Thursday, January 26, 2012

Toasted Pecans – a Quintessentially Southern Cocktail Nibble


Mention toasted pecans or cheese straws and all of a sudden I’m magically whisked to the South. Both are quintessentially southern appetizers served at parties throughout the South before dinner as cocktail nibbles with drinks. Why it wouldn’t be a party down south without them.

This recipe is from a delightful new cookbook – Southern My Way, Simple Recipes, Fresh Flavors, written by Gena Knox. I grew up in the south, but I also support a healthy diet and lifestyle. There’s more to life than fried chicken and butter, butter, butter.  And Gena proves it with her modern take on southern classics.


I can’t wait until peach season so I can try her Georgia Caprese Salad, a southern spin on the Italian classic Caprese salad, made with fresh local peaches. Herbed salmon with cucumber salad looks particularly healthy and the recipe was inspired by a classic cookbook that’s been a favorite of southern cooks for ages – Charleston Receipts.

Now back to the pecans and some tips. Buy the freshest available. When I was a girl my sister and I picked pecans off of the ground from the trees in the backyard and our parents shelled them with a big old fashioned contraption that doubled as a door stop. Now I buy the current crop from Georgia. Remember that nuts can burn very, very easily when you’re toasting them, so keep a good eye on them and don’t wander too far from the kitchen while they’re in the oven.  Also, toasted pecans are very, very addictive. Make plenty – some for the cook to nibble and lots for your guests. They can disappear from the cocktail table “before you turn around” as they say down south.


Southern Toasted Pecans
Adapted from “Southern My Way” by Gena Knox – yield about 4 cups

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
1 pound fresh pecan halves, preferably from Georgia – they’re the best
Large grain sea salt or French fleur de sel for dusting the pecans when they’re taken right out of the oven

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Combine melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Pour the butter mixture over the pecans and toss well to coat. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, taking care to leave them in a single layer. Roast the pecans on the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and checking to see that they are not burning, until pecans are toasted to a light brown. Each time you stir, be sure they are in a single layer again.

When they are done, remove from the oven and spread on wax paper.  Dust the pecans with a healthy sprinkle of grainy sea salt or French fleur de sel and let cool. Store pecans in an airtight covered container at room temperature.

As I said, they're addictive, so make more than you think you need. Especially if you or your husband have a tendency to nibble before the guests arrive as we are inclined to do from time to time.

Speaking of addictive, I’ve become addicted to Pinterest. Pinteret is a virtual pinboard that allows you to organize and share all of the fabulous things you find on the web. I’ve had great fun viewing pinboards created by others, browsing for decorating ideas for our condo or new healthy recipes to try. As you might imagine, my pinboards include fabulous dining rooms, “to die for” kitchens, southern style porches and verandas, and of course some great food thrown in. Come join the party – there’s a red link in the sidebar to the right.

Southern style porch via Pinterest

Pinterest is as addictive as a bowl of southern toasted pecans, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. This recipe for toasted pecans will be linked to Miz Helen’s Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum. Pull up a chair and join us.

47 comments:

  1. Sam- This book sounds right up my alley and I'm really looking forward to the caprese salad with peaches. Pecans and cheese straws are definitely a way of life down here. Your pecans look wonderfully fresh and delicious.

    And, I agree. Pinterest is too addicting. I've already pinned way too much.

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  2. I'm really enjoying Pinterest also. A great way to bookmark recipes I want to try. I may have had toasted pecans in a salad or two, but have never thought of them as a staple for an appetizer. I can almost smell them roasting.

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  3. I have not been introduced to Pinterest, so I will check it out. I love the photo of the southern porch!

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  4. I love Pinterest and have become addicted... It must be great to sit on that porch and eat some of those toasted pecans!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  5. I've never had that fresh a pecan:) On our way down to Fl..we see stands..one day will stop..well if J does:)

    Pinterest is fun..don't know my way around yet for everything,but I love certain photos and ideas~

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  6. Your post today makes me want to check out the new southern cookbook. I have had Charleston Receipts for decades. It has had infrequent use. I've used Charleston Receipts Repeats quite a bit. It's not a party without toasted pecans and/or cheese straws.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  7. That sounds like a wonderful cookbook! We do love roasted pecans here too...

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  8. Oh no, another cookbook to add to my list!

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  9. Dear Sam, as usual, this post is so elegant. I love it! And the first post today with no sugar. So big thanks for that too. I can't wait for the peach season either... love peaches and apricots.

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  10. I've had the same thing happen when I make my sweet and spicy toasted pecans. You trun around and the bowl is empty...so your advise is spot on when it come to buying extra pecans. Gena's book sounds like a great place to enjoy good southern foods.

    I have not had a chance to get into pinterest yet, but I supposed I'm going to have to fine the time. Love the porch picture. My calander this year is with porches.

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  11. I definitely like the lighter version and like that egg whites aren't involved which makes them stick together in hunks. they look delicious, Sam.

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  12. Roasted pecans microwave version

    16 ounces fresh pecans
    heavy bowl
    2 Tablespoons x-tra virgin oil

    Microwave one minute, stir
    Repeat one minute, stir
    Repeat one minute, stir
    Depending on how fresh pecans are, difference in microwaves, amount of time may be adjusted. Watch, and test

    Sprinkle with salt or your preference

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  13. I have never had fresh pecans before...those would be great to use in salads too!

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  14. Oopsie, I am afraid I ate all the pecans! ;-)

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  15. Growing up in France, when we went to someone's home for cocktails, nuts were always offered. It was the perfect accompaniment to a drink. I have never been a fan of lots of nibbles before dinner and these look so appetizing I can't wait to try them.

    I didn't know nuts and cheese straws were a southern tradition, I'll have to get the book and learn more!

    Thank you

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  16. Oooh, these look so good, never had them! Easy too. I just love sourther porches...

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  17. uh, that would be southern. sheesh.

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  18. I love pininterest and I also love the flavors in these delicious nuts
    Mary x

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  19. We have a huge pecan tree in our front yard and on the years it produces well, we fill our freezer. I love having them on hand for cooking.
    We love toasted pecans and I can't wait to try this recipe.
    Thanks...

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  20. After looking at your food photos I certainly got an appetite. It’s already 7:30 pm so I can’t cook an elaborate meal but after seeing your picture of the Pernod I’ll go and get the bottle and start with it as an apéritif. I have not had a glass of Pernod for quite a while. The Italian chicken you showed looks really tasty – I’ll copy the recipe.
    Your pecan recipe looks good too. A couple of weeks ago we went to Decatur, GA to visit the original Waffle House (which is a museum now.) Close to it, in an empty lot, was a huge pecans tree and we saw a multitude of pecans on the ground. We picked them and must have – I don’t know really, 5 to 10 lbs. First we have to shell them. I have also used an orange type glaze on my pecans before, and that works well too.

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  21. Yum, yum yum! I've made some like this and used for Christmas gifts.

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  22. My mother and father used to bring huge bags of pecans home from Georgia when they drove to Florida. Today, pecans are still my all-time favorite nut. These toasted nibbles sound wonderful!

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  23. Just got a giant full bag of pecans from my relatives yard. I love toasted and candied pecans. They truley are addictive. I'll have to think of something yummy to do with them this weekend and share the finished product :p

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  24. Wow, caprese salad with peaches sounds incredible. Your toasted pecans look so good. I love toasted nuts, and they would make a great addition to my Super Bowl Eats and Treats Party. I'd love if you would stop by and link up!
    Thanks!

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  25. These are just divine. After hosting a friend from the south for a month, she sent me a huge box of just-picked pecans. I never had them that good again.

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  26. Holy smokes, 27 boards? You ARE addicted, lol.

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  27. Uh-Oh, the Pinterest bug bit you, too? I've been on it a while. It's fun to see what everyone else likes. As for the pecans... they'd be just as addicting. I can taste these with my TGIF cocktails that my husband and I like to spend at home.

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  28. I've not seen this cookbook, or pecans done this way, Sam. But I always have a sack of roasted pecans in my pantry. Will try to make them the southern way next time!

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  29. Pinning this one. I had never seen a real live pecan tree. I am also into Pinterest; perfect for bloggers.
    Rita

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  30. I have dirt under my nails as I type this from picking up pecans in my back yead! I just realized how blessed I am to have them! They are soooo very expensive now due to drought and a huge demand in China. Thankfully, I had 42 pounds cracked to shell out and put in my freezer yesterday. I am lucky!

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  31. A long time ago, I came across a Martha Stewart recipe for honey ginger scented roasted pecans. It quickly became my top-of-the-list cocktail snack, although I have to be judicious, because - as you say - I am in danger of scarfing them down before a single guest arrives. The magic of roasting!

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  32. Hi Sam,
    My Grandparents had a large pecan grove on their farm and there is nothing better than fresh roasted pecans, what a special treat. I really like your recipe and will sure give it a try, I am hungry for those pecans now. Hope you are having a wonderful week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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  33. Pecans are drawing great interest abroad now and it has caused our local prices to increase. My grandparents lived on six acres of pecan orchard in Mobile, AL when I was growing up and I loved picking up, cracking, shelling, and eating many pecans. We enjoy them in abundance now in a variety of ways, but my favorite is a candied spicy pecan served with greens, Gorgonzola, and vinaigrette.... Miam-miam!

    Have a delicious week, mon amie!

    Bises,
    Genie

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  34. These sound delicious. I bet they are addictive. :)

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  35. Oh goodness these pecans do sound addictive! These would be perfect for Superbowl. I've been loving your posts of beautiful home decor on Pinterest. I'm eager to see how this new form of social media develops.

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  36. yes they are! Nothing more southern than pecans!

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  37. Yum. I like the idea of Southern cooking that spares the arteries. We might do more of it out here in California, in this mode. And I never thought about nuts and their recency. I'm a ninny! Of course it would work like this.

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  38. I'm going to go browse Pinterest while munching on toasted pecans. I may never leave the couch again!

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  39. It looks like a lovely book to have!

    These spiced pecans look irreisitable & appetizing too! ;)
    Yummm,...!!! Kiises from snowy Belgium!

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  40. Great post, very informative and I cannot wait to try the pecans. Love your very lively blog.

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  41. This new cookbook sounds great. The toasted pecan recipe sounds fabulous. I'll have to try it sometime. Great posting.

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  42. Dear Sam, I am sure these are very delicious. I know that by the time I turned around they would be all gone. Blessings my friend, Catherine xo

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  43. The pecans look delicious and the recipe is enough to convince me I need that cookbook on my shelf. Soon!!! Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  44. Oh, these look marvelous, Sam! Can't wait to see the Georgia Caprese salad...mmmmmmmm.

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  45. I'll be waiting for Gena's Georgia Caprese Salad next summer. It sounds so delicious. We love peaches and I'm always looking for new ways to serve them. You are so right, Sam. Pinterest is addictive and I've found some great recipes there.

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  46. great snack and how cool your getting stuff from pinterest

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Sam