Friend Thanksgiving X

08 December 2003

Every year, Kris and I host Friend Thanksgiving, a dinner party for a group of our friends. It’s a joint thing; we share in the planning and preparation.

This year, we had decided to have an Asian theme, serving an Asian salad, crab cakes, a Thai soup, and some sort of grilled fish.

Then, a few weeks ago, Kris put the kibosh on the Asian theme. She decided that we ought to do something semi-traditional instead. (Meaning: turkey and the like.) This made me cranky.

Next, she monkeyed with the guest list, deviating from our plan. This made me cranky, too, but I kept repeating this mantra: “Kris Gates is always right. Kris Gates is always right.” (This is what I tell myself every time it turns out I should have heeded Kris’ advice. I say it a lot.)

As the dinner party approached — and even on the day of the event — there were a lot of little things I was unhappy with: I didn’t like the soup she had selected, I didn’t like the acorns and the “snow” (actually some sort of foam) on the table because it used too much space; I didn’t like the assigned seating because it was poorly received last year; I didn’t think she had thawed the turkey long enough, hadn’t brined it long enough, didn’t cook it long enough.

My list of complaints was long and I made myself a little disagreeable, though still, in the back of my mind, I kept telling myself, “Kris Gates is always right.”

Well.

We had our dinner party Saturday night, and I’m happy to say that Kris was right again. Of the ten times we’ve hosted Friend Thanksgiving (“Friend Thanksgiving X” we called this one), I feel this was the most successful. Kris’ guest-list and seating arrangement were well-planned; the food was delicious; the conversation raucous. My fears were for naught. My objective for the evening was simply to do as Kris requested, and this proved to be the best possible plan.

Our menu?

  • After an hour of cocktails (including Chai-tinis and Midori Sours), we began the meal with wild rice cakes with a chipotle-lime aioli. These served as a replacement for the crab cakes we had originally planned.
  • Next we served a spicy bacon and corn chowder, which was much better than I had expected. (While Jeremy and I were supposedly bussing the table, we were actually in the kitchen slurping down second helpings of the soup.)
  • Our third course was a salad of mixed herbs with onions and a soy-based dressing (in deference to my abhorrence of oil-based dressings).
  • The entr�e was a turkey, brined for a day, and served with acorn squash and a rosemary baguette and a fantastic gravy. I loved the bread and gravy combination so much, that I tried to horde both at my end of the table, sopping up the gravy with the bread. Yum.
  • The main course was followed by a small plate of fruit and cheese, including my favorite apple (honeycrisp!) and the always-popular cheddar-like Double Gloucester.
  • For dessert, we had a nice cake, the variety of which now escapes me. Update: Kris informs me that the dessert was a honey spice cake with brandied cherries.

Why can’t I remember what we had for dessert? For one, the rest of the food was fantastic. For another, we kept the wine flowing throughout the night. (I particularly liked the Sauvignon Blanc and the Niagra, both fruity whites, though the rest of the company seemed less impressed by them.)

Between the cheese platter and the dessert, most of the men gathered outside in the cold and the damp where they enjoyed fellowship over Jeremy’s fine cigars and my fifteen-year-old single malt Scotch whiskey.

What can I say? It was a fantastic evening, despite my fears. And all of the credit belongs to Kris. Bravo!

Kris Gates is always right.

Comments

On 08 December 2003 (04:00 PM),
Tiffany said:

I wish I lived close enough to take part. But then again, I guess I would com eto the family dinner not the friend one. :)
Kris – I cannot wait until Friday.

On 08 December 2003 (04:28 PM),
Paul said:

J.D.,

What was the scotch?

On 08 December 2003 (10:07 PM),
J.D. said:

Paul, the Scotch was a fifteen-year-old Glenfiddich. I hunted for Lagavulin, but nobody seems to be carrying it around here anymore. The Canby liquor store used to, but there was no demand for it. In my memory, the Lagavulin was much better than the Glenfiddich, the the Glenfiddich isn’t bad.

On 09 December 2003 (12:02 PM),
mart said:

yr memory serves you well. lagavulin easily bests that glenfiddich “crap”. ;)

On 10 December 2003 (03:31 PM),
J.D. said:

As promised, here’s the recipe for Kris’ wild rice cakes:

Wild Rice Cakes

(adapted from Martha Stewart, of course!)
1 cup brown/wild rice blend (I use Bob�s Red Mill variety)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp canola oil plus more if needed for frying
2 cloves garlic, minced very fine
1 carrot (1/3 cup), chopped finely
1 celery stalk (1/3 cup), chopped finely
� yellow bell pepper (1/3 cup), chopped finely
2 eggs, lightly beaten
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 � cups Panko Japanese bread crumbs (I found these at Uwajimaya)

  1. Prepare rice as directed on package. If using Bob�s Red Mill �Wild Rice & Brown Rice� blend, it calls for 2 � cups water, the salt and butter above, and approximately 50 minutes. The rice should still be very moist and hold together in clumps. Set rice aside to cool.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add vegetables and cook until softened, about five minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. In medium bowl, combine cooled rice, vegetables, and eggs. Gently fold in breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate until the breadcrumbs have absorbed the liquids, about one hour.
  4. Using an ice-cream or dough scoop, shape 16 patties. Place onto a cookie sheet. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate them until needed. Or, you can go on to the next step.
  5. Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp canola oil over medium heat. Saute first side 5 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Turn over and saut� 5 minutes more. Serve immediately with wedges of lime and lime-chipotle aioli, if desired.

And, if you’d like, the aioli (I prefer Jeremy’s recipe):

Lime Chipotle Aioli

(adapted from Cook�s Illustrated The Best Recipe)
1/3 cup sour cream
� cup mayonnaise
2 tsp minced chipotle chilis (these are smoked jalapenos�I found them canned in adobo sauce in
the Mexican food section. I rinsed them & pressed them in my garlic press to remove the
skins and seeds. It is a good idea to wear protective gloves when you are handling these.)
1 minced garlic clove
2 tsp fresh minced cilantro leaves
2 tsp fresh lime juice (or more to taste)

Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to three days.Enjoy!

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