Halloween’s on its way — it’s time to add a little creepy to our cuisine.
Anyone can celebrate with traditional fall foods — after all pumpkins, corn and apples abound at harvest time. But for anyone who wants to add a pinch of “fear”some to their festivities, there is no shortage of disgustingly delectable dishes one can serve to party-goers with strong stomachs.
Scary or not, Halloween is big business. The U.S. retail industry sees Halloween spending as a precursor to holiday spending. It seems the more we spend on spooky stuff, the more Americans are likely to shop during the holiday season, considered the make-it-or-break-it time for many retailers. According to a survey conducted last year for the National Retail Federation, Americans estimated they would spend almost $7 billion — that’s right, $6.8 billion, with a “B” — on costumes, candy and decorations for Halloween.
But one needn’t break the bank to add a little creepiness to a party menu. One or more of these ghoulish goodies is sure to elicit a few squirms and squeaks of surprised delight when it’s discovered they taste good, too.
Inspiration for these ghastly goodies can be found just about anywhere — there are tons of recipes available online and also in magazines and cookbooks. However, we were able to catch up with some Halloween heavy-hitters to find out what tricks they have up their sleeves, providing they have arms, that is. (We suggest you read the following with your tongue firmly in your cheek, and try the recipes, if you dare!)
A key player this time of year is Jack O. Lantern. We found him resting comfortably on the porch, his eyes twinkling and his charming grin engaging. He said his favorite meal this time of the year is actually a specialty of his own making: Dinner in a pumpkin shell.
“I love the way the flavor of the pork sausage and vegetables blends with the flavor of the pumpkin,” he said, his eyes gleaming with anticipation. “It’s a very savory concoction and makes for a nice presentation, too.”
You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Mumford B. Mummy possesses quite a sweet tooth. His Mummy Truffles recipe is a family favorite passed down for generations.
“They were my mum’s favorite,” he said. “She was a big fan of coconut, although her bandages made it a little hard to roll them properly.”
A mixture of cream cheese, coconut, sugar and flavorings is rolled into balls, then carefully wrapped with strips of fondant. All in all, it’s easy to see why this recipe has been carefully preserved.
That venerable Transylvanian Count, Drack Ula, said he just likes food he can sink his teeth into, whether it is sweet or savory doesn’t matter to him. His normal favorites include a good, rare steak or blood sausage, but he does have a couple of preferences this time of year, such as Bloody Banshee Brains and Maggots and Blood-Splattered Fudge.
“The bloodier the better,” he said with a smack of his lips.
“I like food that looks at me,” boasted Frank N. Stein of his recipe for Eyeball Subs. He enjoys these sandwiches year ‘round, not just at Halloween.
“Uh, they’re just yummy,” he said.
Ima Witch, from the East, said the same thing about her Halloween standby.
“I have to watch my figure for all the broomstick flying I do, but I just love Moldy Cheese and Crackers,” she said with a cackle.
Tom Bones doesn’t worry too much about putting on weight. His joints creak as he moves restlessly on the graveyard fence where we found him hanging around, but his thin body barely cast a shadow.
“I dug out the recipes for two of my favorites: Halloween Intestines and Stuffed Roaches,” he said with a wave of his thin hand. “I prefer dishes that have some guts.”
Here are their gastronomic contributions for your enjoyment:
½ cup drained canned cannelloni beans or other white beans
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon apple butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 ½ pounds ground turkey
8 pitted colossal green olives, cut in 3 round slices
2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce with Italian herbs
1-2 small black olives, cut in ¼-inch pieces
12 small club rolls (about 5-inches long), split
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Heat oven to 400 F. Mash the beans with a fork, potato masher or food processor until completely smooth. Mix with egg, ketchup, apple butter and soy sauce. Mix into the ground turkey, using your hands, until completely incorporated.
Wet hands with cold water and form into 24, 1 ½-inch meatballs, put on two baking sheets, leaving plenty of space between. Push a green olive ring deeply into the center of each meatball, with circular side facing up. Mold the meat around the olive into a football shape so each meatball looks like an eye. Bake for 10 minutes until the meat is cooked through.
While the eyeballs are cooking, heat the sauce in a saucepan until simmering, and keep warm. Remove eyeballs from oven. Dab away juice from the top with a paper towel and insert a piece of black olive into the hole in the center of each green olive, giving each eye a dark pupil.
To serve: spoon ¼ cup sauce in each roll, top with 2 tablespoons cheese and insert two eyeballs side-by-side, staring out from each roll.
(Frank N. Stein’s recipe is from recipelion.com.)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon coconut extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 ounces white fondant
2 tablespoons chocolate chips
Place the cream cheese, vanilla and coconut extract in the bowl of a large electric mixer. Mix on medium speed until the cream cheese is smooth and entirely soft. Stop the mixer, add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated. Stop the mixer and add the remaining powdered sugar and mix just until combined.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the coconut and salt. Turn mixer to low and blend well. Texture should be firm enough to be easily shaped into a ball but not too dry and stiff. If necessary, add more powdered sugar to get the right texture.
Using a spoon, scoop up a small amount of candy and roll it until round. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining candy. Chill until the balls are firm, about two hours.
Roll the fondant out on a powdered sugar-dusted workstation until it is a thin rectangle about a foot long. Roll the fondant as thin as possible. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut very thin strips of fondant, about 1/8 to ¼-inch thick. Take one strip and wrap it around one of the coconut balls, criss crossing it in the front to make the mummy’s bandages. If it breaks, just start wrapping again. Use a little water or corn syrup to get it to stick if you’re having difficulty. Wrap it around three or four times total. Repeat until all the balls are covered.
Melt the chocolate chips and use a toothpick to dot chocolate onto the mummies to form eyes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
(Mumford B. Mummy’s recipe is from about.com.)
Dinner in a Pumpkin Shell
1 pumpkin, 12-inch size
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 4-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup cooked rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350 F. Cut the top off the pumpkin (save the “lid”). Scoop out the seeds and strings; wash the pumpkin inside and out. Set aside.
Brown the sausage, onion, celery and carrot together; drain off excess fat. Stir in mushrooms, rice and soup. Season to taste. Mix well and pour into pumpkin shell; replace pumpkin “lid.” Place pumpkin in a large roasting pan. Pour the water around the outside of the pumpkin shell in a roasting pan. Bake in preheated oven for 2 hours.
Remove “lid” and spoon out from the top of pumpkin. As the inner meal is scooped out and served, cut squares of pumpkin from the top opening down and serve alongside the sausage-rice mixture.
(Jack O. Lantern’s recipe is from cdkitchen.com.)
Bloody Brains and Maggots
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
¼ pound (cooked) baby shrimp
1 jar cocktail sauce
Shape the cream cheese into an oval “brain” shape. Place the brain on a platter.
Mix the shrimp and cocktail sauce. Pour the sauce over the cream cheese brain. Surround with crackers.
Note: For added effect, take a toothpick dipped in food coloring (blue and/or green) and make veins in the cream cheese brain.
(Count Drack Ula’s recipe is from cdkitchen.com.)
1 stick butter
2 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup full-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce package white chocolate chips
1 7-ounce jar marshmallow cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red food coloring (preferably gel variety, liquid will also work)
Small, clean food-safe paintbrush
Prepare an 8×8 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Depending on the consistency, it may need to be watered down. Place about ½ teaspoon of food coloring in a small bowl. Add a few drops of water and stir together with a paintbrush until mixed. Try flicking the coloring off the paintbrush. If it is too thick to splatter easily, add a little more water, until it is viscous but runny enough to splatter. If using liquid food coloring, simply pour a little into a small bowl and set the coloring aside for a moment.
Place the butter, sour cream, salt and sugar in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar and butter melt. Continue to cook the fudge, stirring frequently, until it comes to a boil. Once boiling, cook it for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. If using a candy thermometer instead of timing, it should be at 235 F.
After 5 minutes, remove the pan from heat and add the white chocolate chips and the marshmallow cream. Stir vigorously until the chips and cream are melted and incorporated. If necessary, return the fudge to the heat for brief periods to melt the chips, but try not to cook the fudge more than necessary.
Add the vanilla and stir well. Pour about half of the fudge into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Take the paintbrush and red coloring and, working quickly, flick droplets of color over the surface of the fudge so there will be bloody patches in the center of the fudge. Once the top is splattered, pour the remaining fudge into the pan and smooth into an even layer. Once again, splatter the top of the fudge all over with red food coloring. Vary the height and angle of the brush to get different “blood” patterns.
Allow the fudge to set at room temperature for
3-4 hours or in the refrigerator 1-2 hours. To serve, cut into small 1-inch pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week or in the refrigerator up to two weeks.
(Count Drack Ula’s recipe is from about.com.)
Moldy Cheese and Crackers
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 cup finely shredded Gouda cheese (4 ounces)
¼ cup butter
1 tablespoon milk
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce for chicken
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dillweed
½ cup chopped toasted almonds or dill, thyme, parsley or chives
Assorted crackers and/or flatbread
In large bowl let cream cheese, Gouda and butter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Add milk and Worcestershire sauce. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Stir in green onion and dill. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.
Before serving, shape cheese mixture into a ball. Roll in chopped nuts or fresh or dried dill, thyme, parsley or chives.
(Ima Witch’s recipe is from bhg.com.)
T. Bones’ Halloween Intestines
1 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry
3 cups filling of your choice, savory or sweet (We used Sloppy Joe filling)
1 egg, beaten
Red food coloring
Small food-safe paintbrush
Thaw puff pastry according to package directions. Heat oven to 375 F and line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper. Divide each sheet of puff pastry lengthwise into six strips. Lightly flour an expansive counter or other surface and lay each strip (end to end) next to one another. Press and seal the seams between strips.
Spread filling of choice down entire length of dough, leaving a bit of space on each side to pinch closed. Pinch the entire length of the dough closed, stretching dough slightly around the filling as you go. Carefully lift intestine onto baking sheet, seam side down, and form an “intestine-like” pattern. Brush puff pastry with beaten egg. Dip paintbrush into red food coloring and draw “blood” in the creases. Bake about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
(Tom Bones’ recipe comes from theknead4speed.com.)
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
¼ cup walnuts, chopped semi-fine
20 dates, pitted
In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and nuts until well mixed. Gently fill each date with cream cheese/nut mixture (you may have to split the dates slightly).
(Tom Bones’ recipe is from cdkitchen.com.)