By Catharine Kaufman
This week marks my 10th anniversary as your Kitchen Shrink. How fitting to celebrate with Halloween’s good and plenty offerings of sassy spirits.
Even though All Hallows’ Eve (an ancient Catholic custom) has swelled into a $3 billion-a-year trick-or-treating candy extravaganza, big kids can have a blast, too. Jet-black beluga and belinis washed down with Jack-o’-Lantern martinis will get things movin’ and shakin’. Valet park your broomstick at these local hot spots for a scary soiree or throw your own bloodcurdling bash at home with these spine-tingling spirits.
•Searsucker in the Gaslamp District will be serving up some bone-chilling beverages like The Femur Shot. Steer bones are cleaned, boiled and filled with an invigorating blend of coconut, lime and vodka, then sucked, marrow-style.
• The Smashing Pumpkin that gained its fame on The Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” is a popular refresher at trendy watering holes like downtown’s Grant Grill.
This glorious gourd libation mixes up pumpkin and star anise infused 10 Cane Rum, Grand Marnier, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, aromatic saffron syrup, cardamom bitters and a squirt of sweet and tangy Meyer lemon.
• For a slurp of liquid pumpkin pie with a buzz check out Pacific Beach’s Thrusters. The Pumpkin Pie Cocktail is a scrumptious blend of pumpkin spice beer, vanilla bean infused vodka, Frangelico hazelnut liquor, fresh whipped cream with a garnish of cinnamon shavings, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla bean.
•Get jacked up at Beaumont’s Eatery in Bird Rock with the Jack-o’-Lantern Cocktail blending (what else?) Jack Daniels, pumpkin spice liquor, fresh mandarin and a dusting of cinnamon with a floating eyeball garnish.
•For a smorgasbord of eerie spirits, downtown’s Whiskey Girl offers a howling good chocolate martini Wolfman, a monster blue Curacao-pineapple cream Frankenstein, and the bloodthirsty Dracula of ruby red grenadine, cream and rumplemintz.
•Spooky whistle-wetter’s from downtown’s newest taproom, The Commons, include The Black Widow, a biting blend of killer vodka, gin and rum with Blackberry and Blue Curacao liqueurs, sweet and sour and cranberry juice, The Mummy, sure to wake the dead with sweet and dry vermouths, orange juice, gin and Grand Marnier along with The Green Goblin, a riff on the screwdriver.
•Whip up some fun and funky Halloween eats to complement these spirits. Try turkey or chicken sliders with orange heirloom tomatoes and “clotted blood” dipping sauce, blending ketchup, currant jelly, French dressing and a splash of hot stuff.
•Arrange a gruesome antipasto platter with mozzarella “eyeballs” decorated with pimento-stuffed green olives sliced in half and skewered in the cheese balls with toothpicks to resemble orbs, roasted sweet orange peppers, cured black olives and salami “fingers.”
• Dress up pizza pies with “skull and crossbones” of black and orange caviar or red peppers and black olives.
•Try an intoxicating seafood cocktail swimming in a Bloody Mary sauce.
•Spooked out in the kitchen and suffering from Mageirocophobia (fear of cooking)? Check out Chef Paul McCabe’s five-course creepy cuisine dinner at Rancho Santa Fe’s Delicias. For starters you can crunch on his Chili-Lime Cricket Salad. It features compressed melon, heirloom tomato, cucumber, and the grasshopper’s cousin tossed in a honey-lime vinaigrette.
• Finally, for your just desserts bake a pan of fudgy, nutty bat brownies, witches hats made with sugar ice cream cones dipped in super-dark chocolate, along with blood orange and black licorice sorbets.
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To Die for Pumpkin Dip
1 pumpkin, 5-7 pounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 French baguette, cut in 1/2 inch slices
4 ounces Swiss cheese, coarsely grated
2 ounces Mozzarella, coarsely grated
2 ounces Gruyère, coarsely grated
1 pint half-and-half cream
Sea salt, black or cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut a 2-inch slice off the top of the pumpkin and set aside. Clean inside of the pumpkin removing seeds and stringy fibers. Place pumpkin in a large roasting pan. Blend olive oil and garlic, and rub the inside of the pumpkin with the mixture. Fill the pumpkin with alternate layers of the bread and cheese.
In a small mixing bowl combine cream and spices. Pour on top of the layers. Place lid on the pumpkin and bake for about 2 hours, stirring once or twice.
The skin will become glossy and golden. Let cool slightly before serving with French bread chunks, raw vegetables and chips for dipping.