This Halloween, consider an adults-only gathering. This day has so many amusing qualities that a party can go in many directions, from spooky to theatrical. Here are some ideas for one that is in between the two.
An interesting themed cocktail or two would be most welcome at the beginning of the evening. While there are attention grabbing, spookily named drinks, such as the Undertaker (vanilla vodka, Kahlua, creme de cacao and chilled espresso), the lighter Black Velvet has a surprisingly different and refreshing taste—and leans toward the theatrical. I discovered this beverage while watching the classic Jane Russell/Marilyn Monroe movie, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." It originated in London in 1861 to mourn the death of Prince Albert. This "layered" or "stacked" drink (also known as pousse-cafe) symbolized the black and purple armbands worn by mourners. Adding to the drama of the evening, make the drink a ceremony. Fill a flute halfway with sparkling white wine then slowly pour a stout, dark beer over the back of a spoon to top the glass. If executed properly, you will see two layered colors.
For food selections, it seems hard not to include deviled eggs or orange and black items but, after the appetizers, treat your guests to a crisp salad, comforting chili and warm cheese biscuits or cornbread. Top the evening off with a pumpkin dessert and black coffee.
At the end of the night, send your guests off with a little bag of Halloween treats. Have fun at a local dollar store collecting spider rings, temporary tattoos, colorful candies and tiny glow-in-the-dark zombies. Fill clear cellophane packages with the goodies and arrange them in a large bowl for a memorable parting gift.
Boil 13 eggs so that there will be 13 yolks to "bulk up" the stuffing for the 12 eggs you will be serving.
13 hard-boiled eggs cut in half lengthwise
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Cayenne pepper, paprika or Cajun salt
Remove yolks from egg whites, conserving one egg white in refrigerator for later use. Press yolks through a sieve or mash them with the back of a fork. Combine with the remaining ingredients. With a teaspoon or piping bag, place egg-yolk mixture into egg-white halves. Keep cold. Before serving, sprinkle egg halves with cayenne, paprika or Cajun salt for color and heat. To add a spooky touch, place sliced black olives in the middle of the deviled eggs.
2-1/4 cups self-rising flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3-4 tablespoons butter
Combine flour and sugar; cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheese.
Combine buttermilk and baking soda, and stir well. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead for one to two minutes.
Roll dough out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch biscuit cutter, brush with melted butter and bake on a lightly greased baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes at 425 degrees.
Makes 20 biscuits.
Orange Romaine Salad
1 pound romaine, shredded
8 scallions, chopped
11-ounce can of mandarin orange slices, drained
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine dressing ingredients in container and shake. Toss dressing with salad mixture, chill and serve cold.
Meat and Bean Chili
This fuss-free chili is easy to put together and even easier to savor. Have toppings such as sour cream, cheese, chopped jalapenos, corn chips and extra hot sauce available.
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 pounds ground venison, beef or turkey
2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
2 16-ounce cans drained kidney beans
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup beer or water
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teapoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
hot sauce to taste
Saute onion and oil in a large iron skillet. Add meat and cook over medium heat until browned. Drain any excess oil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered over low heat for one hour.
This recipe makes eight to 10 servings.