01 November 2009

Hallowe'en: The Autopsy

Since Hallowe'en is this household's favourite holiday, I like to extend the festivities beyond just the one day. All week I've been tweeting about what I've been up to in the kitchen, so I thought I'd share some of the results. Enjoy!

Witch's Fingers cookies are a Halloween staple around here. Creepy Hallowe'en treats are one thing, but creepy and delicious ensures a recurring appearance on the table.

Ready to go into the oven:

Baked and decorated (the trick is to not over bake them):

Witch's Fingers recipe here.

Wrapped Mummy Sandwich Loaf was a new addition this year, and one I'll be making again. It's something of an effort but I made my own bread dough--I think it would be a fair bit easier to use frozen dough from the store. Next time I'll try to form a head at one end, so the effect is a little more mummy-like. I'd also love to experiment with different fillings.

Adding the filling:

Ready for the oven (you can sprinkle the bread with grated Parmesan, which I think would have worked better, but I like sesame seeds on my bread so I went with those):

Ready to eat!

Wrapped Mummy Sandwich Loaf
(Better Homes and Gardens Halloween)

3/4 cup chopped green or red sweet pepper
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 tbs butter
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
3 oz package cream cheese or cream cheese with chives
1/2 of a 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
2 oz thinly sliced Canadian bacon or ham, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning, crushed
16 oz loaf frozen white bread dough, thawed (I made my own bread dough and used that)
sesame seeds or grated Parmesan cheese, optional

In a large skillet, cook and stir sweet pepper and carrot in hot butter for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook and stir about 2 minutes more or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat. Stir in cream cheese, spinach, meat, bread crumbs, and Italian seasoning.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12 x 9" rectangle. Carefully transfer to a greased baking sheet. Spread the filling lengthwise in a 3-inch-wide strip down the center of the rectangle to within 1 inch of the ends.

On both long sides, make 3-inch cuts from the edges toward the center at 1-inch intervals. Moisten the end of each dough strip. Starting at one end, alternately fold opposite strips of dough at an angle across filling. Slightly press moistened ends together in center to seal. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 30 minutes).

Lightly brush loaf with milk. If desired, sprinkle with sesame seeds or Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Using a serrated knife, cut into slices.

Makes 12 slices.

Caramel-Marshmallow Apples have become another staple. This year I dipped the bottoms in chopped, salted peanuts and drizzled with melted semi-sweet chocolate. I originally had six apples but the SO (aka @AchillesRage on Twitter) got to them before I could take a photo.

Recipe here.
Zombie brain! Now this was fun: jello + evaporated milk + food colouring + a little red decorator gel for the blood. The reactions to the gelatinous brain was so worth the investment in a brain-shaped mold. It was tasty too (if you don't mind the texture), although I think next time I'll just use one flavour of gelatin (and not raspberry, which I think is what made the brain too purple in colour).

Our yearly dinner on Hallowe'en night is Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Soup. Most people shy away from cooking with jack-o-lantern pumpkins. Granted, their flavour is much weaker than pie pumpkins (and I'd never use them for that purpose), but I love the mild flavour, particularly in this soup, which makes good use of something that would otherwise go to waste.

Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Soup
(Ancient Ways by Pauline and Dan Campanelli)

pieces of pumpkin cut from your jack-o-lanterns
1 chopped onion per cup of mashed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups milk per cup of mashed pumpkin
1/2 tsp salt per cup of mashed pumpkin
dash pepper per cup of mashed pumpkin
1/4 tsp curry powder, or according to taste, per cup of mashed pumpkin
cinnamon or nutmeg

Peel the outer skin from the pieces of pumpkin and boil them in water until very tender, about 20-30 minutes. Mash pieces with a potato masher.

Meanwhile, in a pot of appropriate size, melt some butter and saute chopped onion(s). When onions are ready, add the mashed pumpkin. Add milk, salt, pepper and curry powder. Cook until heated through. Bowls of the soup can be garnished with a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg just before serving.

I also like to roast the seeds from our pumpkin. Rinse and drain seeds and place in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt (I also sprinkled on some cayenne this year). Stir well. Spread on a large, greased baking sheet. Place in preheated 325F oven for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on them as they burn quickly. Best served warm.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake ended up being a hit! It's moist and delicious and definitely worth the effort.

A few notes:

*You'll have to fiddle with the food colouring to get a decent shade of orange (I ended up using more than the "scant 1/4 tsp" the recipe calls for, and I still couldn't get a bright orange hue).

*The recipe makes way too much glaze. Be prepared to alter the quantity or to find a use for the extra amount (shouldn't be too difficult--it tastes like truffles).

*The frosting and glaze stay very soft and creamy--nice for eating, not so nice for moving the cake. I had planned on transferring it to a cake stand or prettier plate, but I couldn't figure out how to do it without messing up the frosting (more than I already did, that is). Next time I'll just frost it on the serving plate.

*I sprinkled the finished product with Hallowe'en candy sprinkles (ghosts, bats, and pumpkins).

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake recipe here.

Because things got so hectic yesterday, I didn't get a chance to make everything I wanted. I'm going to play catch-up today and tomorrow with Haunted Shepherd's Pie (instead of spreading the mashed potatoes over the Shepherd's pie I'm going to form them into ghosts with peas for eyes) and my perennial favourite Bubbling Cauldron:

Bubbling Cauldron

16 oz pkg processed cheese with jalapeno peppers
2 x 15 oz cans black beans, well drained
1 cup medium or hot salsa
2 loaves (18 oz each) round marble rye bread (or pumpernickel), unsliced
pretzel rods
cocktail rye or pumpernickel bread

Melt cheese in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in beans and salsa. Carefully cut center out of the bread, leaving 1 1/2" shell. Cut bread center into pieces for dipping.

Reserve 1 pretzel rod. Arrange remaining pretzel rods on serving plate to resemble campfire logs. Place bread cauldron on pretzels; fill with cheese dip, allowing some to spill over top of cauldron. Arrange bread pieces and cocktail bread around cauldron. Place reserved pretzel rod in cheese dip; serve immediately.

Serves 18 [If you can find smaller loaves of bread you can easily halve the recipe]

Hope you all had a fantastic Hallowe'en! See you next year...

1 comment:

bella said...

It all looks delicious! I'll have to try the mummy and bubbling cauldron sometime. A caramel marshmallow apple would be perfect right now.