I own three cookbooks, that’s it. Most of the time I just try and recreate my favorite restaurant dishes. Even when the food doesn’t come out exactly right, I like knowing that it’s my creation. The only cookbook I use on a pretty regular basis is Mark Bittman’s ginormous vegetarian cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and I’m not even a vegetarian! The part I love most about the book is that Bittman treats vegetarian food like a cuisine, rather than a series of substitutions. His cookbook presents ingredients that lend themselves to vegetarian cooking — everything from chickpeas to sushi rice and demonstrates how to use them in range of ways. Take nuts. Bittman devotes an entire section to the lexicon of nuts and seeds and then offers various ways of how to season and cook with them. See the recipe for Caramelized Spiced Nuts below or feel free to experiment and make your own nutty creation!
Caramelized Spiced Nuts
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Time: 15 minutes
2 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
2 cups of sugar (variation, sugar in the raw)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups unsalted mixed shelled nuts (I just used almonds)
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with the oil. Put a wide pot or deep skillet over high heat, and 2 cups of water and the sugar, and bring to boil. Stir in the spices, salt and nuts. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced to syrup, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Turn the heat to low under the nuts and remove with a slotted spoon, letting the excess syrup drain off a bit and then spreading them on the baking sheet.
3. Roast the nuts for 10 minutes, tossing once or twice with a spatula. Remove from the oven and let cool; the sugar coating will harden as the nuts cool. Serve or store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 or 3 days.