Spooktacular Snacks for a Killer Halloween Table
By Chef Julie Wilson
Spooky season is here! The leaves are beginning to turn, and there’s a crispness in the air. We’re starting to see pumpkins on every doorstep and witches in every tree. The inner child in all of us is excited to pick out this year’s costume and, frankly, eat a boat load of candy. There’s an electricity in the air, calling for us to add pumpkin spice to almost everything. It’s time to get ready for Halloween – ghouls, ghosts, and ghastly great grub!
’Tis the season for creepy culinary creations at a monster mash of your own. Bring your fantastic foodie skills to what is sure to be an over-the-top celebration of the spirits. While everyone is candying apples and peeling grapes, set yourself apart and level up your fancy fete with a few phantasmic recipes. Sure, getting your coven together these days can be tricky, but you can safely invite all the vaccinated vampires you know over to celebrate Halloween in proper style… with some treats fit for a pumpkin king.
What’s brewing in your caldron? Eye of newt and breath of toad? Perhaps something a bit less earthy and a bit more spirited. Sip on a bloodcurdlingly delicious drink before any of your victims, er, guests arrive. This killer libation is sure to send a chill down anyone’s spine. The secret ingredient is a hair from you enemy’s head… actually, it’s just orange zest – it really adds that extra zing!
Poisoned Apple Punch
© The Food Network Kitchen
4 thick slices peeled fresh ginger
6 cups apple cider
Zest of 1 orange, removed with a vegetable peeler
Zest of 1 lemon, removed with a vegetable peeler
1 to 2 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
1 red apple, sliced into 8 wedges, for garnish
Gummy worms, for garnish
1 750-ml bottle sparkling cranberry-apple juice
1 cup cinnamon whiskey (optional)
Smash the ginger slices with the flat side of a chef’s knife and transfer to a medium saucepan. Add the apple cider, orange zest, lemon zest, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 10 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Poke holes in the apple wedges with a chopstick or skewer and insert a gummy worm into each. Add the cranberry-apple juice and whiskey, if using, to the punch. Serve over ice. Garnish with the apples.
Now that you’ve entranced your friends with you skillful potion making, serve up an appetizer that’s scary good. Vegetable Crudite with Romesco Sacue. This tomato-based sauce brings a subtle holiday feel your already terrifying table. Its color is spot on for the season, and it brings the vegetables back to life with flavor.
Vegetable Crudite with Romesco Sauce
© Chef Jerrod Perry, Cambridge School of Culinary Arts
1 bunch white asparagus, woody stems peeled, blanched and shocked
1 lb broccoli rabe, stalks trimmed, blanched and shocked
1 lb carrots, sliced ¼”x ¼”, blanched and shocked
1 lb sugar snap peas, blanched and shocked
1 English cucumber, sliced on the bias
8 oz watermelon radishes, sliced according to size
1 orange bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1-pint cherry tomatoes, washed
8 oz Belgian Endive, leaves separated
Fill a large pot with enough water to completely submerge the height of the asparagus. Once the water comes to a boil add enough salt so that the water tastes “like the sea”. Blanch the vegetables separately. The green vegetables will need about 2-3 minutes or until they are crisp, well-seasoned and vivid in color. The carrots about 2-4 minutes.
Once the vegetables are pulled from the blanching water, immediately drop them into the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once chilled, remove from ice bath and dry gently.
Slice remaining vegetables (Chef will demonstrate) and assort on a platter with Romesco in the center.
4 whole red bell peppers
1 head garlic
1 cups almonds, toasted
1 ¼ tablespoons salt
1 cups breadcrumbs (preferably fresh)
¾ cup sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika
½ tablespoon fresh black pepper
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Roast peppers over an open flame until the skins blacken. For large quantities or if you do not have an open flame, you may do this under a broiler or in a very hot oven. (In this case, the skins will not darken as much but can still be peeled off.) Place in a covered bowl and let cool. This will help with removing the charred skin.
Remove garlic cloves from their paper.
Place the toasted almonds, garlic and salt in a food processor and grind until the blade stops spinning. Pour vinegar over breadcrumbs and let sit for 2-3 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and de-seed roasted peppers. Place peppers, tomato paste, paprika, black pepper in the food processor with the almonds and garlic. Puree until well blended. As the food processor is spinning, slowly drizzle in the olive oil through the food tube and puree until smooth. Depending on the breadcrumbs you may need to add a little water to thin out. Taste and add salt/acid/spice as desired. Serve with just about anything.
Since you’ve perfected raising the dead, why stop at vegetables? Harness those occult skills you’ve been cultivating, and give a dish with more difficulty a try. A mummy made of brie with a side of bloody good compote. It’s frightfully delicious.
Brie En Croute With Cranberry Chili Compote And Pepitas With Honey
© Cambridge School of Culinary Arts
2 pounds fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
¼ cup orange zest
2 dried guajillo peppers, stemmed and seeded
2 dried ancho peppers, stemmed and seeded
Bring 1 cup water to a boil and pour over guajillo and ancho peppers. Let sit for about 10 minutes until chilis have softened.
In a medium saucepan over high heat bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries to the saucepan and return to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and let simmer until the cranberries start bursting, about 10 minutes. Stir in the orange zest.
Meanwhile transfer chilis to a blender; blend until they become a paste, adding some water from the bowl to loosen if needed. Add the chili paste to the cranberry compote, season with a pinch of salt and stir. Chill until needed.
Brie en Croute
1- 8 ounce round Brie or Camembert cheese, slightly chilled.
10-inch square puff pastry
1 tablespoon water
¾ cup pepitas
¼ cup honey, warmed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pepitas evenly on a sheet tray and toast in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.
Using a sharp knife, score top rind of cheese in a crisscross pattern, spacing cuts about 1 inch apart.
Place puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll to about ¼ inch thickness.
Cut thin strips, about 1/2 inch wide and wrap them around the cheese to look like a mummy. Place two black olive on for eyes.
Chill wrapped cheese for about 30 minutes.
Make an egg wash by whisking together the egg and water.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place wrapped cheese on prepared baking sheet and brush evenly with egg wash. Bake until pastry is crisp and golden brown all over, 20 – 30 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
To serve the brie, drizzle with honey and sprinkle pepitas around. Serve cranberry compote and crostini on side.
Need to add some sweets? Bake off some of our favorites…delicious and chewy French Macarons! Decorate these beloved little treats with Halloween scenes and creatures and you’ve got yourself a spine-tingling dessert!
6 ounces (170g) almond flour, sifted
8 ounces (227g) confectioners’ sugar
5 ounces (150g) egg whites
4.5 ounces (127g) sugar
Preheat oven to 325ºF.
Place the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar into a food processor and blend together. Sift into a bowl large enough for mixing.
On high speed, beat the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer using a whisk attachment. When the egg whites reach soft peak stage turn machine to low and add sugar. Turn mixer to medium speed and mix for approximately 10 minutes or until the whipped egg whites appear shiny and the sugar is dissolved.
Fold the egg whites into the almond flour mixture using a spatula. At this stage, you can flavor or color the mixture to create assorted macarons.
Place parchment paper on a sheet pan and pipe small mounds approximately 1 inch apart using a pastry bag with medium plain tip. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until the tops of the macarons are crusty.* Remove from oven and let cool. Macarons will be assembled similar to a sandwich with assorted fillings.
*Although macarons can be baked as soon as they are piped, they benefit from resting for 30 minutes before baking. This allows them to form a “crust” which helps to avoid cracking.