live your spice to the full

live your spice to the full

My friends are often impressed when they see my vast collection of dried herbs and spices. Some condiments I don’t spend a lot of money on, however when it comes to spices, I am happy to splurge. About a decade ago my spice collection was even larger, but I realized over the years that there are some spices I don’t use that often, some of them are used once (like half a teaspoon) and then they sit there for years, the labels on the containers fading and becoming wrinkled from the steam in my kitchen, not to mention the content losing its potency. So I have gotten more selective in my spice shopping and confine myself to those I am bound to use regularly with the occasional newbie getting a space on the shelf because I want to try something new or a recipe asks for it.

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I have also learned that I prefer individual spices rather than spice mixes. Some chefs have spice ranges featuring intrigueing and perfectly curated blends. There are some staples like a variety of Indian masalas, dukkah and quatre epices, but apart from that I have found that I am not using other blends that frequently. Even though I have limited the amount of individual and blend of spices and haven’t discarded any spices in a long time, I believe there is room for improvement. Visiting La Boîte in New York City and my favorite spice shop, Altes Gewürzamt in Klingenberg/Germany I recently got some inspiration how to use spices and blends more often. They were selling spiced popcorn and nuts flavoured with some of their spices. So before the spices lose their potency its worth making these more often. These also make a great gift.

And: this is also wonderful way to use a leftover egg white! If you happen to have one, use it for this really easy-peasy snack. It’s highly addictive and I couldn’t stop nibbling the other day at work.

I am giving a method here for a sweet version and will come back for a savoury version in a few weeks. I used a mole spice blend, which I am not using a lot in my cooking, but free to experiment with other blends. The potency of the spice blend will vary depending on where you will buy yours. I recommend you start with slightly less and sample a nut before baking to see if you need to add more.

mole spiced nuts

  • 1 egg white

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 3 cups almonds, pecans, macadamia or blanched hazelnuts

  • 3 tablespoons unrefined, brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoons of mole spice blend (or to taste)

  • 1 generous pinch of fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees.

Beat the egg whites and water in a bowl until frothy. Mix in the nuts until the are evenly coated. Spread the moist nuts on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

Mix the sugar and spice blend with the salt. Sprinkle the mix over the nuts and mix with a spoon to coat them evenly with the mix.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until crisp. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and leave to cool. Best eaten fresh, alternatively store in a container.

Lightly beat the egg white with the water until frothy.

Lightly beat the egg white with the water until frothy.

Mix the nuts in the frothy egg white-water mix before coating with the spice

Mix the nuts in the frothy egg white-water mix before coating with the spice

Spread the moist nuts on a baking tray lined with parchment and sprinkle over the spice and sugar mix.

Spread the moist nuts on a baking tray lined with parchment and sprinkle over the spice and sugar mix.

lavender jelly

Pasta sauce from leftover sardine oil

Pasta sauce from leftover sardine oil