Nov 11 2009

Hot Spicy Buttered Almonds

November 11th, 2009 at 3:24 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

I’m a crunchy nuts sort of guy. Not much into chewy, soggy, or stale nuts. So when I discovered last week that I had a bag of stale almonds sitting around, I decided to tried and pep them up. First thing I did was try and dry roast them in a non-stick pan. That helped a bit, but not enough. I then thought of Julia Child and added butter to the pan. And then I added some creole seasoning (which adds salt as well as spice) and for good measure, some spicy Sriracha sauce. I let that saute for a while on medium-low heat until the butter/spice mixture was sizzling nicely and all the almonds were well cooked and then took it off the stove to let cool. The result was excellent. Addictively so. We finished the whole batch that night.

Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning and Sriracha sauce

Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning and Sriracha sauce

To recreate the result, here’s a recipe I developed. Note that I typically eye ball ingredient amounts and then supplement if needed. As such all measurements here are merely suggestions, not hard and fast rules.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of Butter
  • 1 tablespoon of Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning (or equivalent)
  • 1 tablespoon of sriracha sauce (or you can try an Indonesian sambal, like sambal brandal or sambal manis)
  • 1 cup of unsalted almonds

Cooking:

Whole natural almonds, although unsalted roasted can be used too

Whole natural almonds, although unsalted roasted can be used too

If the almonds you have are natural almonds (as pictured above) you will want to dry roast them for a while. The easiest way I have found to do that is by putting the almonds in a non-stick pan and cooking them at low heat, stirring them regularly until they brown up a bit. If you’re starting with unsalted roasted almonds, just warm them up.

Add the creole seasoning to the hot almonds and distribute well. If you add it after the butter, it tends to clump up.

Add the butter to the pan with the almonds and turn up the temperature a bit – perhaps to halfway between low and medium, and let melt and sizzle for a bit. Don’t let the butter get too hot and start to brown or burn though.

Add the sriracha sauce evenly while stirring the pan. Let it cook for a few minutes until you get that nice spicy hot fragrance filling your kitchen. The bottom of the pan should turn a bit pasty and dark reddish brown. Take the pan off the heat, stir one last time, and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Serve into a bowl and enjoy!

Hot spicy buttered almonds - the end result

Hot spicy buttered almonds - the end result


Nov 10 2009

My Favorite Hot Dip

November 10th, 2009 at 4:21 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

I’ve already mentioned one of my favorite versatile food items is mayonnaise. And when I cook savory dishes, I find myself eagerly looking towards garlic as one of my ingredients.

That’s why it’s probably no surprise that my favorite hot dip combines mayonnaise and garlic, and to provide some substance, it also includes Parmesan cheese and artichoke hearts. And it’s incredibly easy to make, although I have not come up with a good and short name for the Garlic Parmesan Artichoke Mayo Dip.

First, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).

Then, get a baking dish, and then combine equal portions (by volume) of grated Parmesan cheese (like Kraft’s), canned artichoke hearts, and mayonnaise. I usually use a cup of each.

Then add as much minced garlic as you think you can handle. I personally add 10-20 cloves depending on whether I will be meeting with others the next day (less cloves if I like the people I’m meeting, more if I don’t or am not meeting with anyone). I should add that while you can sometimes buy minced garlic at the supermarket, the acidic liquid they package it in robs the garlic of a lot of its pungency, so I prefer fresh or at least some of the garlic that I have pre-minced and stored in oil with salt for later use.

After you have thoroughly blended all the ingredients and smoothed out the top to make it nice and flat, pop the baking dish into the oven and cooking until the top is a nice light to medium brown color. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 15 minutes.

Serve with something nice and crisp. Folks who eat carbs might enjoy it with tortilla chips, pita chips, or toasted wafers of baguette. Low carbers can use cucumber slices or pork rinds. At home we also use the dip as a condiment for meats like steak or pork.

The Garlic Parmesan Artichoke Mayo Dip is also a great thing to bring to pot-lucks and BBQs.