Festivus Dinner

A Festivus feast for the secularly faithful

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et out your unadorned aluminum poles, folks: Dec. 23 is fast approaching, and whether you’re a Seinfeld fan or not, the “Festivus for the Rest of Us” is a great excuse to gather your friends and loved ones, air your grievances and celebrate everyone’s favorite made-up secular holiday with a delicious home-cooked meal.

What exactly would a Festivus meal include? Well, as the Costanza clan and their guests gathered around the table for their celebratory Festivus meal, we could only see George’s mother Estelle serve meatloaf on a bed of iceberg lettuce and what might be a bowl of peas, so the rest of the menu is left to our imagination. Therefore we suggest you not only prepare meatloaf, but these two other Seinfeld-episode-inspired recipes and wow your guests with your feats of strength.

OK. Soup for You.

When the Soup Nazi appeared in Season 7, Episode 6, his rules and regulations for dispensing his awe-inspiring soup were incredibly inflexible. Dare to step out of line even a bit and it’s “NO SOUP FOR YOU!” Thankfully, Emily Frank of C’est Cheese food truck and the soon-to-open Pleasant Ridge Share Cheese Bar is quite a bit more flexible. Here’s her recipe for a delicious creamy wild rice soup that is sure to get your evening off to a great start.

Emily Frank’s Creamy Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients:
  • ¾ cup uncooked wild rice blend
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 7 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4½ cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
  • ¼ tsp each dried thyme, marjoram, sage and rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest

Instructions: Prepare the rice according to package directions. Halfway through the cooking time, in a separate large pot (I use a coated Dutch oven), melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté until slightly tender. Add garlic during the last 30 seconds. Add chicken broth, thyme, marjoram, sage and rosemary and season with salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high, add the chicken and bring to boil. Cover with lid and boil 12-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool before shredding into bite-size pieces. Meanwhile, reduce heat to low and add the cooked rice. Add the chicken back in. In a separate medium saucepan, melt the remaining 6 tbsp. of butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook 1 ½ minutes, whisking constantly. While whisking, slowly pour the milk into the butter/flour mixture. Cook stirring constantly until the mixture is thick. Add the milk mixture to the soup mixture and cook 5 minutes longer or until the soup is thick. Stir in heavy cream and lemon zest. Serve warm.

A Traditional Festivus Meatloaf

Sous chef Travis Reidel of Jean-Robert’s Le Bar au Boeuf knows meat, so obviously we went to him for the perfect meatloaf recipe. And being the nice Jewish boy that he is, naturally, he got one from his mom, Lori, who, along with Travis’ Aunt Denetta, collaborated on this Reidel-family favorite. Reidel Family Meatloaf Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. ground chuck (85/15 or 80/20 — you need some fat in the meat)
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic powder if you like
  • 1 box (2 packages) Lipton’s onion soup mix (optional)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350. In a mixer (Kitchen Aid with a hook attachment if you have it, or you can mix by hand), add all of the ingredients and just 1 package of onion soup mix. After it’s mixed, turn the meat into a 13 x 9 baking dish and pack tightly into a loaf. Mix the second package of onion soup with ketchup or tomato sauce and spread on the top of the loaf. Bake for 1 hour. Serve immediately on a bed of iceberg lettuce leaves for Festivus authenticity.

Good-Enough-to-Eat-Out-of-the-Trash Éclairs

In Season 6, Episode 6, titled “The Gymnast,” George’s girlfriend’s mother, Mrs. Enright, catches him eating an éclair out of the garbage, at which time he ceases to impress her with his gentlemanly behavior. Impress your friends and family by making éclairs at home with this recipe courtesy of pastry chef Megan Ketover of Orchids at Palm Court. We guarantee they really are good enough to eat out of the trash.

Megan Ketover’s Éclairs For the chocolate pastry cream Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 16 oz. granulated sugar
  • 8 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 8 eggs
  • 6 oz. chocolate, chopped
  • 4 oz. butter

Instructions: In a saucepot, heat together milk, vanilla and salt, and bring just to a boil. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and cornstarch. Temper the hot milk into the egg mixture, and then return back to pot to cook. Cook on low heat, whisking continuously until mixture thickens and is 180 degrees. Stir in chocolate and butter until melted and combined. Pour into shallow pan and refrigerate until cool.

For the chocolate ganache Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 oz. liquor, if desired

Instructions: Combine chocolate and heavy cream in bowl over a simmering double boiler. Stir occasionally until melted, add liquor and then whisk to emulsify, then combine.For pâte á choux (the pastry dough)

This makes a lot of batter but you can use it to practice piping — or you can halve the recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. water
  • 8 oz. whole milk
  • 8 oz. butter
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 14 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 11 eggs

Instructions: In a saucepot, heat together water, milk, vanilla and salt, and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium and stir in flour with a wooden spoon. Stir continuously until flour is absorbed and dough clings to wooden spoon in a ball. Transfer to the bowl of a standing mixer and, using paddle attachment, turn the mixer on low to stir the dough.

Allow to cool 2 minutes and then add the eggs one at a time, waiting for absorption between additions. Once all eggs are added, turn mixer to medium and beat well until batter is cool and feathery. Can add 1 more egg as needed for piping consistency.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Using a pastry bag with a large round tip, pipe batter into 2-inch stripes on a parchment-lined cookie trays. Bake 10 minutes until puffed and risen, and then lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until golden brown, hollow and dry.

Allow to cool, then using a pastry bag with a small tip, fill with pastry cream and dip the top into warmed ganache. Store your éclairs in the refrigerator.

Happy Festivus!

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