Hallowe'en Treats

Good Mood Food by Donal SkehanHallowe’en is coming up and the evenings are closing in nicely for the bonfire and sparklers – this month’s recipes are ideal for feeding family and friends the casual, hearty fare that you need when everyone is coming and going through the evening.

Tasty dishes – and a yummy way to use up the pumpkin flesh once you’ve hollowed it out. And we have some seriously spooky stuff that the kids can help with too – perfect for the mid-term break.

Minestrone Soup - Good Mood Food by Donal SkehanHearty Minestrone

This easy ‘meal in a soup bowl’ is from well known food blogger Donal Skehan’s excellent first book Good Mood Food (Mercier paperback, €19.99). Hailed by RTE as ‘Ireland’s answer to Jamie Oliver’, Donal’s enthusiasm for good, simple homecooked food is infectious - and this ‘perfect winter meal solution’ is typical of his healthy, down to earth approach.

Full of tasty vegetables, and filling thanks to the pasta, it would be just the job for feeding hungry folk at Hallowe’en. “I use wholewheat spaghetti, but feel tree to add other shapes like fusilli or pasta elbows instead,” says Donal “If you don't have any paprika, you can get a bit of spice by adding a dash of Tabasco sauce, or a good pinch of dried chilli flakes.”

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Hallowe’en has more traditional festive dishes associated with it than any other date in the Irish calendar – and Colcannon remains one of the most popular. Traditionally, at Hallowe’en, it should have a ring hidden in it – predicting marriage in the coming year for whoever finds it. The familiar old rhyme almost gives the recipe:

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream??
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.?
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make

Did you ever eat and eat, afraid
You’d let the ring go past,
And like some old married ‘sprissman’
Would get it at the last?

Colcannon has turned up on many a fancy restaurant menu recently, as a side dish, and it makes a lovely wholesome family dish served simply with really good sausages – especially at Hallowe’en.

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spiced pumpkin and apple pie by Brian Glover Cooking with Pumpkins & SquashSpiced pumpkin & apple pie

Once your pumpkin is hollowed out and lit up to spook the neighbourhood, you’ll have plenty of pumpkin flesh leftover – so why not try this recipe from Brian Glover’s great little book, Cooking with Pumpkins and Squash (Ryland Peters & Small, hardback, £9.99 in UK), with lovely photography Peter Cassidy. “This is not, I grant you, the usual pumpkin pie,” he says, “But much as I love the traditional version, I wanted to try something that had a lighter, slightly sharper flavour and adding a sour cooking apple did the trick.” Perfect for a crowd at Hallowe’en - serves 8–10

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