Common Scents

It goes without saying that what I miss the most about my time in New York City are the wonderful friends I made and left behind. We snuck into the city for a long weekend last week, and I’m still a little embarrassed to have not seen everyone there that I love. At one point I found myself drinking an almond butter vegan smoothie on the Lower East Side debating if I could make it to the Upper East Side, Fort Greene and onto a barbeque in Williamsburg by 5PM. (Fort Greene and a visit with Aleza won out, and the passion fruit and cocoa nibs doughnut  convinced me I made the right decision.) We also managed to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit at the MoMA and watched my Cousin David give his first improv performance at a club in Long Island City. (He was far and away the best on the stage. Rich says I’m not allowed to say anything negative about his fellow performers, so I’ll leave it at that.)

There is one other thing I really miss about the city. It’s a little strange to say, but I miss the smell – in particular, the smell of candied nuts being peddled on every corner from the top of Manhattan to the bottom of the island. There’s a kiosk or two down by Downtown Crossing, but nothing compares to the sugared perfume found on every street corner midtown. I’ve thought about lobbying Yankee Candle to capture the scent in wax.

I managed to abstain in the city, but tonight I made these. (It’s a reprise of a dish from my birthday party; my father-in-law took quite a liking to them.) It’s a riff off a smitten kitchen recipe that Deb had also riffed off of. I changed the cayenne pepper to ancho chile powder. If that’s not in your spice cabinet, no need to go to the market. You can always use cayenne, or even smoked paprika. Although nuts can get expensive, I bought this can of cashews at Ocean State Job Lot for $3. I’ve noticed Trader Joe’s tends to have a good price on nuts as well. The choice of nut is entirely up to you.

And yes, your house will smell like New York City. That’s a good thing.

Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts Adapted from smitten kitchen who adapted from Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country

Karmel says: “A mason jar full of nuts and a pretty ceramic bowl is my favorite gift. If you bring these to a party, tell the host or hostess to hide them, or they will disappear.”

Ingredients

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2/3 cup white granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Generous pinch ancho chile powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pound nuts – cashews, walnuts, pecan halves – this is entirely up to you

1 egg white, room temperature

1 Tablespoon water

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix sugars, salt, chile powder, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.