Tag Archives: Friendsgiving

The post with all of the excuses.

The truth is, I have about five (okay, ten) posts in various forms of draft. The long weekend was going to be the weekend where I finally caught up and finished all of my recaps before starting yet another series.

You know what they say about the best laid plans.

What happened was this: the work week was brutal. Then, I was getting sick. And, please stop me from talking about the weather or this will be the most boring post that I’ve written in almost two years. You get the point, at any rate.

This week promises to be just as chaotic as the last—currently, my dresser is dismantled in my bedroom as I attempt to fix one of my drawers with hope and gorilla glue. And, tomorrow I have approximately 5 hours of meetings. So, to bed very soon. But I cannot let another week go by without finishing the recap of a meal that happened two months ago, and was already a month late.

Yeah, I know. Are you still with me here?

Cornbread Stuffing

This recipe is infinitely adaptable to accommodate a crowd. I’ve included the measurements that I used below. This served nine with leftovers that lasted for days. Feel free to scale it back or add more if necessary. The most important thing is adding the egg just before baking so that the stuffing has something to bind it.

1 loaf cornbread, cubed
1 2-lb loaf white bread, cubed
2 TBS olive oil
1 onion
8 oz roasted and shelled chestnuts
4 ribs celery, diced
2 apples, peeled cored and cubed
1 tsp thyme
2 cups vegetable or poultry stock
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Heat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat the bread and corn bread approximately 25 minutes, until it is dried out but not browned. Set aside and then raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the bread is heating, you should saute your vegetables. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add in the onions and saute on a medium heat until they are translucent, adding salt and pepper to taste. This should take approximately five minute. Then add your celery, apples and thyme to the skillet, stirring. Heat for another 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is aromatic and the apples and celery have started to soften. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled bread, vegetables and the chestnuts. Add the stock a half a cup at a time, until the entire mixture is moist but not soggy. Stir to combine, then add in the beaten egg.

Transfer the stuffing to an oven safe serving dish and cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.

Serves twelve

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In case you were wondering

As far as I’m concerned, there’s a reason that classic cocktails remain classics.

Give me a good Manhattan any day and I’m a happy girl.

However, it should come as no surprise to any of you that I like discovering the old gems. Sometimes this gets me into trouble. I once asked a barman for something different and was given what I was told was a lost cocktail from the 1920s: The Bone—a combination of bourbon, lemon juice, and Tabasco. In theory, it should have been delicious, the bourbon taking the edge off of the acidic punch of the lemon finished with heat that rounded out each sip, keeping it balanced. In practice, it reminded me of the concoctions that my sister and I used to create when we were young for the sole purpose of seeing what would freeze. In case you were wondering, nothing with plain M&Ms ever did. I’m still not sure why.

The Bone also made me wonder how our tastes had evolved in the last century.

That’s the thing about cocktails—they’re tricky to get just right.

When it came to making my own for Friendsgiving, I wanted to go simple—first because I still hadn’t gotten over my infusion kick, and I wanted the flavors of the vodka to really shine. And, secondly, because, with a house full of guests who were getting hungrier by the minute (please refer to my inability to serve dinner before 9 pm), it had to be quick to prepare.

This one hits all the right marks, although I suspect that the vodka would be equally delicious with some apple cider and cinnamon. It’s something to try next year, anyway. So is remembering to take a photo of said cocktail.

Apple Cranberry Vodka
750 ml vodka1 cup fresh cranberries
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
Crush the cranberries and place them at the bottom of an infusion jar. Add the apples to your infusion jar. Top with vodka, and allow to infuse in a cool, dark place for at least 5-7 days. You can leave it longer, but remember to shake the jar periodically as the vodka is infusing throughout the process. Once the infusion is ready, strain the cranberries and apples out of it from it, using either cheese cloth or a coffee filter. Return the vodka to a serving container.

Friendsgiving Cocktails
1 oz apple cranberry vodka
7 oz ginger ale
Frozen Cranberries (or, ice)

In a large glass, combine vodka and ginger ale. Garnish with frozen cranberries.

Makes One

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This one uses lotsa butter

We’re under a week away from all of the “New Year, New You” messaging, telling us to cut back, lose weight and use all sorts of fat substitutes, so I’ll just get on with it.

The reason that this turkey is so good is butter, plain and simple.

You use a whole stick of it.

Before you judge me, know this: nothing good ever came from promises of no fat and no calories (with the notable exception, in my book, of Diet Coke). So, enjoy it. And, give me credit for not also covering the turkey breast with bacon, as a dear friend of mine had suggested.

Of course, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t tempted. Perhaps that’s a post for March, when, following months of nesting, we’re over all of the promises of new everything in the new year? It’s a thought, anyway.

For now, here’s to plenty of butter and cream to get you through the last days of 2011.

Roasted Turkey

Note that the roasting times are approximate and will vary with the size of your turkey.

1 10-15 lb turkey
8 TBS butter, room temperature
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, cut in half with zest and juice set aside (*Note that you’ll be using the juice in the gravy)
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
salt and pepper

Lots and lots of tin foil
Roasting Pan
Approximately 4 cups water

In a small bowl, combine minced garlic, lemon zest, thyme, and rosemary with the butter. Stir it until everything is well incorporated and season liberally wth salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

Your turkey should be at room temperature. Rise it off and pat to dry. Insert the halved lemon and quartered onion into the cavity. Then, using your hands, gently seperate the skin from the meat of the turkey breast. Once that is complete, use your hands and place the herbed butter under the skin, distributing it as evenly as possibly, using as much of the butter as you can fit.

Use the remaning butter to coat the turkey skin, taking care to make sure that the wings and drumsticks are well coated. Season the outside of the skin with salt and pepper.

Fold the wings under the breast so that tips are hidden and truss the legs so that the lemons and onions in the cavity cannot fall out. Set the turkey aside.

Crumple some of your tin foil to create a platform that the turkey can rest on. The turkey should be about 2 inches from the bottom of the pan. Place the turkey on the platform and add water to the bottom of the pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you’ll need 4-8 cups. The water should cover the bottom of the pan but not come into contact with the turkey.

Cover the roasting pan with foil and roast for an hour and a half. Remove the tin foil at that point, and base the turkey with the pan juices. Cover the turkey breast and wings with the tin foil and return it to the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the tin foil from the turkey, baste and roast for another 20-30 minutes, until the breast is golden and the interior tempertaure of the turkey is 180 degrees farenheit.

Once the turkey is cooked, remove it from the roasting pan and allow it to cool for another 30 minutes, so that the natural juices can redistribute. While the turkey is cooling, make your pan gravy (recipe follows).

Serves 10-15, depending on the size of your turkey

Pan Gravy
Pan drippings
1 TBS butter
4 TBS flour
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more as needed
2 cups poultry stock
1/2 tsp thyme

Skim the pan drippings to remove the majority of the fat. You should have about 3 TBS of fat left. Pour the fat and the rest of the pan drippings into a pan. Add 1 TBS butter and 4 TBS flour, and using a whisk, combine on a low heat, until the flour has browned. Add thyme and sautee for another minute. Add in the chicken stock and allow to simmer over a low heat, until the mixture thickens. Add the cream and stir to combine. Taste and add lemon juice to taste. This should cut the richness of the stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Maybe it’s me.

…but, it seems to be getting a little—okay, positivelygluttonous here these days. This being the season and all.

Before I get to the main course and, my favorite: the stuffing, I think that something green is in order. I should at least give the pretense of a well balanced meal (and, a well balanced series of posts, for that matter), right?

And, on that note: roasted Brussels sprouts.

I have no long introduction here, just a simple statement: these are good. And, fairly effortless: chop, toss and roast on a low heat.

That’s it.

It’s a side dish that is light on effort and heavy on flavor, the kind of dish you can more or less forget about while you’re setting the table. Or, in my case, searching for a complete set of silverware.

As you plan the rest of your meals for your holiday, keep this side dish in mind.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 TBS olive oil
5-6 garlic whole cloves, peeled
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Cut in quarters and mix them in a bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to allow the Brussels sprouts to brown evenly. When they are ready, they should be crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt to taste and serve immediately.

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Wherein I get Carried Away. Again.

When it comes to making things that I could easily buy myself, I’m willing to concede that, just occasionally, I get just a little extreme in my cooking.

I think that I may have hit a low point this weekend when I went to Momofuku Milk Bar for the explicit purpose of getting corn powder so that I could then bake Momofuku corn cookies myself.

Yes, you read that right.

It was one of those cases of doing something for the sake of challenge alone. Or, more accurately, one of those cases of making things more complicated than necessary for the story.

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of idiot goes to a bakery just so she can attempt to recreate their recipes (probably at a higher cost point, no less)… Well, now you know.

Still, I can’t say I’m sorry.

After all, I made Momofuku Milk Bar corn cookies myself and they were good. Really, really good.

I realize that on paper, corn cookies aren’t an easy sell. They sound like the kind of food that’s created for the sole purpose of getting children to get their daily serving of vegetables. Disingenuous at best and disgusting at worst.

In practice, nothing could be further then the truth.

Think of them as an amplified version the starch—there’s something that happens when all of the different essences of corn combine. It’s sweetness intensified; what I’d imagine corn must be like fresh from the fields. Assuming, of course, that you happen to have a stick of butter and cup of sugar with you while you eat the kernels. You get the idea, anyway. Which is to say, these corn cookies are unexpectedly flavorful and more delicious that I can adequately describe. It’s well worth the effort to make these at home.

And, if you want to go all out—and why wouldn’t you, really?—I’d suggest pairing a cookie with cinnamon ice cream and dousing the whole thing in bourbon.

Trust me on this one.

Corn Cookies
Recipe courtesy of Momofuku Milk Bar

16 TBS Butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 1/3 cups flour
1/4 corn flour
2/3 freeze dried corn powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer with a paddle attachment on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add an egg and beat for 7-8 minutes on medium-high speed.

Reduce the mixer’s speed and add in the flour, corn flour, corn powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix everything for approximately 1 minute.

Using a 1/3 cup measure of 2 3/4 oz ice cream scoop, portion out the dough on a baking sheet lined in parchment paper. Pat the tops of the dough flat. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (and as long as one week). Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—the cookies won’t bake properly.

When you are almost ready to bake, heat the over on 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Arrange the chilled cookie dough a minimum of 4 inches apart and bake for 15-18 minutes. The baked cookies should be bright yellow in the center, but browned on the edges. Allow the cookies to cool completely.

Room temperature cookies will last up to 5 days. They’ll last in the freezer for up to a month.

Men>Makes 13-15 cookies

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Starting with Dessert

It occurs to me that I’ve started the Friendsgiving recaps in the wrong order: with dessert first.

Although, on second thought, that’s probably the best idea I’ve had—along with my late night ice cream inspiration, anyway.

Plus, given the amount of pumpkin within this custard, it could serve as a side dish. A really, really decadent one.

If I’m being completely honest, my family has had many post-Thanksgiving meals where we’ve done just that. All things considered, it’s just shy of being too sweet. Making it the perfect candidate for any meal.

If you choose to eat your leftovers for breakfast, I won’t tell. In fact, I may be doing this same this week.

Pumpkin Custard

3 cups mashed pumpkin
6 TBS butter, melted
9 TBS all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 eggs, beaten

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a pie dish and set it aside.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, melted butter, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Combine well, then add in the sugar and stir. Once all ingredients are incorporated, add in the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Pour the custard mixture into the greated pie dish.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50-60 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean.

Serves Eight

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Friendsgiving: The recap

And, in the end, everything came together.

Friendsgiving Table

I did not keep my natural tendencies to add just one more thing to the menu in check. So, there were three homemade desserts, supplemented by cupcakes from Crumbs. No one complained.

Thanks to a tip from a dear friend on the other side of the world, the turkey was moist.

I kept to my original time line, sort of. We ate late, but we ate well.

There were just enough of us to squeeze around the table ever so tightly. What followed were many toasts and just as many jokes at my expense. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The menu follows. I’ll be recapping individual recipes in the upcoming weeks. Check the menu planning page for the full accounting.

In the meantime, here are the recipes you can look forward to:

To Start
Jared’s Meatball Sliders with grits and spicy tomato sauce

Mains
Roasted Turkey with Pan Gravy
Cornbread Stuffing
Corn Pudding
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Spiked Cranberry Sauce

Dessert
Pumpkin Custard
Corn Cookies
Cinnamon Ice Cream

To Drink
Friendsgiving Cocktails with Cranberry Apple Vodka
Mulled Wine
Cinnamon Spiced Coffee

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