Nuts to you

The long awaited successful batch of roasted garbanzo beans.

The long awaited successful batch of roasted garbanzo beans.

First, let me start by saying that I am cognizant of the fact that neither peanuts nor chick peas are nuts.

Both are legumes, but they possess a certain nutty quality.  And not just because they think Jaws 2 was the better than the original and sandals with socks are a good look.

Yeah…not so much.

The chickpeas were the toughest, taking the most tinkering.  I’d made them (badly) in the past and was not impressed.  I thought they were just another healthy food that folks had convinced themselves were tasty, so they would munch on them, and not the potato chips.

But when I finally got a batch in which most were correctly roasted, I understood.  They are uber-crunchy (Petey has never actually tried them, because to him, they sound “too” crunchy—not even sure what that is), and flavored with lots of lemon, garlic, and Puerto Rican spices.

The goal when cooking is to roast them until all the moisture is gone, but they aren’t burned.  Which isn’t as easy as you’d think.  I tried lots of different combinations of heat and time, re-baked ones that weren’t done, and tossed many that were blackened nuggets of despair.

Last week, I finally cracked the code.  They take two hours in the oven, but when they’re finished the entire batch is cooked to uniform doneness.

My recipe produces a citrusy, garlic-y result.  But please, flavor them any way you like.  Go Chinese with toasted sesame oil and five spice powder.  Do a spicy Southwest version with cayenne, paprika, and chili powder.  Or make them Jamaican with some jerk spice.  That’s why making your own is so darn satisfying; you’re the boss of your own chick peas.

Trial and error roasted garbanzos

1 15 ½ ounce can chick peas

1 tablespoon garlic oil

Juice of ½ lemon

2 teaspoons Goya bitter orange adobo

Preheat oven to 325.  Drain and rinse beans.  Put into sturdy, dark, 9 inch round, or square metal pan.  Drizzle on oil and juice, sprinkle on spice.  Roll around to evenly coat and put in single layer.  Bake 30 minutes, then remove from oven and roll around and toss.  Do this every 30 minutes for a total of 1 ½ hours.  Then give them one last jiggle, turn off oven and let sit inside, undisturbed, for 30 more minutes.  Makes 1 ½-2 cups.

When I worked for Bosco, we had a customer who was a caterer and each year at Christmas would bring us homemade Buckeyes.  For the uninitiated, they are delicious little peanut butter balls coated with chocolate.  They are to Reese’s cups what steak is to a Mickey D’s quarter pounder–they both come from a cow, but that’s where the similarity ends.

I often give these as gifts.  I make up the balls, and then freeze.  When I need some, I just coat them with the chocolate, without even thawing them.  Use a toothpick to dunk them, then smooth out the little hole you’ve made.  The wax keeps the chocolate glossy, but you won’t taste it.

Buckeyes

5 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

1 c. peanut butter

1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt

Caviar from 1 vanilla bean

½ bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ bag milk chocolate chips

About 1/3 cup canning paraffin wax, finely chopped

Blend butter, peanut butter and vanilla. Add sugar and beat to dough-like consistency. Form into balls with small scoop and chill or freeze. Melt chocolates and wax in microwave on 20 second intervals, stirring after each, until almost fully melted.  Then stir until completely smooth. Double-dip balls in chocolate, leaving circle of peanut butter showing.  Makes about 6 dozen.

My last recipe is crazy-simple.  But you won’t be able to keep your hands out of these pecans.

Obsessive-compulsive Pecans

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in skillet on medium.  Add 2 cups whole, shelled pecans.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Stir constantly until they’re lightly browned and smell nutty.  Drain on paper towels.

So here you have it.  Three recipes that are perfect to put out for visitors, or give as gifts.

And, if somebody tells you to go nuts, you can say, “Don’t mind if I do.”

Thanks for your time.

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