Friday, 17 May 2013

Fabulous Friday: Cocktail Hour Nibbles

Worcestershire and Tabasco Roasted Cashews
Rachel, Dublin

No matter how many extra olives you add to your martini, or whether you eat that slice of pineapple on the side of your pina colada, it is a sad fact of life that one cannot live on cocktails alone.

This is not all bad news though as cocktail hour presents us with an opportunity for both a tempting tipple and a naughty nibble!  We can indulge in a tasty bite while rationalising the extra calories to ourselves as 'lining the stomach'. 

Nibbles with drinks can cover anything from the humble crisps and dip (Aoife and I might even share our famous garlic dip recipe!) to the elegant canapé, something which I particularly enjoy making as I can be creative with flavours and presentation; I find something strangely satisfying about fussing over fiddly details.

I decided to start this series of posts by experimenting with making my own flavoured, roasted nuts. I have developed quite an addiction to dry roasted peanuts lately but made the mistake last weekend of reading the ingredients list on the packet.  Let's just say that MSG was the only name I recognised amongst a big, long list of additives and, when MSG is the best of a bad bunch, you probably shouldn't be eating them, certainly not at the rate that I can! These nuts have a deeply savoury flavour from the worcestershire, a small kick of spice and just enough salt added to make the flavours sing. Far healthier than the shop bought version and very quick to make.

worcestershire and tabasco roasted cashews

100g cashews
1tsp worcestershire sauce
3 drops tabasco
salt, to taste

Preheat your oven to 160ºC (fan).  Pour the cashews into a roasting pan which is big enough to fit them in a single layer. Sprinkle over the worcestershire and the tabasco and toss to ensure the nuts are evenly coated. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes as the nuts will stick to the pan. After 20 minutes the nuts should be dry yet still slightly sticky. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with salt and allow the nuts to cool in the pan; they will dry further and become less sticky. Once cool, place in a serving dish or in an airtight container if not eating straight away (I grabbed the opportunity to use my fantastically kitsch strawberry dish!).

I made a very small batch of nuts as I was experimenting with different flavours and didn't want to waste lots of expensive cashews (a batch of burnt smoked paprika nuts did end up in the bin).  If you were making a larger batch you would not need to increase the amount of the liquid ingredients by the same proportion as you increase the amount of nuts.  Just use enough to ensure that they are evenly coated. If you like spice you will need to use slightly more tabasco than you expect as the flavour had diminished considerably after they were cooked. 

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