thanks giving is for family, but Friendsgiving—that’s for your chosen family. More and more of these casual get-togethers are happening every year: Google searches for the term “Friendsgiving” were up 20 percent last Thanksgiving. Although no one is quite sure how the tradition began (some credit a 1994 episode of Friends), we do know it’s becoming, for many, a key part of the holiday week. As Geoffrey Zakarian says of his costars and friends on The Kitchen, “We spend a lot of time together—it’s great to celebrate with such special people.”
“Using roasted vegetables mixed with raw ones is a great way to make crudités feel more special. I think Sunny would go for this. She would call it a WWKE: What Would Katie Eat!”
“This drink-and-snack combo will get a unanimous thumbs-up!”
“Mortadella is the underdog of deli meats—it’s so flavorful, especially when you pair it with a sweet fig spread.”
“GZ has been enjoying a bit of spice lately, so I think he’d love these wings. If you want to dial back the heat, just use less red pepper flakes.”
ACTIVE: 50 min l TOTAL: 1 hr l SERVES: 6 to 8
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, very thinly sliced
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
Freshly ground pepper
1 scallion (green part only), thinly sliced, plus more for topping
Vegetables (roasted and raw), for serving
1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat to low and cook until the onion is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the pan ever looks too dry, add a tablespoon of water. Let cool completely.
2. Combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, onion powder and ½ teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl and beat with a mixer until smooth. Stir in the caramelized onion and the scallion. Chill until serving time. Top with more scallions and serve with vegetables for dipping.
To make simple syrup, heat equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves; let cool. Store in the fridge for up to a month.
ACTIVE: 15 min l TOTAL: 1 hr 15 min l MAKES: 4
1 heaping tablespoon dried cranberries, for garnish
2 ounces simple syrup, plus more for soaking the cranberries
6 ounces vodka
4 ounces orange juice
4 ounces unfiltered cranberry juice
4 ounces ginger beer
1. Put the dried cranberries in a small bowl and add enough simple syrup to cover. Let soak until slightly softened, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, chill 4 copper mule mugs in the freezer.
2. For each drink, combine 1½ ounces vodka, 1 ounce each orange juice and cranberry juice and ½ ounce simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with large ice cubes and shake vigorously. Add 1 ounce ginger beer, seal the shaker again and gently twist the shaker back and forth once (this will combine the drink without making the ginger beer go flat). Strain into a chilled copper mule mug and fill with fresh ice. Garnish with a few of the soaked cranberries.
ACTIVE: 15 min l TOTAL: 30 min l MAKES: 2 cups
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups pecan halves
1. Preheat the oven to 325? and lightly spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Mix 1 teaspoon salt, the chili powder, cumin, allspice, cayenne, cinnamon and paprika in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and soy sauce and stir to melt the sugar, then stir in the spices.
2. Add the pecans and toss to coat them in the spiced butter. Cook, tossing, until the butter is absorbed into the nuts, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread on the baking sheet and bake until the nuts are toasted and the coating is caramelized, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly on the pan, sprinkle lightly with salt and serve warm.
ACTIVE: 35 min l TOTAL: 1 hr 45 min l SERVES: 4 to 6
Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
12 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
½ tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 pounds chicken wings, whole or separated as you like
1. Prep the rub: Pour about an inch of olive oil into a small pan over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the rosemary and cook, turning the sprigs, until the leaves darken and become crispy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. Add the sage to the same pan and cook until the leaves darken, slightly curl and stop sizzling, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
2. In a dry medium pan over low heat, combine the cumin, red pepper flakes, peppercorns and garlic powder. Toast the spices, tossing constantly to avoid burning, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
3. Remove the rosemary leaves from their stems, then put the herbs and spices in a spice grinder and pulse until finely chopped and combined. Remove and add 1 tablespoon salt.
4. Prep the wings: Massage the wings with the herb rub and place them on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet. Let the rub set at room temperature, about 30 minutes. While the wings rest, preheat the oven to 400°.
5. Bake the wings: Transfer the baking sheet with the rack and wings to the oven and bake until the wings are crispy, flipping halfway through, 40 to 50 minutes. Serve warm.
ACTIVE: 35 min l TOTAL: 1 hr l SERVES: 6 to 8
2 cups dried figs, stems removed, halved
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
4 large squares focaccia (6 to 8 ounces each)
8 ounces sharp Italian cheese (such as Fontinella or asiago), sliced
1 pound mortadella, thinly sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
1. Make the fig spread: Bring the figs, 1 cup water, the balsamic vinegar and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer until the figs rehydrate and the liquid reduces and thickens, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Once cool, place in a food processor and puree until smooth, 20 to 30 seconds.
2. For the sandwich build: Preheat a griddle over medium-low heat or heat a panini press. Split 1 focaccia square in half. Place a thin layer of the fig spread on the inside of both halves. Place a couple slices of cheese on the bottom, then place one-quarter of the mortadella on top. Close the sandwich and lightly brush the outside of the sandwich with olive oil. Cook until golden and warm, about 4 minutes per side on a griddle or about 8 minutes total in a panini press. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
3. Cut each sandwich into quarters to make 16 pieces.
PHOTOS: RALPH SMITH; FOOD STYLING: BARRETT WASHBURNE. ONION DIP REPRINTED FROM THE COMFORT TABLE: RECIPES FOR EVERYDAY OCCASIONS BY KATIE LEE, COURTESY OF GALLERY BOOKS. BAKED WINGS REPRINTED FROM SUNNY’S KITCHEN. COPYRIGHT 2013 BY SUNNY ANDERSON. PUBLISHED BY CLARKSON POTTER, AN IMPRINT OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, LLC. ■