Category: Cats

Ah, nuts or Go Nuts! or Alyce and Helen’s Spicy Nuts

Ah, nuts or Go Nuts! or Alyce and Helen’s Spicy Nuts

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It’s snowing here.  I’ve been waiting forever.. or it seems like.
This week, it’s been one thing after another; do you have weeks like that?
When you have an agenda only to have it thwarted by work, illness, spouses traveling, or whatever?
Promises, however, are promises.  And the promise to  give you the recipes from this tray:

 

Go Nuts!  Today’s recipe is at center.

is being kept.

Today’s entry is one I may have posted before, but it’s worth repeating if I have.   Surely it’s gone into the Holiday Cookbook  for 2010 on examiner.com.   This is a spiced nut recipe that I originally received from my sister Helen.  I have since called it Go Nuts!  But, having changed it from her recipe to mine, I’ve also called it Alyce and Helen’s Spicy Nuts.  I’m baking five kinds of cookies today and, while looking at an old Betty Crocker Cookbook from the early ’70s, I saw a very similar recipe there!  I’m big on provenance.  If something is original (or I have every reason to believe it is), I want the credit.  If it’s a riff on something, I want the other cook to have the credit; I want to be a honest recipe person.  Sometimes I know there’s nothing new under the sun and, when I really think I’ve done something new (for instance, I grilled pizza in the ’80s) I wish I’d put it somewhere.

They really taste this good.

Well, here’s your recipe for the day.  People adore this stuff.  It does store ok, but is best during the first day or so.

P.S.  I know how pedestrian this post is…   See bottom.

Go Nuts!  Or whatever you want to call it—————-

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites, beaten well
  • 1.5 pounds nuts (pecans, cashews and almonds are a good mix; just pecans are scrumptious)
  • 3/4 c white, granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I like Vietnamese)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1/8th teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (added after baking)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Mix together all ingredients well in a large bowl.
  3. On a well-greased half-sheet cake pan (or a large, rimmed baking sheet), spread out nuts evenly.  You can use parchment paper instead of greasing the pan.
  4. Bake for an hour.  Check for crispy brown doneness.  If just chewy, separate out nuts a bit with a fork or fingers (careful!), and bake five minutes longer.
  5. When nuts are crispy, remove pan from oven, sprinkle with black pepper. Cool briefly and break nuts apart and stir as best you can, using a sharp-edged spatula to get the nuts up off the pan.  Remove to another pan for cooling or nuts may stick. (If they do, reheat them for 5 minutes and then remove to another pan.)  For crispiest nuts, let sit at room temperature for several hours.
  6. Store, cooled,  in gallon plastic bags or well-sealing containers at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.  For longer storage, refrigerate.

In Memoriam

Our share cat Skippy Jon Jones had to be euthanized today.  Miss him already.  No words.

Skippy–Luvya!  See you later.
Peaches, cream, and more

Peaches, cream, and more

If its August.  If it’s Colorado.  I’m eating peaches.  Any day. Every day.  For at least two weeks.  By themselves.  On Greek Yogurt with Colorado honey and slivered toasted almonds.  Or granola.   On top of vanilla frozen yogurt.  In a salsa on pork chops.  Etcetera.

Here are a few of the yummy things I’ve done.  Of course the best?  Above.

Grilled peaches:

Preheat clean grill to medium-high heat.  Cut peaches in half and remove pits.  Brush each half with a little bit of canola oil and place cut-side down on grill.  Let cook about 3 or 4 minutes and turn over when grill marks are well-established, but not blackened.  Cook another 2 or 3 minutes until tops of cut-side are somewhat visibly drying.  Remove and cool briefly.  Enjoy as is or try another good idea…

Grilled Peaches with Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Thyme
God had to have been in on this creation.  Of course.  Here’s how:
Grill peaches as above.  Top each with 1-2 T plain goat’s cheese (softened a bit).  Drizzle with your favorite honey and sprinkle with a few leaves of fresh thyme.   (recipe copyright Alyce Morgan, 2010)
Grilled Peach Salsa
Lovely on BBQ Pork Chops (Really),
Salmon
Shrimp Tacos
Grilled Fish
Tortilla Chips?  Of course.  Here’s how:

2-6 t very finely minced jalapeno (to your taste–start with 2t and more if you’d like)
1/3 c finely minced onion
2 large peaches (Colorado preferred), cut in half and grilled*, peeled after grilling, and chopped into 1/2″  pieces
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 ea medium red sweet pepper and green sweet pepper, diced
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Dash of kosher salt and a couple of grates of fresh ground pepper

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients gently but thoroughly. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. (Add more jalapeno, etc) Serve on with grilled pork chops, shrimp or salmon or on seafood or fish tacos. (recipe copyright Alyce Morgan 2010)


Wine? If you make the bbq pork chops or salmon, try a little inexpensive Beaujolais. Other reds or bigger wines, will overwhelm this meal. It’s summer and something lighter and refreshing will turn on these peaches. If you make the shrimp or fish tacos, a cold Spanish Albarino (lovely white) or even an Oregon Pinot Gris could do the trick.

(If you’d like to make the green bean salad, here’s the blogpost for it, though I dressed it differently here.  Rather than a mustard vinaigrette, I mixed a bit of top-quality light Ranch with some roasted salsa for a dressing.)

Lovely frozen yogurt from David Levovitz’ book THE PERFECT SCOOP. (Click for the recipe.)  Of course, we then had it like this:
 

                 Vanilla Yogurt with Sliced Colorado Peaches
 
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
 

Our tomatoes are ripe.  Salads are every day now.
 

Skippy Jon Jones and Tucker saying, “Hi!”
 

Emily’s home for a week or so.  Here she helps beat melted chocolate, a little cream, and sugar for a frozen chocolate yogurt testing that looked like this when done:

 
I’m still working on this…want to try it with toasted almonds, etc.  I’ll admit it was tres tres tres like it was… made with Valhrona Chocolate.  Definitely.  Oh my.  Ask for it if you’re coming to dinner.

Speaking of coming to dinner:  I have one space left in Cooking with Music for September 18 at 12:30.  It’s an Italian class with pizza appetizer, two main-course soups, and an apple crostada (free form apple pie) for $50.  Includes dinner (you also get to invite a friend) and wine.  Email me if you’re interested.

Right now, the sun is shining so brightly.  But on the windows I hear the tip, tap, tip of rain.  Opening the shades (closed to keep the sunroom cooler), I see it’s definitely raining.   Sun, Rain=Rainbow!  I’ll be watching out east for it.

It’s time for a little music, a candle or two, cell phones on off, and watches stored.  Friday.  A bit of dinner together.  Breathing how blessed I feel to have almost my whole family in my house.
Alyce

Asparagus Soup or There’s a New Kid on the Block

Asparagus Soup or There’s a New Kid on the Block

I never tire of the SILVER PALATE cookbook.  In fact, I recently saw a perfect hardback copy  at  a used    bookstore and snatched it up to put away for when my paperback copy -almost 30 years old-dies.  Or for when one of my children or good friends loves something I’ve made and I want to hand them their own copy.  My bent-paged, tattered covered, stained, smeared, and spilled-upon copy is one of the loves on my cookbook shelf.  Within are notes, memories of special times,  thoughts, re-writes (heavier salt back then and more ingredients available now), dreams, and just plain stuff that is still fun to look at and/or cook.  Written back when women were just seriously beginning to need a reason to not cook (actually that’s when the shop hit it big in NY), it hit the market with a big keBANG and, I think, opened up a whole world to a whole lotta people.  Funny, huh?

Think of it.  My cookbookshelf before 1980.  Julia.  James. Betty Crocker.  Joy.  Galloping Gourmet.  I think there were Reader’s Digest and Good Housekeeping books my mom threw in when I got married.  I had a recipe box with 4×6 cards and I was a lot better off than many friends who had 3×5 cards.  GOURMET.  BON APPETIT.  I had those.  When I could afford them.

People cooked from newspapers and church cookbooks.  A lot.  More often, people cooked from scraps of paper quickly scribbled while you visited someone else and wanted a copy of a recipe they had made.  Or, as with my Aunt Marie (Dad’s sister), you sat and wrote recipes while she talked.  That’s how I got my grandma’s pound cake recipe.  I never met my grandma; she died about 1938.  Thank God for my Aunt Marie’s memory.   Thank God for my mom’s memory because the imprints in my mind of watching her cook were of the times she cooked out of her head.   Were there copy machines?  Sure, but only in offices or libraries.  And, if you did copy something onto that filmed sort of paper, what did you do with that piece of paper?  If you were a very organized person or a secretary by profession, you might have punched them and put them in a 3-ring binder with your other typed recipes.  Big if.  I met one person like that in my life.  And I cooked.  People didn’t really have typewriters until (or if)  they went to college, and those were wretched machines.  If you wanted to type seriously you used the IBM at work after hours.  If, by chance, you worked.

I thought I had truly made it to heaven food-wise when I made Sheila Lukins’ Cream of Asparagus Soup out of SILVER PALATE.  One of the first times, it was the day before my daughter Sarah’s baptism (86) and I was cooking for a big celebration.  My sister Helen, who flew in for the occasion,  was serving as both sous chef and dish washer.  Not for the first or last time.  It wasn’t just a celebration of Sarah and her blessed baptism in Spokane, Washington, but it was also a celebration at having another live child.  In 1978, God was good indeed and we had our first lovely boy, Sean.    In 1979, I had had a miscarriage.  In 1982, our daughter Elizabeth died—–SIDS–on July 20.  In March of 1984, our son Ryan was stillborn. 9 pounds 2 ounces.  Sarah, an adopted child, was one who might escape our run of horrific luck and live.  Our families came.  We cooked.  We laughed.   We bought a beautiful white dress and shoes.  We celebrated.  We went to church and laughed.  Came home and ate.  And what we ate was from the SILVER PALATE COOKBOOK!  Cream of Asparagus Soup.  Chicken Marabella.  Things that later became very famous, indeed.

And Sarah lived.

Over the interim years, I’ve made that soup many times in many variations.  I’ve switched the veg to broccoli and added parmesan.  I’ve made it cold and I’ve made it hot.  It’s been in paper bowls and china bowls.  It’s been a starter and it’s been a main course.  It’s been cooked for invalids and small children who don’t like vegetables, but who will eat this soup.   This year, it’s in sweet, tiny cream soup bowls Dave bought me for our 36th wedding anniversary last week; he had to buy them used.  (Below @  Margarita at Pine Creek dinner to celebrate!)

 I’m not sure many china manufacturers make them any more.  A gift for someone who loves to make first course soups, something that most people gave up doing before they were born.  But I like a soup to start.  I like the feeling of seeing that little bowl on the table and thinking, “Something besides salad!”  Or, “How warm!”  Or, “How fun!”  Or, “What will it be??”  It’s a smooth and easy start for a meal and can be just as veggie as salad.  People feel very special when you make them a first course soup.

Our friends Susan and Charles came to dinner last weekend; I made nicoise.  (Above at their son’s wedding-Charles is hidden)

Dave grilled tuna for it.  I love nicoise.  So does my sister.  So does Sue.  So does Dave.  I like it with salmon and asparagus, too.  But I like to best with ahi.  I’m so spoiled.  I eat it just as easily with canned tuna, which I did in France with my sister.  For a first course.   Before a huge plate of roasted chicken.  With sweet, ceramic, cold pitchers of white wine.  Ah, France.
But, what for a first course?  I kept having asparagus soup running through my head.  For whatever reason, I wasn’t thinking SILVER PALATE.  I’ve made this so many times that I had to be in the middle of making it, thinking of where it came from, to remember to grab SILVER PALATE and look to see if there really was a recipe for this soup!  It had become my own.  I barely thought about its provenance.  But the more I cooked, the more I remembered… and pretty soon the book was on the counter and I was back all those years cooking for Sarah.  Cooking for Elizabeth, for whom I never cooked (though I cooked, ate, and nursed her), the anniversary of whose death is today.  Cooking for my family; being grateful for not only Sarah’s baptism, but for my own.  Thanks to Tom Trinidad, I now know that.
And, of course, the soup isn’t the same soup as in 1986.   I have more experience in the kitchen, more experience with soup (one of my favorite things to cook), and more experience dealing with the grief of loss and the joy of addition.  By now, I grow lots more herbs and use them differently, though I certainly grew herbs in the 70’s and 80’s when I couldn’t get them in stores like now.  (If you want to pay 4 bucks.) 
 I know now how to get canned broth to taste better; I’ve always made homemade broth, but don’t feel too bad anymore if I don’t.  I now know what a few drops of Tabasco can accomplish and that there is no substitute for onions, carrots and celery.  I know now you needn’t add a ton of whole cream, but can throw on a “T”-tiny (as Susan says) spoonful of sour cream and a few chopped herbs and locate a whole nother planet in that bowl. 
Thanks, God, for the new kid on the block.  For what it taught me about making soup.  For the memory that impressed itself over and over as I recreated this food for more people I love. 
Alyce’s Asparagus Soup
via SILVER PALATE and a few years
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped coarsely
1 shallot, ditto
2T butter or olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced
6T fresh tarragon (or 2t dry), divided
1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
2# asparagus, chopped, woody ends in garbage
1 1/2-2 quarts chicken broth, unsalted
6 baby carrots or 3 regular carrots
1 stalk celery with leaves
4-6 drops Tabasco
1/4 c low-fat sour cream
Lemon rind
In a 4 or 6qt stockpot, heat butter or oil over medium-low, and add chopped onions and shallot. Saute about 10 minutes and then add garlic.  Cook another 5 minute or until veg are very soft.  Add salt, pepper, tarragon, parsley, and asparagus and let flavors marry by cooking a minute or two or three, stirring and smelling as you go.  Oh, tarragon.
  Pour in 1 1/2 qts chicken stock and add the carrots and celery.  Drop in the Tabasco. Carefully.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer 40 minutes or so until all the veg are  very tender indeed.  As it cooks, add more broth if it seems too thick.   Taste and adjust seasonings. 
 Carefully puree in batches in blender (hold down top with a big towel) or in the food processor. 
Remove to pan and serve hot or let cool and chill to serve cold.  Top with a spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkle (not too much) of tarragon and a grate or two of fresh lemon rind.
July
It’s happy.
It’s sad.
Thank God for asparagus soup.
Sing a new song,
Alyce
———————————————
Two-Dog Kitchen and New from around the ‘Hood
Including a “New Kid on the Block” in 2010
Emily-home overnight!
Skippito joins the fray.  He belongs to Mary Pat, but will be our cat when she travels.  I guess he’s our 1/3 cat.
Outside with next-door neighbor and herder, Moss.
Moss loves to try and herd cats.
He doesn’t know you can’t.
Trying.  Never giving up.  It’s a good thing.