Food rituals: a Halloween tea party
I’m not really sure I’m supposed to love Halloween as much as I do. It, or rather the over-the-top celebrating-of-it that I love so much, is ‘a bit American’ as my Mum would put it. But I don’t see that as a bad thing. The nights are drawing in, which in itself can be a little depressing. It’s getting colder and I never look as good in a polo neck as I think I should. But Halloween appears at the end of October and it’s a riot of fun, garishness, slight tackiness and faux-gore hilarity. Can’t go wrong really.
We aren’t at the stage of trick-or-treating yet, and to be honest I’m not too fussed if we never get there. I like our spooky evening in, just us or with some friends. This year Halloween falls on a Tuesday, and we’re having some school friends over for tea. We’ll all dress up and the kids will probably not eat that much of what’s on offer let’s face it (why is it that children never eat at a party tea?). Pumpkin carving will take place, from the complex to the simple. There will also be some cocktails on offer for the grown-ups, because, well, cocktails. These will of course be this month's Cocktail Club offering. And this month there's also a non-alcoholic alternative. I hesitated to use the word rituals alongside Halloween in case of satanic connotations, but these are our food rituals. I'd love to hear about yours (just the food kind mind...).
A Halloween tea party
One of my boys loves Pumpkin pie, but everyone else in the house can take it or leave it. I make it anyway because he’s so pleased when it appears and I try it every year just in case I suddenly like it. I don’t. Given we all carve a pumpkin there is a lot of pumpkin flesh lying about but I usually end up making soup out of this and use tinned pumpkin for my pie. It’s not a cop-out. I’m still making a pie for goodness sake.
The recipe I use is cobbled together from a couple of different ones, and has the added benefit of some rum. Find the recipe here.
I’m not going to give a recipe for pasta and pesto. Make your own from basil grown on your Tuscan windowsill, or buy it in, I’m not sure the children will notice. The one thing I will recommend is to use Fusilli Lunghi, which really does make give it the extra ‘witches hair’ effect but spaghetti will work too. For extra fun, toast some pine nuts for ‘witches teeth’.
Drinks have lots of potential to spookify (not a word but it should be), and these milkshakes are a classic example of that. There's nothing special about them, and to be honest you could just use milk and cream and get to a similar outcome. These were met with squeals of delight (by the adults and the children). The recipe, if you can call it that, is here.
Assuage your guilt by shoe-horning one of their five-a day into this sugar-fest. Very easy and really cute. Thank you Pinterest. Peel a satsuma, keeping it whole. Cut a small ‘stalk’ out of celery and poke into the top. Done.
If you can face the sugar-overload happening in liquid form, this is a suitable gruesome accompaniment to proceedings. Essentially a cherryade float, for which you will need
Raspberry & Strawberry sorbet (or vanilla or strawberry ice-cream can also be used)
Ping-pong ball eyeballs (not edible, I got ours on Amazon)
Just before you are about to serve, simply pour the cherryade into a big glass bowl. Scoop in the sorbet and drop in the eyeballs. Serve at once, to sounds of cackling.
Food-wise I've picked up a few bits and pieces along the way this year, and alongside the Haribo-fest, there will also be some M&S spider sweets and chocolate pumpkins and from the amazing Hoxton Monster Supplies, who supply "Bespoke and Everyday Items for the Living, Dead and Undead", I've purloined some Cubed Earwax, tinned fear in the form of the Heebie Jeebies, and some Toasted Bone Chunks*. The description of the Earwax is particularly appetising: "Our Cubed Earwax is harvested from unsanitary jug-eared humans, fed on a strict diet of Tinned fear (highly effective in stimulating the Ceruminous Gland). A true delight at any monster's table, made the traditional way, in copper pans above a gas flame. Caution: May contain insects and small hairs. If you are lucky." Delicious and disgusting all at the same time. Perfect.
There will also be a 'brain jelly' using Tiger's fabulous jelly mould - I've made it with strawberry jelly as per the instructions, but adding a little bit of milk amongst the water, to turn it slightly cloudy and even more disgusting.
Decoration wise, I went slightly over-the-top in Wilko, Tesco and Sainsbury's and will be adding plenty of pumpkins, some carved, some not, to the overall look.
Finally for the grown-ups, there will be a cocktail, which this month is a spooky violet spritzer (recipe here) , and some Sanguinello chocolate from our Woman in Progress, Lucy Elliott at Creighton's.