When you want to add a little extra depth to a recipe, consider toasting the nuts or spices before adding them to a dish. Toasting helps to release the flavor and oils in the spices and nuts, lending depth and wonderfully rich flavor to a dish.
Toast whole spices on the stove top using a heavy-bottomed saute pan over moderate heat. Toast the spices, stirring them or shaking the pan frequently, so they toast evenly. Watch the pan closely, so the spices don’t burn. A few minutes is all it should take to bring out the flavors; you’ll know they’re ready when you can smell them. (You can toast ground spices, too, though this is best done on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the oven to keep the ground spices from burning.)
Toast nuts on a sheet pan in a 350- to 375-degree oven for several minutes until lightly darkened and fragrant. As with spices, watch that the nuts don’t overcook in the oven -- they can go from nicely toasted to tragically burnt quickly.
If you have any kitchen tips or questions you’d like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.