Halloween Recap Dishes & a Lesson in Candy [RECIPE]
Good Morning Everyone!
Did you have a spooky Halloween last night? Today is All Saints Day/ Dia de Los Muertos, so around here we will be painting our faces to look like sugar skulls and sharing stories about our ancestors. In the Philippines, families often go to the graveyards to hold an elaborate fiesta and remember loved ones. But tonight we will keep things simple with a soup dish that Mr. Noob Chef’s lolo (grandfather) used to make for him, and some fried vegetables that my papa used to make for me! (More on those recipes tomorrow!). For now, let’s talk about Halloween.
My little one is right at that age when Halloween is still cool…. to a degree. Costumes get hot and itchy in our mild weather so we have a limited time for trick-or-treating. So instead, I decided to make Halloween more of a family party thing this year. First, I stole a page from my mother’s creative playbook and did a “sensory story”. My daughter absolutely loved it and begged me to do a different story with different body parts next year! This was the story we used:
Once upon a Halloween night
Living in this spooky town
Was a man who died of fright
Bearing the name of Brown.
Many and many a year has passed
Since they buried Brown away,
But his withering corpse we’ve here amassed
Dug up from his tomb today!
Here is his brain, which feels no pain.
Pass around a cup with something like a wet squishy tomato inside it.
Here are his eyes, frozen in surprise.
Pass the second cup which hold two frozen peeled grapes.
Here is his heart, nevermore to start!
Pass around a cup with a large lump of uncooked liver.
Here is his hair, once so fair!
This cup contains a handful of corn silk or wet fur or yarn.
A few drops of blood, the rest turned to mud!
A cup with a little catsup thinned with warm water.
One hand all alone, rotting flesh and bone.
A damp plastic glove filled with mud or ice.
Now touch his ear, which does not hear!
Pass around a cup holding a dried apricot
And here is his nose, cold in his repose.
Use a soft piece of chicken bone.
All that’s left of his skin are these worms within!
Pass around a cup filled with wet, cooked spaghetti noodles.
Poor Brown is dead and withered away,
Can you guess what we really felt today?
Then it was time to eat! First we kicked off the night with “zombie eyeballs”, which were really avocado-deviled eyeballs, and man were they tasty! In fact, Mr. Noob Chef loved them so much he requested seconds! 🙂 Then we had dinner which was a fish pie from Studio Ghibli’s “Kiki’s Delivery Service”. (If you’ve never seen this movie… I highly encourage you to do so!).
- 8 hard boiled eggs
- 2 tbsp. Vegannaise
- 1 dill pickle minced
- 2 avocado, diced and mashed
- A sprinkle of paprika
Mix everything together until creamy. Spoon back into the egg white “hole”. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Top with a sliced black olive for the pupil. And serve! (Note: Some people use red food coloring to paint veins around the eyes too.)
This year we decided to switch up our annual pumpkin carving, and use a watermelon instead! Not only was it 10x easier to carve, (and looked super cool), but we could eat the insides as a great snack! Yum!
Finally we wrapped up the night with spooky music and I watched my little one dance around the room to the “Monster Mash” song. It was a blast! Now let’s pause here so I can share my candy story with you. Once a year, (and I literally mean once), I allow my daughter to have candy. That’s not to say that we don’t eat sugar, because browse through my archives and you’ll find desserts of all kinds. It’s just that when I bake, I don’t really use a lot of sugar. Or if I make a sweet bread, cookies, etc. I don’t allow us to gorge on food. That said, Halloween is the one night where I keep my lips shut and allow her to eat as much, (or as little) candy as she would like. Why? Because it’s reverse psychology people. And my little plan worked last night.
We kicked off the night by taking our daughter down to the local Halloween party. Kids there were already bouncing off the ceiling from sugar high’s, and my kiddo was wide-eyed at their energy level. But, happily she had a pumpkin cupcake. They also gave her a couple of treat bags to take home. When she got back I saw her tear into the candy bags excitedly. “Okay” I told myself quietly, “just let her go and see what happens”. Sure enough, after a ring pop and a mini snickers bar she made a frowny face and looked up at me. “Mama…” she said sadly, “I don’t want to ever have candy, ever again!”. I had to muster my best poker face when I asked her why. “It’s too sweet!” she said and shoved the candy away.
YES! Oh I could have done a happy dance right there in the living room. Yes, child! Yes, candy is absolutely revolting and I have no idea how it has lasted so long on the shelves! Yes, yes yes!!! Eat those dates, that are naturally sweet. Chow down on mashed sweet potatoes, and chopped apples. But always remember to stay away from that disgusting candy aisle. Lesson learned, and I’ll put another check mark in my parenting book. 🙂 So that’s it from me today! I hope you all have a wonderful day today! Stay warm as we slip into November, and as always, keep on cooking! ❤
Easy Fish Pie
Serves: 8 generously
- 1.5 kg floury potatoes
- 4 large free-range eggs , optional
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 50 g plain flour
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 350 ml quality fish stock
- 350 ml semi-skimmed milk , plus an extra splash
- 50 g Cheddar cheese
- ½ a lemon
- 1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
- a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley , optional
- 300 g skinless, boneless white fish , such as coley, whiting, haddock, cod, from sustainable sources
- 200 g skinless boneless salmon , from sustainable sources
- 200 g skinless, boneless undyed smoked haddock , from sustainable sources
- 200 g baby spinach
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 whole nutmeg , for grating
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.
- Peel the potatoes and cut into 2cm chunks, then boil for around 15 minutes, or until tender. Add the eggs for the last 8 minutes (if using).
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan over a low heat and stir in the flour. Add the bay, then bit by bit, add the stock and the milk, stirring after every addition until you have a smooth, silky sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until thickened.
- Stir in the mustard, grate in half the cheese, then squeeze in the lemon juice. Pick, finely chop and stir in the parsley (if using), then keep stirring until the cheese is melted. Season with a little black pepper, then remove from the heat.
- Get yourself a 25cm x 30cm baking dish. Check that there aren’t any stray bones lurking in the fish fillets, then slice into 2.5cm chunks and spread them evenly over the base of the dish.
- Wilt and add the spinach, then peel, quarter and add the eggs (if using). Remove the bay leaves, then pour over the white sauce and allow to cool slightly.
- Drain the potatoes well and mash with a little extra virgin olive oil, a splash of milk and a few scrapings of nutmeg. Spoon the potatoes over the pie and scuff up the surface with a fork.
- Grate the remaining Cheddar over the top and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through, the sauce is bubbling up at the sides and the top is golden.
- Delicious served with lots of green veg, or if you’re Jamie, with baked beans!