November 26, 2006

The Hard Working Nut

There always seems to be one at every holiday party. The nut bowl. But it's a good thing. A handful of nuts can keep starving guests from ransacking your kitchen and demanding dinner be served.

Nuts can be purchased sugared or spiced, salted or unsalted, shelled or un-shelled. There are so many options when it comes to nuts. Are you ready for one more? How about the option of not having to shell a few hundred nuts, but still being able to spice them however you want?

Since I was already planning on spending the week in the kitchen I decided to go overboard and spice up some walnuts. This project, unlike last week's ice cream was quick and didn't need any special equipment or lots of time to get tasty results.

For help with the spicy nuts I turned to Nicole Aloni's Secrets from a Caterer's Kitchen. I made a few cups of these spicy nuts and they have served me well -- standing in during cards games after the big thanksgiving dinner, in a bowl while I read in my comfy green chair, and an easy handful to grab while running out the door for last minute grocery shopping. The great thing about spiced and sugared nuts is that they can generally last about 2 weeks at room temperature in an air-tight container.

Spicy Nuts
Adapted from Nicole Aloni

--1/2 tsp. garlic powder
--1/2 tsp. ginger, ground
--1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
--2 tsp. garam masala
--1 tsp. sugar
--1 Tbs. oil (vegetable, peanut)
--2 tsp. unsalted butter, clarified*
--2 Cups shelled, unsalted nut (walnut, almonds, cashews)
--2 tsp. lime juice, fresh
--1 tsp. kosher salt


1) Mix first 5 ingredients in a small bowl.
2) In a large saute pan, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the nuts, coat thoroughly with the oil, and stir until they begin to toast and are fragrant.

3) Add the spice mixture to the saute pan and coat the nuts evenly.

4) When the nuts are brown (about 4 minutes), sprinkle on the lime juice and cook until the nuts are dry (about 1-2 minutes).

5)Remove the nuts from the heat and cool completely on a baking sheet.

See? Quick and easy.

Kitchen Tips

*To make clarified butter, warm butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Once it has completely melted take it off of the heat and let it cool for about five minutes. Skim the white foam off of the top. If you look into the bottom of the pan you will see white milk solids settling on the bottom. Carefully pour the clear yellow liquid (the clarified butter) leaving the milk solids on the bottom of the pan. The reason to clarify butter? It has a higher smoke point which means it can withstand higher temperatures without burning. Want to know more? Check out cooking for engineers.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think that garam masala is a bit strong. Did you think it was over powering in this recipe? The recipe sounds great and addictive!

Bekah said...

You know, I had never used garam masala before this--but I kind of like it. Since it is a mix of various spices, the power of the mix probably depends on the freshness of the spices themselves. I didn't think it was too much, if anything, maybe a bit too much cayenne. These nuts taste unlike anything I have ever had at the grocery store though.