Halloween - horrid delights

Cauldron curry.

Cauldron curry.

Halloween is only a week away and every year this festival seems to be getting bigger and bigger. When I was growing up apples and nuts were the only foods associated with Halloween, but nowadays it is a big deal with pumpkins, squashes, and the like featuring on menus all over the county.

Therefore I thought that it may be an idea to share some recipes with you, in case you are planning a spooky meal in your home. Most houses buy a pumpkin at this time of the year. We scoop out the flesh and the seeds and throw them away and carve a fiendish face on the pumpkin shell. These days, throwing out food for no reason is crazy. Pumpkins are lovely to eat and very easy to prepare, scooping out the flesh is the hardest job, so why not make something tasty with it?

Pumpkin soup with pumpkin seed pesto

Now this is a great way to use up your pumpkin and try a soup that many people might not have given a go of making before. Give it a go and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Ingredients

One pumpkin, one chopped onion, two cloves of garlic, two pints of chicken stock, salt and pepper, one-quarter of a pint of cream. For the pesto you will need some basil leaves, one garlic clove, some olive oil, salt, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Method

First, chop up the pumpkin flesh into chunks, removing all the seeds. Heat a little oil or butter in a saucepan and add the onion, garlic, and pumpkin, and cook them without colour for a few minutes. Then add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the pumpkin is cooked. Blend the soup with a food blender, check the seasoning and put it back on the heat and add the cream, for a lovely warm starter.

To take this very simple soup to a slightly higher level, I like to garnish and further flavour it with a homemade pesto, substituting nuts with the pumpkin seeds.

Lay the seeds on a tray with some oil and salt and cook until toasted in a hot oven. This takes about five or six minutes. When cool and crispy, simply blend the toasted pumpkin seeds with the oil, garlic, and basil leaves.

Drizzle the pesto over the soup and it will enhance the flavour and overall presentation of the dish. The best part is that it is all free. You had bought the pumpkin for a decoration and now, with a tiny bit of work have a starter worthy of Halloween.

Cauldron curry

Here is a spicy Thai green chicken curry recipe that will keep all the family warm on a cold Halloween night. Green and spooky looking, it goes great with a plate of rice. This recipe serves six people.

Ingredients

Two ounces of spinach, curry paste, one can of unsweetened regular coconut milk, one can of unsweetened light coconut milk, one medium courgette (quartered lengthwise and sliced one inch or so thick ), 12 ounces of boneless chicken breasts (cut into one inch pieces ), salt and freshly ground pepper, three quarters of a cup of fresh basil, Serrano chillies (thinly sliced for garnish ), lime wedges (for serving ).

Method

Puree five tablespoons of curry paste, the spinach, and one cup regular coconut milk in a blender until smooth. Bring remaining regular coconut milk and the light coconut milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Reduce heat, stir in curry-spinach mixture, and simmer for five minutes.

Add the courgette, and cook until slightly tender (about five minutes ). Add chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the courgette is tender and chicken is cooked through (about 5 minutes ). Add basil, and garnish with Serrano chilies. Serve with rice and lime wedges.

Next week I hope to share a few spooky sweet biscuits and treats, so make sure that you pick up your paper early on Friday morning.

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