Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hallowe'en Menus

I can remember the last time I went to a Hallowe'en party, hosted by Hallowe'en aficionados and self-professed foodies. I have to say that the food was completely dreadful. The dry-ice punch and the cupcakes decorated with tombstones had little imagination or impact. I'm sorry, but give me real food any day.

Buy at
Vintage Candy, Ouray, Colorado, USA
Julian McRoberts

Fortunately, there's no dearth of imaginative ways to celebrate Hallowe'en where food is concerned. But if you're going to invite people to dinner, and go beyond the typical orange and black menu, let's think about what Hallowe'en really is about: fear. And here is where your creativity and imagination come in. Cook something that scares you, and preferably, scares a lot of people. Take risks. Experiment with unfamiliar spices. Try emulsions, foams, or gels. Spin or mold sugar. Make a soufflé. You don't have to go completely Modernist Cuisine on your kitchen, but you can certainly take a few risks!

So take a deep breath, jump in, and get ready to make a mistake or two. Or five. And warn your guests they might be eating Chinese takeout at the last minute!


Soufflés, although they take a lot of work, are a great way to impress dinner guests. Some of it can be made up in advance and so your last-minute work can be eased a bit. Alternatively, if you don't mind an audience, you can start the soufflé while your guests are eating their appetizers.

Buy at
Quark Souffle, Served in a Cup
Herbert Lehmann

6 eggs
2T flour
2T butter
3/4 c hot milk
Flavourings (2 cups)
Large soufflé dish
paper to make collar
Double boiler
Rubber spatulas
Pastry Brush

  1. Decide what kind of soufflé you would like. They fall basically into sweet and savoury kinds, so it could be a cheese soufflé with spinach and bacon, or a spicy nacho soufflé, or a dessert soufflé such as chocolate or fruit. In any case, get your flavourings together.

  2. Now, make a roux with the flour and butter over the double boiler. Keep stirring the flour and butter together until it the butter melts and the flour begins to cook. The flour should be at least a golden-brown colour or darker.

  3. Separate the eggs. Reserve one egg yolk.

  4. Measure out your flavourings. Whatever you choose, it should equal two cups. If you wish to add some alcohol, anything from applejack to vodka, mix it in now with the flavourings. Some ideas might be au gratin potato; spinach, cheese and bacon; chicken chili; taco meat and cheese topped with salsa; beef bourgignon; chicken, asiago cheese and white wine. For dessert, try any fruit with a matching liqueur; peanut butter and jelly; or you can't go wrong with chocolate and a matching liqueur (rum, brandy, etc.).

  5. Beat together egg yolks and flavourings. Set everything aside. If it's a sweet soufflé, add 2T sugar to the egg yolks.

  6. Grease your soufflé dish. Add the paper collar and make sure it stands up 2"-3" above the edge of your dish.

  7. Preheat your oven to between 350 and 375 F. Savoury ingredients can take a little more heat.

  8. Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks (if you have very stiff peaks, your soufflé will still taste great, but it will be pretty durable).

  9. Heat milk. Mix with your roux and when you have a smooth sauce, mix it into your flavourings.

  10. Fold flavourings into egg whites.

  11. Pour gently into soufflé dish.

  12. Gently move soufflé dish into oven. Turn on the light if you wish to monitor it but do not open the door or make any loud noises.

  13. Let cook 20-25 minutes. The soufflé will rise above the top of the dish but don't worry, the paper collar will hold it in place.

  14. About 8 minutes before the soufflé is done, beat up the remaining egg yolk with a little water. Gently open the oven door. Brush the top of the soufflé gently with the egg wash, being careful not to press down on the surface. If it's a sweet soufflé, you can gently sprinkle sugar over the top and turn on the broiler.

  15. To test if your soufflé is done, wiggle it gently. It should be firm towards the edges, with a soft center.

  16. When your soufflé is done, remove gently from oven. Tug on the paper collar and it will slide out. Top if desired and serve.

  • Don't be afraid to turn your favourite foods into a soufflé. I've even had potato salad soufflé!
  • For more fun, get small ovenproof bowls with vertical sides and make individual soufflés.
  • Experiment with edible collars--phyllo dough, tortillas, piecrust dough.
  • Don't worry if your soufflé falls, or doesn't rise--it will still taste great!
Ready to try this but need something first? Try searching for soufflé recipes or equipment on Amazon.