75 Ways to Salty Snacks Heaven, Taralli Recipe from Salty Snacks by Cynthia Nims

After sharing a vintage armagnac cocktail recipe what lands in my mail box, Salty Snacks a how to 'make your own chips, crisps, crackers, pretzels, dips, and other savory bites' (Ten Speed Press, September 2012).

The 160 pages paperback by Cynthia Nims packs a bunch with 75 ways to salty snacks heaven.

Some like Tempura Green Beans with Tapenade Dip' leave you wondering if it calls for Shochu or a glass of Provence rosé.

My first pick from the book comes in as many flavor variations as there are regions in Italy according to Cynthia Nims.


Makes 32 taralli

    2 cups all-purpose flour

11/2 teaspoons kosher salt or flaky or coarse 
sea salt

   1/2 cup dry white wine

   1/2 cup olive oil

SLTS Taralli image p 79

Stir together the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the wine and olive oil and stir until a cohesive dough forms. Shape into a ball, cover the bowl with a towel, and let sit for 1 hour to allow the flour to absorb moisture from the liquids.

Turn the dough out onto the counter and cut it into 8 even portions. Roll 1 portion of the dough into a rope about 20 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the dough rope across into 5-inch pieces and form each piece into a circle, gently pinching at the ends to seal. Set the formed dough on a baking sheet while rolling and forming the remaining dough.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Gently add 6 or 7 of the taralli to the water and simmer until they rise to the surface, about 2 minutes. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon, drain for a moment over the pan, and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. They won’t expand much while baking, so can be close together but should not be touching. Repeat with the remaining taralli, allowing the water to reheat between batches as needed. Bake the taralli until lightly browned and crisp, about 45 minutes. Transfer the taralli to a wire rack to cool.

When all the taralli have cooled, arrange them in a basket or bowl for serving, or store them in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

(*Reprinted with permission from Salty Snacks: Make Your Own Chips, Crisps, Crackers, Pretzels, Dips, and Other Savory Bites by Cynthia Nims, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group. Photo Credit: Jennifer Martiné)

Movie Date or Party Treat, Coconut Curry Caramel Corn from Susan Feniger's Street Food

My first recipe pick from Susan Feniger's Street Food (Clarkson Potter, July 17) was Thai Tea Pudding with Lime Caramel and Caramel Cashews and i keep walking down the caramel trail today.

Play Kid Creole and the Coconuts while cooking it.

Coconut Curry Caramel Corn

This is the recipe to think about if you are going to a party—it would make a great gift instead of a bottle of wine. I recently prepared this as a party favor for a luncheon of 750 women, and they loved it. Even more note-worthy: I still loved it after making such a huge batch! That says a lot. The combination of sweet and spicy in the popcorn is what makes it different from anything else you’ve tasted.

Olive oil spray

1½ cups shredded unsweetened coconut

3 tablespoons canola oil

¾ cup popcorn kernels

2 cups Candied Peanuts (page 21)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups packed dark brown sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons chopped fresh curry leaf (see page 20; optional)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (see page 78)

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg (optional)

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 

003_Feni_coconut curry caramel corn (1)

Makes 18 cups 

1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Liberally spray an extra-large mixing bowl (not plastic) with olive oil spray.

2. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast it in the oven, stirring it once or twice, until it is golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool, leaving the oven on.

3. Put the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot, add the corn kernels, and set over medium-high heat. Cover, and shake the pot occasionally until the popping begins, about 5 minutes. Once the popping starts, shake the pot continuously until the popping slows down dramatically, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, but continue shaking it until the popping stops entirely. Dump the popcorn into the prepared mixing bowl, trying not to let any unpopped kernels fall into the bowl. Add the toasted coconut and the candied peanuts. 

4. Before beginning the caramel process, spray a rubber spatula, a wooden spoon, and 2 cookie sheets liberally with olive oil spray. 

5. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with the oil-sprayed spatula, until the butter is melted. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and being careful not to splatter the hot caramel, until the mixture thickens and a candy thermometer registers 255°F, about 7 minutes. (If you do not have a candy thermometer, you will know it is ready when the bubbles of the mixture get noticeably larger and slower.) Remove from the heat. Add the salt, baking soda, curry leaf, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, turmeric, mace, paprika, cayenne, and cinnamon. Stir quickly to incorporate, and then immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn mixture. Stir with the wooden spoon until all of the popcorn is well coated. 

6. Pour the mixture onto the oiled cookie sheets and spread it out evenly. Bake for 1 hour, stirring it every 20 minutes to keep it from burning. 

7. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let the popcorn cool to room temperature. The popcorn will crisp as it cools.

8. When it is cool, you can serve the popcorn immediately or package it in airtight bags for storage. It will keep well for 4 days.

Curry Leaf

Used in curries in India and Sri Lanka, curry leaf is fried along with chopped onion in the first stage of cooking. Usually called “curry leaves,” they are also called “neem leaves” or “curry neem leaves.”Curry leaf is what they call the “mystery ingredient” in India. Used everywhere but hard to describe, curry leaf has a slight nuttiness that adds backbone to the flavor of a dish. There really is no substitute, so if you can’t find the leaves, simply omit them from the recipe.

(* Recipe from Susan Feniger's Street Food published by Clarkson Potter-Random House- July 17, 2012- Photographs by Jennifer May- All rights reserved)

Amaranth Sesame Breadsticks Recipe from Dairy Free and Gluten Free Kitchen

I am back with second helping of The Dairy Free & Gluten Free Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, Paperback, January 2012) by Denise Jardine . Book offers 150 recipes (from Pancakes to Pizza) for all occasions and seasons.

After spinach, doughy goodies.

Amaranth Sesame Breadsticks

Free of egg, soy, nut
makes 12 breadsticks

1 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup Gluten-Free Flour Mix (page 172)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 cup warm water (110°F to 115°F)
1 package (21/4 teaspoons) quick-rise dry yeast
1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt, for sprinkling (optional)


Amaranth sesame breadsticks (2)


Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

To prepare the dough:

Combine the amaranth flour, flour, sesame seeds, sugar, xanthan gum, salt, and onion powder in a large bowl. Mix together with a whisk until blended. In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in warm water and whisk in the olive oil. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, stir until the mixture comes together and forms a ball. Divide the dough into 12 balls. Line a flat work surface with parchment or waxed paper. Using your hands, roll the dough to form 12-inch-long, cigar-shaped rolls.

Transfer the rolls to the prepared pan. Cover the pan with a damp kitchen towel and place it in a warm, draft-free location for 20 minutes or until the breadsticks have risen slightly. If desired, sprinkle with kosher salt. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the breadsticks are dark golden brown and slightly crisp on the bottom. If desired, sprinkle with additional sesame seeds.

(* "Amaranth Sesame Breadsticks recipe from THE DAIRY-FREE & GLUTEN-FREE KITCHEN by Denise Jardine, Paperback published by Ten Speed Press, January 2012, all rights reserved)

Panelle, Sicilian Fritters, Gluten Free Recipe from Colman Andrews 'Country Cooking of Italy'

Amongst the books I received in runup to Thanksgiving is The Country Cooking of Italy (Chronicle Books, Fall 2011) by Colman Andrews with appetizing photographs by Hirsheimer and Hamilton.

Colman Andrews serves recipes for all seasons and all meals.

As first excerpt, I went for a simple Panelle recipe from Sicily for 3 reasons.

To start with it only takes a few steps, second it will bring a fresh note at cocktail time, third it is made with chickpea flour so gluten free.

Panelle (Chickpea Flour Fritters)

Panelle are the Sicilian equivalent of the panisses of Nice and vicinity, essentially fritters made from chickpea flour that has been cooked like polenta. One of the island’s great gastronomic delights, they are street food, found in markets like the famous Vucciria or larger but less famous Il Capo in Palermo, and sold all over the island in the frigitterie, or fry shops. Sicilians often eat them as an unlikely sandwich filling, much as the Spanish fill sandwiches with slabs of potato omelet.

Serves 6 to 8

11/2 cups/360 milliliters extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
Coarse sea salt
2 cups/250 grams chickpea flour

Panelle-1 (2)

Lightly oil a shallow 9-by13-inch/23-by-33-centimeter baking pan.

In a large pot, combine 1/2 cup/120 milliliters of the oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3 cups/720 milliliters water. Turn the heat to medium and immediately begin pouring in the chickpea flour in a very slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until it is well combined. Add a little more water if necessary to obtain a thick but still fluid consistency. Continue cooking and stirring constantly, switching to a long, strong wooden spoon when the mixture becomes too thick for the whisk, until it is thick and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes.

When the chickpea mixture is ready, pour it into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

To serve, cut into 3- or 4-inch/7.5- or 10-centimeter squares or into triangles of the same length. Pour the remaining 1 cup/240 milliliters oil into a large frying pan over high heat and heat to 375ºF/190ºC. Working in batches, fry the pieces until crisp and golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. As they are done, drain on paper towels.

Dust generously with pepper before serving.

(* Recipe from The Country Cooking of Italy by Colman Andrews- Chronicle Books, Fall 2011- reproduced with permission of the publisher- all rights reserved- Photography by Hirsheimer and Hamilton)