Chef Time!

Chef Time!

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Favorite Holiday Is Coming!

It’s Halloween Time!
Hello ghouls and boys. Pull up a corpse—er chair and settle in. I’m going to tell you a scary story. Of course if you are a mummy, please do not make yourself comfortable, as relaxation may cause you to unwind. For everyone else, let’s sit a spell … or two … or three.
Welcome guests, both living and undead, Today I’m frightfully delighted to provide the first recipe—one for a spine-chilling starter.
Originally I thought to start the feast with a simple soup. I selected a recipe from a Transylvanian tome, but found it quite literally too difficult to digest, what with all the clotting.
Instead we take inspiration from the living dead and enjoy a colorful carrot salad—teaming with good-for-ghouls root vegetables, raisins, and crucifers—that looks an awful lot like braaaaains! Clown braaaaains! Oh and by the way, it’s a common misconception that zombies eat this salad with their fingers. Fingers are eaten separately.

Clown Braaaaains

CLOWN BRAAAAAINS! (A spooky carrot slaw minus the mayo)
3 c. peeled, grated carrots (about 3-4 medium carrots)
1 c. thinly sliced red cabbage
1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and grated
½ c. raisins
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Toss lightly. Chill before serving. Makes 4-5 heaping 1 cup servings.

I told you about Clown Braaaaains! a dish that is, like revenge, best served cold. Today we heat things up. No, I won’t be talking about what Satan’s packing in his pants (which is, of course, great balls of fire), but rather I’ll share two recipes—one for barbarous burgers, the other for freaky fries.
In contemplating a main course, I initially considered something more exotic. Sacrificial Lamb, or Fettuccini Afraid-O for example. But I’m a busy ghoul, and you probably are too, so for simplicity’s sake, I advocate an easy homemade offering. Sure, you could just dine out at a casketeria, but that can be costly … especially if you are a vampire, and dinner’s a stake sandwich.

Hobgoblin Hamburger and Pumpkin Parts

1½ lb. ground beef
4 slices cheddar or Colby jack cheese, cut out in pumpkin shapes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 c. freshly washed baby spinach (cooked frozen spinach is OK too)
Pumpkin shaped cookie cutter
Prepare your grill or skillet for medium-high heat.
Lightly shape ground beef into 4 patties. Season both sides of each patty with salt and pepper.
Place burgers on a lightly oiled grill or nonstick skillet, and cook on one side until juices begin to seep to the surface. Flip over and grill on the other side until juice flows through. During the last minute or so of cooking, top each patty with a slice of pumpkin-shaped cheese, so that it can melt slightly before serving.
Serve atop bed of spinach greens, lettuce, or mixed greens. Enjoy Pumpkin Parts (sweet potato fries) alongside. Makes 4 servings.
PUMPKIN PARTS (Sweet potato fries)
3 smallish-medium sweet potatoes (about 2 ½ lb.)
1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (maybe 1 tsp. each)
Preheat oven to 450.
Scrub and peel sweet potatoes, and then cut into long, thin strips (about ¼ inch thick and 2 inches long).
Place sweet potatoes in a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil; toss gently to coat. Add salt and pepper and toss again.
Arrange sweet potato fries in a single layer on large baking sheets and cook for 10-12 minutes each side, flipping halfway through baking. Makes 4 servings.

Dessert and drink can be a dangerous business. Typically laden with sugars and lacking in nutrition, these foods are too-quickly consumed at a monster’s party where everyone’s a-goblin. Favorite desserts like booberry pie and ice scream sundaes may delight the spooks, but they’re hardly healthful. And don’t even get me started on junk drinks like ghoul-aid and lemon slime soda; your thirst may be quenched but you’re not doing your body—dismembered or not—any favors.
This year trick your guests by serving healthier treats. Free of processed fats and sugars, the delicious recipes below are so super-natural, even mummy and deadie would approve.

Evil Stepmother's Poison Apples

4 medium tart apples
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ c. dried cranberries
4 dried dates, pitted and quartered
½ c. pecans, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. raw honey (vegans can substitute ½ cup brown rice syrup)
Pre-heat oven to 325.
Cut ½ inch off the top of the apples. Reserve tops. Using a paring knife or apple corer, remove cores and some flesh immediately surrounding the core. Rub cored apples with lemon juice to stop them from turning brown.
In a medium-size bowl, mix together the cranberries, dates, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and honey. Spoon mixture into apples and then replace the apple tops.
Bake for 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Witches Brew

WITCHES BREW (Iced tea just as you like it with spooky cubes)
Sugar-free iced tea:
4 regular tea bags (orange pekoe, green tea or combination)*
1 flavored tea bag such as ginger, peach, apple or berry (optional)
2 c. cold water
Additional water as needed
Spider ice cubes:
Ice cube tray
Plastic spiders, washed with dish soap and rinsed thoroughly
To make tea: Unwrap tea bags (if necessary) and carefully slide off any paper attached to the strings. Tie strings together and place tea bags in a heat-proof 2-quart pitcher. Set aside.
In stovetop saucepan, bring 2 cups cold water to a rapid boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour into pitcher over the tea bags. Allow tea to steep for 20 minutes or more.
Once steeped, remove tea bags from pitcher, squeezing out excess liquid. Discard tea bags. Fill pitcher with enough water to equal 2 quarts. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled before serving.
To serve, pour tea over spider cubes.
*Chef’s note: Instead of bothering with combinations of regular and fruit-flavored teas, try 5 tea bags of Yogi Tea Mexican Sweet Chili. The ochre-colored, slightly spicy tea with hints of exotic cardamom and ginger will strike just the right chord for your Halloween entertaining.
To make spider cubes: fill empty ice cube trays with cold water. Drop one plastic spider into each cube mold. Freeze and enjoy.

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