There’s nothing quite as tempting and delicious at a cocktail party as a handful of mixed nuts that have been roasted and spiced, though it’s unlikely you’ll be able stop at just one handful. My sister-in-law Beverly, a first-class cook and the embodiment of Southern hospitality, seems to travel with a tin of these nuts — freshly roasted and redolent of spices— wherever she goes. Luckily for us, she brought some with her to our place over Thanksgiving, and we served them with a cheese tray and white wine. They disappeared instantly.
I’ve tried to recreate what I could remember of Bev’s version over the years. I’ve gone heavy on the curry and cumin when I scatter the nuts over sliced duck breast salad served with chopped dates and sherry vinaigrette. Dusted with nutmeg and cinnamon, they’re a great addition to store-bought granola. But the version of Bev’s that I tasted over Thanksgiving made me realize that, with all my tinkering, I’d lost something essential in my own translation of her classic. Her spiced nuts somehow maintained the perfect balance of sweet and salty, crunchiness and heat. Though I know Southern cooks often hold favorite recipes as close to their aprons as family secrets, I asked Bev if she could give this one up and she kindly obliged. Make a batch for yourself and another one to give away or bring to your next party — these are guaranteed to be a hit.
Thanks, Bev, and happy holidays, everyone!Bev’s Really Good Spiced Nuts Note: This recipe can be cut in half. 6 cups of assorted plain nuts of more or less equal size (not roasted or salted), such as pecans, walnuts, pistachios, macadamias or whole almonds (not slivered or sliced) 1/4 cup pure maple syrup 2 tablespoons plain vegetable oil, such as Crisco 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 teaspoons dry ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste Cooking oil spray
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the nuts in a large mixing bowl. Add the syrup and oil, and toss. Sprinkle on the salt, ginger, coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper. Toss until this is thoroughly mixed.
- Spay a large baking sheet that has a rim with cooking oil spray. Pour the nuts evenly onto the pan. Bake, removing the pan from the oven to stir the nuts after every 5 minutes, until the nuts are toasted and have absorbed the syrup, about 18 to 22 minutes.
I’ve had these very same spiced nuts and they are additive. I miss the accompanying poem, but finding a good poem on spiced nuts might be a stretch.
Yes, sadly, there seems to be a dearth of printable poetry devoted to spiced mixed nuts. Here’s your opening to literary immortality!
Just for you
read stanza II…
A Los Angeles evening and the sun slashes the sky
to orange and pink ribbons.
Just a few blocks from the weeds
and chain link fences of Dogtown,
there’s a Venice Beach street
where palm trees lean into perfume
and money jangles like hammered bangles
on knife-thin wrists.
This moment’s hot restaurant steams
the boulevard with bodies.
Two new lovers sit at a front table,
all fingers and lips, feeding on flatbreads,
spiced nuts and olives jammed with pimento.
They swirl the wine in their glasses,
smooth spinning tops,
and sip the purple burn.
Outside, a passerby hands a bottle of water
to a beggar slumped against
the restaurant’s glass wall.
He turns the liquid charity over his head,
a private toast to the city, a million shattering beads.
And concrete drinks it all in: slap or shuffle
of shoes, laughter, mad dogs barking
in the distance.
I’m inspired! But I usually am by all your postings, Liza. Happy Holidays to all!
xo- Meg and Merlin
Thank you so much, Meg! Wishing you, Merlin, and Skylar a lovely holiday. XxxLiza
I have had such a wonderful time reading your blog this year..thank you!
wishing you and Bill and your whole family and all your friends a very Happy Christmas and a very merry and healthy New Year!
Thank you, Annette, and I very much appreciate all your wonderful comments over the course of the year.
I join with the others in thanking you for your lovely blog, Liza, and in wishing you and Bill a happy holiday time and a grand new year. I’ve just made the nuts (thank you to both Liza and Bev) and am sending a container with each of our kids to their in-law families tomorrow AM.
Thanks, Geneva! I’m so pleased you tried to recipe. I made a batch myself on Friday, also intending to give them away, but when I checked the tin this morning I saw that it was down to a single layer of nuts. I can’t seem to get a straight answer out of certain husbands, but I’m pretty sure I know what happened to them.
This is just to say
we have eaten
the spiced nuts
that you gave to us
and now we
Liza and Beverly.
Christmas now smells
With apologies to WCW
I’ve a feeling WCW would be tickled pink, Patty. I think some examples of this classic recipe might be coming your way soon.