Roberta’s Recipes: Halloween Punch and pumpkin soup

It’s here again, dear friends, this grand day of Halloween, the only one in my opinion that can compete with the thrills of New Year’s Eve – and that is, of course, because it IS the original Celtic New Year’s Eve; Winter’s Eve, Noson Calan Gaeaf, as we recently learned in my Welsh course.

We’ve, as always, decorated the flat with our selection of Jack o’Lanterns, skeletons and ghosties that had been waiting all year in their suitcase to come out on this night of souls; we’ve found ourselves some stylish disguises, and we’ve also done a big shop for our buffet, and since we haven’t used our punch bowl in a while, we’re doing a Halloween punch tonight to get us in the mood.

I had a look online and found several punches especially for this day, and I decided to take bits and pieces from here and there and create my own recipe. Feel free to use your own imagination, too, dear friends, and create your own special Halloween punch!

My ingredients are:

500ml Ribena (blackcurrant juice), 150ml grenadine, 100ml lime juice, 350ml white rum, 750ml sparkling rosé, 2-3 drops red food colouring, 200g blueberries, 200g raspberries

As usual, the procedure is very simple: pour all the liquids into the punch bowl, add the fruits and lots of ice cubes and stir with the big ladle – ready! A sweet, blood red delight…

Also, I’ve tried my hand at making a pumpkin soup this year for the first time – you’ve got to have something with pumpkin in it on Halloween, haven’t you? It’s not difficult, either, and it’s a warm, delicious treat for a stormy Halloween evening.

Ingredients for 4 (you can always put the rest in the freezer if you’re less than 4, and have it on some other cold night):

1-1 ½ kg pumpkin or squash, 2 onions, 200ml double cream, 1 vegetable stock cube, 50-100g croutons, salt, pepper, olive oil

Cut the pumpkin into 4 pieces, remove the seeds (don’t throw them out, though, save them in a bowl!), brush the inner parts with olive oil, put the pieces on a baking tray and roast them for 30 minutes at 180°. Let them cool down a while, then peel them and cut the flesh into chunks of 2-3cm; leave them on a plate.

Finely chop the onions and fry them in a pot with olive oil for 3-4 minutes, then add the pumpkin chunks and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add 1l water, bring to the boil, add the stock cube, salt and pepper, cook for another 20-25 minutes. Take the pot off the hub and let it cool down for a few minutes.

Pour the mixture into a blender, add the cream and blend until smooth; put it back into the pot and heat it up again. Serve with croutons and a handful of pumpkin seeds that you’ve fried in a pan for a few minutes to make them crispy. If you haven’t got any croutons, you can make them yourselves: cut 4 slices of bread (preferably seeded) into squares of 1-1 ½ cm and fry them in olive oil with some pumpkin seeds until crisp.

The party wouldn’t be complete without the buffet, though; I think the best thing for this special day is a mix of snacks you can get frozen from the supermarket, like sticky skewers, cheese bites, corn dogs, breaded king prawns and French fries. Easy to do, tasty and able to feed any amount of party guests from two to two dozen!

And, of course, don’t forget to put lots of sweets, crisps and popcorn in various strange receptacles. Also, get some Halloween activity and crafts sets, they’ll give you something to do and a lot of joy, no matter whether you’ve got kids in the house or not!

Happy Halloween, everybody – noson calan gaeaf hapus, oíche shamhna shona daoibh!

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