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Shades Of The Past
Although nothing supplants Easter as my favorite holiday lunch to plan, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Halloween meals and any Halloween recipe. We used to buy Milky Ways as treats for kids, but almost no one came to our door, deterred by a very spooky and always creaking gate entry, and then down a dark alley which always had mysterious squishy things underfoot. That worked out well for me, as I used our unclaimed loot to make the Milky Way Cake found in one of my Southern Junior League cookbooks. The Southern ones always had the best weird recipes. In fact, the closest recipe to the one I used to make is dutifully recorded in Southern Living. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
A Scary But Safe Halloween Recipe
This year, whether it’s a party for the children or adults in your bubble (or both, as Halloween is now as much an adult celebration as it is for children), this will be another occasion when it is wisest to do something at home with just a few very close neighborhood friends and kids. So here are some treats I have made for my children in the past. Start with a drink that can be made with or without rum. Since we all have plenty of disposable gloves, this punch from a 1996 Gourmet magazine cookbook is a perfect Halloween recipe. It has been copied for years and made overly fussy and sweet, but here is the original recipe, which is quite refreshing. When you fill the gloves with water and then tie them off, drape the filled gloves over any roundish frozen containers so that the hands come out curved, as if they are grasping for a way to get out of the punch. I add the Teisseire Mint Syrup to the water when I fill the gloves, which makes them creepier and offers a neat taste contrast to the punch. The icey hands melt and break apart, so that children can have finger ice cubes in their glass. A fun Halloween recipe that is wonderfully spooky and tasty too!
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 5 whole cloves
- 3 tablespoons (44ml)chopped peeled fresh gingeroot
- 1/3 (79ml)cup water
- 1/3 cup (75gr)white granulated sugar *I prefer India Tree Caster Sugar,
- 1 chilled 25.4 oz (751ml) bottle sparkling cider
- 1 chilled 1 quart (1ltr)bottle cranberry juice cocktail
- 1 chilled 1 quart (1ltr) bottle club soda or seltzer
- 1 cup dark (237ml) rum if desired
- Rinse out some (usually 2-4 are plenty) surgical gloves and fill with water (I sometimes add mint syrup to make them green).
- Tie them off like a balloon or with a rubber band.
- Freeze on a tray or over a round container.
- To make the spice syrup, bring all the ingredients for the syrup to boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Simmer covered (you don't want too much evaporation) for about 5 minutes.
- Cool syrup, which can be made a week ahead.
- In a punch bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and strain the syrup into the witches' brew.
- Add the ice hands to the brew and serve.
- You want the punch mixture to be as cold as possible so that the hands don't melt immediately.
- Once you fill your rinsed out disposable surgical gloves, fill them with water, leaving enough room to tie them off with a rubber band or string. You can lay them on a sheet or curve them to give the hands a more spooky shape. Cut the glove "balloons" and peel off the ice hands.
If you are a meat and potatoes kind of person, do your favorite pot roast or short ribs and make these sweet little potato ghosts. This Halloween recipe also comes from the same 1996 Gourmet Menu Cookbook. It is simply the classic French Pommes De Terres Duchesse with a humorous American touch for Halloween. Allow the potato mixture to cool, so that when you pipe them, you can create ghosts that are 3 inches (7cm) high. You can do this part ahead and then bake later. I also have experimented with tweezers vs. fingers and found that just applying the seed eyes with your finger is better than tweezers.
- 4lbs (1 3/4kg)large round potatoes
- 6tbs (85gr)unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cup(310ml) whole milk
- 3 large egg yolks
- garnish of nigella seeds, black sesame seeds, cumin seeds or in a pinch, black peppercorns
- Peel and quarter potatoes and put in a large saucepan, covering them with about 2 inches of cold, salted water.
- Bring to a boil and let the potatoes simmer until barely soft, about 15 minutes.
- While the potatoes are simmering, in a small saucepan, heat the butter and milk until warm and blend together.
- Drain the potatoes and pass them through a ricer or food mill with a medium grid.
- Add the egg yolks to the milk and butter mixture and blend with a whisk.
- With a hand mixer, whisk the potatoes and the liquid mixture together.
- Adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper.
- Allow to cool before piping, as your "ghosts" will pipe out more uniformly.
- Make a bed with about 1/4 of the Duchesse potato mixture in a buttered gratin dish, and add the remaining mixture to a pastry bag with a large plain tube or opening.
- Pipe the mixture (around 3 inches high) with large plain tube
- Add the eyes with the spice of your choice - the ghosts can be made ahead, chilled and covered loosely 24 hours ahead.
- When ready, preheat oven to 400F and bake them for about 15-20 minutes.
Halloween De Rigueur
But whatever you choose to celebrate with friends and kids, at least make these wonderful cookies that were a tradition in the shop with all the Cuisinettes throughout the years. It is a fall gift from the baking magic of Stephanie Gorenflo. Until she whisked in one morning with a huge tray of them, we had no idea how grim life had been without Joy’s Pumpkin Cookies. While not officially a Halloween recipe, they freeze beautifully so that you can pop them out for any event in October through November, and people will bow before you.
After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes a blog about food in all its aspects – recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food related issues.