Edmonton food columnist Mary Bailey has these recipes for your parties.
Begin with very soft butter and make this with your kids, a bit messy but fun. Mound the eyeballs into a bowl for serving, or lay them out on a tray in row after unblinking row. Adapted from Ghoulish Goodies by Sharon Bowers.
1 1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
4 c icing sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 package (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
1 (3-ounce) package miniature M&Ms
Blend the peanut butter with the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper. Roll the peanut butter mixture by teaspoons into small balls and place on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the eyeballs. Put the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl and melt the chocolate in the microwave: Heat on high for 60 seconds, and then stir well. If it's not quite smooth, heat in two or three 10-second bursts, stirring well after each burst. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate, stirring frequently, in a double boiler, over just-simmering water.
Take the sheet of balls from the refrigerator; use a fork or a toothpick to dip each one most of the way into the chocolate, leaving a round or oval opening of undipped peanut butter on top. This opening in the chocolate will be the cornea. Hold each ball over the chocolate to catch the drips, and then return to the wax paper, cornea side up. Place an M&M in the center of the peanut butter cornea to make an iris. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Store the eyeballs in the refrigerator or freezer and serve chilled. Makes about 48 eyeballs.
Blood Punch (Hibiscus Punch)
The deep red colour is both pretty and a bit ghoulish. Add 1 cup gin for the adults.
4 litres water
2 c dried hibiscus flower pods
)1 c superfine sugar (or more to taste
2T hibiscus syrup (or more to taste)
Fresh hibiscus pods for punch cups or hibiscus flowers to float in punch bowl (optional)
Put water and dried hibiscus in a large Dutch oven. Cover and let stand at least 2 hours. Uncover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 6 to 8 minutes. Strain through a sieve, discarding the solids. Add sugar, syrup and gin if using. Stir until it dissolves. Refrigerate until well chilled.
Halloween is not just for kids anymore.
Three seasonal cocktails
Bloody Mary Shots with Shrimp
Part appetizer/part cocktail, this variation on the Bloody Mary is served with brains (shrimp). Depending on your kid's tolerance for body parts, you could leave out the vodka and serve to the young ones. Serve hot or cold.
32 peeled deveined cooked medium shrimp
2 fresh lemon juice, divided
pickled vegetables (carrot, green beans, olives) optional
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes in juice
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 c (or more) low-salt chicken broth
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T vodka or gin
1 t prepared horseradish
1/2 tn celery salt
sea salt and freshly-cracked pepper.
Toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon lemon juice in large bowl. Thread 1 shrimp and 1 vegetable on toothpick. Repeat with remaining shrimp and vegetables. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Put tomatoes and their juice, green onions, 1/2 cup broth, Worcestershire sauce, vodka, horseradish, celery salt, and remaining lemon juice in blender. Cover; blend until smooth. If mixture is too thick, thin with additional broth by tablespoonfuls. Season to taste. Transfer to pitcher. Chill or keep warm.
Pour Bloody Mary mixture into shot glasses or small glasses. Garnish each with shrimp-vegetable skewer. Serve remaining Bloody Mary mixture and shrimp-vegetable skewers alongside.
A classic cocktail. The bar at Zinc in the Art Gallery of Alberta makes a good one.
3/4 ounce gin
3/4 ounce Lillet (or St-Germain elderflower liqueur)
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Orange slice for garnish
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange slice. Makes 1 cocktail.
Having a big party? Here's a big punch based on Sangria but with a bit more kick. Adapted from Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus.
3 whole nutmeg pods
3 ts whole allspice berries
3 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
1 litre orange juice
1 litre pineapple juice
12 bottles Spanish red wine
1 bottle VSOP Cognac
1 bottle Myers dark rum
1 to 5 cups simple syrup to taste
10 oranges, sliced into wedges
Place the nutmeg pods in a cloth napkin and break them into pieces with a hammer. Combine the broken nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon in a large stainless steel saucepan over medium heat. Add the juices and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until it is reduced by one-third, about 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a container large enough to hold all of the punch. Discard the spices. Add the wine, Cognac, and rum, and stir well. Add the simple syrup 1 cup at a time until you like the taste. Add the orange slices, cover the container, and place in the refrigerator to chill. To serve, transfer the mixture to a large glass punch bowl with a ladle. Serve the ice on the side to prevent dilution, or with one large block of ice in the bowl.
What are the flavours of the season? Warm spice/ pumpkin pie spice: ginger, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg
Exc on mufins or French toast at a Halloween brunch.
2 large can (29-ounce) pumpkin puree
zest from one orange
1/2 c fresh squeezed orange juice
3 T maple syrup
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground ginger
¼ t salt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir well to combine. Taste for seasoning adding more warm spice if nec. Cook in a covered pot on low until all ingredients are well-integrated and the butter is mushy like apple butter. Or, cook in a crockpot on low for 6 - 8 hours. Chill overnight to allow flavours to develop.
Colours of the season- black and orange
Roasted Sweet Potato on Squid Ink Pasta
2 pounds sweet potato (1-2 large) peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 orange peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 T fresh chopped thyme
1/2 t hot red pepper flakes
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound black linguine or spaghetti (squid or cuttlefish ink pasta)
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.
Toss squash and bell peppers with garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a 17- by 11-inch 4-sided sheet pan. Roast, stirring once, until vegetables are just tender and browned in spots, 25 to 35 minutes.
When vegetables are roasted, cook linguine in well-salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return to pot. Remove sheet pan from oven and pour reserved water over vegetables, stirring to loosen from pan. Add vegetable mixture to pasta in pot and toss to combine. Serve in a hollowed out pumpkin if desired. Serves 6.
Variation: Use any bright orange local squash.