Friday, October 30, 2009

a spooky halloween party for 20 third graders

when i first came to denmark in the autumn of 1997, there were no signs at all of halloween. i searched high and low and finally found a lone, rather pale pumpkin for 120 kroner (that was about $15 then) in a florist shop. because i was determined to carve a pumpkin, i bought it despite the outrageous price. today, we get them from a local farmer's wagon for 20 kroner apiece.  in the early part of the noughties, i imported quite a lot of pumpkin carving sets from the US for friends and family whenever i was there. but now, you can even buy those here. what a difference a decade makes.

this weekend, we're having sabin's second annual halloween party for her classmates. they're really excited about it. last year, husband got a pig's head to both thrill them and gross them out - they were delighted, even the girls! this year, he tried to get a cow's head, but that didn't prove possible, so it's a pig again (denmark is a pork country, what can i say). we're also making and doing some of the classics--bowls of cold spaghetti and peeled grapes will serve as brains and eyeballs, small sausages with almond "finger nails" in ketchup "blood" and a nasty witches' potion from which that the kids will have to retrieve coins, as well as bobbing for apples and the like.

but all of that activity will make the kids hungry, so, inspired by my self-imposed harry potter reading marathon, i'm going to make some ghoulish treats - butterbeer, cauldron cakes (pancakes made outdoors over a fire), mini dragon eggs (chicken meatballs), trick wands (chocolate-dipped pretzels), spiced pumpkin seeds and some cupcakes with ghosts (not so much harry potter as epicurious-inspired). i'll also serve bread and plenty of veggies and a couple of dips--one creme fraiche and one guacamole-like.

i haven't made it all yet, so i don't have photos of everything, but here are a few of the recipes:

spiced pumpkin seeds

seeds of one large pumpkin
fiesta fajita seasoning
lowry's seasoning salt
3T olive oil

separate the seeds from your pumpkin into a colander as you empty out the seeds and slimy bits. separate as much of the slimy bit out of the seeds as you can and discard. rinse the seeds well under cold running water. ideally, you spread them out on a paper towel to dry for a couple of days, but you can actually roast them immediately.

put the seeds in a plastic bag, put in the olive oil, a generous shake of fajita seasoning and a generous shake of lowry's. i stock up on these spices every time i'm in the US or having visitors from the US. you can no doubt find a seasoning salt in your own grocery store that will work just as well, but i do recommend the fiesta and lowry's if you can get them. my fiesta fajita seasoning is without the salt, if you have the kind with salt, you can skip the lowry's.

shake up the seeds in the plastic bag until they are all coated in the olive oil and seasoning and spread them evenly onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. sprinkle on a bit more seasoning if it looks like they need it. pop them into a 175℃/350℉ oven for approximately 20 minutes. keep an eye on them and stir them at least once. when they go a golden-brown, they're ready. eat them by the handful. they don't need to be separated from the white outer shell, you just eat them as they are, no fuss.

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mini dragon eggs

800 grams ground chicken
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 medium onion, grated
1 medium zucchini (courgette) grated
2/3 C of breadcrumbs
2 eggs

i let my food processer do the grating work for me, just tossing in the carrots, onion and zucchini. mix it together with the ground chicken, breadcrumbs and 2 eggs. form into small meatballs. i intend these to be finger-food sized, so they're quite small. when i make this for dinner, i make then a bit bigger.

put them into a baking dish with a good glug of olive oil and pop them into a 175℃/350℉ oven to bake (you can also stand over a frying pan and cook them on the stove, but i tend to choose the easiest route). they'll likely need 30 minutes and you might want to check them halfway and turn them, to ensure they're browning evenly. i haven't made the smaller ones yet, so it might be that they require less time.

these can be made with whatever ground meat you'd like. i also use pork or a lovely mixture of pork and veal that we can get here in denmark. this time, i'm making them with chicken, both to be a bit healthier and lighter and also because two of the kids coming to the party are muslim and don't eat pork. with 20 kids and half a dozen adults to serve, i think i'll make a double batch.

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i found a number of recipes for the famous harry potter butterbeer. the books don't actually have a recipe for it, but lots of people have attempted to make one up. if you google it, you'll find lots of those. many of them call for cream sodas or ginger ale and those are both pretty hard to come by where i live. my intuition tells me that if i want the kids to drink it, it should have an apple base. i wanted to make a warming apple cider anyway, so i think i'll do that. it's going to be chilly outside and the kids will need something to warm them.

2 liters apple cider
1 orange, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
5 cloves

heat on the stove until steaming and fragrant.

to make it something special and take it more in the direction of butterbeer, i think i'll combine several of the ideas i came across when i googled butterbeer recipes.

i think i'll put a spoonful of good vanilla ice cream into the warm cider and give it a squeeze of butterscotch topping - the kind for ice cream. i think that, while not actually involving butter, just might do the trick. and for the adults, we'll add a shot of a beautiful cinnamon/vanilla schnapps that we've got lying around. that should make things more pleasant all around.

are you having a halloween party and if so, what are you making?

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for easy conversions, go here.


Elizabeth said...

Have a fantastic halloween party, that is probably not so difficult with so many yummies served.

Bee said...

J - Isn't it funny how Halloween is finally catching on in the UK and Europe? Every year we find more things in the stores . . . although trick-or-treating still can't be done in the American way and celebrations are pretty much confined to home parties.

I'm intrigued by your butterbeer recipe. The schnapps sounds like such a good idea, but I'm also wondering if a take on buttered rum could be combined with the apple cider base?

While we were in Cambridge, C and S decorated the house. Now it is only up to me to make the Halloween menu!

Magpie said...

Not having a party, but I might glue one of these on the bottle of wine I'm taking to someone else's house:

Anne said...

What a fabulous Halloween party you have in store! Sounds like you're going to be busy in the kitchen, and I bet the kids will love the treats.

No party at our house, just a simple fall meal: a salad, a cheesy baked pumpkin and an apple pie. When I'm not handing out candy and glow sticks to trick-or-treaters I'll probably work on the Amish puzzle ball that I'm making for S's newborn niece.

rxBambi said...

Sounds like a great party, mind if I crash it??

Simply Mel {Reverie} said...

Your party sounds divine! Wish I could jump on my broomstick and fly on over....

Char said...

sounds like a fabulous party

Elizabeth said...

Where were you when I was class mother
these are such a delight

Bee said...

J - Camille and I watched Heston Blumenthal's Tudor Feast tonight . . . and he made Butter Beer! He used ale, egg yolks, sugar, butter and a dash of nutmeg. I'm tempted to try it.

~C said...

Must tell you - I tried the butter beer recipe over the weekend for a Harry Potter movie marathon and it was just exactly what we needed! Thanks for sharing! Wish I had known about the morning-after cake as well - we had a lovely store-bought version but yours sounds much better.


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