Standing in a shop queue the other day, I overheard the frequently-mooted criticism of Halloween which nowadays seems to have become the autumnal equivalent of “Bah humbug.”
“Too American,” the voice bemoaned, dismissing the aisles crammed with a cacophony of garish orange, green and black tricks and treats.
Personally, I’ve never understood why this is a problem. When it comes to putting on a show, no-one does it quite like our friends across the pond, and I’m all for following suit.
Perhaps my enthusiasm stems from the culinary delights offered up by October 31 – after all, I’m always up for a celebration that puts food centre stage.
I’m not talking about the sickly-sweet confectionary dished out to miniature vampires and witches on the doorstep, although I won’t say I’m not partial to the odd gummy bear.
No, for me Halloween is chance to really go to town with a banquet-style feast for family and friends. Think grown-up gothic table dressings and sumptuous courses of culinary decadence.
If you’ve been meaning to hold a dinner party to catch up with old friends, Halloween really is the perfect time.
With a slight nip in the air outside, nothing looks or feels more inviting than welcoming your guests with a candlelit table bedecked with the rich colours of autumn. Think black tablecloths, gorgeous silverware (genuine or replica), cut crystal glasses (ditto), and vases of blood red roses.
Of course, no Halloween celebration would be complete without a nod to the pumpkin, so make sure it features on your menu.
Pumpkin Pie Recipe
|pumpkin flesh, diced||500g|
|full fat milk||100ml|
|soft dark brown sugar||100g|
|ground ginger||½ tsp|
|grated nutmeg||½ tsp|
|shortcrust pastry – either homemade or shop-brought||250g|
- Heat the oven to gas mark 4. Place the diced pumpkin in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until tender. Drain and allow to cool completely.
- Roll out the pastry and use it to line a tart tin. Add baking beans to the top of the flan and bake blind for 15 minutes.
- Use a food processor or potato masher to puree the cooked pumpkin flesh.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, sugar and spices together before incorporating the pumpkin flesh.
- Pour the mixture into the cooled pastry case and bake for 35-40 minutes.
- Serve warm or chilled, with lashings of whipped cream.