How to toast nuts (and why you should)

Potato salad with toasted cashew nuts

When a recipe calls for nuts, it usually says toasted nuts. It’s not just in baking but nuts for toppings, for salads and even for snacking. Why? Does it really make a lot of difference whether the nuts are toasted or not? Oh, yes, it does. And the difference lie in the texture, the aroma and the flavor. When nuts are toasted, they release their oil making them more fragrant. The process of toasting changes the texture by adding crisp to the crunch. And toasting heightens the flavor of nuts.

Don’t believe me? Try baking cookies with nuts in them. Divide the cookie dough in half; add toasted nuts to half and untoasted nuts to the other half. See which batch is better…(more)

Oats and nuts breakfast muffins

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I'm not a fan of oatmeal porridge but I enjoy oats in many other forms -- in cookies and, lately, after I learned to make them because Sam loves snacking on them, in granola bars.And these oats and nuts breakfast muffins actually started with granola bars gone wrong. Sam and I were making a batch of granola bars one … »

Oats, nuts, chocolate and caramel squares

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Inspired by a turtle bars recipe (I don’t really know the definition for turtle bars), these nuggets contain oats, nuts, chocolate, sugar, flour, butter and caramel. No eggs which should make them vegetarian-friendly. When the flour, oats, nuts, sugar and butter meld together during baking, something crisp results. … »

Homebaked granola squares

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Sam discovered granola bars when she was in high school. By the time she was in college and living away from home, she used to bring a stash of granola bars for a weeks’ supply. Granola is muesli — a loose mixture of oats, nuts, honey and, sometimes, fruits. Geographic location and language account for the difference in … »

Chicken with mixed berries and almonds

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I've heard it often said that sweet and spicy go well together as they enhance each other's flavor. Well, this dish proves the truth of that statement. The chicken fillets were cooked in white wine with sweet-tangy dried berries, ginger and chili. Pearl onions and toasted almonds were added for a surprising contrast. … »

Soy-orange chicken with walnuts

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Lemon and pineapple often figure in Asian stir fried dishes. Oranges make a more rare appearance perhaps because orange segments easily disintegrate over high heat and constant stirring. But that can be prevented, or at least minimized, by adding the orange segments at the last minute.The previous post about how to … »

The pops that became stuffed cookies

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Pops are cakes or cookies on sticks. You've probably seen them in bake shops and candy stores. They are very popular gift items especially during Valentine's Day. You know, heart shaped cookies covered in red frosting with piped text that say a dozen different messages. They're fun to eat but it's even more fun to make … »

Birthday salad

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It's called birthday salad because it was made by three people who celebrated their birthday last month -- Buddy, Laura and myself. Just like my complete salad from 2008, this one is savory and filling as it has everything in it -- meat, vegetables, fruit, egg and even nuts. Laura prepped the veggies, Buddy grilled and cut … »

Toasted butter cake with walnuts and cream cheese frosting

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When I posted the recipe for bruschetta with tomatoes, basil, pimiento and cheese, I meant to follow it up with a recipe for biscotti to distinguish between the two (in a nutshell, bruschetta is toasted bread while biscotti is twice baked cake). But other interesting dishes were cooked and posted instead.A few days ago, … »

Apple and almond strudel

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A strudel is a pastry that consists of a filling (often but not always sweet) wrapped in dough. To be more illustrative, the dough is laid out, the filling spread on it, then the dough is rolled, cigarette-like, then baked. The baked pastry is sliced, dusted with confectioner's sugar and served with whipped … »