Something Yummy This Way Comes …
I know, I know, Thanksgiving has barely passed and I’m already diving into Hallowe’en. It could be worse, right? I could be writing about Christmas. No, I would never do that to you. Not unti December anyway. Actually, I did see my first holiday baking commercial just yesterday!
Hallowe’en is just in a few weeks, and I have to get on the ball because I’m planning a Hallowe’en party this year. This is a first: I’ve never hosted a Hallowe’en party before, so it’s going to take a little planning. It’s actually aimed at the 9 year old set, but I’ve done my research. A few people (who’ve much more experience with Hallowe’en parties than I) have assured me that teenagers and even adults get a kick at many of the same types of party activities that I’m planning for my party. Things like hide and seek in the dark, mummy wrapping contest and the inevitable mystery boxes replete with brains (jello), intestines (cooked spaghetti) and a water-filled balloon (heart) are always a hoot.
I have the activities all figured out, so that leaves the most important part (in my humble opinion) – the food. There’s mud (chocolate fondue), a person’s head (veggie platter), road kill (squash burritos) and dirt clumps (Hallowe’en-themed chocolate cupcakes). And to drink? Oh, there’s the usual blood (tomato juice), I suppose. But, Dairy Farmers of Canada sent along two very yummy and wonderfully creative recipe ideas for your enjoyment. I will definitely have these ready to go at my party.
Dark and Gloomy Blueberry Smoothie
This smoothie is not only rich in flavour, it’s rich in goodness! The gloomy colour is perfect for a spooky Halloween breakfast and is packed with blueberries, bananas, milk and a handful of spinach. Halloween, after all, is all about disguises!
Preparation time: 5 to 10 minutes
Yield: 3-1/2 cups (875 mL), 2 to 3 servings
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) loosely packed fresh baby spinach
1 cup (250 mL) frozen blueberries
1 banana, peeled
Pinch ground cardamom or nutmeg
1 tbsp (15 mL) pure maple syrup, or to taste
- In a blender, combine milk, spinach, blueberries, banana, cardamom and maple syrup and blend until smooth. Add more maple syrup, if desired. Serve immediately.
Cooking Tips: Feel free to use frozen over-ripe bananas for this recipe. They lend the perfect sweetness and iciness to a smoothie. Maple syrup can be replaced with other sweeteners, such as honey or agave syrup.
Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Dip with Black ‘Bugs’
This smoky, flavourful dip, flecked with black seeds and chunks of orange peppers will fill your home with aromas from the Middle East, while simultaneously keeping in touch with Hallowe’en.
Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes
Yield: about 3-1/2 cups (875 mL)
1 large eggplant (1-1/2 lbs/750 g), pricked all over with a fork
1 sweet orange pepper
1 onion, quartered
4 large cloves garlic
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) cumin seeds
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) coriander seeds
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) nigella, black sesame or poppy seeds, divided
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup (250 mL) thick plain yogurt (Greek or thick Balkan style)
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) pomegranate molasses
Flatbread, toasted pita or sliced naan to serve
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Place eggplant directly on oven rack. Place whole pepper, onion and garlic cloves in a small roasting pan and toss olive oil. Roast vegetables for 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes, until vegetables are charred and eggplant is deflated (remove garlic and onions as they are roasted; they will be ready before pepper). Remove eggplant from oven with tongs, place in roasting pan with other vegetables, and allow to cool.
- While vegetables are cooling, in a small, dry skillet, combine cumin, coriander and 1 tsp (5 mL) of nigella seeds. Cook over medium heat, shaking pan often for 2 minutes until fragrant and seeds begin to pop. Transfer to a mortar and pestle (alternatively use a spice grinder or place in a bowl and crush with the back of a heavy spoon) and grind until seeds are crushed, but not perfectly smooth.
- When vegetables are cool enough to handle, cut eggplant and scoop out flesh onto a cutting board. Peel, core and de-seed pepper and place flesh on board with onion and garlic cloves. Roughly chop everything together and scoop into a serving bowl. Stir in toasted seeds, salt, lemon juice, yogurt and pomegranate molasses. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Top with remaining nigella seeds arranging as ‘bugs’.
Cooking Tips: Nigella seeds are available at Indian or specialty grocery stores. Black sesame seeds, or poppy seeds can be substituted. Pomegranate molasses is available at Middle Eastern or specialty grocery stores. It is a slightly sweet, thick, tart syrup. If it isn’t available, substitute equal parts liquid honey and balsamic vinegar.