I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but there are days at work when I struggle to find something decent to eat. In fact, most days seem to fall into one of two categories, either feast or famine, and not anything in-between. There aren’t many famine days to be sure, and most days I struggle to eat dinner when I get home because I’ve noshed at so many tastings over the course of my work day, that I barely have an appetite when I sit down to our table at night. These swings in my at-work food intake are all the result of our teams’ schedules. While all of the “teams” that make up the America’s Test Kitchen family; “Cook’s Illustrated”, “Cook’s Country”, as well as “Books” and “Photo”, all share the same kitchen space, we are pretty tightly aligned within our team with regard to how we spend our day. For instance, during a week when we at Cook’s Illustrated are up against writing deadlines, and are desk-bound and working to deliver stories to our editors, it’s not unusual that all five of us that cook for CI never even see the kitchen. On those days, a quick spin downstairs MIGHT land you a snack snagged from one of the other ATK teams who are busy in recipe development, but timing can be tricky, and more often than not you’ll return to your desk empty handed.
For those days, when we’re in heads-down writing mode and I’m not being called to the kitchen every few minutes for a tasting, I like to keep a bag of something easy and nutritious to snack on to keep the engine running. These nuts are my latest desk-day snacking obsession. They’re a slightly modified version of the bar nuts you’d enjoy if you were one of the beautiful people sipping cocktails at the rightly famous Union Square Cafe in NYC. These nibbles are the perfect combination of sweet, salty and savory. Naturally crunchy, and reasonably nutritious, a couple handfuls please my jaded palate and fill the hole in my belly so that I can maintain focus on my screen, meet my writing deadline, and get back into the kitchen where I can eat for real! I’m such a fan of these nuts that I made a few large batches around the holidays and gave them as gifts to the members of my team at work, folks who KNOW good food, and they were universally enjoyed. A new food obsession successfully launched at ATK.
Cheers – Steve
- 18 ounces assorted unsalted nuts
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 3 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. While the nuts are toasting, whisk butter, rosemary, cayenne, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large bowl. When nuts are toasted, add them to bowl and stir to evenly coat. Spread back on sheet tray and toast for another 7-8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then serve warm in bowls. Nuts are also good at room temperature, and keep for weeks in airtight containers.