I was invited to a party Saturday night where I knew very few people. We were asked to bring food and the party was a very long trip on the metro. I decided to bring nuts as most people like them and they are easy to handle. They were a huge success.
I found three recipes for flavored nuts - two from One Good Dish by David Tanis and spicy brittled peanuts from Smitten Kitchen. I think they would make the perfect holiday gifts.
cashews with indian spices
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 lb natural raw cashews
2 tbs melted butter
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp turmeric
Heat the oven to 400 F. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small dry pan over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Coarsely grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. (I skipped this step and used ground coriander and cumin. It tasted good but I wonder how much more intense this process would affect the flavor).
Spread the cashews in an even layer in a shallow baking dish. Roast for 7 to 10 minutes until barely golden (it took my oven 15 minutes). Drizzle with the melted butter, then sprinkle with the toasted spices, cayenne, and turmeric. Season generously with sea salt and toss to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.
salted almonds with rosemary
1/2 lb natural (unblanched) raw almonds
2 or 3 rosemary sprigs
1 tb olive oil
Heat the oven to 400 F. Put th ealmonds in a shallow baking dish, sprinkle with 1 tb water, and toss to moisten. Strip the rosemary leaves form the stems and add them. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and mix with your fingers to combine. Drizzle the almonds with olive oil, toss once more, and spread in an even layer.
Roast the almonds for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally for even browning. Take care not to get them too dark - check them frequently, since you don't want them on the verge of burnt. (I checked them every 3 minutes and it took close to 15 minutes in my oven). The interior should be golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
spicy brittled peanuts
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup sugar
1 tb unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
2 cups shelled raw or roasted unsalted peanuts, papery skins removed
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda, sea salt and cayenne, and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar, butter and water over medium-high heat until it just begins to turn golden, about 7 to 12 minutes. Add the peanuts and start stirring, coating them with the sugar mixture. After a minute or two (or five in my case), the sugar will seize up a bit, making the peanuts look grainy and crusty, and it will be harder to stir them - you'll be convinced that something is wrong but keep stirring and it will melt back into a golden caramel after 3 to 5 minutes. Keep stirring, breaking up any clumps with your spoon, until th enuts are evenly coated, then remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the baking-soda-spice mixture as fast and evenly as you can, then spill the caramelized nuts onto your prepared sheet, spreading them in a single layer and breaking up any clumps that you can before they set. Cool completely.
Once they're cool, break the nut clusters into smaller pieces and put them in a serving dish. The nuts will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.