Trick or Treat?

Recipes

I felt strangely obliged to bake the treats for the trick or treaters this year instead of just picking up a pack of something at the shops. This was in part, due to the fact that I felt as a food writer I should make everything myself (one of many self inflicted pressures) but also the guilt I still feel for the year I completely forgot about it and had to resort to giving the kids unripe plums from the fruit bowl whilst fiercely crossing my fingers that the front of our house would escape a thorough egging!

The recipe I chose was this one for Sugar Cookies. It’s a great, basic biscuit recipe that makes a really large quantity from just 1 egg. The biscuits can be flavoured with nuts, fruit or chocolate chips before baking if you like and if you cut them out with fancy cookie cutters they hold their shape really well. Be warned, they are incredibly sweet so make sure you’ve got loads of people round to share them with.

Sugar Cookies

200 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
400 g plain flour

280 g caster sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1) Rub the flour and the butter together with your fingers until it all looks like fresh breadcrumbs.

2) Mix the egg and the sugar together in another in a bowl with a fork and when it is really well combined add it to the flour mixture.

3) Add all the other ingredients and knead together with your hands to form a smooth dough.

4) Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin until it is about ½ a centimetre thick. Cut into shapes.

5) Place your biscuits on a baking sheet lined with a piece of greaseproof paper/baking parchment and bake at 150° C for about 15 minutes (until they are lightly golden at the edges – keep an eye on them).

6) Let them cool in the tin for a few minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire rack.

7) Decorate with icing or sandwich together with butter-cream.

I decorated mine with plain and coloured icing then topped with spooky decorations. To make the spiders and creepy crawlies pipe small “v’s” onto a piece of tin foil using melted chocolate to make the legs and leave to set hard. Ice the biscuits and set aside until almost dry. Top with a jelly sweet for insects or a chocolate for spiders and carefully peel the chocolate legs off the tin foil and stick into the biscuit.

It felt like a continuous stream of knocks and shouts all evening. After a rough count up I think gave out about 50 biscuits (which I had not anticipated) so I had to keep running to the kitchen to ice and decorate more to satisfy the seemingly ravenous ghouls and ghosts at the door. I finally collapsed on the sofa with a glass of wine at about 9 o’clock and considered possible holiday destinations for next Hallowe’en!

 

The Revenger’s Tragedy

Events, Recipes

So while I was on holiday in Herefordshire over the Summer I got a text message from the associate director at the Leicester Curve Theatre, and good chum, Suba Das (check me out with my glamorous friends!) asking me to come up with a bespoke cocktail for his next production; The Revenger’s Tragedy.

Of course I said YES!!! I really need very little excuse to get out the cocktail shaker 😉

He put me in touch with his production team and designers and that’s when the brief started to take some serious (and rather restrictive) shape. They wanted:

  • A new cocktail recipe
  • Must be Edwardian in style
  • Needs an element of “theatre” or “process” to it (but not too much as it might not be served by professional mixologists)
  • Quick to prepare at the interval as all the customers could arrive at once
  • There’s no freezer on site so ice is a no, no

Right….

I went away, got slightly obsessed by trying to add grapefruit juice to many things, none of which worked.

Then, on a whim I turned my attention to the ingredients list from a bottle of fentiman’s rose lemonade. The packaging looks fairly Edwardian…ish and I checked in some of my more ancient cookery books that rose would have been used as a flavouring a century ago and it all seemed rather plausible. Rose lemonade is delicious and it inspired me to add ginger to the mix – as the ginger cuts through any soapiness you might get from the rose but equally the rose takes a little of the harshness from the ginger. I just hoped that I could make something similar (and obviously boozier!)

I was still keen on using the grapefruit juice simply because it was pink as I figured anything rose flavoured should be pink…except it really didn’t taste brilliant and I was still struggling to find anything theatrical apart from using a cocktail shaker, and that was out as it would have been too complicated. Aaagh!

CHAMBORD!!! of course. How could I forget this?! I’d been offered some in a glass of prosecco one Christmas and not only is it delicious but who could resist the perfume like bottle with gold band and sparkly cap – not me! Chambord (a black raspberry liqueur from France) luckily sinks nicely to the bottom of the glass to give a beautiful pink gradient – much better than the grapefruit juice and it worked really well with the rose! Success at last – it only took a month!

The Gloriana

It’s called The Gloriana after the murdered wife of the main character, the revenger, Vindice.

1 measure of Gin

1 tsp of Rosewater

4 measures of Ginger Beer

1/2 measure of Chambord (or other raspberry liqueur)

Make sure all the ingredients are chilled before making this or slide in a couple of ice cubes a the end.

1) Pour the Gin into the glass

2) Stir in the Rosewater

3) Add the Ginger Beer

4) Slowly add the Chambord – don’t stir, let it sink, Serve!

My cocktail is now on sale at the interval in a purpose built Edwardian style bar, complete with an Edwardian barmaid! You can purchase a Gloriana during performances of The Revenger’s Tragedy at Hoxton Hall (10th of October – 10th of November).

 

This play is pretty gruesome so it’s perfect for Halloween – grab a ticket here. Or if you can’t get to London you’ll just have to dig out those cocktail glasses and stir up a couple of Gloriana’s at home.

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