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
chocolate cupcakes with orange icing
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
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.
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 red, yellow and green pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
250 grams of spiganarda pasta
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.
pumpkin or butternut squash
1/2 bottle of white wine (pinot grigio)
2 pints of vegetable stock
lemon zest from one lemon
knob of butter
cup of grated parmesan
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.
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!
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