Thrilling Times in the Kitchen
I had a lovely chat with Sean O Rourke on RTE Radio one about Thrilling Times in the Kitchen – so as promised, here are some easy ideas to have some Halloween fun in the kitchen
There is a very simply Halloween effect and that is the “Mummy” wrap. It can be done by wrapping pastry around grilled sausages or even strips of cooked chicken as well as using cucumber ribbons wrapped around thin pieces of toast, spread with cottage cheese or mashed avocado and adding a cherry tomato cut in half or slices of olives for the eyes for a healthier option.
For a grown up version try a Mummy Brie… For your Halloween party. You’ll need a medium size round of brie. Ready roll pastry, cut into 2cm strips, 1 cherry tomato, sliced in half for the eyes. Carrot, apples or celery slices, cracker biscuits to serve. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C. wrap the pastry strips (you will need about 5 to 6 strips randomly wrapped around the cheese. Place this on a parchment lined shallow baking dish (one that you can serve). Add the cherry tomato eyes and bake for about 12 to 14 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked. Serve warm, arrange the carrots, apples, celery and crackers around so everyone can dig in.
Witches finger biscuits
Try witches finger biscuits dipped into chocolate sauce and raspberry dip. Use your favourite biscuit dough (or try mine below) and shape into fingers (use your own finger as a guideline). You can buy a cutter or even just use a knife to shape them. Maybe get a cutter if children are creating them. Stick whole almonds on with egg wash for nails and push them into the dough so they don’t fall off when baking. Bake for about 13 to 15 depending on the size of the fingers. For the dipping sauces – pureed 200g raspberries with 3 tbsp icing sugar for a fruit dipping bowl and for the chocolate one, you’ll need 120g good quality chocolate drops and 120ml cream, heat together over a low heat until melted. Grate in a little orange zest and there you have 2 dipping sauces for the fingers.
Cheesy dough bones with green oil and chilli tomato dip are another option. Use your favourite yeast dough recipe (or mine below) to shape bones. Add 4 tbsp grated cheese and 2tbsp grated parmesan before shaping.
Depending on the size, I like to make mine about 4 to 5cm in length and bake them for 18 to 20 minutes or until cooked and golden. The green oil is easy – place a handful of parsley and some chives into a blender and add about 100ml olive oil, blend until smooth. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
For the chilli tomato sauce, 1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes, 50ml water, 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, 1 red chilli, finely chopped, 1tbsp chopped chives, 2 garlic cloves, chopped, 1 tsp sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. The quickest way is to add, everything into the saucepan and bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add a little vegetable stock if needed.
To serve, spoon some chilli tomato sauce into a bowl, place on a board and arrange the warm dough bones around it. Spoon over a little green oil and sprinkle some sea salt over the top.
A ghostly cheese platter, starting with a white or grey board, a spider web, which is easily bought, add green melon eyeballs, tiny pumpkins, cut bats from tortilla wraps, almonds, slices of figs drizzled with honey, blackberries, red grapes and make your own mini “bones” from yeast dough or even add some cheesy pastry fingers or twists.
A vegetable soup served in scooped out little pumpkins with bat shaped toasts.
Popcorn mix – salted popcorn, chocolate drops, dried cranberries, and mini white marshmallows and black sprinkles in orange and black paper homemade cones with spiders stuck on the side.
Green wraps, crepe style pancakes coloured with pureed spinach. Filled with whatever filling you like – ham, soft cheese and roll up and cut in slices. Looks pretty cool.
Spooky Sweet Treats!
Here’s how to make ghost chocolates. You’ll need melted white chocolate, some raisins and piece of parchment. The chocolate must be at the correct temperature – warm so that it is thick. Dip a spatula generously into the melted chocolate and then dab it onto the parchment, pulling down to form the tail of the ghost. Do it a second time if it is too thin. Add 2 raisins for eyes and leave them to dry completely before carefully peeling them off the parchment. Use to decorate cakes or have with a piece of fruit.
Now for truffles, makes about 12. You’ll need 10 medjool dates, pitted and chopped. ½ tsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp nut butter, 60 to 70g ground almonds (this depends on the size of the dates)
Mix altogether very well and add more ground almonds if the mix is too sticky. Shape the mix into a ghost shape (standing up ghosts – a little like a witch’s hat!). Leave to set in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Melt some white chocolate slowly and this must be warm so that it can coat the ghosts completely.
Sit these on a piece of parchment, leave to dry before dotting the eyes with an edible black pens or using black fondant. So there it is a little healthy and a little sweetness!
Ghostly skewers, you’ll need white marshmallows, pieces of melon and pieces of kiwi fruit. Use short skewers, thread a piece of melon on and then the kiwi fruit and lastly marshmallow. Using a black edible pen, make the eyes of the ghost on each skewer. Very easy for younger children to prepare.
A Spooky forest, chocolate mousse in small glass jars, with finely crushed oreo biscuits (remove the white filling) for the “dirt” on top. Melt dark chocolate and draw trees on the parchment – ensure the branches are fairly thick as you don’t want them to break off. Once completely set and you’re ready to serve, place one tree into each choc mousse jar. Place all the jars together on a board and there you have a forest!
Or how about a family project – like the gingerbread house you do for Christmas, you can easy make a haunted house.
Basic Dough Recipe
- 1½ tsp quick action dried yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 300g bread / strong flour
- 150 to 170ml luke warm water, you may need a little more
Egg wash, 1 egg beaten with 3 tbsp water
To make the dough, place the yeast, sugar, salt and flour into the large bowl of a mixer – attach the dough hook.
While the machine is slowly running, add sufficient warm water into the dry ingredients and keep mixing until a soft dough forms. Increase the speed to medium and “knead” with the dough hook for about 5 to 6 minutes until your dough becomes very smooth.
Remove from the bowl and transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warmer to rise and double in size. This could take about 1½ hours.
Add in the grated cheddar and parmesan cheese.
Divide the dough into small even rounds, shape into bones. Place on baking prepared baking tray and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.
Brush with egg wash and bake in the preheated oven for about 16 to 18 minutes or until baked. You will have to keep an eye on it.
Basic Biscuit Dough
- 200g plain flour
- 90g softened butter
- 50g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp milk
Icing sugar, for dusting
To make the biscuits, preheat oven to 180˚C/Fan160°C/gas 4.
Line a baking tray with parchment.
Place the flour and butter into a bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles “breadcrumbs”.
Stir in the caster sugar.
Add the vanilla extract.
Pour in enough milk to form a dough and very lightly knead it together.
Wrap the dough up in parchment and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough out thinly on a clean floured surface and shape by hand with a knife or with a cutter.
Place them onto the pre-lined baking tray.
Bake them in a preheated oven for 13 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the biscuit.
Leave on the tray for 15 minutes to set before transferring to a cooling rack.
Makes 24 depending on the size
- 3 egg whites
- 180g caster sugar
- Piping bag with plain nozzle fitter
Edible black colour paste or pen
Preheat the oven to 120°C/fan 100°C/gas 1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the egg whites in a spotlessly clean, dry mixer bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually whisk in half of the caster sugar, spooning in a tablespoon at a time.
Fold in the remaining caster sugar.
Spoon the meringue mixture into a piping bag with a plain nozzle. Secure the parchment paper to the baking sheet with a little meringue mixture to ensure the paper doesn’t lift in the oven.
Pipe swirls of meringue, lifting at the end to create a ghost shape.
Bake immediately for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until set. When done, leave them in the oven with the oven door slightly open so that the meringues can cool.
When cold, add the eyes on with black colour paste or an edible pen.