I had too too much fun in the kitchen of Sunny's Midtown at Shefzilla's pre-Thanksgiving bash last week. No doubt you can understand that I was more than a little humbled to be throwing out some vittles among the likes of the chefs in attendance, and I wore the wrong shoes for kitchen mats, to be sure. But I forgot how much fun it is on the line at one of these events, yammering and gossiping, helping each other plate, talking about how you puff rice and all that.
Vincent went first with sweetbreads in a little puff pastry and it was a divine bite. After all the little cups had left the kitchen I basically wanted to take a soup spoon to the pot and find a couch somewhere. Ferris Schiffer of Minikahda went next, his cured salmon in lefse was a fitting homage to the homeland, and his rolled rabbit was dense and perfect. I put out some down-home pulled pork sandwiches, kicked with some quick pickles and a bit of Spooky Sauce. David Vlach followed with some seriously saucy braised pork topped with gremolata and capers (those salty bits of love). And Shefzilla finished the night with an impossibly soft salmon bite touched by wasabi, (whipped?) ponzu, and puffed rice only to be followed by buttery little circles of foie on quince paste.
The last thing to go out (although roughly half the batch had been sampled over the night during the kitchen klatsch) were my Nana's recipe bourbon balls. A fitting tribute, I thought, to the forces behind the Shefzilla blog. And due to this lovely video, I've had a few emails today asking for the recipe.
Nana's Bourbon Balls
3 c. ground vanilla wafers
1 c. ground walnuts
1 c. confectioners sugar
2 T. cocoa
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 t. vanilla
3 T. corn syrup
Granulated sugar for rolling
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Sample the bourbon. Mix corn syrup with the vanilla in the bourbon, stirring to dissolve. Add the liquid to the dry mixture, working until a sticky dough forms. Pour yourself a little taste of the bourbon as a reward. Pull off a tablespoon sized hunk of the dough, roll it between your palms to form a ball. Decide a Manhattan would be nice. Roll the ball in the sugar just to coat. Store in an airtight container for at least a week before eating, just remember where you've hidden them.
If you can do all this while sucking down a few Pall Malls, then you and Nana are kindred.