the heat.


2. To cook the scallops: Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook just short of crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels, leaving just enough fat to film the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat up to high. Add the scallops and sear each side until golden, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Set aside, keeping warm.


3. Return the bacon to the pan with the corn kernels until both are heated through. Warm the cream sauce.


4. To serve: Make a small puddle of the maple sauce on each plate. Place the scallops on top of the sauce. Scatter the bacon and corn kernels over and around the scallops. Garnish the plate with the snipped chives over the plate. Makes 4 to 6 servings


MAPLE GLAZED ROOT VEGETABLES


Use parsnips, carrots, turnips or sweet potatoes all together or choose your favorite to use by itself in this recipe. A neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable, works here so that the maple flavor, enhanced by the butter, stands out. Unsalted butter allows the cook to control the salt content.


3 pounds root vegetables, peeled, cut in 2-inch cubes


2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil


6 tablespoons unsalted butter


3 tablespoons real maple syrup


1 teaspoon lemon juice


Salt, ground black pepper


1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.


2. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on one or two baking sheets. Drizzle the vegetables with oil; and toss lightly to coat. Cook, 20 to 25 minutes, until vegetables are tender and golden.


3. While the vegetables roast, melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in maple syrup, lemon juice, salt and pepper. If the glaze seems too thick, add hot water, a few drops at a time. Keep the syrup warm.


4. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees.


5. Remove the sheet pans of vegetables from oven; drizzle the maple glaze over them and return the pans to the oven, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables become slightly charred at the edges. Serve hot. Makes 6 to 8 servings


Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@aol.com