SPICED ALMONDS

Nibbles for six (Makes about 4 cups)

Both adults and children love crisp, spiced almonds.
The nuts freeze beautifully so I prepare them in large batches and
freeze them in plastic bags to have on hand. To serve, just defrost them at room
temperature and serve or reheat briefly in the oven. *

1 teaspoon olive or corn oil
1 pound raw, skinned almonds  (or walnuts or peanuts.)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
½  cup sugar
1 ½  tablespoons five-spice powder OR mix the following seasonings:
1 ½ to 2 teaspoons allspice 
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt

1.Preheat the oven to 300 F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with the oil.
2.Put the almonds in a bowl. Mix the egg whites with the almonds and stir to coat.
In a paper or a plastic bag, mix the sugar with the spices. Drain the almonds in a
strainer and drop them into the paper bag.  Holding the bag shut, shake it to coat the almonds with the spices. Spread the coated nuts in a single layer on the greased cookie sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes until golden and crisp. To test for doneness, cut the almond in half and make certain the inside is opaque and crisp. Let cool, then transfer to a serving dish. (These will keep for up to 1 week in a tightly covered container and indefinitely in the freezer. )

 *To re-crisp the nuts, bake them  in a 350-degree oven until crisp before serving.

SPICY SHRIMP COCKTAIL

Satisfying snacks for six 
 

Since I am a New Englander by birth, I prefer to eat seafood simply. Crisp-cooked shrimp with a horseradish-flavored sauce is the essence of simplicity. I add extra flavor by first poaching the shrimp with a little rice wine and some ginger and scallions which imparts its own subtle and unique seasoning. 

2 tablespoons rice wine, sake, or very dry sherry
6 slices fresh ginger, smashed with the flat side of a knife
6 stalks scallion, ends trimmed, smashed with the flat side of a knife
1 ½ pounds medium to large shrimp in shells

Spicy Cocktail Sauce, (mixed together) :
1 cup ketchup
1 ½  tablespoons horseradish, or to taste
1 ½  teaspoons hot chili paste, or to taste              
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice or to taste    

1.  Bring six cups of water plus the sake, ginger slices, and scallions to a boil, then add the shrimp. Once the water reaches a boil again, cook the shrimp for 1½ minutes or until cooked through. Drain in a colander and let cool slightly, then remove the shells and any black veins. Put the shrimp in a bowl and chill.
2.  Spoon the cocktail sauce into a bowl and place in the middle of a platter. Mound the chilled shrimp around the sauce and serve.

Cardamom Chai

Serves 4

2 1/4 cups water
3 cardamom pod, whole, split
1/4 inch fresh ginger
2 cup milk
4 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoon strong black tea

Add cardamom, ginger, water and bring to a boil.
Simmer on low for 5 minutes. Add the milk and sugar
to the pan and bring to a boil again. Add tea and bring to a boil again.
Strain it into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups and
serve.

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STEAMED ASPARAGUS WITH CARDAMOM BUTTER

Rich Vallente, the talented executive chef of Legal Seafoods Restaurants, developed this wonderful recipe during the “Spices of Life” project when we were working with Chef Suresh Vaidyanathan from the Oberoi Hotel group in India.  

2  tablespoons whole cardamom pods (about 50 pods), smashed with the flat edge of a knife

¼ cup virgin olive oil

¼ cup unsalted butter

2 pounds fresh asparagus, tough woody stems snapped off

½ teaspoon salt

 

1. Toast the cardamom pods in a heavy skillet for about 5 minutes over low heat, shaking the pan from time to time until the cardamom is very fragrant. Add the olive oil and butter and slowly heat to infuse the oil and butter with the cardamom flavor for about 10 to 15 minutes while the asparagus are cooking.   

2.Rinse the asparagus stalks and arrange in a heatproof plate like a pie or quiche pan or in a steamer basket. If using bamboo, line the basket with a piece of parchment or wax paper.

3.Fill a large pot or a wok with several inches of water and heat until boiling. If using a plate, set it on a tuna fish can with both top and bottom removed. Or, set the steamer basket in the wok and steam 5 to 6 (??) minutes, or until just tender. Remove and arrange on a serving plate.

4.Pour the cardamom butter and sprinkle the salt over the asparagus and serve.

Six Servings

Quick Bites: Cardamom

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For a specific health problem, consult a qualified health-care giver for guidance.

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