Archive for February, 2009

Ten Things We Learned from Febgiving Alpha

February 6, 2009

10. Nescos are Great

Did you know that you can buy a Nesco or Hamilton Beach table-top oven for about $30-50? And that it can cook a whole large turkey? Or anything else, up to a temp of 450 degrees? That frees your whole oven up for other stuff!

9. Pre-Make Stuff

Next time, we’re going to have the mashed-potato stuffed oranges and stuffing done the day before. Trying to cook nine things at once is a pain in the ass, and leads to neglected guests.

468444015_pqjik-s

8. Stockpile Miranda Cubes

With a big, silicone ice cube tray, you can make Mirandacubes packed with cinnamon sticks, cranberries, anise, mint, etc.  And with a few days of diligent pre-party ice making, you can have all that stuff done ahead of time. Estimate two Mirandacubes per guest; it doesn’t seem like much, but each cube is good for a couple drinks.

468447070_mqvc4-s7. House Cocktails Work…

Thanks to the touching generosity (seriously) of a friend of ours in the restaurant industry, we found ourselves in possession of seven bottles of flavored vodka. By making up a couple house cocktails (the Cornucopia, the Musket Barrel, the Nutty Pilgrim) we were able to cash two of those bottles in a productive manner and entertain our guests. If you set up a list of two or three house cocktails, people know what to order, and you know what to mix.
468443809_ujx5y-s6. As Does Doubledecker Pecan/Apple Pie

It’s so easy to make a pecan pie under your apple pie that you wouldn’t believe it. Lots of bang for the buck.

468448214_g4655-s1
5. Get Your Guests to Bring Things Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Noah brought mini turkey Wellingtons; Alvey brought Australian sausage rolls. Both were freakin’ delicious.

4. Amuse Bouches

We took… two small cubes of mango… one fresh mint leaf… and a bit of mango balsamic vinegar. The combination: Delicious. Easy to make, easy to pass around.

3. “Heritage” Doesn’t Mean “Tastier”

It does, however, mean more expensive. Our $80, 16-pound heritage turkey didn’t seem to have a whit more flavor than the typical $15-20 Butterball, much to our surprise and disappointment. It was also more dry than we would’ve liked, but I chalk that up to my own under-vigilant checking of temperature.

468445449_8wq7c-s2. Check the Damn Turkey Temperature

Even if you estimate it’ll take you 5 hours to cook a turkey, check the temperature 2 hours in.

1. Don’t Sweat the Clean Up

You will make an enormous, enormous mess. The cleanup will be a two-hour party unto itself. Have some drinks, rock it out, and you’ll be shocked at how much cleaner your whole kitchen / dining area actually is after you’re all through. A good dinner party is a cathartic experience for both a house and its occupants alike.

T’was the Night Before Febgiving Alpha…

February 1, 2009

And I’m making candied pecans, to go with the doubledecker apple/bourbon pecan pie, two loaves of pumpkin bread and pound cake that we’ve got banked up in anticipation of tomorrow’s event.

Here’s the recipe for Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans, via Epicurious. They are, in fact, delicious. Pecan flavor leads, sweetness follows, and a peppery/spicy bite brings up the rear. Really pleasant, and they’ll go great with our pre-feast cheese and cordial hour.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans

yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan pieces

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325;°F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine corn syrup and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.

Place large piece of foil on work surface. Bake pecans 5 minutes. Using fork, stir pecans to coat with melted spice mixture. Continue baking until pecans are golden and coating bubbles, about 10 minutes. Transfer to foil. Working quickly, separate nuts with fork. Cool. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)