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Happy Halloween

Decorating and creating a Halloween themed menu made me even more excited for Halloween this year. I pulled in help from Mark Litchfield, Sally Atkinson, Mary Maroon and Angie Harding to decorate and make the prep for the dinner more manageable. It takes a lot of work to cut and clean out eight pumpkins, cut out bats, make witch hats and prepare all of the various items that were going into the pumpkin pot pies. They helped my stress level stay low and we enjoyed quality time with each other – THANKS! My wonderful testers Joon Shin, Suzi Yebio, Mark Litchfield, Jane Madsen, Kristen Curran, Micah Allred and Dustin Bowler were also fabulous helpers and a joy to celebrate with – although we never did get around to any scary stories. Thanks again Joon for sharing your amazing photographer skills with us!

Mocktail: Swamp Sips

I didn’t make the drink, I just purchased some green fruit/energy juice at the store. I used left over spiced sugar mixture from a previous TN drink and put some food coloring in it to make it mossy colored in order to make the drinks swampy.

Appetizer: Sinister Spread (4 Stars)

This was a really fun presentation idea and worked well. Brushing garlic oil on the pumpernickel toasts gave them a little more salty/garlicy taste. The combo of the toasts with cheese was about a 4 star, while the cheese ball itself was voted as more of a 3 star as it needed more salt and the cayenne didn’t come through so I’d double it. Joon suggested adding toasted sesame with the poppy seed to give a little more flavor. Suzi liked the cheese ball better with the grapes. This was my first time eating mimolette cheese and it was really yummy.

Main Course: Ghoulish Pumpkin Pot Pies (3.5 Stars)

This recipe was in Martha Stewart’s Menus for Entertaining and one of the longest recipes I’ve ever made. There were so many steps and I was really nervous to mess them up. For the amount of time that goes into making these, the taste did not make it worth making again. The presentation was fabulous and really fun to eat out of the pumpkin since it added more flavor in each bite. The puff pastry did not completely crisp on eat pumpkin so they needed to cook a little longer (however, I make a pot pie in a pie dish with all the leftovers and the puff pastry still had a hard time crisping all the way through, so I don’t think I’m a fan of the puff pastry rather than a crust, I also make a tart today and it only crisped where it was really thin).

The spices in this recipe were plentiful when cooking the chicken and as the resulting broth for the cream sauce (sage, thyme, basil, parsley, rosemary), but the spices did not come through in the rest of the recipe. It definitely needs salt and at least a tablespoon of each spice added to the actual pot pie. I did like that this version had turnips, parsnips and squash in it, which was a nice spin adding a wonderful fall taste.

Dessert: “I Scream Sundays” (4 Stars)

The linked recipe is for sandwiches, but you’ll see by the picture that I just did the ice cream and the hats. This is a cute idea, a fun and memorable presentation but the cookie itself is good but not awesome. See my previous post for the difficulties in making the cookies – I would do this again for kids.


6 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Kristen (November 2, 2010)

    Thanks Amber, the food was so good and the company was even better! I had so much fun and Joon took some amazing pics!

  2. Suzi Yebio (November 2, 2010)

    I really think you have a photographer for when you do your cookbook. Even if he kept laughing at me for saying I really liked the grapes/cheese combo! Thanks for a fun night with fun food and people!!

  3. joonbug (November 2, 2010)

    Thanks, Kristen! Although I can’t say the same about you, especially how your photo of the 80 year-old version of my “mug” (via the oldifier app – or whatever it’s called) made me look like a weathered crackhead. I guess I should only tan in moderation and use Botox to keep my skin taut and youthful looking. 😉

    @Suzi, I think it was less about your preference of cheese with grapes and more about the side-glance and the inward grin-of-satisfaction you kept giving me when you made that statement. The fictitious, back story that I immediately drummed up in my head from your statement followed by a beat(1) and your substantiating smile, made me laugh (I guess I find myself funny or something to that effect):

    INT. AMBER’S APARTMENT – LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
    Suzi starts by listening intently to everyone’s opinion at the table (good, bad and indifferent) but her mind drifts quickly to all the work she has to finish after dinner. It isn’t until she hears someone in the background mention “grapes” that she’s somewhat brought back into the moment and half-consciously responds with her opinion.

    SUZI
    I really like the grapes with the cheese. It’s the sweet and salty combination that I really appreciate.

    CUT TO:
    EXTREME CLOSE UP on Suzi’s face with eyes looking slightly upward, in-thought, with a slow, creeping, inward smile of satisfaction.

    (1) A beat is a term used to describe the timing and movement of a film or play. In the context of the timing of a film, a beat refers to an event, decision, or discovery that alters the way the protagonist pursues his or her goal.

    =========

    Ok, enough of that blathering and onto the food.

    So I like cheese and fruit spreads but something about that cheddar cheese ball made me like it for the wrong reasons. I’m not sure how much butter it calls out for but I tasted more butter, which I’m a huge fan of, than the pungent, sharp cheddar. That being said, perhaps I like butterballs, too (not to be confused with the turkey). Maybe keep the same amount of butter (for spreadability) but kick-up the flavor profile by swapping the sharp cheddar with Gruyere cheese?

    The pumpkin pot pie really didn’t stand out for me. The only thing that made it different was the container and the recipe didn’t even really take advantage of how to bridge the savory comfort food with the subtle sweetness from the pumpkin flesh. I’m thinking cinnamon, nutmeg, gold raisins, ginger and some other select herbs and spices. Or maybe even leverage a curry spice component to take on a sweet-heat profile.

    Finally, I think the ice cream sandwich left me wanting. That chocolate cookie really didn’t have a strong chocolate flavor to it – flat. In fact, I think I remember more chocolate flavors from the mint chocolate chip ice cream itself. Maybe it needs some chili powder, espresso or white pepper, since a pinch of salt would have been called for in the recipe.

    With all this food writing, I’m getting hungry, so now I’ll be signing off to grab meself a midnight snack.

  4. joonbug (November 2, 2010)

    Thanks, Kristen! Although I can’t say the same about you, especially how your photo of the 80 year-old version of my “mug” (via the oldifier app – or whatever it’s called) made me look like a weathered crackhead. I guess I should only tan in moderation and use Botox to keep my skin taut and youthful looking. 😉

    @Suzi, I think it was less about your preference of cheese with grapes and more about the side-glance and the inward grin-of-satisfaction you kept giving me when you made that statement. The fictitious, back story that I immediately drummed up in my head from your statement followed by a beat(1) and your substantiating smile, made me laugh (I guess I find myself funny or something to that effect):


    INT. AMBER’S APARTMENT – LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

    Suzi starts by listening intently to everyone’s opinion at the table (good, bad and indifferent) but her mind drifts quickly to all the work she has to finish after dinner. It isn’t until she hears someone in the background mention “grapes” that she’s somewhat brought back into the moment and half-consciously responds with her opinion.

    SUZI
    I really like the grapes with the cheese. It’s the sweet and salty combination that I really appreciate.

    CUT TO:
    EXTREME CLOSE UP on Suzi’s face with eyes looking slightly up, in-thought, then a slow, creeping, inward smile of satisfaction.

    (1) A beat is a term used to describe the timing and movement of a film or play. In the context of a screenplay, it usually represents a pause in dialogue. In the context of the timing of a film, a beat refers to an event, decision, or discovery that alters the way the protagonist pursues his or her goal.

  5. joonbug (November 2, 2010)

    Ok, enough of that blathering and onto the food.

    So I like cheese and fruit spreads but something about that cheddar cheese ball made me like it for the wrong reasons. I’m not sure how much butter it calls out for but I tasted more butter, which I’m a huge fan of, than the pungent, sharp cheddar. That being said, perhaps I like butterballs, too (not to be confused with the turkey). Maybe keep the same amount of butter (for spreadability) but kick-up the flavor profile by swapping the sharp cheddar with Gruyere cheese?

    The pumpkin pot pie really didn’t stand out for me. The only thing that made it different was the container and the recipe didn’t even really take advantage of how to bridge the savory comfort food with the subtle sweetness from the pumpkin flesh. I’m thinking cinnamon, nutmeg, gold raisins, ginger and some other select herbs and spices. Or maybe even leverage a curry spice component to take on a sweet-heat profile.

    Finally, I think the ice cream sandwich left me wanting. That chocolate cookie really didn’t have a strong chocolate flavor to it – flat. In fact, I think I remember more chocolate flavors from the mint chocolate chip ice cream itself. Maybe it needs some chili powder, espresso or white pepper, since a pinch of salt would have been called for in the recipe.

    With all this food writing, I’m getting hungry, so now I’ll be signing off to grab meself a midnight snack.

  6. Jane (November 15, 2010)

    Can I please have more of that pumpkin pot pie? Delicious! And the I Scream Sundaes couldn't have been more perfect for the occasion. Well done, Amber!



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