Rosemary Pecans

November 9, 2008

Easy and so, so good you’d better have carryout bags for your guests. The basic recipe works with just about any kind of nuts. Just make sure you don’t burn them. Use your nose. When they start to smell toasty, they’re roasted.

PS You can get Szechuan peppers from mail-order houses like Penzys. Trust me, they’re worth the extra effort.

8 ounces unsalted pecan halves [or English walnuts]
1 T melted sweet butter
1 tsp sweet curry powder
1/4 tsp Szechuan peppers, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 tsp honey
2 T finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp sea salt or to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degree F. Spread the nuts in one layer in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and roast until fragrant and beginning to change color, 8 to 10 minutes. In a small saucier over very low heat, melt the butter. Add the curry powder, peppers, honey, and rosemary. Add the warm nuts and salt and toss until thoroughly coated.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.

COOKING TIP: Soft Breadcrumbs

December 29, 2007

To make soft breadcrumbs, cut the crusts from white or light wheat bread, tear the bread into 1-inch pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Drape a kitchen towel over the bowl and with an immersion blender pulse the bread into crumbs.

COOKING TIP: Buying Peppers

December 13, 2007

Peppers compound flavor as they dry. Look for grocery peppers with a little color and a slightly wrinkled skin. Put them in your kitchen window and watch them for a few days. Sometimes, they’ll start to go bad. But if they keep drying and wrinkling, they’ll take on dimensions of flavor so striking they can transform an ordinary dish.

COOKING TIP: Hard-Cooked Eggs

December 8, 2007

To hard-cook eggs, warm them to room temperature, cover them with cold water in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and let them sit, still covered, for ten minutes. Drain them in a colander and let them cool before peeling.

COOKING TIP: Peeling Winter Squash or Pumpkin

December 4, 2007

Peeling raw winter squash or pumpkin is not easy, but they are so good roasted you’ll be glad you made the effort. If the peel is tender enough, you can use a vegetable peeler. Otherwise, use a sharp chef’s or butcher knife and a chopping block or cutting board. The knife will be difficult to control. Be sure to cut away from your hands. If the squash is curvy, slice it at the equator of the largest curve, lay the flat side down, and, again, cut away from your hands. If there is any greenish under-peel left, remove it with a vegetable peeler.

COOKING TIP: Buttermilk Cornbread

November 19, 2007

Before pouring cornbread batter into a preheated, greased iron skillet, test the grease with a small drop of batter. If the batter sizzles loudly, the skillet is hot enough to form a good crust.

COOKING TIP: Cleaning Leeks

October 31, 2007

Here’s an easy way to clean leeks: Trim away the heavy green part of the leaves. Leaving the roots intact, slice the leeks into quarters from roots to tips. Rinse under running water and place upside-down in a sieve in a large bowl of cold water. Soak for 30 minutes or until free of sand and dirt.