We’re pleased as punch that our little holiday got some major-league ink. Kim Ode of the Minneapolis Star Tribune did a wonderful story on the Febgiving tradition that’s well worth a look.
Our New York City friends Tim and Abbey put together this gorgeous invitation for their upcoming Febgiving feast. Holy cow is it classy! It practically oozes style! At any rate, we’re very pleased to see NYC so brilliantly represented this year. Hopefully we’ll have photos to share from this and other Febgiving feasts. Locally, we’re gearing up for the first of our two Febgivings, the Feb. 14 Febgiving Alpha. (Febgiving USA is Feb. 20.)
Febgiving 2010 is upon us in just two short weeks — Feb. 20 is this year’s official date, with Feb. 14 as a fully acceptable alternate. The good news is this: it takes just a few days to thaw and brine a turkey, and with a week’s notice, you can easily get a pile of guests over for a Febgiving supper to remember.
So get crackin’ on the invitations!
As per usual, we’ll share some photos and recipes with you in honor of this, America’s newest holiday.
Our good friend Paul in Northern Illinois hosted Febgiving this year, and it was a great success. I especially like febgiving decorations! Also, the main course featured prosciutto wrapped turkey breasts. We will have to get that recipe for next year!
Febgiving USA was a great success – in large part due to all the friends that came into town for the holiday! Our good friend Adam made a “pretzel salad”, which is actually a fantastically delicious jello and raspberry salad with whipped cream and buttered pretzels. Oh, so tasty, and as soon as Adam gets the go ahead from his relatives, we will post the recipe here.
We also had mixed roasted vegetables including sunchokes, potatos, and beets.
Jim’s double decker apple/pecan pie was a hit:
Also, all my friends decided that potatoes for mashed potatos should be peeled, and since I only have one peeler, about an hour of funny ensued.
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.
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.
7. 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.
6. 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.
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.
2. 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.
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
- 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
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.)
Working shoulder-to-shoulder with Febgiving co-founder and Chino Latino chef Noah Barton, Becca and I have come up with a few special Febgiving drinks that celebrate the holiday and — coincidentally — allow us to utilize the various random flavored vodkas we have sitting around the house.
THE NUTTY PILGRIM
4:2:1 Espresso Vodka: Disaronno : half & half + ice
3: 2 Berry Vodka : Vernor’s Ginger Ale + a splash each of cassis and mango balsamic vinegars + ice
THE MUSKET BARREL
1:1 Root Beer Vodka : Vernor’s Ginger Ale + ice
All of these have been flight-tested and approved for human consumption. We hope you’ll enjoy one or all of them sometime soon.
Several months ago I saw a recipe in one of our cooking magazines that featured a custard baked into a pumpkin (apparently this is a somewhat common dish in parts of southeast Asia). Not willing to make a custard (too fussy) and not able to reliably get nice sugar pumpkins, I embarked on several months of trials. Could I bake a pumpkin with jello flan inside (No). Could I bake a pumpkin, and then put in jello flan to set in the fridge (yes, but weird). Could I bake an acorn squash, which are easier to find all winter, and add some kind of pudding?
Finally, it came to me – bake a pumpkin pie in it. Pumpkin pie filling is basically a custard (so it will bake in the hour it takes to get the squash tender). It also will merge well with the squash, which the flan did not, and it is winter appropriate. So, I proudly present the pumpkin squash to the world.
It is remarkably simple to make.
Take an acorn squash and clean it out as you would a jack-o-lantern. Cut a little off the bottom so it can sit upright, but try not to cut through the bottom. Use a fork to poke the heck out of the inside, and then rub brown sugar on the inside. Place in an oven safe container and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your favorite pumpkin pie recipe. I like the one from the back of the can, but make sure it contains eggs (no quick set pies here) and is supposed to bake for about 30-45 minutes.
I like to add the following to my pumpkin pie recipe:
•fresh grated nutmeg
•a little cayenne pepper
•ginger, cinnamon, allspice, salt
This time I happened to have some roasted pumpkin from an earlier attempt. I added about 1/3 of a cooked pumpkin, which adds to the flavor and also makes the texture slightly more bread-y, which is great.
Put the filling into the squash and bake for about an hour. It will take a long time to bake becuse of the density, but it will be ready when the top is fairly set and it is not rising anymore. There might be some moisture around the top from the squash.
One of the undisputed hits of Febgiving II (along with Missy’s pumpkin roll) was Becca Dilley’s creamy, flavor-rich version of Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts tend to go wrong when they’re overcooked at a lowish temperature, leading to a slimy texture and a funky, sometimes overwhelming odor that is, for some diners, a little too close to “rotten.” This dish works with relatively high temperatures and fast cook times to keep the fresh, garden-y aspect of the Brussels sprouts at the fore, while bringing cream and bacon in as critical supporting players.
“I Know You Think You Don’t Like Brussels Sprouts But You Really Do”
Serves 4 as a side
About 25 (1.5 pounds) Brussels sprouts, ends removed and cut into quarters
4 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into small pieces (1/2″x1/2″ or smaller)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2. Heat 1 tsp vegetable oil in oven-ready skillet on stovetop
3. Add bacon and saute until light brown and crispy
4. Add Brussels sprouts to hot skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown, about 5-6 minutes
5. Season with salt and peper
6. Add cream to skillet
7. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup parmesan onto the brussels sprouts and stir
8. Put skillet into oven and cook for about 10 minutes, until cheese and brussels sprouts are browned and cream is bubbly and slightly yellow
9. Optional: sprinkle a little more parm on each serving before it hits the table