"A good toast." What does this conjure up in your mind? A raising of a glass combined with some kind words? Or a way to prepare bread in the morning? Or perhaps something else?
Toasting is most often associated with bread, a yummy preparation that can be topped with butter, jam, cream cheese, or in our home, often peanut butter. But toasting can go way beyond just bread.
Here's a good tip to remember:
Toasting ingredients, such as nuts and spices can greatly enhance their flavor. As an added bonus for the budget-conscious set (and aren't we all these days?), a good toast on certain ingredients can help stretch their flavor, and in doing so, requires you to use less of that particular ingredient. Special double bonus: in the case of nuts, not only will using less of the ingredient save you money, it will also cut out calories and fat from your meal.
The line between a good toast and burnt ingredients is fine, so in order to prevent ruining your nuts or spices, here's a few additional tips:
1. Consider using the microwave. A microwave safe dish can help make easy work of toasting nuts or spices. Place the ingredient in a single layer and heat on high for 45 seconds. Stir, repeat. Take note of when the items begin to brown and reduce the time you cook to about 30 seconds each round in the microwave. Once brown, let cool and you are good to go.
2. My second favorite way to toast is on the stove top. Use a clean, dry saute pan and cook over medium heat. Just be extra vigilant to stir regularly to prevent burning.
3. Lastly, you can use your oven to toast items, but be aware that this can take 20 minutes or more and requires lots of opening and peeking at the contents of the oven. Again, stir regularly to prevent burning.
Nut of all kinds, whole spices like coriander seed, caraway seed and cumin seed and even breadcrumbs taste beautifully when pre-toasted for a recipe.
Just use the above tips and you will be toasting to your own kitchen toasting success in no time!