Hubble, Bubble, Toil, and Trouble
I hate Halloween. There you go; I’ve said it now. It comes at a time when the evenings have just drawn in, and we have winter on the horizon. I hate the fact that it has become so horribly commercialised – and what on earth are pubs and other places thinking when they put up signs saying ‘Happy Halloween!’
But I accept that children like it – if they aren’t too scared by it – and it’s an excuse for shops to cash in with a range of bespoke Halloween items. Also, it might take our minds of the shenanigans currently taking place in Parliament!
So, let’s go with the flow and have a look at some seasonal products and recipes.
If you fancy a jaunt into Kingston or across to Hounslow, then Aldi has some interesting Halloween drinks on sale – but not for children unfortunately. There’s a Toffee Apple Cider at £4.49 for four 275ml bottles. Talking of toffee apples, Waitrose has mind boggling Sticky Toffee Apple Wensleydale Cheese, no less!
Gail’s Bakery in Richmond has some fun ready-made biscuits at just over £1 each that will make nice gifts for trick and treaters or for a party.
Marks & Spencer has a great range of Halloween products, of course, including bags of 10 mini packs of ‘Ghoulicious Graveyard Treats’ for giving to Trick or Treaters – great value at £2 a bag
Lidl has fun recipes on its website here including a very easy recipe for ‘fake fingers’ using cheese strings and ketchup (yuk! But very effective!)
The UK grows around 10 million pumpkins – 95% of them bought for Halloween lanterns or home decorations. But once we’ve removed the guts and seeds, 60% of us fail to do anything with the flesh, which simply gets chucked in the bin. This dreadful waste leads to an annual throwaway of around 8 million pumpkins or 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin flesh, according to environmental charity Hubbub.
So, let’s not waste that pumpkin that you no doubt plan to buy and carve! BBC Good Food recommends cleaning the seeds then boiling them for ten minutes before draining them. Add some olive or rapeseed oil, place on a baking sheet and bake at 120 degrees for 45 minutes. Toasted pumpkin seeds…no need for those expensive snack packs. You can season them with all manner of savoury flavours, not just salt and pepper.
And pumpkin soup is delicious and so easy to make! BBC Good Food has rounded up its favourite recipes here but one of my favourites is the Thai Pumpkin Soup which takes just 25 mins to prepare and 40 mins to cook and serves four.
4 tsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 lemongrass, bashed a little
3-4 tbsp Thai red curry paste
400 ml can coconut milk
850 ml vegetable stock
1 red chilli, sliced, to serve (optional)
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the pumpkin or squash in a roasting tin with half the oil and seasoning, then roast for 30 mins until golden and tender.
- Meanwhile, put the remaining oil in a pan with the onion, ginger and lemongrass. Gently cook for 8-10 mins until softened. Stir in the curry paste for 1 min, followed by the roasted pumpkin, all but 3 tbsp of the coconut milk and the stock. Bring to a simmer, cook for 5 mins, then fish out the lemongrass. Cool for a few mins, then whizz until smooth with a hand blender, or in a large blender in batches. Return to the pan to heat through, seasoning with salt, pepper, lime juice and sugar, if it needs it. Serve drizzled with the remaining coconut milk and scattered with chilli, if you like.