Recipe: Cajun Spiced Nuts

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This recipe appears in Deep South Parties: How to Survive the Southern Cocktail Hour Without a Box of French Onion Soup Mix, a Block of Processed Cheese, or a Cocktail Weenie by Robert St. John, Hyperion 2006.

These are great when made in large batches and given as Christmas gifts.

2 tablespoons bacon grease or canola oil

2 teaspoon fresh garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts

1 cup pecan halves

1 cup walnut pieces

1 cup whole, unsalted cashews

1 cup whole, unsalted almonds

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning (recipe below)

2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees.

2. In a small saute pan, melt the bacon grease over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes. Do not brown the garlic. Place all nuts in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the bacon grease and garlic mixture over nuts and toss well to coat evenly.

3. Sprinkle seasonings and sugar over the nuts in small batches, tossing nuts to distribute seasonings evenly.

4. Pour nuts out onto a large baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

5. Remove nuts from oven and allow to cool completely.

6. Store in an airtight container before serving.

7. Spiced nuts will hold for 4-5 days.

Tip for entertaining: As a general rule, herbs and ground spices will retain their flavor for one year. Whole spices can last three to five years. Proper storage will result in a longer shelf life.

Creole Seasoning

Over the course of my twenty-five year restaurant career, I have used this seasoning more than any other ingredient. It is one of the earliest recipes I developed. I use it on all types of seafood, and as I would use salt on many others.

1/2 cup of Lawry's seasoned salt

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon white pepper

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1. Combine all the ingredients.

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