nuts

Spicy caramel nuts

I am no Nigella Lawson!  When she gives a dinner party for friends she gives the impression that she wanders in from work and throws together a fabulous feast.  When I have a dinner party it takes me all week to move the billion and one toys out of the downstairs living space to be hidden out of sight upstairs.  Then the dusting, which has been put off for more weeks than is reasonable, has to be undertaken.  Then the sweeping and the mopping.  I don’t want my friends to see how slovenly I really am! So last week was a week of preparation for a gathering of friends at our house on saturday night.

I love having friends over and hearing the house ring with laughter and I love cooking something for everyone to share.  These nuts went down well with everyone.  Watch out though, one or two handfuls and you are hooked…

150g caster sugar
150ml water
1 tsp fennel seed
1½ tsp cumin seed
½ tsp crushed chilli
salt and pepper
400g mixed nuts and seeds

Method

Place the sugar and water into a heavy based pan and heat over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Turn the heat up and bring to a boil and boil for about five minutes until the mixture has turned darker and is syrupy.  Add the spices.

Place the nuts onto a silicone sheet on a baking tray (a silicone sheet prevents the nuts from being stuck forever to your baking try) and pour over the syrup, being very careful as it is extremely hot. Put the baking tray into a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 for 5-6 minutes until the nuts have toasted.  Leave to cool and the syrup will harden.  Break up into chunks and serve with pre dinner drinks.

Granola

I still have some Total Yoghurt!  Well, they did give me a lot.  I have been meaning to make granola for ages.  Mr OC eats a lot of muesli and I have a sweet tooth so this is something that pleases both of us.

Before I made it I did a Google search to find different recipes that I could adapt to suit us and I was really pleased to see that Margaret’s post on her lovely blog Kitchen Delights came near the top.  My recipe is very similar to the one that Margaret uses, (if it meet’s Margaret’s expectations then who am I to argue?) just with a tweaking of added extras and a little less maple syrup.

It didn’t really clump together,maybe more maple syrup would have helped (so perhaps I should call it toasted,sweetened muesli instead?) but it tastes really good.  It is very good sprinkled over yoghurt or with milk.  It’s also lovely to dip your hand into when passing. The only problem I have with it is that I keep eating it.

300g porridge oats
100g pecan nuts
100g cashews
50g pumpkin seeds
50g pine kernels
20g macadamia
50 g dessicated coconut
40g dried cranberries
40g dried blueberries
40g dried cherries
100ml maple syrup
2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tbsp local honey

Method

Spread the oats, nuts and seeds onto a baking sheet.  In a jug mix together the maple syrup, honey and oil.  Drizzle this over the oat mixture and stir.

Place the baking tray in the  centre of a preheated oven at 180°c and set the timer for five minutes.  It will take the mixture about 20 minutes in total to cook but you do need to stir it every five minutes because the mixture will cook quicker at the edges. When you have fetched it out and stirred it two or three times (about 15 minutes into the cooking) and it is beginning to colour add the desiccated coconut to the mix and stir to combine.  Cook for a further five minutes. When it looks and smells lovely and toasted take it out of the oven and leave to cool.  Add the berries and mix well.