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Nuts (the sequel)

I don’t really know how or when Ina Garten became a cultural icon, but somewhere along the way she became Camp. I guess it was her television show that introduced Garten and her Hamptons world to everyone.  A recent episode of 30 Rock poked fun at her relationship with her husband, Jeffrey, confirming (for me) that she is different than the other celebrity cooks. It is all sort of amusing and confusing to me.

Like many of you, I’ve been cooking with Ina Garten for years. Some of my favorite recipes come from her cookbooks (including my all-time favorite lasagna [1]). She adds to her collection of books this month with the release of How Easy is That? (see!, she even has a catchphrase!).

The book is intended to provide home cooks with simple recipes for easy entertaining. The premise immediately confused me. Aren’t all of Gartens books full of simple recipes? I thought that was her thing. How Easy is That? is indeed full of easy, satisfying foods, most of which I would be happy to eat, but it all seems very familiar and ultimately uninspired. I found myself wondering if she had already included some of these recipes in past cookbooks (she hadn’t–but almost!). I think for those of us that have been following Garten for years, this book will be a bit of a disappointment. It lacks the energy and care that makes me return to her past books again and again. While overall this feels like a step in the wrong direction, there are some gems.
A favorite Garten recipe for Rosemay Cashews [2],  finds its way into most parties I host. She has included another spiced nut recipe in the new book. This time maple syrup, chipotle powder, and fresh rosemary are added to a mix of nuts and roasted in your oven. The results are delicious. This is the sort of simple recipe that makes us all love our Barefoot Contessa. With the holidays quickly approaching it is a wonderful recipe to have on hand for entertaining.

Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts (from How Easy is That? by Ina Garten [3])

Preheat the over to 350°F.
Brush a sheet pan generously with the vegetable oil. Combine cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, and chipotle powder on the sheet pan. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and 2 teaspoons of salt and toss again.

Spread the nuts in one layer. Roast the nuts for 25 minutes, stirring twice with a large spatula, until the nuts are glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 more teaspoons of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of rosemary. Toss well and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking as they cool. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

***This makes a lot of nuts. Feel free to cut it in half if you need to.