It’s that time of the year again: the kids are off school for mid-term and the shopping trolleys are piled high with pumpkins, fruit, nuts and sweets as we prepare for Halloween.
With the children at home, why not get them busy baking for their Halloween Party. Try making my Chocolate Graveyard Brownies - cooking with chocolate always entertains! I bake them in a baking tray, cut out the ‘headstones’, then use melted white chocolate for the headstone decoration. My Mini Ghosts are just meringues, decorated with melted chocolate. It’s a bit fiddly getting the piping right but you can have great fun trying and of course eating your mistakes. I’ve also included a cookie recipe that can be baked in batches and given to the Trick & Treaters that call to the door. Great fun can be had with the decorations – a simple spider web decoration can be piped on top and feel free to add sweets for eyes and jelly strings for hair.
Other foods great for sharing at Halloween are my Oven Roasted Skeleton Ribs, which are first simmered then baked in a tomato-based sauce. I like to serve them with some colcannon mash, a dish traditionally eaten at Halloween. Years ago it was customary to add coins wrapped in baking paper, a tradition that I don’t follow but many people do. Just make sure you wrap the coins very, very tightly, add them to the colcannon just before serving, and warn anybody about to eat the colcannon that there are coins in the dish! Another family favourite recipe is Mummy Sausage Rolls, simply sausages wrapped in pastry and baked. They can be eaten hot or cold and I use red sauce or mustard to make a face.
No Halloween party is complete without some games and there are lots of traditional ones I grew up with that we still enjoy today. Like Snap Apple, where you suspend an apple from the ceiling. The children are blindfolded, hands are not allowed to be used and the first child who gets a decent bite from the apple gets a little prize.
Apple Bobbing is another great party game and very easy to arrange. Just fill a large basin or bowl with water and add a few apples. Kids have to take the apples from the water only using their mouths, not their hands. It’s hilarious, though a little messy, so have plenty of clean towels nearby. The first person to retrieve their apple, or a specially marked apple, wins. One point to note is to change the water regularly!
Carving pumpkins is another tradition in our house, a great way to decorate both the inside and outside of your home. I have a set of carving tools I bought in a hardware store, but a very sharp knife can suffice. Do be very careful though as the exterior is very tough. My Pumpkin Soup recipe is a great way to use up the carved out interior of the pumpkin, full of nutrition and any excess can be frozen to be used later. I drizzle some crème fraiche in a circular design onto the soup, then use a toothpick to drag a cobweb design from the centre to the edge of the bowl.
After all that fun and clearing up, it’s time to enjoy an eerie glass of red blood (actually my favourite Barolo wine) with a few nibbles left over from the party. Feet up and relax, you deserve it.