Roasted Nuts Meet Chinese Five-Spice, Cocktail Parties Everywhere Rejoice


Roasted Nuts Meet Chinese Five-Spice, Cocktail Parties Everywhere Rejoice

December  1, 2016

Let's say you're in a weekend state of mind a little early this week—so what are you doing to celebrate Thursday? We partnered with Simply Organic to share spiced and herbed recipes for cozy gatherings.

I’ve been saying I’m going to hold an open house party since the beginning of the year. Once the renovation on our new home is done, I promised myself, I’ll invite over all the wonderful people we’ve gotten to know, from the neighbor who let us stay at her house for a week to the café owner down the street who has offered to watch our baby(!).

In the last few weeks we’ve finally settled in, and with the holidays approaching, now seems like the time to have friends and neighbors over for an evening of food, drinks, and getting to know each other a little better.

Photo by James Ransom

I love playing hostess, and I look forward to any opportunity to cook for people, but when I’m entertaining, it’s essential for me to keep things simple with snacks that I can make ahead of time. That way I can relax and focus on enjoying my guests. For this occasion, I imagine the booze will be flowing, as we have some bottles of fine tequila and locally-distilled whiskey that are just waiting for an excuse to be cracked open. A large batch of spiced nuts is definitely in order—they’re a go to for parties because I can make them ahead of time and tinker with the taste to match the season. Crunchy, salty, rich, and full of flavor, spiced nuts are the perfect foil to a cocktail.

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I like making this five-spice roasted version to have on hand at the holidays because the smell from the oven alone is festive and warming. Aromatic five spice is an essential Chinese seasoning mix that combines cinnamon, fennel, cloves, star anise, and white pepper. In its traditional uses it can enhance a stir-fry or balance the taste of a fatty meat like pork or duck. But now that it’s gotten into the hands of western chefs, five spice is lending a subtly exotic taste to the likes of everything from ice cream to popcorn.

Making roasted nuts is pretty foolproof, too. The main thing is to get the seasonings to adhere to the nuts so they have some flavor, and a shot of sweet, sticky orange juice does the trick. The orange juice gets whisked with spices and sugar to make a thick paste that the nuts are tossed in before roasting. All that’s needed after that is to put them in the oven on medium heat and toss them regularly to prevent burning.

Roasted nuts can be cooked a night or a week ahead, which makes them a blessed relief when party time rolls around. If you find yourself with an abundance of them, they make a lovely holiday gift, too.

Thursdays are like warm-ups for the weekend—so why not raise a glass a little early? We partnered with Simply Organic to share spiced recipes for cozy family nights and impromptu get-togethers. Head here to see all their spices, and get ideas for your #ThursdayMoments.

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I'm fascinated by the way food connects us with different times, places, and each other. I live in Nashville, TN, a city rich with culinary traditions and a fast growing immigrant population. As Culinary Liaison for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, I organize events that unite people around food and spotlight the work of immigrant chefs. My cookbook The New Persian Kitchen is a winner of Food52's Piglet award. I love cooking Iranian rice and hearing people crunch on the crispy tahdig from the bottom of the pot. Find my Persian Rice Bonnet and Persian Spice Kit on my website and on Etsy.