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Archive for Halloween & Fall

FOOD FUN: Marshmallow Cream Halloween Cupcakes

Ghost Cupcake

Marshmallow Fluff Cupcake

Orange Ghoul Cupcake

[1] Pipe ghost tops onto cupcakes. You can use any flavor cupcake you like. The recipe above, from California Strawberries, has an extra surprise: strawberries in the cake. [2] Another approach: a bed of marshmallow topped with Halloween candy (photo courtesy Paper Chef). [3] This orange ghoul was created by Food Network. You can tint the frosting, meringue or marshmallow any color you like.

 

Ready for more Halloween food fun?

You can make these cupcakes with a piping bag and frosting or meringue powder.

Or you can use a jar of marshmallow cream (Fluff, Jet-Puffed, RiceMellow, Solo, etc.), or homemade marshmallow cream.

The only challenge with the latter is that marshmallow cream won’t hold its shape over time. It needs to be refrigerated so it doesn’t collapse;

  • You need to first first chill the marshmallow in the fridge (place it in the plastic piping bag first).
  • When ready to pipe, cut a nickel-size corner off the plastic bag and pipe away.
  • Keep the cupcakes in the fridge until ready to serve, so the marshmallow doesn’t soften.
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    For The Eyes

  • Use mini chocolate chips for the eyes. If you want a mouth, use a regular or large chip.
  • Insert the chips top side in, so the flat (bottom) side is on the surface of the ghost.
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    THE HISTORY OF MARSHMALLOW FLUFF

    Marshmallow dates back to ancient Egypt. The marsh mallow plant that was plentiful along the banks of the Nile has a slippery sap that forms a gel when mixed with water. The Egyptians mixed the “juice” with honey to make a confection, reserved for the wealthy and the gods.

    The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder credited the sap with curing all sorts of diseases, and encouraged people to drink the juice daily, although it wasn’t very palatable (what happened to the honey?). Still, for centuries the sap was used to treat sore throats, skin conditions and other maladies.
     
    Modern Marshmallow

    In the mid-19th century, a pharmacist in Paris came up with the idea of whipping the sap with sugar and egg whites into a light, sweet, fluffy throat remedy. A variation soon became popular as marshmallow candy.

    By the late 19th century, confectioners had determined how to mass-produce marshmallows, which included eliminating the sap entirely and replacing it with gelatin. (Prepared gelatin was patented in 1845; prior to then it was laborious to render and clarify gelatin from cattle and pig bones, skin, tendons and ligaments; and in addition to setting aspics, it was desirable as glue, a use that dates back to ancient Egypt.).

    Marshmallow sauces were popular in the early 20th century (see Marshmallow History). But to make marshmallow sauce or frosting required that the cook first make marshmallow cream. It was a two-step process: make a sugar syrup, melt marshmallow candy in a double boiler, and combine them with the syrup.

    In 1910 a marshmallow cream called Marshmallow Fluff was sold to ice cream parlors by Limpert Brothers, a company that still exists in New Jersey. You can see the original packaging on their website. Snowflake Marshmallow Creme was available around 1914.

     

    The first commercially successful, shelf-stable marshmallow cream, it was produced by the Curtis Marshmallow Factory of Melrose, Massachusetts. They ultimately bought the Marshmallow Fluff brand from the Lippert Brothers (details).

    While Marshmallow Fluff wasn’t the first marshmallow cream, it’s the one that endured: 94 years later, the brand is still around, with a host of me-too brands.

    Unlike conventional marshmallows, which require gelatin (an animal product) or a seaweed equivalent to set, marshmallow cream is a kosher product made from corn syrup, sugar, water, egg whites, artificial flavor, cream of tartar, xanthan gum and artificial color.

    Marshmallow Fluff is OU Kosher, Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme is OK Kosher. Ricemellow Creme, manufactured by Suzanne’s Specialties, Inc., is a vegan equivalent.
     
    MARSHMALLOW CREAM VS. MARSHMALLOW CREME

    Some brands call it marshmallow cream, others marshmallow creme. What’s the difference between cream and creme?

    In the U.S., it’s just the spelling. Creme is an Americanization of the French word for cream, crème (pronounced KREHM).

    When you have a perfectly good English word, why appropriate a word from another language, then mis-spell and mis-pronounce it?

    [Insert your answer here.]

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Hard Cider Party For Halloween

    Still looking for a Halloween activity?

    How about a hard cider party? It’s adult, it’s fun, and it’s an opportunity to taste and compare more hard ciders than most of us get to do.

    While in the U.S. and parts of Canada, the term “apple cider” is interchangeable with apple juice, in Europe a glass of cider is not kid stuff. It’s an alcoholic drink that that many prefer to beer—and if you look at the explosive sales figures, Americans are also discovering its charms: It’s the fastest-growing alcohol category.
     
    WHAT IS HARD CIDER

    When apples are pressed and bottled, you have apple juice—also called apple cider in the U.S., although in other countries apple cider refers to hard cider.

    Hard cider is made from fermented apple juice; over a few months, the sugars in the juice turn into alcohol. As with craft beer, each brand has a distinct flavor profile and alcoholic content, generally from 3% ABV (alcohol by volume) or less to 8.5% or more.

  • Hard cider uses a different blend of apples than apple juice. In fact, many more apple varieties are used to create a fine cider. The import Magners Irish Cider is made from 17 varieties of apples!
  • Pears are also turned into cider, called perry in the U.K.
  • The juice ferments for eight weeks after the apples are pressed. The cider then matures or several months, and afterward is blended, filtered and carbonated. The result is a drink with the carbonation and alcohol of beer and the flavor of apples.
  • Many cider apples are sour, and can’t substitute for eating apples.
  • Like wine, cider it has a relatively high concentration of antioxidants; it’s naturally gluten-free and is less filling than beer.
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    PLANNING YOUR CIDER PARTY

    Beyond Halloween, you can also have a cider tasting during Thanksgiving cocktail hour, for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other celebrations.

    1. INVITE friends today: Halloween is eight days away.

    2. PLAN the number of ciders based on the number of people. If you’re serving 8 or more different ciders, estimate one bottle per four proper.

    3. PARE the list. There are many different styles of cider, and ciders from different countries (England, France, Ireland, Spain and others). Each country has its own preferred style, as you’ll see in the Top Artisan Ciders section below. You can’t try them all in one night—but you can have subsequent tastings to try the rest.

  • We recommend sticking with American cider brands for the first event. You want to try a good representation of artisan ciders. There are so many different types of local cider: dry , sweet, barrel-aged, At the next event, you can taste the winners against the Europeans.
  • Similarly, save the barrel-aged, flavored ciders (apple pie, cherry, honey, raspberry, orange, etc.), ice cider (like ice wine, it’s pressed from naturally frozen fruit), perry and spiced ciders for next time.
  • Look for Angry Orchard, Crispin, Strongbow and Woodchuck, for starters; they’re national brands. You can create an entire tasting just by gathering up the different expressions of each brand. For example, Angry Orchard features Apple Ginger, Crisp Apple, Green Apple, Hop’n Mad Apple, Stone Dry, plus a fall seasonal cider, Cinn-Full Apple.
  • Artisan ciders tend to be distributed in the limited area where they are produced—not just because small companies lack sales and marketing heft, but because each brand needs to go through approval of each state liquor authority. It’s daunting, but we’ve listed some highly-rated ciders below.
  • Do not mistakenly pick up a flavored apple beer, like Redd’s Apple Cider. These beverages are artificially flavored, and don’t belong on the same table as cider, an all-natural drink.
  • Do have some apple cider (apple juice) for designated drivers. If you buy a few different kinds, they can have their own “tasting.”
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    4. PLAN the eats. You can serve hard cider with any snack or food you’d serve with beer, but the sweetness of cider allows you to serve it with desserts, too.

  • For snacks: charcuterie and hearty cheeses.
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    Angry Orchard Cider

    Crispin Cider

    Woodchuck Hard Cider

    Strongbow Cider

    [1] Angry Orchard, owned by Boston Brewing Company (parent of Samuel Adams beer), is the nation’s #1 cider brand (photo courtesy Boston Brewing). [2] Crispin makes a variety of styles, as well as perry (pear cider) under the Fox Barrel brand (photo courtesy Crispin Hard Cider Co.). [3] Woodchuck, another popular national brand (photo courtesy Fletcher6 | Wikipedia). [4] Strongbow cider is produced by Heineken (photo courtesy Heineken USA).

  • For main courses: chicken, pork, sausages, soups, stews, fondue (you can substitute hard cider for wine in most recipes and drink rest of the cider along with the meal).
  • For dessert: Apple desserts pair beautifully. We like bread pudding, cobbler or crisp (the difference), pie and apple-topped cheesecake.
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    TOP ARTISAN CIDERS

    Here are some of the nation’s top-rated artisan ciders: Brand, variety and style. “Crisp/Dry” is the most common style. “Funky” refers to a style popular in France, with [what we really enjoy] barnardy aromas. They can also be crisp and dry. Off Dry/Semi-Dry is the classic English style: sweetness of fruit followed by a dry finish.

    Dessert ciders are sweet, like dessert wine; although off dry/semi-dry and crisp ciders can also be paired with desserts.

  • CALIFORNIA: Bonny Doon, Querry (sweet)
  • MASSACHUSETTS: Bantam, Wunderkind (off dry/semi-dry)
  • MICHIGAN: Virtue Cider, Lapinette (funky style)
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: Farnum Hill, Extra Dry (crisp/dry style)
  • NEW YORK: Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style), Doc’s Draft, Original Hard Apple Cider (off dry/semi-dry), Eve’s Cidery, Darling Creek (off dry/semi-dry), Redbyrd Orchard, Starblossom (funky style), Wölffer Estate, 139 Dry Rosé Cider (off dry/semi-dry)(
  • OREGON: E.Z. Orchards, Cidre Dry (funky style), Reverend Nat’s, Revival Hard Apple (crisp/dry), Traditions Ciderworks, Riverwood (off dry/semi-dry)
  • TEXAS: Argus Cidery, 2013 Perennial (funky style), Austin Eastciders, Gold Top (funky style)
  • VERMONT: Eden, Sparkling Cider, Dry (off dry/semi-dry
  • VIRGINIA: Foggy Ridge Cider, First Fruit (crisp/dry style)
  • WASHINGTON: Snowdrift Cider Co., Orchard Select (crisp/dry style)
  • WISCONSIN: AeppelTreow, Appely Brut; Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style)
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    FOOD FUN: “Eyeball” Meatball Sandwiches Or Subs

    Eyeball Meatball Sandwich Recipe

    French Rolls Recipe

    [1] Here’s looking at you! Eyeball meatball sandwich from BBQ Bob Trudnak | BBQ Guru. [2] French rolls are crusty on the outside, with an elegant crumb on the inside. They can be round dinner rolls, oblong or square sandwich rolls; the artisan versions have a dusting of flour. They’re easy to make at home with this recipe from DineAndDish.net.

     

    You don’t need a grill to make these captivating eyeball meatball sandwiches from “BBQ Bob” Trudnak.

    We made them in a skillet on the stove top. Everyone—children and adults alike—wanted more.

    We love nouvelle surf and turf ideas of any kind. So to this recipe from “BBQ Bob” Trudnak, we added some “gourmet” flavor lists:

  • Anchovies (we had stocked up on cans from Cento).
  • substituted the more flavorful puttanesca sauce for the marina sauce.
  • Exchanged the blander Italian rolls with crusty French rolls (you can substitute lengths of a baguette instead).
  • Added some arugula we had on hand, which gave the sandwich a bite of “bite,” along with some fresh basil leaves (refreshing!).
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    RECIPE: SPOOKY HALLOWEEN EYEBALL
    MEATBALL SANDWICHES

    Ingredients For 4 Sandwiches

  • 2 pounds ground meatloaf mix (veal, pork, beef) or your preferred blend
  • 1/2 cup of grated romano or parmesan cheese
  • 1½ cups Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Dried basil
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • Sliced black olives
  • Deli-sliced provolone cheese
  • Fresh short Italian rolls or substitute (we used the crisper French rolls)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • Optional: anchovies, fresh herbs, arugula, roasted red peppers
  • Optional: salad or crudités
  • Optional: beer for the adults, soft drinks for the kids
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    Preparation

    1. HEAT the grill to 300°F direct; or for stovetop cooking, heat a skillet when ready to cook the meatballs.

    2. MIX the ground meat, eggs, bread crumbs, herbs, spices and water by hand in a bowl until well blended. Add ¼ cup of grated cheese and mix once more. Divide into 8 equal portions and oll the meatballs to the size of golf balls and set aside on wax paper.

    3. SET the meatballs in the fridge for 30 minutes while the grill comes up to temperature or the skillet heats. (a) Grill the meats balls over a direct fire turning them to brown all sides and take them to an internal temp of 165°F, or (b) similarly cook them join the stovetop. While they cook…

    4. WARM the marinara sauce. When the meatballs are done, remove them from the heat.

    5. LIGHTLY BUTTER each roll, and toast for a minute over the coals on the grill (we toasted ours plain in the toaster oven, then buttered them.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Place 2 meatballs on each roll and pour a little warm marinara sauce over them. Lay out two slices of provolone over the meatballs and place the sandwiches back on the grill in a pan to allow the cheese to melt. Place a sliced black olive on the top of each meatball so they look like eyeballs, then drizzle a little more marinara sauce between the meatballs.

    If using the arugula, anchovies, etc.: We put the on the arugula and basil on bottom half of the roll and the anchovies on top of the cheese, creating some nicely creep “hairy eyeballs.”

    WATCH THE PROCESS with this video:

     
    ABOUT “BBQ BOB” TRUDNAK

    Robert “BBQ Bob” Trudnak of Lansdale, Pennsylvania has been grilling and smoking barbecue professionally for more than 13 years. He has amassed over 200 awards and prizes at national and international competitions. An entrepreneur and inventor, he helped launch the world’s first BBQ temperature control devices for the company BBQ Guru, which develops and sells high-tech cooker accessories.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Pumpkin Cinnamon Streusel Cake

    For Thanksgiving, everyone focuses on the dessert pies: pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie.

    But what about the rest of the week—or the entire months of October and November—when you want something a bit lighter than pie?

    King Arthur Flour solved our dilemma with their delicious Pumpkin Streusel Cake Mix. We stocked up last year after Thanksgiving, when it was half price; but it’s $9.95 full price at KingArthurFlour.com is still worth it.

    Why pay triple the price of a supermarket cake mix? It’s all in the quality of the ingredients.

    The King Arthur mix is made with real pumpkin and Vietnamese cinnamon. Even the flour in the mix—the highest grade milled—is better, as fans of King Arthur Flour can tell you.

    The mix includes a packet of cinnamon-streusel filling to make the swirl in the cake. You add butter, eggs, sour cream and water.
     
    TO MAKE A COFFEE CAKE

  • In addition to the instructions on the box, which can be used to make layer cakes or cupcakes, mix ½ teaspoon of baking soda into the dry cake mix.
  • Beat for just 30-60 seconds once all the ingredients are incorporated into the bowl.
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    TO MAKE A COFFEE CAKE

    As an alternative, you can turn the mix into a pumpkin streusel coffee cake (photo #3).

  • Instead of using a bundt pan, spread the batter in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Sprinkle the streusel on top of the batter
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 350°F for 34 to 38 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool and keep it in the pan. To serve, cut into rectangles. Only cut as many rectangles as you need; the air that seeps into the cut surfaces will take away some freshness.
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    To Make The Cake From Scratch

    Here’s a recipe.

       

    Pumpkin Streusel Bundt Cake

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin streusel in heritage bundt kingarthur 230

    [1] A pumpkin cinnamon streusel bundt cake, glazed (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] The cake made in a Heritage bundt pan, also called a swirl bundt pan from Nordicware.

     
    WHAT IS STREUSEL?

    Streusel is a crumb topping made from butter, flour and sugar. It can also contain chopped nuts or rolled oats.

    It’s used on cakes and pies alike.

    Pronounced SHTROY-zul, the word derives from the German “streuen,” meaning to sprinkle or scatter. The American mis-pronunciation “STROO sul?” Fuggedaboudit.

    Streusel is used as a topping for a variety of pies, fruit crisps, cakes and pastries, most notably coffee cakes. A pie with a streusel topping is sometimes referred to as a “crumble pie.”

    Some people like big streusel crumbs, others prefer fine crumbs. The choice is yours as you pinch the crumbs together.

     

    Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

    Pumpkin Streusel Cake Mix

    [3] Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake made from this [4] Pumpkin Streusel Cake Mix (photos courtesy King Arthur Flour).

     

    RECIPE: EASY STREUSEL TOPPING

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
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    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. With a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until fine crumbs form.

    2. USE your fingers to squeeze the fine crumbs into large clumps (or smaller as desired—we like large crumbs). Sprinkle over the top of the pie and bake per the recipe instructions. That’s it!
     
    THE HISTORY OF BUNDT CAKES

    First, there was the Austrian kugelhopf, a sweet yeast bread similar to brioche and panettone, made in a pan shaped like a chef’s hat or a turban.

    A Viennese specialty, it was a favorite of the Austrian Archduchess Marie Antoinette, who became the wife of King Louis XVI of France in 1770.

    Fast forward 180 years: Some Jewish ladies in Minneapolis couldn’t find any kugelhopf pans in the U.S., pans with pleated folds that their families had in the Old Country. They turned to a local manufacturer and convinced him to create a version of it. The bundt cake was born.

    The name bundt is a derivation of the German word for a gathering of people—exactly what you’ll have when there’s a bundt cake to be enjoyed.

    Here’s the history of the bundt cake.

     

      

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    RECIPES: Halloween Cocktail Party

    No plans for Halloween? You can still invite the gang for a Halloween cocktail party with these special cocktails:

    There’s still time to invite friends to a Halloween cocktail party—costumes optional. Create your cocktail menu from these cocktail recipes:

  • Bloody Eyeball Martini
  • Bloody Vampire Martini
  • Brandy-Based Cocktails
  • Drunken Pumpkin Pie
  • Candy Corn Cocktail
  • Gin-Based Cocktails: Bloody Scream, Satan’s Whiskers, Swamp Demon, Witch’s Brew
  • Harvest Moon Cocktail
  • Kahlúa-Based Cocktails
  • Pumpkin Divine Martini
  • Smoking Blood Orange Mimosa
  • Spider Bite With Frangelico, dripping with “blood”
  • Vampire Cocktail With Fangs
  • Vodka-Based Cocktails
  • Toffee Apple Martini
  • Vampire Elixir
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    NEXT STEPS

    1. SEND out the invite. Costumes optional?

    2. DEVELOP the menu: 4 or 5 cocktail options, plus a mocktail and soft drinks for the designated drivers.

    3. CHOOSE some recipes that can be made in advance, and make multiple quantities in pitchers.
     
    HALLOWEEN MOCKTAIL

    The easiest: a mix of apple cider, pomegranate juice and club soda, with an optional candy pumpkin, notched to fit on the glass rim, or a lime wheel.

    Mix the juices in a pitcher, and add club soda to the glass after pouring. Vary the proportions as you prefer, starting with a 2:1 or 3:1 proportion of juice to soda.

    Alternatively, there are hundreds of Halloween cocktail recipes online.

     

    Vampire Martini

    Bloody Eyeball Martini

    [1] Vampire Martini (photo courtesy Betty Crocker). [2] Bloody Eyeball Martini (photo courtesy Kim Plaszek).

     

      

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