Entries in Halloween (3)

Thursday
Oct202016

Treat or Treat

It always seems odd to me that people celebrate all the trappings of death, rather than remembering those who died at Halloween.  The fascination with darkness is not I feel good for our souls.  Halloween for me is a time to remember those that have passed to think about their lives and the effects their life had on ours.  There are so many who are not here now who I miss with a deep yearning.  I think of my Gran & Grandpa, my friend Ze, Auntie Bell come to mind immediately.  Death is a part of life albeit a very sad part.  

I don't think death is something we celebrate.  However, Halloween is a holiday, a time in the liturgical calendar, a time when people like to party, or spend time remembering.  It is a time for year for those of us in the western hemisphere when the harvest has been brought in, life in the natural world is starting to wither and die in a blaze of colour and glory, animals begin to hibernate as winter comes upon us.  In the natural world things change and in our bodies we notice the shift in the atmosphere.  This is a time to hunker down with friends, to sit around a fire share stories and live life.  A time to be together.  

Hallowe'en for me is a time for getting my family together, carving pumpkins, lighting sparklers and eating delicious food.  It's a time for friends, for dressing up if that's what tickles your fancy and for being together.  We will even have some fireworks because I LOVE LIGHT.

 This Halloween I am throwing a 'Treat or Treat' party.  One where there are lots of puddings and sweets.  Delicious things to eat while sharing a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with friends.  Food that can be eaten on the sofa and doesn't need a rigid dinner schedule.  There will be children with buckets of sweeties from Marks and Spencer, lots of sparklers and puddings from the new Marks and Spencer dessert range.  Its a time to treat ourselves and enjoy being together.

We'll have some traditional Irish Halloween games like ducking for apples and pin the face onto the pumpkin.  We might even tell an Irish Ghost story or two.

I will make it easy for people to chose their puddings by setting everything out on a buffet table and allowing them to chose what they want.  This luscious jelly with autumn fruits and plum flavours from Marks and Spencer is soft and slippery.  With a bright tart and cooling flavour.  I love it serve with the creamy white chocolate cheesecake.

These Marks and Spencer Ghost Crisps are crunchy and perfect for those wanting something more salty as a reprive from all the sugar.

The Marks and Spencer Sicilian cheesecake is tart and smooth.  Its light pastry crust is crisp.  It is a refreshing pudding to eat.

Doesn't this Marks and Spencer Chocolate and Pear Tart look stunning?

It is a very impressive finish to dinner or lovely served buffet style for people to serve themselves.  The rich smooth chocolate and sweet pear that has a little bite with a  make great combination.

 

These Marks and Spencer Melting Chocolate Domes are really spectactular and children as much as adults will love looking at them, as the hot chocolate sauce is poured over and the domes melt.  Inside there’s an indulgent chocolate brownie, which sits on top of crisp feuilletine layer, and is filled with creamy milk chocolate ganache.  If you need to serve any shop bought puddings make it these they are brilliant.  This pudding was designed by M&S product developer Daniel Fletcher who has previously worked as a top pastry chef for both Gordon Ramsey and Jason Atherton.  Its three star food in my kitchen!  And I love it.

 

 

These billionaire buillio bars are really spectactular. I recommend serving several of them on a plate piled up just like gold bars from a cowboy movie.  They have a glittery glittery gold sheen and embossed with the M&S logo so they look sparkly and shimmery when you bring them to the table.  The chunky gold ingot is made from thick Belgian chocolate, filled with caramel mousse, a layer of gleaming salted caramel sauce and chocolate-covered shortbread pieces.

The Billionaire Buillion Bars were created by M&S product developer James Campbell who travels the globe eating in restaurants, patisseries, food markets and high-end department stores .  He's looking for inspiration and ideas for bring back to the M&S test kitchen in West London.  Where he turns his ideas into reality which ultimately end up on our tables.  James is a former head pastry chef at London’s Michelin Oriental hotel and the Michelin-starred City Rhodes and Rhodes In The Square restaurants, and I feel a genuis.

 

 

 

Have a wonderful Halloween folks, celebrating life, remembering and enjoying light.

This is a time to treat and treat your family and friends and yourself with these amazing puddings from Marks and Spencer.

Fancy dress is optional but oh what fun.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Tuesday
Oct272015

Marks and Spencer Halloween Sweeties

We didn't trick or treat as children it was too dangerous, but I love having bowls of sweets to give to children who come in costume to my door.  Marks and Spencer have a brilliant range of Halloween sweeties or should we call it candy, like they do in America?

There are jellies, and marshmallows.  Lollies and buns.  Lots of sweetness to fulfil the sweetest of tooths.

Chocolate lollies and crisps.  Marks and Spencer have a complete range of spooky inspired treats that are fun, tasty and perfect to offer to anyone who calls Trick or Treating at the door or or children or adults having a party.  After all at parties there is nothing better than big pots of sweeties and crisps.  Always always salty and sweet, they go down a storm.

I am not sure what I think about Hallowe'en.  It doesn't seem like something to celebrate - death, monsters, devils and demons.  I don't understand why people refer to it as their favourite holiday, I am not sure what it is about Halloween that makes it a favourite, or a celebration.  

When I was growing up we had a party at Hallowe'en complete with turnips craved into lanterns, bobbing for apples, and celebrating the harvest.  My favourite part was the light that lit up the darkness from sparklerer and fireworks.  It was a time for family to be together, and we always ended up with someone playing the guitar as we sang songs.  It was a time when we came together.  Togetherness is always good.  Having grown up in such a bitterly divided society, where telling your religion to the wrong person could get your killed or beaten.  Where your surname marks you out as one side or the other, where the actual other sides don't matter.  Even today I still get asked about my name, by bigoted people trying to mark me one or another.  

I feel a deep urge to bring people together.  To unite rather than destroy, to celebrate and encourage rather than tear down or be anti.  I want to speak and bring life and hope to people, not to glorify death or monsters.  For me we always need to celebrate life.  

And, then there were those who were anti anti anti Halloween but then in Northern Ireland there is always someone anti something, in an aggressive vigorous angry protesting manner.  

Is Halloween really something to be anti because does it really give us a sense of evil?  Can seemingly innocent fun and evil mix.  If anything the shootings in America this year, show us that evil looks like the person sitting beside you, it doesn't always look like demons or devils.  If there is anything we should teach our children at Halloween is that evil has an ordinary face, and that discernment and wisdom are crucial from an early age.

That's it for now ...

 

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Thursday
Oct302014

Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkins are a very versatile ingredient, so before throwing away the flesh from a carved our Jack O’Lantern, why not have a go at making these recipes, which have been created to be easy to make, and suitable for making with children.

Pumpkin is a squash with a very mild flavour, making it an ingredient, which will take flavour, in the form of spices and herbs that will lift the taste to a new level. These two recipes use pureed pumpkin, and can be served together, or separately.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Lentils

(serves 4-6)

Ingredients

  • 4 whole cloves
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • small cinnamon stick
  • 4 tbsp runny honey (to taste)
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 1 green chilli kept whole with two sliced insertions
  • 2 desert apples peeled and sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery sliced
  • 2 large carrots sliced
  • 2 cups of pumpkin
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 pints of chicken stick
  • 200g red lentils
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste

Method

  1. Over a high heat dry fry the whole spices for 30 seconds, then grind in coffee grinder or by hand with a porter and mestle, set aside
  2. Fry onion for 7 minutes over a high heat until it begins to caramelise but not burn, then add the garlic and ginger and fry for another 2 minutes
  3. Add all the ground spices, and stir well into the onion mixture, frying for another 2 minutes
  4. Add the green chilli and the cinnamon stick
  5. Add the carrots, celery and pumpkin, fry stirring regularly for 7 minutes, add the salt, then the apples
  6. Pour in the chicken stock, bring to the boil, cover with a lid then turn the heat to a simmer until the vegetables are tender and cooked through
  7. Add the washed lentils and cook with the vegetables and stock, until they are tender
  8. Take out the cinnamon stick then use a stick blender to blend all the ingredients together until smooth
  9. Add honey and black pepper to taste

 

Pumpkin, Cranberry & Rosemary Muffins, with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 18 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 4 free range large eggs
  • 1 cup salted butter melted
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 4 tbsp Pumpkin Seeds
  • 5 tbsp Cranberry Seeds
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 small tub of cream cheese
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350’, Gas Mark 4, 180’, Aga top oven grill on floor of the oven muffin tin on top, then cold shelf directly above
  2. Melt the butter and set aside
  3. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases
  4. Whisk together until smooth brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs.
  5. Add the pumpkin puree and continue whisking until all combined
  6. Add all the dry ingredients, (reserving 1 tbsp of both cranberries and pumpkin seeds) then whisk until smooth
  7. Divide the batter into the lined muffin cases
  8. Scatter a couple of pumpkin seeds and cranberries on top of each muffin
  9. Bake until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean – 20 to 25 minutes, turn the tin if necessary
  10. Take the muffins out of the tin and set to cool on a wire rack
  11. Serve as they are, or with a bowl of cinnamon cream cheese frosting

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Mix all the ingredients together until you have a firm frosting
  2. Serve in a bowl, with a spoon so people can individually spread the frosting on their muffins

 

That's it for now ...

Nics 

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable