Nearing the end of the first season, we meet the original Gilmore girl– Richard’s mother, Lorelai the First, better known as Trix (played by the very talented Marion Ross, aka Mrs. C in Happy Days). Along with this meeting, we are introduced to Emily’s Achilles’ heel. Perhaps Richard inadvertently married someone like his mother, for although not related by blood, Emily and Trix bear a striking resemblance in the areas of condescension and biting wit. Lorelai takes a happy seat on the sidelines (and the peanut gallery) as she watches the main act: her mother in the role of frazzled, unhappy victim being relentlessly mocked with an ever elegant air. Due to the fact that this episode revolves around the elder Gilmore household, we are graced with not one, but three dinners, plus high tea.
Side note: poor Rory! Just a few episodes ago, she meets a set of grandparents for the first time. Tonight, she is meeting a great-grandmother who has never bothered to visit from London in the entirety of Rory’s lifetime. Despite the fact that it makes for good TV, this girl has been family-starved.
You would think there would be plenty of material for our own recreation of Friday Night Dinner in all of these meals; however, the culinary details are sparse. Food does play a comic role throughout the episode, so from these scenes I sculpted a dinner.
[Emily enters with a tray of cheese]
TRIX: Is this cheese?
EMILY: Yes it is.
TRIX: Am I supposed to eat that cheese?
EMILY: Well, only if you like.
RICHARD: Emily, where are those spiced nuts that Trix likes so much?
EMILY: I’ll get some.
EMILY: Here we go, spiced nuts.
TRIX: Thank you Emily. I suppose I can just put these nuts in my hand.
EMILY: I’ll be right back.
EMILY: I have dishes and napkins.
TRIX: Good for you. Richard, I would like to be escorted into the dining room now.
RICHARD: Your wish is my command.
EMILY: Well, uh, I’m not sure that dinner is ready just yet.
TRIX: Well, perhaps our presence in the dining room will teach your help that when one is told dinner is at 7:00, people often expect dinner at 7:00.
EMILY: But it’s only five after, Mom.
TRIX: Only five after? Richard, in the event that I am kidnapped and a ransom is demanded at a certain time, I would prefer that Emily not be in charge of the drop off.
And we have our appetizers! I don’t believe I’ve ever made spiced nuts– what a good excuse to try. I chose cashews, as they are soft enough that I’ve dared let Chompers try them with supervision. I used this recipe and only altered it by cutting the sugar down to 1/4 cup. So easy… and you only have to stir them once during cooking time! In fact, you’re lucky to get a picture. I think we ate half of the batch before they were fully cooled, they’re that addictive. What great timing, too! I’ve got another batch in the oven now– they’ll make perfect Christmas gifts for neighbors. The fancy French cheese plate will also come in handy for a hostess gift or Christmas get-together, as I didn’t even unwrap it yet. The main course was more than enough food for two and a half people, as you shall see.
“Cook! Where’s my lunch? Where’s my dinner? Cook! Where’s my hasenpfeffer?!?” Does this bring back fond childhood memories? If not, it’s time to watch the whole five minute Bugs Bunny episode “Shishkabugs.” You’ll thank me for it! If you had asked me last week what hasenpfeffer is, I couldn’t have told you, but I must have known it once, because they give you the recipe right in the cartoon. What does this have to do with Friday Night Dinner? Well, during the second dinner, Trix proclaims to Rory, “Tomorrow, Rory, I shall plan the menu. When you’ve lived in Europe you learn a thing or two about food.” That dinner turns out to be rabbit, transported from London on dry ice. Why rabbit, Trix? Is it weird that the first thing that popped into my head was, “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!” Amy Sherman-Palladino’s sense of humor is a little weird, too, so maybe that was intended…
Main course, voila. I’ve neither eaten nor prepared rabbit, so I turn to a method that is almost always foolproof when it comes to meat: braising. A Pinterest search of “rabbit stew” turned up multiple recipes for hasenpfeffer, ha! Here’s the one I chose. The picture on the website is not appetizing, but the ingredient list is. Red wine and shallots and currents, oh my! After reading user reviews, I skipped the bacon and subbed raspberry jam for the current jelly (if you have the time to search for that, be my guest!) I also used chicken stock instead of the water and bouillon granules. I found a frozen, cut up rabbit at Whole Foods market. This is where I hesitated. The recipe seems to infer that you only use the rabbit meat. I had no idea how to remove the meat from the bones prior to cooking without sacrificing much of it. Executive decision, then, was to stew it first, then debone it. I kid you not– this recipe smells AMAZING while cooking. I used my Dutch oven for everything, and cooked poor Bugs low and slow for about six hours. Deboning it was easy, as by this point, the meat truly fell off. Herein lay the problem. Rabbits have some very, very tiny bones. Don’t ask me where, anatomically. I just know that it was nigh impossible to get them all out. This was a deal-breaker for me. As yummy as the meal was– and it got rave reviews from my husband– I don’t like not knowing when the next bone will pop up in your bite. If someone has tips for getting every. single. tiny. bone. out of this dish, please let me know! I served it over mashed potatoes and sautéed mushrooms on the side. Chompers is going through a toddler phase of not eating new foods and not eating foods he previously loved and, let’s just put it out there, not eating. As my husband was freaking about possible bones in his bowl and going through it with his hands, I assured him, “Check it all you want, but it doesn’t matter– he won’t try even a bite.” Once again, culinary greatness is wasted on the young.
Another house and tummy-warming dish, I heartily recommend hasenpfeffer for a cozy winter evening, if you can get around the bones… or the buckshot. (Just ask Marty McFly.)