Friday, 3 October 2008

Recipes for Occasions

With Halloween just around the corner I want to talk to your about various occasions. For the next three months we have Halloween, Thanksgiving (Bonfire Night if you're in the UK) and Christmas (or the Winter Solstice) and of course New Year all just around the corner.

Now is the time for thinking about Halloween (and you can learn much more about the Origins, History, traditions and Recipes of Halloween).

Contrary to popular belief, Halloween is not an American festival. It actually has its roots deep in the Celtic past but it was made into a Christian festival in the 9th century when the day became merged with All Saints' Day (All Hallows Day in Old English, and the night before was All Hallows' Eve which became truncated to Hallowe'en and Halloween). As a result there are traditions and recipes associated with Halloween right across the British Isles and here are links to some traditional recipes from England:

soul cakes
toffee apples
Apple Tart with Herb Bennet
Apple Pie

In Ireland, Halloween was traditionally a day of abstinence and no meat was eaten. As a result recipes featuring potatoes were the mainstay. A good example being Northern Ireland's Champ, the recipe for which is given below:

Champ Recipe

900g potatoes, peeled and halved
240ml milk
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
60g butter
1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper, or to taste


Add the potatoes to a pan and just cover with water. Bring to a boil and allow to cook until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain in a colander then return to the pan and cook for a few minutes so the potatoes have a chance to drain.

Meanwhile add the milk and spring onions to a pan and heat gently until just warm. Take the potatoes off the heat and mash with the butter, salt and black pepper until smooth. Stir-in the milk mixture and beat until evenly combined. Season with black pepper and serve in warmed bowls. This also makes an excellent accompaniment to good quality sausages.

Below you will find links to other traditional Irish Halloween recipes.

boxty pancakes
potato farls
apple and potato fadge
barm brack

You might also be interested to know that the Jack O'Lantern, the practice of carving lanterns from vegetables and illuminating them with candles is also a an Irish tradition (though swedes and turnips were used instead of pumpkins [which originate from the Americas]).

These days, however it's the pumpkin that's most closely related with Halloween and no Halloween meal is complete without a pumpkin recipe or two. In fact, the pumpkin is very versatile and can be used for a whole host of both sweet and savoury dishes. Though the dish everyone immediately thinks of is the 'Pumpkin Pie'. Here, however is a slight twist on that classic recipe:

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie Recipe

enough sweet shortcrust pastry for a 22cm pie dish (about 250g)
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
50g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
generous pinch of salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend
300g cooked pumpkin purée (steam the pumpkin until tender, drain in a colander and mash or purée)
100g sugar
2 eggs, beaten
250ml evaporated milk


First prepare the cheese mix. Add the cream cheese to a bowl and beat until creamy then add the 50g sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy then add the egg.

Roll out the pastry until large enough to cover the base of a deep 22cm pie dish. Trim any excess then spread the cheese mixture in the base of the pastry shell.

Combine the pumpkin, remaining sugar, salt and spices. Blend until smooth then add the eggs and evaporated milk. Mix until smooth then pour the mixture into the pie shell. Place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for about 60 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling has stet. Allow to cool completely before cutting into wedges and serving.

(This recipe was adapted from the Celtnet Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie Recipe page.

For more pumpkin-associated recipes from all across the globe check out this list of pumpkin-based recipes.

These recipes are brought to you with the Celtnet Recipes for Special Occasions recipes.


In this post I'm also going to bring your attention to a new website by a colleague of mine: Foodmad Recipes and she promises to bring you new and surprising recipes from across the globe.

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