Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hockey Nuts

Hockey is the national sport in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live. Kids play it in various forms on the street, in grassy fields, in backyard rinks, and in arenas. People here still genuflect at the mention of “Gretzky,” No. 99. They still speak in hushed tones about “The Great One.” I once had the pleasure of sharing a dinner table with Russian hockey greats Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny. I had no idea who they were, or that Bure had been nicknamed the “Russian Rocket.” When someone mentioned it, I assumed the guy was an astronaut. When Mogilny introduced himself, I asked if he was Scottish. Neither was exactly pleased.
I’ve never been much of a hockey fan, but the Stanley Cup finals have everyone abuzz in the time zones where our team and their opponents live and play. If you can't beat ’em, join ’em! This small collection of recipes that I call Hockey Nuts are the perfect pairing with beer. And beer, as I'm given to understand, is the perfect complement for any team that plays another called the Brewin’s (Or is it the Bruins?). But then ... what do I know about hockey? Or about spelling, for that matter? Go, team, go! think that’s what I’m supposed to say. Somebody pass the nuts, please!
None of these recipes originates with me. Apologies to their inventors ... Although I don’t know their source, they are very, very good! Within North America, dollar stores are the very least expensive place to find the spices these recipes call for.
Spiced Nuts:
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cloves
½ c. water
2 c. walnut halves or pecans or whole almonds
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking, without stirring, to the soft-ball stage, when a little mixture dropped into cold water forms a soft ball or registers 228 deg. F. (108 deg. C) on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Add the nuts, stirring gently until mixture becomes creamy. Turn out onto greased waxed paper. Separate the candied nuts using two forks. Spread nuts in a single layer until dry. Store in tightly covered container. Makes 2 cups.
Spicy Sugared Nuts:
2 tbsp. butter
2 c. mixed salted nuts
¼ c. sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground coriander or cloves
¼ tsp. ground cardamom or nutmeg
Measure butter into large, flat, microwave-safe dish. Microwave at “high” (full power) just long enough to melt butter, about 1 min. Add nuts and microwave 5 min. at “high,” stirring or shaking dish every minute. Be careful that nuts don't burn! Combine sugar, cinnamon, coriander, and cardamom. Quickly stir into cooked nuts, blending well. Spread nuts in a single layer to cool. Store in tightly covered container. Makes 2 cups.
Bar Nuts:
1-¾ lb. (850 g) unsalted, assorted nuts
2 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. dark brown sugar
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tbsp. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Spread nuts on large parchment-covered baking sheet, mixing well. Bake 15-to-18 min. until light golden brown. In large bowl, combine rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter. Thoroughly toss warm, toasted nuts with spiced butter. Serve warm. Makes about 5 cups.

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