Friendsgiving ’14 Recap

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Yesterday we had an awesome Friendsgiving, and I was so grateful for it.

After 16.5 years of marriage, it was the fourth Thanksgiving meal that Ever Patient Spouse and I crafted.

Two years ago (#2), I was in charge of the turkey. Yesterday, he was on Bird Duty.

One of the best parts of yesterday was having everyone over for drinks, appetizers and conversation, then people who had obligations elsewhere could go as necessary and everyone else stayed for the Big Meal.

It was perfect.

The biggest hit of the day was an appetizer: whipped lemon feta dip.

Seriously, every morsel of this was gone by the time cocktail hour(s) was/were done.

Here’s the recipe:

Whipped Lemon Feta Dip

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 oz. crumbled fat-free feta (this is a real product and perfect for this dish)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • Juice AND zest of one lemon
  • Optional but recommended: Generous shakes of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  • Get out your food processor. This is what you need for this recipe to work.
  • Pulse the garlic cloves until they are in fine bits. Scrape down bowl.
  • Add feta, lemon zest, olive oil, (and red pepper flakes, if using) and then juice/pulp of the lemon.
  • Pulse until creamy.
  • Ok to eat immediately, but even better if you let the flavors meld for a few hours.

I paired this with crudités (endive, baby zucchini, cherry tomatoes, carrots), a cheese board (brie, manchego, peppered gouda), marcona almonds, and two flatbreads I bought from Trader Joe’s.

After a prosecco toast, one holiday drink we served was hot cider with two kinds of spicy liqueur (Fireball – a cinnamon whisky, and Goldschlager) as optional add-ins. Yum!

The Big Meal was mostly traditional, but we had carrot cake, pumpkin pie, and my unfailing flourless chocolate cake as dessert. All of the chocolate cake was gone in the end. Every last crumb. Like ALWAYS. This dessert hit another home run.

Having friends over was so awesome. This was a great holiday.

P.S. This actually happened:

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One More Thing, #12

Another great casual dessert idea if you’re hosting a (smallish) dinner party: The giant chocolate slab.

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Guittard oversized chocolate bar

This image features Guittard, a family-owned company from California, but there are now so many excellent chocolatiers that you can take your pick.

While you could also present a display of smaller, artisanal bars and allow guests to pick and choose flavors, I love the scale and drama of the oversized bar.

Put this on a tray or cutting board with a sharp knife, surround it with dried fruits and nuts, and voila! Do it yourself dessert. No oven required.

P.S. Feeling even lazier? You can customize your own chocolate bars here. S’mores bar with graham crackers and marshmallows? Yes, please.

Dessert in the Living Room

We don’t entertain all that much, but that doesn’t stop me from hoarding ideas about entertaining.

Usually this takes the form of pages ripped from magazines with recipes, play lists, pictures of place settings, etc, all of which gets stuffed into a drawer in our kitchen island that threatens to explode. But hey, I may need to source calavera molds when I throw an authentic Dia de los Muertos celebration someday.

The following ideas come straight from Real Simple, my favorite magazine (November 2013 issue).

I’ll skip the dinner menu and tips, because what was more interesting to me were the ideas about dessert.

  • For one, RS recommends serving dessert in the living room. This signals to guests that a new chapter of the party is starting and lets you switch up conversation partners, which is a godsend if you’re stuck next to, say, your drunk uncle who loves guns.
  • Dessert elsewhere also allows the host to abandon the mess. A direct quote from RS: “It makes guests feel relaxed and lets you seem chill, even if you’re not.”
  • A great surprise: Serve champagne after the meal. This is so festive, especially for the holidays. I love this tip.
  • Make mini desserts. It obviates the bellyaching with “just a sliver” requests. And tiny desserts are adorable.
  • This genius idea was from a caterer in NYC: Instead of asking who wants coffee, bring out a tray of small, prepoured cups. Decaf is more than fine, especially if your dinner parties are like mine and tend to end way later than anticipated.

Last idea: Circulate a small plate of seriously fancy chocolates or caramels at the end for a sweet finish. And invite me next time!