I received an awesome email this week from Susan, over at the blog Not Quite June Cleaver. She found my book, Urban Pantry, and decided to do a short write up and give away to her readers. How cool! On her blog, she notes,"I am all about being at home. In my cozy little green house at the end of the dirt road. My best days are when I don’t leave this place," and I have to say, I quite relate. While I now live in a small apartment in the heart of Seattle, my heart is never farm from the blue-grey house I grew up in at 4 Ridgedale Drive on the end of quiet road in Long Island. These days, as when I was a little girl, I can't think of a better way to spend my day than at home. This recipe is perfect for visiting friends or as a small snack to have on hand. My dear friend, Rusty Blackwood, taught me how to make these and they are always a huge hit.
Excerpted from Urban Pantry: Tips & Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable & Seasonal Kitchen By Amy Pennington, Skipstone 2010
(Makes 1 cup)
I owe this recipe to my good friend Rusty—a man who pulls together a mean flower arrangement and has a keen understanding of Moroccan food. He made these nuts at an import sale years ago, and I couldn’t pull myself away from the buffet table to shop. I emailed him in a fit to get the recipe,and he promptly responded—from poolside in Marrakech. This is the perfect recipe to pack for a camping trip or to serve alongside a cheese platter, fancying up the boring cheese-and-cracker platters that have become a near epidemic as of late. These spiced pecans are also wonderful served crumbled over any green salad.
4 tablespoons sugar for pan, plus 2 tablespoons for bowl 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground cayenne 1 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 teaspoon ground paprika 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup peanut oil 1 cup shelled pecans
Before you start, measure out your sugar and spices and have ready a large glass bowl. You’ll need to work quickly once the nuts are toasted. Cover the bottom of a large, deep-sided sauté pan with the peanut oil; let it pool a bit. Heat over medium-high and, when the oil is beginning to ripple slightly, toss in the pecans, stirring continuously so they don’t burn. When the pecans start to smoke and brown, add 4 tablespoons of the sugar and toss, toss, toss! You don’t want to burn that sugar.
After the sugar is dissolved and the nuts are well coated, use a slotted spoon and put the nuts in the glass bowl with the remaining sugar and the measured-out spices and salt. Working quickly, stir to combine. When the mixture has cooled slightly, taste and adjust the flavors, making them more salty-spicy to your liking. Pour the spiced pecans onto a sheet pan to cool. When completely cooled, store them in a glass jar in the cupboard.
Pantry Note: You can easily multiply this recipe for bigger batches. Spices can be swapped as well. If you don’t have turmeric, for example, try curry powder or garam masala. These candied nuts keep nearly indefinitely but taste freshest when eaten within four to six weeks.
PHOTO CREDIT: DELLA CHEN PHOTOGRAPY