I’m pretty sure Friendsgiving is in the dictionary and if it’s not, it most certainly should be because it is officially a thing. A coming together of friends to feast Thanksgiving style but without all the family hoopla. And this Friendsgiving crafted by Lauren Wells, Caroline O’Donnell and Jen Beauchesne along with images by Jessica Weiser is the perfect inspiration. Plus it comes bearing yummy recipes. Click here for more.
We loved the idea of putting a fall shoot together with a group of friends who gather for a Friendsgiving meal, a trend that has become popular over the last few years. Our team brainstormed for weeks and collaborated to come up with all of the details, menu and then invited a group of models (who are all friends too) to join us for the afternoon meal with a bonfire and s’mores after. We met for our day at the Phineas Wright House (c 1785) in Bolton, MA owned by event planner Wendy Harrop.
From Lauren Wells… We wanted the design to be warm and relaxed, and complementing the organic, barn vibe. Salvaged wood resting on sawhorses became the dining table, and we pulled whatever chairs were around for seating. Intimate candle light with a runner made of fall greenery ran down the table, and simple place settings of white china, gray linen and gold flatware completed the look. For the campfire, we wanted to keep the same warm and relaxed vibe, and I thought using a rug rather than blankets would help create that feel. Of course there had to be s’mores, as well!
For the table garland, Caroline from Wild Folk Studio used Plumosus greenery, with Queen Anne’s Lace buds for texture, and long smartweed for a subtle pop of color. Both the Queen Anne’s lace and the smartweed were from the farm’s garden/grounds. Then we nestled in antique brass candle sticks at different heights.
For dinner food stylist Jen Beauchesne cooked cornish game hens with roasted potatoes, roasted rainbow carrots, roasted Brussels Sprouts with pancetta and a bibb lettuce salad with roasted butternut squash, pears, walnuts and shaved parmesan. For dessert there were homemade apple hand pies, and a chocolate pretzel tart with sea salt served by the bonfire while the guests hung out, talked and played guitar.
Roasted Garlic, Herb and Lemon Cornish Game Hens
Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 1 hour | Total time: 1 hour 15 mins
Serves: 4-8 (depending on serving half or whole chicken)
4 Cornish game hens, patted dry with paper towels
8 thin slices of butter
4 sprigs each of fresh rosemary and thyme (or herbs of choice) plus some extra leaves of each
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and 4 additional heads tops removed skin still on
2 lbs baby potatoes, scrubbed
1 lemon, scrubbed well and cut into quarters
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
1⁄2 cup chicken broth
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Pat the hens dry with a paper towel. Use your index finger to loosen the skin onthe top of the hen and slip a thin slice of butter under the skin on top of eachbreast. Add a few rosemary and thyme leaves (or herb of choice). Repeat foreach hen. Put a quarter of a lemon in the cavity of each hen along with a clove of garlic and a sprig of fresh rosemary and thyme (or herb of choice). Trussthe hens by tying the wings and legs.
3. Rub each hen all over with some extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place then hens on the rack of a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle potatoes, salt and pepper, place along side hens.
4. Place the hens in the preheated oven and roast for 25 minutes.
5. While the hens are roasting, combine the chicken broth and wine in a bowl.
6. After the hens have been roasting for 35 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Pour the broth/wine mixture over the hens and continue to roast for 30 minutes, basting the hens with the juices at the bottom of the pan every 10 minutes or less. The hens are done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F and the juices run clear. If you prefer darker skins, turn up the temperature to broil for a couple more minutes, watching closely to prevent burning.
7. Carefully remove the hens and pour the juices from their cavities into the roasting pan. Transfer the hens to a warmed platter, remove the trussing string, andtent with aluminum foil to week warm.
8. Pour the juices from the roasting paninto a saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes until the liquid is a thin sauce-like consistency.
9. Serve the hens whole per guest or cut in half lengthwise and place cavity-down on each serving plate.
10. Drizzle the sauce over the hens and garnish with fresh herb sprigs and a slice of lemon. Serve immediately.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Pear and Walnut Salad
1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1⁄4” pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 heads of Bibb lettuce, washed and spun dry, torn
2 pears thinly sliced on a mandolin
1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
3/4 cup freshly shaved Parmesan
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once, until tender.
3. While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup.
4. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
5. Place the bibb lettuce in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash, pears, the walnuts, and the shaved Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Chocolate Pretzel Tart
Recipe by Carrie Purcell
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups coarsely crushed pretzels
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbs maldon sea salt for garnish
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter with 3/4 cup pretzels and confectioner’s sugar on low speed until creamy.
2. Beat in flour and eggs.
3. Add remaining 1/2 cup pretzels and mix, leaving some pieces intact.
4. Flatten the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
6. Roll out the dough between the sheets of plastic
7. Wrap to a 12-inch round. peel off the top sheet and invert dough over a 10-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. press the dough into the corners and patch any tears.
8. Trim the overhanging dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
9. Line the shell with parchment and pie weights or dried beans and bake 30 minutes.
10. Remove the parchment and bake 8-12 minutes more or until firm and set. Let the shell cool completely.
11. Using a small offset spatula, spread the peanut butter into a thin even layer and refrigerate while making the chocolate filling.
12. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Turn off heat and add chocolate, let stand 5 minutes. Whisk until completely smooth. Let filling cool slightly before pouring into the shell and smoothing with spatula. Sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.
Photographer: Jessica Weiser | Event Design & Styling: Lauren Wells Events | Florist: Caroline O'Donnell | Barn: Phineas Wright House | Food Stylist/Chef: Jen Beauchesne | Hair/Makeup: Kacie Corbelle | Homemade Marshmallows: Wendy Harrop | Model: Dynasty Models | Models: Emma King | Wardrobe Stylist: Erin Riley