A devilish dinner . . . quirky ideas for your Hallowe’en party
- Credit: Archant
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis has a scary time in the kitchen
If you’re entertaining at Hallowe’en you’ve either got to go kitsch or go home.
Throw formality out the window, get out those garish food colourings, and most importantly, use your imagination. There was quite a stir last time I put on a Hallowe’en spread for my friends. My ‘witches fingers’ looked a bit too realistic and my guests were reticent, to say the least, to pop what was essentially a chipolata wrapped in pastry, into their gobs.
I spare you the same fate here. These dishes, which can easily be multiplied up, are more tongue-in-cheek than all-out freaky.
Eyeball hors d’oeuvres
- 1 6 great woodland walks in the Peak District
- 2 Win a 12 bottle case of mixed wines and champagne from Wharf Side Wines
- 3 Win a diamond ring worth £1,000
- 4 Win a short break at Landal Darwin Forest
- 5 9 of Yorkshire’s best bakeries
- 6 Win a stunning brass table lamp from Opulental
- 7 5 million pound properties for sale in Derbyshire
- 8 Win a signed limited edition print by Fiona Odle
- 9 Win a watercolour painting of Gosfield by artist James Merriott
- 10 6 waterfall walks in Derbyshire and the Peak District
These are easy peasy and can be made a day in advance or just moments before your guests arrive. If you have vegetarians in the house the overall effect is just as good without the ham. A couple of bags of the mozzarella balls and a jar of olives will make dozens.
1 bag mini mozzarella balls
1 jar olives stuffed with pimento paste
4 slices Parma ham, shredded in lengths
Jules and Sharpie hot pepper jelly
Use a paintbrush to smear lines of pepper jelly on your chosen platter. Cut a hole the size of a 5p piece into the top of each cheese ball. Count out one olive for each ball and cut the tips off them (where the red is just peeping out).
Insert a cut bit of olive into the top of each cheese ball and wrap each base in a little ham. Place on top of the pepper jelly and serve.
An effervescent, sweet punch that takes on a sinister appearance if you add a frozen hand for decoration. All you have to do is pour water into a rubber glove and set it in the freezer overnight.
1 bottle Prosecco
500ml cranberry juice
4 shots orange liqueur
4 shots white rum
Mix just before serving.
The main event
Dead man’s bones
Beef short ribs are one of the tastiest, cheapest cuts you can come across, making them perfect when you’re cooking for a crowd. With long, slow cooking they become molten and unctuous and have the most ‘beefy’ flavour you can imagine. I’ve served them here with a diavolo sauce, but you could substitute this with barbecue sauce (the Stokes version is great) or, as I’ve done recently, with bacon ketchup made in Suffolk by Syms Pantry. Serve with corn on the cob, potato wedges and bread.
4 individual beef short ribs
For the rub:
1tbsp dark brown sugar
1tbsp garlic powder
1tsp chilli powder
1tsp roughly crushed black peppercorns
Jules and Sharpie hot pepper jelly
For the sauce:
1 red pepper, cut into 1cm dice
1 medium onion, cut into 1cm dice
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tin plum tomatoes
1tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used the Aspall version)
3 red chillies finely chopped
1tbsp Jules and Sharpie hot pepper jelly
Salt and pepper to season
The day before you want to eat, cover the beef in the rub and place in a slow cooker on low for four hours (or in the oven at 140C for four hours, covered tightly).
Allow to cool, strain the juices into a bowl, then place the ribs in a sealed container in the fridge.
To make the sauce take a few tablespoons of the beef fat from cooking and heat in a pan. Add the onion, pepper and garlic and saute on a low heat until very soft. Turn up the heat and add the pepper jelly, chillies and vinegar. Allow to sizzle until all the liquid is gone. Strain the fat from the beef liquid and add the stock/juices to the pan.
Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil then simmer on low until reduced by half. Taste for seasoning.
When you want to eat, bring the ribs to room temperature about half an hour before cooking and set your oven to 220C.
Brush the ribs with hot pepper jelly and cook in the oven for 15 minutes until hot, sticky and shiny.
Warm through the sauce and serve with the ribs.
Day of the dead cookies
In Mexico the Day of the Dead is a lavish, colourful celebration of passed loved ones. These bright cookies pay homage to the occasion and can be decorated with as many coloured icings and patterns as you like. A great form of edible art therapy!
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g caster sugar
1 large egg
1tbsp ground cinnamon
1tbsp ground ginger
400g plain flour
To decorate: fondant icing, food colouring, edible silver balls, icing sugar mixed with a little water to make a glue You will also need a skull shaped cookie cutter, or make one by drawing a rough skull shape onto cardboard and cutting it out.
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until they form a ball shape. Or cream the butter with the sugar, add the egg, then press in the spices and flour, taking care not to handle the mix too much.
Flatten the dough gently and wrap in clingfilm. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Pre heat the oven to 180C and line two baking sheets.
Lightly flour a surface and roll the dough to 3mm thick.
Cut out your shapes and place them on the trays, leaving at least 2cm between each.
Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool.
Cut out white fondant icing using your skull cutter and secure to each cookie with some of the edible glue you’ve made. Decorate as you like.
Find more of Charlotte Smith-Jarvis’ recipes and meal ideas in Suffolk Magazine every month
All the ingredients for this shoot, apart from speciality cake coverings and beef ribs, were supplied by the East of England Co-op where, through their Sourced Locally initiative, you can buy some brilliant East Anglian produce.
Just some of the ingredients incorporated were Marriage’s Flour, Havensfield eggs, Jules and Sharpie hot pepper jelly and Hadleigh Maid chocolate.