Easy does it. A light hand is vital when you’re cooking with nutmeg.
Nutmeg is usually a supporting character that makes the lead actor look good; it is the makeup rather than the face. It has such a strong, dominating flavor that it is best used sparingly.
You may not even notice it when you taste it in something, but you’ll sure notice its absence when it is left out.
It’s the secret ingredient in fettuccine alfredo or any cream sauce, and it gives that extra nip that makes your eggnog taste nice.
Never miss a local story.
If you use it at all, you are likely to use it now, during the holidays. Otherwise, it may stay in the cupboard until next year.
But what is nutmeg? It is the seed of a tree, and the fruit in which it is found can also be eaten (in Malaysia and Indonesia, it is sometimes sweetened and crystallized or turned into a jam). The nutmeg seed is also surrounded by a red sheath that is ground up to make the spice mace.
That’s three different food items made from one fruit and seed. If nothing else, nutmeg is efficient.
In this country, nutmeg is most frequently found already ground. But you can also buy it still in the seed form and grind it yourself when needed.
This method is much more fragrant and flavorful, and it’s also easy. If you have a microplane, just run the nut over the grate.
Nutmeg and black pepper popovers
Adapted from Bon Appetit. Note: The batter may be made up to 1 day ahead of time and kept covered in the refrigerator.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
2 1/2 cups whole milk
6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Whisk together flour, parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk until well blended. Gently whisk in flour mixture, followed by 3 tablespoons of the melted butter. Do not overmix.
Divide the remaining 3 tablespoons of melted butter among 18 standard muffin cups, placing 1/2 teaspoon of butter in each one. Pour batter into the muffin tins, filling cups 3/4 full and dividing equally. Bake popovers until puffed, golden brown and crispy around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Using a thin knife or offset spatula, remove popovers from pan and serve immediately.
Per serving: 118 calories; 6 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 45 mg cholesterol; 4 g protein; 13 g carbohydrate; 2 g sugar; no fiber; 348 mg sodium; 48 mg calcium.
Spiced popcorn with pecans and raisins
Recipe by Bon Appetit.
5 cups popped popcorn
2 cups pecans
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Toss popcorn with pecans. Set aside. Melt butter in a small skillet over low heat. Add cinnamon, salt, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, ginger and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Stir in maple syrup. Pour over popcorn mixture and mix to coat.
Spread out on the prepared baking sheet and bake, tossing every 10 minutes, until dry and nuts are toasted, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool. Stir in raisins.
Per serving: 312 calories; 23 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 8 mg cholesterol; 4 g protein; 28 g carbohydrate; 17 g sugar; 5 g fiber; 245 mg sodium; 41 mg calcium.
Recipe by Saveur.
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for pan
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
4 1/2 teaspoons (1 1/2 tablespoons) freshly grated or ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine flour, nutmeg, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter cubes and pulse until pea-size crumbs form.
Add brown sugar, sour cream, milk and eggs; process until smooth. Add walnuts; stir in with a rubber spatula.
Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool. To serve, unmold cake and dust top with powdered sugar.
Per serving: 464 calories; 21 g fat; 11 g saturated fat; 76 mg cholesterol; 7 g protein; 63 g carbohydrate; 38 g sugar; 2 g fiber; 293 mg sodium; 145 mg calcium.
Wilted spinach with nutmeg and garlic
Adapted from BBC Good Food.
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 pound baby spinach
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated, or 1/2 teaspoon ground
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the spinach in big handfuls, putting more in the pan as it wilts. Stir in the nutmeg and salt. Serve while hot.
Per serving: 97 calories; 5 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 3 g protein; 12 g carbohydrate; no sugar; 5 g fiber; 240 mg sodium; 82 mg calcium.