Jul 212013

Curry-Chili Nuts + Cocktail Hour

What’s better with the cocktail hour than a bowl full of salty, nibbly nuts? Pecans, almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, the list goes on. But rather than settling for an ordinary pour from a store bought can, try this simple but super-flavorful treatment.

This recipe is particularly useful when I have a few odds-and-ends to use up. Today’s batch polished off leftover handfuls of pecan halves and walnut pieces, and also made a dent in a rather large supply of slivered almonds. I’m thinking I’ll pick out the larger pecans and walnuts for snacking, then use the slivered almonds as a salad garnish.

Pairing: Your Favorite Cocktail Hour Tipple

I think these are pretty versatile nibbles. I like them with martinis, Americanos (one of my personal favorite cocktails), and just about any glass of wine.

I’m on a month-long sinus/allergy motivated detox program, which means I’m on the wagon for the next few weeks. But I’ve got plenty of material to share — and I’m also thinking I need to rise to this challenge and experiment with some non-alcoholic beverages. For today, here’s a random selection of few wines I’ve enjoyed recently — have a glass for me!

Cellar No. 8 2010 Pinot Grigio California ($10). A nice surprise, fresh, refreshing, not particularly complex but fine for cold quaffing on a hot day. Find it!

Parducci 2009 Merlot Mendocino Small Lot Blend ($13). Was the winner of 3 under-$15 Merlots one evening, showing appealing bright plum notes and fresh finish. Find it!

Ecco Domani 2011 Moscato Delle Venezie ($12). Easy, pretty peach and apple, pleasantly sweet, a little fizz. Clean finish saves the day. Find it!

Feudi di San Marzano 2011 Primitivo Puglia ($12). Ripe, concentrated, black plum and cherry, savory roasted herb accents. Find it!

Landmark 2010 Chardonnay Sonoma County Overlook ($25). Medium-bodied, clean finish, ripe melon and Asian pear fruit, moderate touches of cream and spice. Find it!

Divining Rod 2010 Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands ($20). Nice smoky note accents ripe tropical citrus and crisp appple, plays against buttery cream note. Find it!

Steelhead Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay Sonoma County ($15). Could be an everyday Chardonnay for fans of this style, with vanilla, butter, cream and oak mingling with ripe pineapple and melon. Rich finish. Find it!

Paul Dolan 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino ($25). Elegant and balanced, red cherry, blackberry, dried sage, lightly toasted spice notes, pretty finish. Find it!

Recipe: Curry-Chili Nuts

2 cups mixed raw (not roasted) nuts, unsalted, preferably whole
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon curry spice blend
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine nuts in a large bowl.

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat and stir in curry and chili powders. Warm spices until aromatic, but do not brown. Pour over nuts and toss, coating well. Spread nuts over large baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Watch closely during the last 5 minutes; if nuts begin to get too brown, remove from oven. Toss with kosher salt. Turn onto a double layer of paper towels and let cool to room temperature — this will soak up extra oil and guarantee maximum crunch!

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