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Halloween party – menu

When people talk about organizing a perfect dinner party or making decorations etc,  there is always one person being mentioned…Martha Stewart. But to me the perfect party queen is Ina Garten also known as Barefoot Contessa.

If I could choose my dream party I wanted to be invited to, it would be Ina Garten’s party. I mean, hello! There’s no competition.

For the Halloween party this year I took my inspiration for the menu from Barefoot Contessa’s books.

Halloween Party menu:


bruschetta with peppers and gorgonzola

spiganarda with roasted vegetables


pumpkin risotto


chocolate cupcakes with orange icing


red wine

coffee martini


Let’s talk about starters.

Bruschetta with peppers and gorgonzolla

I found this recipe in Ina Garten’s book ‘Back to Basics’.

You will need:

baguette (or any bread you fancy)

yellow, green and red pepper

2 tablespoons of drained capers




olive oil

fresh basil

1.Slice baguette or your choice of bread. You can brush your slices with olive oil and toast in the ovcn but I found them too dry, so to make them crusty on the outside and soft inside it’s better to toast them on the grill pan (really hot).

2. Preheat the oven (180 C)

3. Cut peppers into thin strips. Arrange them on the baking tray, sprinkle salt and pepper on top, bake them in the oven till they are soft and lightly brown on the edges. Ina Garten sautes them and adds sugar but I think when you roast them in the oven, you don’t need to add sugar because they are slightly carmelized anyway.

4. Add capers into the peppers. Chop basil and add to peppers. Set aside.

5. Arrange slices of bruschetta on baking tray lined with foil. Top each one with spoonful of pepper mixture. Crumble gorgonzola on top. Bake in the oven for  few minutes, serve warm.

bruschetta with peppers and gorgonzola

bruschetta with peppers and gorgonzola

Spiganarda with rosted vegetables

This one comes from Barefoot Contessa’s Parties book. Original recipe was with orzo pasta but my Italian shop run out of orzo so I decided to replace it with spiganarda. I also added olives instead of spring onions because I don’t like spring onions and I love olives.

1 aubergine

1 red, yellow and green pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed

250 grams of spiganarda pasta



olive oil

lemon juice


1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts

feta cheese diced

fresh basil chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C. Dice aubergine and peppers, toss them with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper on a large baking tray. Roast in the oven till they start turning brown, turning with the spatula a few times.

2.In the meantime cook pasta. Drain and transfer into a large bowl.

3. Add vegetables, pine nuts, basil, feta cheese and olives into the pasta. For the dressing mix lemon juice from one lemon with olive oil, salt and pepper, pour over the pasta.

Now, main dish. I’ve made it before for the halloween, but this time I changed my recipe a bit.

spiganarda with roasted vegetables

spiganarda with roasted vegetables

spiganarda with roasted vegetables


Pumpkin risotto

arborio rice

pumpkin or butternut squash




1/2 bottle of white wine (pinot grigio)

2 pints of vegetable stock

lemon zest from one lemon

olive oil

knob of butter

cup of grated parmesan

chopped shallots

minced garlic

1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Cut your pumpkin or butternut squash into cubes. Spread on the baking tray, sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast till they’re soft and start to get golden brown.

2. Warm 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan (the best to use is an ironcast one), add knob of butter. After the butter melts add shallots and fry them until they are soft and translusent. Add garlic and fry for two minutes. Then add arborio rice (1/2 cup for each person). Mix and let it fry for a while till coated with olive oil and warm.

3. Add a ladle of vegetable stock at the time. Cook on low heat (not too low, if it’s too low the rice grains will stay hard, if the heat is too high it will turn into mash) till rice absorbs the liquid. Keep adding stock and wine (wine needs to be room temperature, stock can be hot, you don’t want to stop the cooking process by adding cold stock).

4. Add few strings of saffron, salt and pepper.

5. Add roasted cubed pumpkin and zest of lemon. At the end add grated parmesan. Serve immediately.

pumpkin risotto

pumpkin risotto

pumpkin risotto

Halloween chocolate cupcakes with orange icing

The main inspiration for the batter came from…you guessed, Ina Garten again. This time from the book ‘Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That?’.

I changed few ingredients and the icing to make it more suitable for Halloween.

So here it is:

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

120 grams of usalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

pinch of salt

2 eggs, at room temperature

milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and pinch of salt.

3. In a seperate bowl combine buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla.

4. Beat the butter with sugar on a low speed for a minute, till fluffy and light. Add one egg at a time and beat until combined. Start adding dry ingredients and wet ingredients in 3 parts, mix on low speed till combined.

5. Add chocolate chips.

6. Scoop the butter into muffin cups, bake for 25- 30 minutes till a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

For the icing you will need:

120 grams of room temperature butter

120 grams of cream cheese (you can just use cream cheese if you prefer)

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 tablespoon orange extract

orange colouring (I couldn’t find it in any shops, so I mixed red and yellow)

1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and combine it well. Pipe it onto your cupcakes.

Couldn’t be easier!

halloween cupcakes

halloween cupcakes

halloween cupcakes

halloween cupcakes

halloween chocolate cupcake with orange icing

halloween chocolate cupcake with orange icing

And finally…

Coffee martini

1 part of strong coffee

1 part of tia maria

1 part of blood orange vodka

1. Mix with ice in a coctail shaker and serve in martini glasses

coffee martini

coffee martini

coffee martini

coffee martini


About potatofaces

People who cook always go on about precious memories of childhood food one of their family members cooked, how daddy or nanny taught them the importance of cooking and eating together, and they still remember the comfort food they produced, amazing dishes whipped up by brilliant but humble cooks in their family. Well, let me tell you, it was totally different in my family. My mother’s family – totally useless as cooks, who could survive on bread and butter, cooked once a week a terrible, terrible meal, usually some kind of meat piece with lots of brown sauce. Also, they were never bothered about eating together. That’s maybe why most of them were depressed and suicidal. My mother followed that path and couldn’t really cook, and because I never wanted to eat meat, was warning me that ‘one day I will regret it’. Probably because my mother wasn’t into cooking my sister at the age of 12 took over and started producing amazing dinners and cakes. Well, luckily for me and her we weren’t that genetically doomed because apparently my father’s family were gifted in that compartment. I can only presume it was genes, as my father divorced my mother when my sis and me were little and he strongly believed that he also divorced us. So, we were growing up never having any contact with him and as a result, couldn’t learn how to cook from him. That’s why I believe the love of cooking ( and the ability) was just passed to us genetically. My father, short time before he died, unexpectedly felt an urge to contact us. First he gave my sister a mandolin (that’s another thing I know about him- he played a few instruments). My sister refused to talk to him, he then decided to contact me and wanted to spend some time with me. I didn’t want to, as he was a stranger to me (I was 11 or 12 at the time) but as I was promised I could leave whenever I wanted to, I went to the village he lived in. There I tried his mother’s cooking everyone was raving about. It was simple and amazing, I wish they were as family dedicated as they were at baking, cooking, making pastries, wine, tinctures, you name it. But I ate, drunk, and got bored of strangers who were my family and demanded to be let to go home. One of the last things my father said to me was that I should start learning English because I might need it one day, which I ignored for another 16 years… Because my sister was such a domestic goddess I wasn’t really bothered about cooking. I got hooked properly after my son was born and I wanted him to eat healthy and get everything he needed, especially that it wasn’t his choice to be a vegetarian (yet). And that is how the story begins…

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