Our Halloween feast!
For someone who never used to do Halloween, we seem to be hooked and hosted our second Halloween themed lunch last Sunday. As usual, the venue was our house and the guests were the kids and grandkids with the addition this year of Terry’s niece Leanne and husband Kasten, as well as a few friends.
We gave our Halloween a German twist this year, somehow inspired by the leather apron I always wear when entertaining and often associated with lederhosen. Up for the challenge, I spent a while browsing Pinterest and various German sites for ideas, finally deciding to turn the house into a Haunted Castle of sorts with appropriate gory German food ( no offense to our German friends, we love German food, just made it gory for the occasion !)
Many trips were made to The Party People shop with Anne ( I need a teenager to help me channel the spookiness in me ), adding to our existing collection of Halloween props and I subjected Mr T and the kids to a couple of “rehearsal dinners” experimenting with German-style recipes ( none of which made the cut on the night, judged too fancy and not suitable for party food! )
As always, dressing up was optional but highly encouraged and it was great to see everyone get into the spirit this year.
My outfit was supposed to be a Bavarian waitress dress but after trying it on and looking totally ridiculous I went back to my usual witch costume, this year centered around an ostrich feathered top I bought recently. Not that anyone could see any of it, as I wore the leather apron over it most of the time! Heavy eye makeup and blue contacts that no one noticed completed the look.
Anne came as a teenager dressed in black ( emo or goth, I am sure I am getting it wrong! ) which was not much different to her everyday look, though the makeup definitely was. Marc was a scientist of some kind, finding an old lab coat from homeschooling days and borrowing old glass frames from his father.
Mr T found that his grim ripper costume was so comfortable last year, he decided to wear it again.
Poor Sam, put up with a lion mane for a while, then shook it off. He could not do anything about the Happy Potter makeup the kids drew on his face though!
Then the guests arrived.
Malcolm, Danielle and their kids Harry and Hannah came as a motley crue of fishermen, a cast member of American Horror Story, and a kids version of a zombie queen of hearts. I nearly gasped when I saw Hannah’s head “stabbed” by the hacksaw.
Craig was a hilarious Cat in the Hat, accompanied by Kathy the witch and young Jesse looking terrifying as a junior grim ripper.
Then Leanne and Kasten walked in, one a witch and the other very Bavarian looking with a plaided shirt, high socks, hiking boots and hat to suit. If anyone won a prize for sticking to the brief it was Kasten.
Shelley only wore her devil ears and not much else, but arrived claiming all her dressing up effort went into the malevolent cake she baked, even naming it Maleficent! I’ll take that!
Jai was an army officer for the day and went by the fitting name of Captain Jai.
Tania came straight from the airport, returning from a work trip and only had time to get changed in black clothes.
Black clad witch was very popular again with Sharon arriving late, all dolled up with hat, see-thru dress and gold trimmings. Her daughter Lauren looked gorgeous as a good/bad zombie, as did her brothers as a zebra and hospital patient ( even asking me for a bandaid for a real life injury!)
Last but not least, our young french friend, Manon, arrived dressed in Halloween colours of orange and black, intrigued by the menu and the amount of washing up involved. Still she was a great assistant in the kitchen, eager to help and learn about this new custom.
Ok, the scene set with all the players, on to the food!
As is the case in Aussie culture, guests ask what they can bring to the party. Coming from France, where the host usually supplies everything from food to drinks and decorations, it took me a while to get used to the fact that people want to contribute, if not show of their cooking skills. Nowadays, I tend to become a bit of a dictator, once the theme has been settled on, hinting at desirable dishes if not instructing people to check out Pinterest for ideas. For fun, Anne and I rebranded some of the dishes’ names to keep with the ghoulish theme.
Thus came Danielle with Mummy Hotdogs.
Sharon provided a plate of cold meats from the local German butcher.
Craig provided us with freshly baked pretzels, matched with Ozbada, a bavarian beer cheese dip nicknamed Cheese from the Heart for the occasion.
I put together a smoked salmon snack on pumpernickel bread
and this unusual entree of skewered black pudding, apple sauce and scallops inspired by our last trip to Mudgee.
One of the most anticipated and fun dishes however was homemade brawn shaped in a skull mold. I called it “Pressed Head “ but could not tell anyone it was made out of a pig’s head, lest they were put off by the idea. I had to wait until the last minute, once the “terrine” was unveiled and dressed to reveal the unusual truth. The dish itself, while spooky looking, was quite tasty though it needed a tangy accompaniment like pickles or vinegary sauce to cut through the cold fatty taste of the terrine. All I had on the day was hot mustard, which was good but I made a mental note to try something sharper next. Still, I was pleased to see how well received it was!
I took care of all main dishes and served them hot, on a large table outside.
We had Ghoulish Goulash,
Cheesy Maggots ( spatzle ) , Sauerkraut, Braised Red Cabbage,
Potato Salad ( the only cold option, brought over by Shelley )
and my favorite of the night: a mix of sausages, bacon and roasted pig’s head. I called it the Slaughter Plate. Mr T had warned me that it would be a test of our guests’ sense of humour and adventurous tastebuds, and to be prepared for people to never return for dinner. I am pleased to report that most saw the funny side of it and partook in the sharing of the pig’s head, particularly the snapping of the crackling and fighting over the melt in your mouth cheeks.
Then it was time for dessert, with no less than 3 sweet offerings ( and countless lollies but these don’t count really ).
Being Craig’s birthday a couple of days prior, Kathy brought in a slab of chocolate cake decorated with Halloween colours and a birthday message.
I had asked Shelley to make some cupcakes and assumed she was working on two dozens zombie cupcakes as per her last text.
Then she walked in with this beautiful cherry ripe mud cake, ornately decorated with red roses, strawberries, chocolate shards and horns, nonchalantly saying it was just as easy to make one single cake. She called it Maleficent.
The final dessert was Kasten’s signature cinnamon rolls. I first tasted them a couple of years ago when him and Leanne visited us on the boat, and he baked us a batch one morning. I still remember waking up to the smell of heaven, and the kids running out of their cabins at the speed of light! Kasten insists that these rolls are best fresh out of the oven, so they were baked at the last minute and handed out sticky and piping hot, the cream cheese frosting oozing out of the yeasty folds. Most people had already eaten one or two slices of chocolate cake, so how they managed to fit a cinnamon roll as well is a testament to how good they were. My phone was buzzing the next day with comments and requests for the recipe, which I will try to pry out of Kasten one day.
The afternoon flew by. The kids found the lolly jars, slipped out of their costumes into the swimming pool until the cold brought them back in. People talked, ate and drank well into the evening, and it wasn’t until someone mentioned school the next day that the party slowly came to an end. As I write, the ghosts and other ghouls are still standing guard at the front door, ready to greet anyone knocking tonight. Happy Halloween!