Happy Halloween my pretties! It's the Wicked Witch of the East(ern Suburbs) here! Hop onto the end of my broomstick for a personal tour of my very own Hallowe'en party! I promise to lure you into my cottage with all sorts of gruesome, ghastly and frighteningly freaky goods.
I still don't know what on earth possessed me to make 13 items for this Halloween party. Did I mention that I grossly overcater for these types of events? It seemed like a good idea at the time and I just kept adding things as I discovered them or thought of them. This over eagerness to feed does have its downsides and I found myself on the evening before the night of the party exhausted. Mr NQN had gone out for work drinks and didn't come home until 10pm where he found me an incoherent mess. All I could wail was "I want my television" (i.e. the laptop) while lying prone on the bed kicking my feet in the air like an upended hedgehog.
The next morning I awoke refreshed and glanced at my schedule. You can never keep a good ghoul down and inside me is also a strange mutation of Bree Van Der Kamp and Martha Stewart crossed with Morticia Addams. That day I had to pick up some cupcakes from Sparkle Cupcakery who were giving me some Halloween themed cupcakes for my party in a pumpkin spice flavour. My father had made the little menu cards (so please excuse some of the typos). I was visiting the Party People who were generously loaning me a whole bunch of gorgeously gruesome props and we also had to pick up some last minute items and Mr NQN's costume. He of course wanted to go as Dexter Morgan.
"Can I go as Dexter?" he asked.
"In the white outfit with the blood spatter?" I asked him.
"What do you mean then?
"I'll wear a polo shirt and shorts"
As for me? I went as Little Red Riding Hood. I'm not quite sure why except that I've always wanted a red cape. I was going to wear fangs as I was supposed to be the mutant offspring of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf but the fangs that I bought made me look like I had a severe overbite. Mr NQN was going to come as the wolf except that all of the wolf masks that he tried on were itchy.
I know, I know, Hallowe'en in on the 31st of October but this year, my friend The Second Wife and her fiancee Gravy Beard are getting married that weekend so we decided to have Hallowe'en a bit earlier this year. This meant that you could also use the recipes if you were so ghoulishly inclined. And many of the thirteen recipes here are very easy to do. Of course I don't include the sanity straining gingerbread house above in that list ;)
There was food a plenty and all of my nearest and dearest were invited along. Everyone came dressed in costume-I am a costume nazi and if you don't come in costume, you are banished to the gallows to live in eternity. We spent the evening eating, drinking, talking and playing games including the very fun horror movie version of charades. That's right, if you come to my Halloween party, you will be subjected to games!
All of the food worked a treat except for one item. These were supposed to be Dexter Blood Slides but they didn't work so they became broken glass shards with blood which Queen Viv loved as they reminded her of toffees at school fetes (except for the blood I presume ;) ).
The Sparkle Cupcakes were an undeniable hit. Lou passed them around and they got an unanimous thumbs up from everyone that tried them. There was actual pumpkin in the cake itself which made it very soft and moist and we may have had a riot on our hands with this half dozen eagerly contested cupcakes!
Anyway, without further ado, here are the recipes, should you wish to indulge your inner vampire! Settle in with a cup of tea or coffee though as this story is the most picture filled NQN story ever! And if you want to see my ghoulishly fabulous guests, scroll down!
So tell me Dear Reader, what would you get dressed up as for Halloween?
Bloody Brain Shots
Did you make this recipe? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
This is such a seriously brilliant and brain like Halloween cocktail idea. I got this idea from fellow Halloween afficianado Not Martha who originally saw this recipe on Folkinz. I was amazed at how ingenious it was and used the curdling effect of lime on Baileys. I'm sure this is not what the Baileys people had intended for use of their creme liqueur but I have to say that it works beautifully. I also used the vodka and cranberry and vodka and blood orange that Smirnoff sent me in a cask no less. I used a little syringe to add to the effect but according to the people at Folkinz the same effect can be had with a straw.
I got the idea for these Worms in Dirt for Halloween from the Queen of American DIY Martha Stewart as she always has such great, ghoulish ideas. It is one of the simplest items to make. I couldn't find any black beans as she had specified so I bought red kidney beans and bought two sachets of squid ink from the deli.
These Dragon Devilled Eyes is another very easy recipe and one of the most popular dishes of the night with people asking for "more of those dragon's eyes please". I know Devilled eggs are fantastically retro and that may have prevented you from serving them at a chi chi dinner party but they definitely have a place at Halloween. I mean I am serving up sliced up hot dogs so you know, while I'm here in kitschville....
Happy Halloween Ghouls! I don't know what it is about me and brains. I've always loved a smart man so why not love his brain too as a singular erogenous object? OK so the sight of a grey, wobbly brain doesn't exactly get my heart fluttering but I hope you'll agree that this is a rather good way of serving up "pâté". If you dare, you could use actual brains. But you may end up with no-one at your next Hallowe'en party although this is a pretty good way of sorting out the zombies from the non zombie folk.
This is another frightfully simple thing to make for a Halloween party. It's baked brie en croute or brie baked in puff pastry. And yes I know where your mind is going and you're right, the pastry is golden and puffy and the brie is appealing runny inside and somehow it all stays together. I think there might be magic involved...
When you're a guest in my haunted house, you are treated as an esteemed visitor. So much so that I will make you your very own tombstone to take home with you. That's how much I love you really. These personalised Tombstone Cookies are fiddly but I must say that I loved the feathering effect of the white icing on the black icing which I came up with purely by accident when I was a bit haphazard with the writing.
Halloween is usually a very sweet event but I love Halloween savoury food. I looked at my menu and realised that I had a disproportionate amount of sweet items versus savoury items so I decided to do this to balance the savoury quotient. These can very easily be done with bought dips. Yumi's makes a really good spicy pumpkin dip and you can buy any pale yogurt based spread for the ghosts. Plus I like the idea of getting an additional use out of cookie cutters that only get used once every 1 or 2 years.
BOO!! These Halloween open sandwiches are so easy to make but so effective! I made my own labne (yogurt cheese) as it is incredibly easy to do (mix a teaspoon of salt into a tub of natural yogurt and strain through muslin for two days). The only thing you do need is foresight as it does require a couple of days to drain all of the whey out. If all of this sounds too stressful use cream cheese!
I bought some squid ink spaghetti for Halloween with one intention only. Medusa's head. Squid ink black pasta turns slightly grey once cooked although there were the odd strands of black. I used a hard skull mask from last year's Halloween flayed skin face which was actually supposed to be a pirate. I thought that I would blend up some smoked ham with some cream cheese so that we could pick at bits of her face. Does that sound absolutely charming darlings? The Braun cordless stick blender did struggle with this mix. I don't think there was enough "liquid" in it so I had to wait two hours in between blending while it charged which was a little frustrating. I think this would best be done in a food processor. I also bought some bocconcini and olives to make as her eyeballs and I also cut up the bocconcini as teeth. I made a little bowl of extra eyeballs and voila, may I present to you the beauty queen of the evening, Medusa!
These Bat Wings are a total hit at a Halloween party (or any party really!). I took the opportunity to finally use the Bone Suckin' Sauce I was given a while back. To give it a darker colour I added a little dark soy sauce and honey to balance it as it dawned on me that they were supposed to be black and I had run out of my precious supply of squid ink (did I really just say that?). Nevertheless, these were a real hit at the party and I only wish that I had made more. You can also do this without the Bone Suckin' sauce if you find it hard to get a hold of (but I thought that the name was just about perfect). If you do, just add a tablespoon of finely chopped ginger and garlic into the sauce.
For the vampire teeth you really need a vampire teeth mold which I was kindly furnished with by my buddy Christie from Fig & Cherry. She would have been at the party but she is literally about to give birth at any minute so she had to beg off and be home with her sore back. Poor thing!
I thought that I would make a non alcoholic drink for the vampires that had to drive home and inside the red martini glasses filled with cranberry juice I added a set of Vampire's teeth. You simply make these by filling in the teeth area with milk or cream, freezing this until set and then adding cranberry juice and then freezing these. Some of them will break when you remove them but it is worth it for the effect.
Coffin Chips & Entrails
Another fabulously easy thing to make and simply requires a modest amount of purchasing power. I bought a coffin (as you do) but you could certainly make one up with a modified shoe box if you are handy with a box cutter (I am not). Inside I placed a skeleton and some spicy bean and tomato salsa (bought) and some glowingly orange corn chips. And voila, instead of corn chips and salsa, we had coffin chips and entrails. And yes my dad can't spell entrails. But that's ok ;)
Broken Glass and Blood
Now these were destined to become some blood slides a la Dexter Morgan, my favourite serial killer. I even ordered the blood slide box for them to live in. However when it came to the cutting stage, the toffee refused to be cut into rectangles and instead shattered to smithereens. So it instead became broken glass with blood in it!
Makes 2 sheets of broken glass
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup glucose syrup or corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
a few drops of red food colouring
Step 1 - Melt the sugar with the syrup and the water until all of the crystals have disappeared. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment paper and have an angled small metal spatula ready. Use a candy thermometer and heat the sugar without stirring until it reaches the hard crack stage.
Step 2 - Quickly and carefully pour the toffee over the baking trays spreading quickly with the spatula. When set after about 30 minutes and it is cool enough to handle break into pieces and drop a little red food colouring onto it.
And so onto the guests of the Haunted House! As Little Red Riding Hood I greeted all guests with my basket of Vampire Pops.
Our very first victims were Aiyana and Figaro. Aiyana came as a Colonial Ghost bride and can you guess who Figaro is dressed up as? Now think hard.... note the weapons!
Figaro came as Ivan Milat the notorious serial killer. So un PC but brilliant costume :P.
A few minutes later there is a loud, heavy knock at the door and we open the door a crack. Ivan points his pistol out the door only to be greeted by...two squirts of water!
"It's the Ghostbusters!" yell Hot Dog and Gina
Next "they tried to make me go to rehab" The Second Wife plays Amy Winehouse and Gravy Beard plays Eric from True Blood!
And then a party isn't complete without Miss America as Tommy Lee...
While Queen Viv is our second Amy Winehouse! One can never have too many Amys :)
Of course there must be a catfight among Amy's while Tommy Lee screams for some "Amy on Amy action"! Careful of the razor blade curtain Amy!
Lulu comes as a fortune teller who tells fortunes using a Scrabble board-"I see a triple word score in your future..."
Teena comes as Mother Mary with Annabel as a baby pumpkin. "I want that one" says Annabel...
Tuulikki arrives as bat woman slash Lili from the Munsters!
Mr NQN talks back to the talking portrait
Oh dear.... a beaheaded bride. Where is her groom?
A relatively better fate, the colonial ghost bride attached to a body
While Eric and Amy help themselves to some worms in dirt-the verdict is "Surprisingly good!"
Don't eat that Tommy...
Amy loves it when Tommy eats human arms...
Oh dear...what will the props department think of next?
And a little surprise in our bedroom for my fellow guests if they sneak into there for a nap...what are those two blue dots?
Arrrgggh! They found our rotting corpse!_
The Second Wife says "I wish every day was Halloween...". I hear you Amy, I hear you...
Props on loan from The Party People. Ghoulishly wonderful time provided by the guests ;)