Have you been spending the last few days celebrating some independence? Picnicking? Pool partying? Grilling and fireworking?
As you should, my friend!
Summer is in full effect -just look at the mercury if you had any doubt- and it’s about time to get into some baseballing. Like this week’s All-Star Game coming at you straight from Kansas City! A. and I will be watching. A. and I will be celebrating. A. and I will be taking a break from our picnicking, pool partying, grilling and fireworking to enjoy the All-Star action. Perhaps you should too.
I was never really a huge baseball person. I can remember going to games as a child and thinking that things were just moving way too slowly.
Where was the action? The glitter? The sequins? The brownies and cake? Clearly I was more cut out for My Little Pony marathons and cookie dough buffets.
Nevertheless, I’ve been hooked on MLB’s annual All-Star game ever since A. introduced me back in the day. To me, the All-Star game represents professional sports as they should be played: with loyalty, with camaraderie, and chock-full of good old-fashioned family fun.
Plus, the All-Star game is an excuse to whip up some All-Star food to match the All-Star play. This year our All-Star spread will feature some savory/sweet ballpark-smacking nuts. They’re simple. They’re satisfying. And I will be serving them with All-Star gusto. Perhaps you should too.
The things about serving seasoned, roasted nuts as an appetizer or pre-meal snack is that they really do get people excited for the main event. I especially like offering a salty/sweet option like this because I think it prepares the palate for the widest possible variety of tastes to come.
I plan to serve these nuts straight from the oven so they’ll still be warm; I’ll decorate our TV set with jar after jar for people to snack on while they watch the home runs sail by, and while I ponder whether anybody still refers to their TV as a TV set.
Either way, I’m looking forward to some All-Star baseball. Either way, I’m anticipating some All-Star food. And either way, I’m planning to enjoy every minute of it. Perhaps you should too.
Sweet & Spicy Ballpark Nuts
For the spice mixture:
3 sticks whole canela (whole cinnamon sticks may be substituted)
1 tsp. anise seeds
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
Note that this spice mixture yields much more than the two teaspoons needed for the nut recipe below. You can store the remaining spice mixture in a glass bottle or jar and use for additional batches of nuts or in other recipes. I even enjoy it sprinkled over oatmeal, a bowl of cereal, or a piece of toast.
For the nuts:
5 1/2 c. peanuts, raw
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. ancho chile, ground
2 tsp. spice mixture
1 tbsp. light brown sugar, tightly packed
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place the whole cinnamon sticks on a sheet tray or comal and toast in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove the toasted sticks and break into thirds or quarters, placing the canela pieces, anise, caraway and fennel seeds in the bowl of a spice mill. Grind the spices to a fine powder and set aside.
Meanwhile, toss the oil, peanuts, sea salt and ancho chile in a large bowl until well-combined. Spread seasoned nuts evenly on a rimmed sheet tray and roast for 10 minutes. Remove after 10 minutes and carefully toss the nuts. Replace and roast for 10 minutes more. After 20 minutes, remove the nuts back to your large bowl and toss with the spice mixture and brown sugar. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container for up to two weeks.
YIELD: approximately 6 cups of seasoned nuts