October 28, 2009 by Shannon
Here’s what we had on our Spooky Food menu the other night:
- Greens with Blood Drops and Toasted Fingernails
- Monster Mash
- Spider Parts
- Roasted Brain
Sounds creepy, right? I find it quite disgusting, actually. Especially the Spider Parts. I REALLY hate spiders. Anyway, here’s the menu translation:
- Spring Greens with pomegranate seeds and toasted almonds
- Mashed sweet potatoes with brown butter and pureed purple potatoes with garlic
- Olives and arame seaweed
- Roasted cauliflower
- Hard-boiled eggs
There. When it’s translated, it actually looks quite edible, doesn’t it? (Well, I suppose some of you maybe be a little hesitant to eat seaweed. But it’s actually not bad and not at all seaweed-ish.) So. Wanna creep out your own family with some Spooky Food this Halloween? Well, right this way, my friends. Right this way…
This is as simple as soaking a handful of arame seaweed (generally in the health food sections of grocery stores) in some cold water for 8-10 minutes and opening a can of large, pitted olives. Easy as that. Just make give the arame a quick rinse after soaking, and it’s ready to go.
I had planned to make fancy-looking spiders out of the spider parts, but as we approached the dinner hour I decided that I didn’t want to spend time making something that would get pulled apart in a few minutes anyway. Plus, I think telling people they’re going to be eating “spider parts” sounds a little creepier than telling them they’re going to be eating “spiders.” However, considering my intense aversion to arachnids, you could tell me either phrase and I’d probably climb up on a chair and quiver in fear. Heck, you could even whisper the word “spider” in my ear and I would most likely scream and run in the opposite direction. But don’t ever do that. That kind of thing really does scare me to death and takes years off my life.
Okay. So we’ve established I hate spiders. What was I talking about again? Oh. Right.
Greens with Blood Drops and Toasted Fingernails
This is another super easy dish. Get yourself a bag of greens, some toasted sliced almonds (or you can toast your own in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently) and some pomegranate seeds. Okay, so the pomegranate seeds aren’t quite so easy to come by. But I’ve figured out a way to extract them, and it’s actually not too hard.
First, slice off each end of the pomegranate. Then score the rind, from one end to the other. Then pull it apart in much the same way you’d pull apart an orange. Dunk the pomegranate in a big dish of water, pulling the seeds from the rind. Do that with each piece, and let the water be your friend — the seeds will separate easily from the pith. After you sprinkle the seeds on your salad, you can bag the rest and keep them in the fridge for about a week or so. Or you can put them in the freezer. See? Easy! And I hear pomegranate seeds are full of antioxidants.
So to finish off this salad, just top it with your favorite dressing.
I love this dish. In fact, it is so good — and easy — that I’m going to start making cauliflower this way all the time. Mmm mm. Roasted Brain.
Preheat the oven to 400 degree. Grease a large cookie sheet, preferably one with sides. Strip the leaves from a head of cauliflower and cut off the stem. Wash thoroughly. Slice the cauliflower into one inch thick pieces. Some of the florets will fall off. That’s okay. Just try to get yourself a couple of brainstem-like pieces.
Put all the cauliflower pieces on the cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the cauliflower begins to brown at the edges.
Mmm. There is something so buttery about cauliflower and olive oil…I just love it. This is the best brain I’ve ever had. It’s the only brain, actually. Real or pretend.
So this is where I went kinda overboard. I mean, one kind of mashed potatoes is good, but two? Yeah, it involved some work. But it was worth it in the end. These are some darn good mashers. And besides, the sweet potatoes and purple potatoes in my pantry are what inspired this whole Spooky Food meal, so I wanted to make sure the Monster Mash lived up to the picture I had in my head. (Speaking of pictures, please disregard the fact that the photo to the left looks so weird. I could not get the lighting right.)
First, cut one large sweet potato and several small purple potatoes (about eight) into one inch chunks. Steam them for about 15 minutes. (You could also microwave them, or cook them whole in your oven. Steaming preserves more of the nutrients, so I went this route.)
While they’re steaming, melt about a 1/2 stick of butter over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the butter begins to brown and give off a delicious nutty aroma that makes you want to bathe yourself in the butter, take it off the heat. (At this point, you could saute up some minced garlic in a skillet to add to the purple potatoes, but I was too lazy to go this far. I decided to keep mine raw.)
Mash up the sweet potatoes and stir in the browned butter and a pinch of salt. Mash up the purple potatoes, adding minced garlic, some milk, about a tablespoon of cream cheese, and some salt and pepper until creamy. (I used my food processor because my mashing hand was tired. If you go this route, make sure you don’t over blend the potatoes. You don’t want them to turn gluey.) I left the skins on all the potatoes to make the mash a little more rustic, but you can do what you like.
The idea here is obviously pretty simple — hard-boiled eggs. They came out looking pretty cartoonish and not-so-scary, which is fine by me. I don’t want to give my kid nightmares due to his dinner. He’s only two.
Anyway, to make this, hard-boil some eggs (figure one per person). After they’re peeled, slice each egg in half long-wise. Then slice up one of the spider bodies — I mean, olives — and put them on each egg half, along with a pomegranate seed in the center.
(Do you always forget how to hard-boil eggs? Just so you don’t have to go and look it up like I always do, put the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Then take them off the heat and cover for 6 minutes. Plunge the eggs in cold water to stop the cooking.)
There you have it — a meal full of Spooky Food! Are you scared? If you don’t want to do the full meal in all its spookiness, I think it would be fun to do one or two of these dishes on Halloween night. And I am happy to report that Kellan did not have nightmares after this meal — in fact, he asked for eyeballs at lunch the next day. Spooky success!