Darina Allen: How about some scarily delicious Halloween snacks and treats?

Darina Allen: How about some scarily delicious Halloween snacks and treats?

Wow, Halloween is back with a vengeance this year. Now that restrictions have eased, much of that pent up excitement can be channelled into Halloween celebrations and rowdy trick or treating.
I’ve come full circle, from memories of childhood Halloweens with neighbours recounting ghost spooky stories, scaring the living daylights out of us children with ‘true stories’ of banshees waiting in graveyards and haunted houses to resentment of corporate marketing and the commercialisation of Halloween on a par with Christmas.
But, I’ve decided to lighten up and enter into the spooky spirit with the enthusiastic help of my grandchildren. Who can resist the excitement of the little dotes who have been decorating their houses and planning their costumes for weeks, so I too have embraced the whacky bandwagon — while quietly doing my utmost to suggest riffs on delicious recipes with a spooky Halloween slant, so embrace your inner ghoul and let’s have a wild Halloween party.

Get the kids involved in decorating the house outrageously and the cooking too — so there is something for everyone to do.
Pumpkin carving is definitely a must-do, it keeps everyone happily amused for hours and the flesh can be used for a pumpkin soup. The giant pumpkins are principally grown for size. They are bred to have thin walls for easy carving. They are fun to carve but tend to have pale watery flesh with little flavour. You can use it for soup but you’ll need to use a really tasty stock and lots of herbs and spices to add flavour. Better still, choose a smaller pumpkin with deep orange flesh.

Pumpkin and squash seeds are edible so don’t bin the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a fantastic source of protein, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. The hulls tend to be tough so do your best to shell them first which can be quite a mission but I prefer to roast and crunch.

On a more sombre note, if you have lost loved ones this year, perhaps you might like to create an ofrenda — a family altar with lots of photos — nostalgic items and keepsakes to remember them by. Gather around and remember them joyfully, tell stories and eat some of their favourite foods as they do in Mexico on The Day of the Dead.

Vampire lemonade with vampire teeth ice cubes

recipe by:Darina Allen

This spooky drink is as delicious for grown-ups as it is for kids. Store the stock syrup in the fridge until needed. This quantity is enough for several batches of lemonade.


  • 4 ruby grapefruit

  • 600ml water

  • 350g sugar

  • 4 ruby grapefruit

  • 1.4 litres sparkling or still water

  • Vampire teeth ice cubes (freeze halved almonds in ice cubes with a drop of edible red food colouring).


  1. Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool.

  2. Juice the fruit and mix with the stock syrup, add water to taste. Add ice, garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm and serve.

Green slime with nachos

recipe by:Darina Allen

Start Halloween off with a nutritious snack, like this green slime


  • 16 warm tortillas, 2 ½ inch (6cm) approx

  • 450g (1lb) podded fresh or frozen peas

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 2 tbsp  fresh coriander, finely chopped

  • ½ fresh chilli, finely chopped (seeds removed)

  • ¼ tsp freshly ground cumin

  • ½ tsp ground coriander

  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped

  • ½ tsp salt, approx. and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cook the peas in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. Refresh under cold water and drain. Whizz the olive oil with the lime juice, coriander and chilli in a food processor, blend for 1 minute.

  2. Add the peas, cumin, coriander, parsley and about ½ teaspoon of salt and blend until smooth and slimy. Taste, correct the seasoning, put into a bowl and cover until needed.

  3. Serve with tortilla chips or nachos.

Spooky ghosts

recipe by:Darina Allen

Soft squishy ghosts ideal for trick or treaters

Total Time

1 hours 20 mins


  • For the meringue:

  • 120g egg whites

  • pinch of cream of tartar (optional)

  • 180g  caster sugar

  • Plus: orange, green, red and black gel food dyes (or use your favourite colours) edible glue (or a paste made of icing sugar and water) edible eyes and sprinkles


  1. Add the egg white into a bowl of a food-processor. Mix on a high speed until you have soft peaks, whisk in the cream of tartar, then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking for about 30 seconds to a minute after each addition. It is important to add the sugar very slowly so that it all dissolves.

  2. When all the sugar has incorporated (the mixture should feel smooth between your fingers), divide the meringue between different bowls depending on how many colours you want to make. Stir the gel food dye into each bowl until evenly distributed.

  3. For the ghosts, fill a piping bag with white meringue (you can use other colours, too), cut a medium tip and pipe meringue kisses. You can also use your fingers to pinch the sides to create little arms, or pipe on little arms. For the tall ghosts with a rippled effect, alternate between squeezing and stopping squeezing your piping bag while working your way upwards. Play about with other shapes and effects.

  4. Bake for 45-60 minutes at 120˚C (100˚C Fan)/250˚F/Gas Mark 1/2 for meringues that are gooey in the centre. For completely crisp and dry meringues, bake for 1 1/2 hours and then switch off the oven and leave the oven door closed for a few hours and allow to cool.

  5. To decorate, use red gel food dye for blood (you can thin this with a little water) and black gel food dye for other details. Use edible glue to stick on edible eyes and sprinkles (e.g. bones).


Book of the Week

How does Jamie do it? His latest book Together: Memorable Meals Made Easy has just arrived on my desk. This book is full of easy recipes that he loves to cook for his family and friends. ‘This is about giving you an excuse to get people you love together again around the table’. Published by Michael Joseph (Penguin Random House UK)

We can all make a difference.

I’m sure you too have heard the alerts that the electricity grid will be stretched to capacity with power shortages this winter. We can all make a difference by becoming more aware of turning off cookers and ovens immediately after use and flicking off lights in our homes, offices and businesses at night. A little gesture that can make a considerable contribution. Teach the kids to be aware too, turn off the lights.

Order your turkey early…

It’s time to get your order in for a beautiful organic, free-range turkey or a plump goose.

A few suggestions:

Sheena O’Sullivan – Ballymacoda Organic Fa

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