Several days ago, our son Michael, who works in Boston, called with an ourgent culinary request. Everyone in his office, it seems, was in a holiday spirit and had been bringing homemade sweets and savories to work during the past week. There was an air of conviviality at lunch and at breaks when people enjoyed sampling these treats.
Mike wanted to make a contribution, too, but because of his hectic schedule, he did not have much free time for marketing or vTC cooking. He asked if I could suggest an easy recipe that could be made in less than an hour. And, always juggling his finances, he mentioned that the dish must be within his budget.
In my office, I checked my files, looking through stacks of folders filled with clippings and old notes. There I found a recipe that fit his needs perfectly. Chilied almonds, a delicious preparation of whole nuts seasoned with red pepper flakes, chili powder, cumin and garlic powders and tossed with a lightly beaten egg white, are baked until lightly toasted. The aspiring young chef was delighted with my idea, and at the conversation's end was on his way to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for this uncomplicated recipe.
These almonds, which keep well for several weeks when packed in airtight containers, would make thoughtful gifts to offer holiday hosts or they could be a present children themselves help make for teachers.
Personally, I plan to have a good supply of these addictive nuts on hand to share with friends who stop by during the holidays.
Makes 1 pound
1 egg white
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin (see note)
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound whole unblanched almonds (about 4 scant cups)
Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray foil with vegetable cooking spray.
Whisk egg white until frothy in large mixing bowl. Combine pepper flakes, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and salt in small bowl and stir to blend. Add seasonings along with almonds to bowl with egg white. Toss and stir until nuts are well coated with mixture.
Spread almonds evenly on prepared pan. Bake on center shelf at 275 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature.
Almonds can be stored in airtight container up to 3 weeks.
Note: If possible, buy cumin seeds and either grind in electric coffee or spice mill or crush by hand with meat pounder. Freshly ground seeds have more flavor. If necessary, however, store-bought ground cumin can be used.