Thursday, February 13, 2014

That's Nuts!

You would have to be living in a cave not to have heard or read that nuts are good for you.  Walnuts have a high concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids. Pecans can help lower cholesterol.  Cashews are loaded with fiber and protein. reports that pound for pound, almonds are the most nutrient dense of all tree nuts.  They also single out Brazil nuts for their unique high selenium content, whose antioxidant properties protect against heart disease, cancer and aging.  Pistachio and pine nuts are both packed with fiber.  Of course, as with everything, moderation is key.  I'm not saying to consume a pound of nuts in one sitting.  Here are two simple, yet tasty recipes for spicy nuts that I make often.

This Sweet Spicy Sriracha Almond recipe comes from Bon Appetit.  
Whisk 1 egg white with 1 tsp of water until frothy.  Add 2 cups of almonds and toss to coat well.  Drain the excess liquid.  Toss almonds with 3 Tbs of Sriracha, 1 Tb of brown sugar ( I've substituted honey with no noticeable difference in taste) and a pinch of Kosher salt.  Bake in lower third of a 300 degree oven for 25 minutes.  No stirring involved.  Turn off the oven and let them set for another 10 minutes.  Let them cool completely, then serve or seal and save for later.
This second recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's book Around My French Table.
Sweet & Spicy Cocktail Nuts
1/2 C sugar (I use 1/3)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of cayenne
1 large egg white
2 C nuts, whole or halves, but not small pieces (I make 2 1/2 C~using 1/2 C of ea~almond~walnut~cashew~pecan~macadamia) Center a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
Mix sugar, salt and spices in a small bowl.  Beat egg white lightly with a fork in a larger bowl.  Toss in the nuts and stir to coat, then add the sugar/spice mixture and stir so nuts are evenly coated.  Using your fingers, lift the nuts from the bowl letting the excess egg white drip back into the bowl and transfer them to the baking sheet, separating them as best you can.  Bake for 30~35 minutes or until the nuts are browned and the coating is dry.  Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the nuts to another baking sheet, breaking them apart as necessary and let cool completely.
Both go nicely with cocktails and are great to have on hand.  I can say from experience, they will last longer if you hide them...they must be addictive.

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