Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Friendsgiving With Bourbon Sweet Potatoes and Grand Marniered Cranberries


I had never heard of the term Friendsgiving until my across-the-country daughter, D, told me that’s how she was spending last Sunday. The way she described it was that it was like Thanksgiving, but without all the annoying relatives.

I was pretty sure she also said it was going to be only side dishes (which are, let’s face it, the best part of Thanksgiving…next to the pies). The notion of a turkey-free Thanksgiving didn’t shock me, except where would the gravy come from for the mashed potatoes? But when I saw her pictures, there was this big beautiful turkey in them. Apparently, the hosts decided it just wouldn’t be Friendsgiving without the turkey. (LA-based D wanted to have a giant burrito instead of the bird, but she was voted down.)

The idea is that all the guests bring their own favorite dish from their family’s Thanksgiving. I was so proud when D had so many to choose from that she brought TWO!!!And what a great way to celebrate, especially as in D’s case, if you still have your own family’s Thanksgiving to go home to.

H and I spent many Novembers in other countries and we never missed celebrating Thanksgiving. Like D, we had friends and not family with us, but it didn’t have the same vibe of Friendsgiving - where everyone brings something and you have many family traditions on one table. I was always, for good or bad, firmly in control of the menu. 

But no matter who’s doing the actual cooking, I like the concept of people forming family-type units wherever they are and using holidays as a way to cement those bonds. Plus I don’t think you could ever have too many Thanksgivings or Friends- or Relative-Givings for that matter. The more pumpkin or Brussels Sprouts (just this one time of year) in as many guises as possible is okay with me! And, PS, back to my second sentence, NOBODY at MY Thanksgiving is ever annoying!

Here are the two recipes that D made with some photos of the rest of her Friendsgiving meal. (I pretended not to see the Stovetop stuffing box.)

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Even though I call this recipe Bourbon Sweet Potatoes, I use only yams. (Here’s a short primer on the two varieties. I just remember YES! for yams!)

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes (makes 8 generous servings)
Printable recipe here.


4 1/2 lbs. yams
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup orange juice (fresh is the best)
1/3 cup bourbon (start with half and add the rest to taste)
4 tbls. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/3 cup pecans, halved or chopped, toasted

Scrub yams. Cook covered, in boiling water about 35 minutes or until tender. Drain. Cool slightly. Peel.
Put potatoes through a food mill over large mixer bowl. Add butter, orange juice, bourbon, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Spoon into large buttered soufflé dish.

Arrange pecan halves, if using, decoratively over top. Or sprinkle chopped nuts around outside edge.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake - up to one day ahead.Remove plastic wrap and bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 45 minutes or until lightly browned.

I use any type of whiskey I have on hand (including Chivas!).
I put the yams through a food mill to get them really smooth. Leave out this step if you have no food mill. (But they are handy to have!) They’ll be fine, you may just encounter a few stringy bits.
If you’re feeding 12 to 15 people, multiply the recipe by 1 and a half. Put the mixture into one large soufflé dish and one small one.   

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Suzanne's Cranberries (serves 8 as a side dish) 
Printable recipe here.

This is a very saucy version of cranberries (as in they have a lot of liquid), but
they do thicken with time, so definitely make them ahead. I usually make them
the week before (at least) and freeze them.
3 tbls. orange flavored liqueur - Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 envelope plain gelatin
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
4 cups (1 lb.) fresh cranberries
grated rind of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 lemon

Pour orange liqueur into a small glass bowl. Sprinkle over gelatin. Let sit for 5
minutes. Combine sugar and water in large saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring
to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 5 minutes. Add cranberries. Boil 5 minutes longer.
(The cranberries will pop). Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture to hot
cranberries. Stir to dissolve. Stir in grated orange rind and lemon juice.

Pour into serving container and chill overnight. Or pour into plastic containers
and freeze for up to a month. Thaw overnight in refrigerator and pour into
serving dish.

Cranberries usually come in 12 oz. bags, so here are the ingredients for 2 bags
of cranberries:
4 tbls. + 1 1/2 tsps. orange flavored liqueur - Grand Marnier or Cointreau
2 envelopes plain gelatin (I used to say 1 1/2 envelopes, Just use's fine.)
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
24 oz. fresh cranberries
grated rind of 1 1/2 oranges
juice of 1 lemon 
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1 comment:

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Well I know from experience how good your cranberry sauce is!

If I had a daughter who said she was avoiding "annoying relatives" I'd be saying, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN ANNOYING RELATIVES," and disinvite her to dinner. (There is probably a good reason why I have no kids...)

I'm not sure I like the idea of Thanksgiving dinner twice. I remember in college we used to have a Thanksgiving dinner prepared at the caff. It was a big deal where the professors would serve the students. Then after eating the full Thanksgiving dinner you have a week of turkey leftovers for dinner and then go home and do it all over again! I think by the time it was all over, I was begging my family to please not serve turkey on Christmas.

That being said, I actually like the turkey. I probably eat more turkey than I do anything else at Thanksgiving. I just like to keep it ON THANKSGIVING.