Friendsgiving ’14 Recap

images-3

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:

images-4

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Dessert

Do you ever need an impressive dessert that works for almost every occasion?

Try this flourless chocolate cake.

I mean it! 

It’s sophisticated enough for even the most particular palates***, but kids also chow it down like there’s no tomorrow. 

(It’s also gluten-free, but make no mistake; this is dessert and it is NOT healthy).

Now, everyone knows that I can’t cook a darn thing. Really.

But this cake brings it home, every time. The only potential stumbling blocks are needing a springform pan (even I can handle that) and deciding what type of chocolate to use (more below).

Seriously, follow the directions, and you are golden.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus a sprinkling for the pan
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I have used part of a giant Trader Joe’s bar and two semi-sweet Ghirardelli bars; both with good results)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar

What to do:

  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with cocoa powder. (Use the paper from the two sticks of butter to do the buttering. Dump a little cocoa in your pan, roll it around, dump excess in sink).
  3. Break up the chocolate into pieces. Sampling is ok. Why wouldn’t you know what you’re getting into?
  4. In a medium pan, heat the butter with ¼ cup whipping cream over medium-low heat until the butter is melted.
  5. Add the broken chocolate and stir until melted and smooth; remove from heat.
  6. In a different  bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cocoa.
  7. Whisk in the hot chocolate mixture from the pan.
  8. Transfer everything to the springform pan and bake until puffed and set, 35 to 40 minutes. (Abide by this! I use 35 mins). It will fall after you take it out of the oven, but that’s ok.

How to serve:

  • Dust with powdered sugar
  • With creme fraiche and berries (optional: mint leaves)
  • With whipped cream (whip the extra you bought for the paltry 1/4 cup above; season with a toss of sugar and a soupçon of vanilla)
  • With ice cream
  • Sprinkled with coarse salt (and caramel if you’re going all out)
  • As it is. This cake is really good.

*** The most recent debut of this dessert was to a group of people that I can best describe as extraordinarily nice but used to the best. I was so nervous to cook for them! But this cake was a hit. My kids also begged for the extras!