HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?

October 20, 2021 | Cooking

Halloween October 31 – Centuries ago ancient Celtics believed that at summer’s end the barrier between our world and the world of spirits thinned, allowing evil to cross over to us. Time passed and people dressed as saints and went door to door which is the origin for tonight’s ghosts and goblins to magically appear at your front door to trick you if you don’t treat them.

Invite friends over and celebrate Halloween with this menu that will tame your creatures who go bump in the night.

MENU
Appetizers
Barbequed
Meatballs
Garlic Dip & Pretzels
Sangria

Main Course
Braised Short Ribs
Mashed Potatoes
Veggie Sauté
Dry Red Wine – Pinot Noir

Appetizers
Barbequed Meatballs

This is an easy appetizer recipe you adjust to suit you. Add more jelly if you prefer a sweeter taste or cut jelly amount and increase barbeque sauce if you want a tangy taste. Plan on 4 – 5 meatballs per person.

1 12 oz. (340g) jar grape jelly
1 – 2 bottles barbeque sauce
50 precooked frozen Italian style meatballs
Toothpicks for serving
Scoop jelly into a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat. Add 1 bottle barbeque sauce. Stir until jelly melts.

Add meatballs. Stir in more barbeque sauce if needed. You want the meatballs covered but not swimming. Simmer 5 – 10 minutes, stir occasionally.

Serve warm.

Garlic Dip & Pretzel Twists
8 oz. (226g) cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp. (15ml) garlic powder, not salt
Pinch salt
2 tbsp. (30ml) milk, possibly more
Lay cream cheese in a medium-sized mixing bowl. I know this seems too large, but you need the room. Use a wooden spoon to mash the cheese against the sides of the bowl.

Sprinkle on garlic. Stir well. Add salt and stir well. Taste for flavor. Add more garlic if necessary. Don’t add more salt. You’ll get plenty of that flavor from the pretzels.

Drizzle in milk. Stir well. Carefully stir in milk until you reach a consistency soft enough to dip the pretzel without breaking it.

Scoop into a serving bowl, cover with cling wrap, and refrigerate. Remove from fridge a half hour or so before serving. This dip lasts 1 week in the fridge.

Sangria
½ lemon, peel intact and sliced thin
½ orange, peel intact and sliced thin
½ lg. apple, cored and sliced thin
¼ cup (30g) superfine sugar
1 bottle dry red wine, Portuguese or Spanish preferred
¼ cup (60ml) brandy or cognac
1-liter club soda, chilled
Ice

Combine lemon, orange, apple, and sugar in a large pitcher. Stir in wine and brandy. Taste for sweetness. If the punch is still not sweet enough, carefully add another ¼ cup (30g) of sugar.

Refrigerate for several hours to intensify the flavors.

Just before serving gently stir in club soda. Fill wine glasses with ice and pour in Sangria.

Main Course
Braised Short Ribs

2 – 3 lbs. (1 – 1.5kg) beef short ribs, cut into 2 inch (5cm) or so pieces
freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup (60g) flour
½ tsp. (2.5ml) thyme
2 tbsp. (30ml) lard or solid shortening
2 medium onions, chopped
½ cup (60g) carrot, chopped
1 tbsp. (15ml) garlic, pressed or chopped fine
1 cup (250ml) beef stock
2 small bay leaves
1 tbsp. (30ml) Worcestershire Sauce

Preheat oven to 325° F (160°C).

Pat ribs dry. Grind pepper over meat. Pour flour and thyme into a paper bag. Add 2 – 4 ribs at a time. Shake bag gently to coat meat. Remove ribs and set on a large plate. Continue until all ribs are coated.

Melt lard or shortening in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Carefully add ribs and brown them on all sides. Don’t crowd the pan. Best to brown meat in batches so the cooking temperature remains constant. Return ribs to plate. Lower heat to medium.

Add onions and carrots to the same pot. Sauté until onions are soft and transparent. Add garlic. Cook 45 – 60 seconds.

Stir in stock. Bring to a boil over high heat. Scrape in any brown bits clinging to the bottom and sides of the pan.

Reduce heat to medium. Stir in bay leaves and Worcestershire sauce.

Nestle ribs in pan and bring to a boil. Cover and then place in oven. Braise ribs for 1½ hours or until meat shows no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

Arrange ribs on a clean platter and tent with foil to keep them warm.

Strain braising liquid through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Press down hard on vegetables to extract juices. Discard vegetables. Skim off surface fat. Bring to a hard boil. Cook 2 – 3 minutes to intensify flavor.

Pour sauce into a gravy boat and serve alongside ribs.

Mashed Potatoes
Chicken stock, not broth
1 small russet potato per person, peeled and quartered
3 tbsp. (43g) butter
Sour cream, a very large dollop
¼ cup (60ml) milk, at room temperature
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Parsley, snipped or chopped for garnish

Preheat oven to 220° F (100°C).

Pour one-inch (2.5cm) chicken stock into saucepan. Place potatoes in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by at least one inch (2.5cm). Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 20 – 25 minutes. Potatoes are done when a fork inserts easily into a section.

Drain potatoes. Stir in butter, sour cream, and pepper. Mash well. Drizzle in milk. Mash and continue to add milk until you achieve the consistency you prefer.

Keep the saucepan warm in the oven while you finish preparing dinner.

Veggie Sauté
Leftovers from this easy recipe make a tasty lunch when reheated in a little butter and served with crusty bread and a glass of cold white wine.
8 oz. (250g) baby bella mushrooms
2 tbsp. (30ml) olive oil
1 zucchini, sliced thin
1 red pepper, seeded and ribs removed
1 yellow pepper, seeded and ribs removed
1 small onion, sliced thin
½ tsp. (2.5ml) garlic powder, not salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Clean mushrooms with a paper towel to remove bedding soil. Slice them in half lengthwise if medium size or into thirds if large.

Dribble oil into a medium-sized frying pan set over medium heat. Do not let it smoke.

Add all the vegetables except mushrooms. Turn up heat to medium-high. Sauté about 4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Lower temperature to medium. Stir in mushrooms, garlic powder, and pepper.

Continue to cook 3 minutes or until peppers are at the crispness you prefer.

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