I first heard about this recipe on the Food Network show, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," when Giada DeLaurentiis and her blinding white teeth (yes, Giada, I see your teeth, please put at least half of them away behind your lips) and her heaving bosom (yes, Giada, I see your boobs, please put at least half of them away behind a shirt), slobbered on and on about these hot nuts that are served at Happy Hour at the Union Square Cafe in New York.
And, I have to admit, they not only looked great, but also looked really easy to replicate at home, so I bookmarked them in my brain. Oh, who am I kidding. I'm 40 now, all bookmarks stay in my brain for approximately 4.5 seconds. I really made a note in my Blackberry, which is totally the boss of me.
A couple of months later, when putting together the menu for a dinner party on our deck, I remembered Giada's heaving blindingly white bosom teeth, and looked up the recipe. And who was noted as the author of the recipe on the Food Network website, but the Queen of the Heaving Bosom... Nigella Lawson! I love me some Nigella, so I was starting to feel really good about this recipe. Turns out, I was right. Two things that Nigella, Giada and I have in common… heaving bosoms and a love for these hot nuts in our mouth.
Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts
Recipe courtesy of Food Network, modified just a bit
2 1/4 cups (18-ounces) assorted unsalted nuts (if you happen to have a Trader Joe's near you, I have found that the perfect assortment is one bag of their fancy mixed nuts (cashews, pistachios, almonds, macadamias), and half a bag of peanuts also from TJ's. For both, I buy the 50% less salt variety)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (yes, that is 2 Tablespoons, and that is very important)
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons Maldon or other sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine and spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and melted butter.
Thoroughly toss the toasted nuts in the spiced butter and serve warm. Obsess.
These keep really, really well for about a week. If I am taking to a party and want them to still be warm, I line a cookie tin with foil, and make the nuts just before I hit the road. The cookie tin will keep them nice and warm for quite some time.