Suzi's Blog

Candied Walnuts and Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

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Yesterday’s post featured Cinnamon Pecans. And a picture of two others treats, Honey Candied Walnuts and Crispy Roasted Chickpeas. That’s them pictured again in the two spoon-sized portions above.

The walnuts, from Alice Waters, are divine on their own but Alice mentions all the potential uses. They pair well with fruit and cheese, either on an appetizer plate or in a salad. These nuts would be a surprise sprinkled on a baked sweet potato or buried deep in a quesadilla filled with pork. While this version uses walnuts, pecans and pistachios are good substitutes. Of course, because honey is key ingredient here, and because honey comes in a zillion flavors, there is the potential for creative variability. Pick your honey. And your walnut, too, for they come with their own range of wonderful flavors.

Chickpeas are the core of hummus, ideally soft, creamy and lightly lemoned. Here is a recipe that goes to the opposite extreme. The chickpeas are roasted until crisp, then rolled in a spicy mixture that will turn you to drink. I suggest something with higher alcohol content than simple water. These treats are hot, and not just moderately hot.

 

Honey Candied Walnuts

Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups walnuts

Preparation:

In a deep saucepan, combine the sugar, honey and water, while stirring. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the walnuts.

Stir, mixing well, for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and let the nuts steep in the syrup for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the nuts into a strainer and drain well. Spread the drained nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Properly candied nuts should feel slightly sticky and look light golden and shiny. Remove the nuts from the oven and cool completely before using. The nuts can be stored in an airtight container in the pantry for up to a month.

Source: The Art of Simple Food II by Alice Waters

 

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:

  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.

In a colander, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Remove as much water as you can, then pour the chickpeas onto the lined baking sheet and place another paper towel on top of them. Roll the chickpeas around between the towels to dry the chickpeas and removes some of their loose, thin skins. Remove the paper towels (from the top and bottom) and add the olive oil, tossing to coat well. Roast the chickpeas for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy.

Meanwhile, combine the salt, cumin, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl. Removed the chickpeas from the oven and immediately sprinkle them with the spice mixture, tossing to distribute the mixture and evenly coat the chickpeas. Let cool before serving. The chickpeas will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Source: Lunch by Gale Gand

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EF-S 60MM Macro Lens, F/2.8, 1/60th second, ISO-3200

 

 

Brian’s Spiced Nut Bark

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I love spiced nuts, a staple for many of us during the holidays. Whether as a feature on the appetizer table or coming as a present in a tin box, spiced nuts can warm us on the coldest winter nights.

My recipe below will surely put some sweat on your brow. This is the first time I have been able to make spiced nuts that are worth a darn. It’s just always escaped me how to do it correctly. I end up with nuts that are burnt, or dry, or lack the flavor I crave.

This recipe is my success. How did I do it? I added. I began with an interesting recipe from Stephen Pyles’ great book Southwestern Vegetarian [more recipes to come from that book by the way].

But I had googled and found other recipes that seem interesting too: adding more and different spices, some honey, …

What should I do? I decided not to select, but to combine. The recipe below is my own amalgam of three different ideas, all merged into my gooey mess.

About the goo. I use an abundance of butter, sugar and honey before the nuts go into the oven. When they had been in the oven for twice the recommended time, the sheet pan was simply one mass of nuts in bubbling sugary broth. So I pulled the pan and put it on our outside porch on a cold afternoon. I ended up with a half-sheet of nuts encased in what can only be termed a solidified butter-sugar-honey candy coating.

Like a bark or a brittle, all I had to do was break the pieces apart. When it’s not freezing out, and I don’t have the porch asset, I will try again with less of the ingredients here that forge the bark, so that hopefully the nuts end up coming out of the oven as individuals instead of a massed army. But for now, with cold at my disposal, this is really a seasonal treat.

 

Brian’s Spiced Nut Bark

 

Yield: about 5 cups

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups pecans
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of paprika
  • 4 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

Preheat an oven to 325°F. Cover a half sheet cookie pan with aluminum foil [do not put the nuts directly on the pan unless you enjoy scrubbing, and scrubbing ..]

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the pecans and sauté for a few minutes until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn.

Add the brown sugar and cook for a few more minutes until the sugar begins to caramelize. You will see pools of brown liquid forming between mounds of the nuts as you stir.

Add the spices and the honey, then stir to mix. Then add the vinegar. You get some sizzling as you stir. Cook briefly until the vinegar liquid has most evaporated.

Spread the nuts on the prepared pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 5+ minutes. Do not cook longer than 10 minutes. You want the nuts crisp and the liquid reduced.

Transfer the cookie sheet to a cold environment. Let the whole thing solidify. Break into bits. Serve in bowls. Store the leftovers in ziplock bags.

 

Source: Inspired by Southwestern Vegetarian by Stephen Pyles

Photo Information: Canon T2i, 18-53MM Macro Lens, F/2.8, 1/60th second, ISO 3200