Sunday, April 8, 2012

Toasting Nuts = Not Hard

I really had no intention of doing anything special, food-wise, for today's holiday.  However, after an excellent night of sleep and two hours of invigorating yard work, I was suddenly compelled to whip up an Easter feast.

The 2.5 lb ham was at attention, defrosted, in my fridge.  An recipe for "Apricot Brown Sugar Ham" saluted me from in my inbox this morning.  Two elderly, valorous zucchini cried out to be used.  A bag of frozen green beans waited at the ready to march into culinary battle.

Okay, enough with the military metaphor.  You get it.  I was able to piece together the following meal:

Apricot Brown Sugar Ham
Green Beans Amandine
Mashed Potatoes
Zucchini Cake with Vanilla Glaze

I confess, the potatoes were instant.  I don't feel guilty - everything else was from scratch.

For the green beans, the almonds were to be toasted.  Now, I've never toasted nuts.  It daunted me.  What if I toasted them...wrong?  Burned them?  Here's the thing I learned today: toasted nuts are like high school freshmen - you never really should turn your attention away from them, even for a moment.   When you turn your back on twenty-some fifteen-year-olds, it's just a matter of time before someone is punched in the nuts.  And, when I stepped away from my dry, medium-heated skillet for a minute, my almonds were quite toasty (not burnt, tho).  When the recipe says 'stir constantly,' I'm here to tell you, they quite mean it!

And after toasting a pan full of nuts, chucking in a pound of cooked green beans, salt, pepper, butter, and lemon juice was a cakewalk.  Green Beans Amandine.  Pretty simple dish, but sounds REALLY FANCY!

Oh, and on the topic of cake, tonight's dessert was a Zucchini Cake.  Because it's been a zany kind of day, I opted to use a Bundt pan.  And when I use a Bundt pan, I am inclined to drizzle or sprinkle or spread something over the cake, if only to watch the icing et al. stream gracefully down the side of the perfectly rounded confection.  However, I wasn't feeling like plain powdered sugar and I certainly wasn't going to go buy frosting.  So I found this gem at (where else, natch?) Vanilla Glaze.  Had I not cut down the recipe, my final product would have resembled this:

Photo courtesy of Normailed at
Instead, my glazed cake came out like This (pic down near bottom of today's entry).  While the cake was delicious, it did not have the beauteous rolling lines of icing this cake here has.  Thus, my second lesson of the day: when it comes to icing, make the full amount the recipe specifies.

There are certain things I simply do not question anymore:

1. Halloween candy is available in stores right around the first day of school.

2. Home-baked bread is always better.

3.  Shake your nuts constantly.  When toasting them, that is.

4. Full icing measurements are meant to be the number.

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