Thanksgiving for a Small Gathering
While we love a big holiday dinner, some years Thanksgiving can be a smaller celebration. Sometimes it’s just immediate family, a couple, or a few friends. But a more intimate Thanksgiving leaves room for a day that’s more casual, open, and relaxing. Here’s how you can make a trimmed-down feast feel traditional and special without much trouble or fuss.
Thanksgiving dinner can be every bit as delicious for your family of four as it can be for a party of twenty. With a smaller group, you get to choose what exactly you want to cook without pleasing the masses. You can even carve out new traditions your family will embrace for years to come.
The biggest question is what to serve. In lieu of a large roasted turkey, make Cornish game hens in your Café Convection Wall Oven. The convection roast setting will ensure perfectly cooked birds. For a fancy twist on traditional mashed potatoes try serving duchess potatoes. Save time on dessert by purchasing a small selection of mini patisseries from your favorite bakery.
If children or teens will be at dinner, include them in the food prep. Turn on some music, pull out some aprons, whip up easy appetizers, and cook together. It’s a simple way to share the work of preparing a nice meal while spending meaningful time with the people you love the most.
Dinner for Two
Although holiday dinners drum up imaginary scenes of bustling kitchens and extra-long tables overflowing with food, an intimate dinner for two is a peaceful alternative to the chaos of Thanksgiving. With two people deciding what to eat and when, a world of dishes opens up and really, the day is whatever you’d like to make of it.
Go big and try new recipes and cooking methods to make a table full of traditional fare. Or, keep it simple and prepare one or two favorites while purchasing 2-3 entrees, sides, and desserts pre-prepared from the local market or deli. Fewer dishes, less prep time, but every bit as delicious.
A more intimate Thanksgiving leaves room for a day that’s more casual, open, and relaxing.
If this Thanksgiving is a gathering of friends as opposed to family, embrace it. Friendsgiving celebrations are a wonderful way to gather and share our traditions in a more relaxed atmosphere. If you have friends attending that may not know each other, a little planning ahead can ensure the day goes smoothly. Focus on creating a setting where it's easy to lounge and mingle. Use oversized pillows, soft blankets, and background music to create an atmosphere your friends will want to be in and stay in for a while.
Include place cards at the dinner table to make it easy for new acquaintances to learn and recall names. Place cards are also a natural way to seat guests with similar interests near each other to facilitate easy conversation.
Invite your guests to bring a traditional Thanksgiving side dish to share, sparkling or alcoholic drinks, or dessert. It’s an easy way to share the work of preparing so much food and an opportunity to get to know more about your friends through their cooking.
Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Lemon and Rosemary
4 Cornish game hens
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
¼ cup butter, softened
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 bamboo skewers
How to make it
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Pat the hens dry with paper towels. Thoroughly season with Kosher salt, inside and out. Carefully run your finger under the skin of the hen’s breast to separate the skin from the meat. Place a pat of butter under the skin on each side of the breast. Fill the cavity of the hen with a wedge of lemon and a sprig of rosemary.
Tuck the wings under the body of the bird. Use a bamboo skewer to pin the legs together, cutting off the excess skewer. Repeat for each bird. Place the dressed birds onto shallow baking dish fitted with a wire rack. Brush the outsides of the birds with olive oil.
Place the birds in the oven. Roast at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, reduce the oven to 375 degrees and roast for an additional 30 – 35 minutes. Let the cooked bird rest under foil for 10 minutes before serving.
2 ½ lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled & cut into 1" pieces
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
How to make it
In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold salted water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to pot. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add butter and cream. Using a potato masher, mash until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper. Taste mixture to make sure it is properly seasoned. Add egg yolks and pinch of nutmeg; stir until combined. Transfer potato mixture to a large piping bag fitted with a decorative tip.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pipe potatoes into 3-inch mounds. Coat the potatoes with cooking spray and bake until golden, 15-20 minutes.