Monday, September 21, 2009

Jambalaya Fest 2009

By Pat Tanner

I apologize if I have misled you into thinking Jambalaya Fest is an upcoming public event. In fact, Jambalaya Fest is an annual private party thrown by my good friends Helen and George. And the 5th one took place a couple of weeks ago.

So why am I telling you this? First, to inspire you to devise some sort of annual entertaining event that includes, as does Jambalaya Fest, good food, good drink, good music (preferably live), and a reason to reconnect a group of friends (or friends of friends) who may see each other only once a year and who enjoy catching up.

Guests at Jambalaya Fest have come to expect top-notch jambalaya, cornbread, and cole slaw, to name just a few of the treats provided by our hosts. We also enjoy the music of a jazzy/bluesy local band. (You can preview their work at

Some guests bring wine or beer, some bring dessert. Which brings me to the second reason. This year I dredged up a decades-old recipe for a confection that turned out to be the hit of the dessert table. These crunchy-sweet nuggets are easy to make, store well, and make a great hostess gift. Use the largest, freshest pecans you can find.

PRALINE NUGGETS (from Gourmet Magazine?)

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, whisked or sieved to remove lumps

2 tablespoons ground pecans
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon
bourbon or dark rum
1 large egg white, at room temperature
Pinch of
cream of tartar

Pinch of salt
2 cups pecan halves

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Butter two large baking sheets. In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, ground pecans, and cornstarch. Add the bourbon and whisk the mixture until well blended.

In another bowl, beat the egg white with the cream of tartar and
salt until it holds stiff peaks. Stir one-third into the sugar mixture and fold in the remaining whites. (The mixture will become more liquid.) Add the pecan halves, stirring to coat them well. Arrange them individually, rounded side up, two inches apart on the baking sheets. (You will have batter left over.) Bake for 12 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown. (It sometimes takes longer.)

Let the nuggets cool on the sheets for one minute. Transfer them to racks and let them cool completely. The nuggets will keep in airtight containers for five days. Makes about 100 nuggets.

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