By Marilynn Marter
Knight Ridder Newspapers
PHILADELPHIA - Imagination and creativity in food as well as in decorations and costumes are key to the success of a Halloween bash.
Consider succulent "eyeballs" of cherry-stuffed litchis as a stunning garnish for cocktails. Or add a wine-enriched red beet "blood" sauce to a harvest entree of roast chicken, sausage and root vegetables that is both tasty and colorful. Serve it on a "stake" if you're smitten with vampires.
These and other eerie offerings are the tricks up celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse's sleeve on "Emeril Kicks Up Halloween," an episode of his "Emeril Live" series that was taped at Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary in July.
Lagasse, adding a "Boo" or two to his famed "Bam" mantra, presents the spooky recipes with three other Food Network hosts and an array of ghouls, goblins and creepy props from the prison's annual Halloween tour, Terror Behind the Walls.
Eastern State opened in 1829 as part of a controversial movement to modify inmate behavior through solitary confinement and labor.
Willie Sutton, famously quoted as saying that he robbed banks because "that's where the money is," was among its most infamous inmates. The prison closed in 1971.
Lagasse's production team transformed the rotunda, from which the dark and dank cell blocks radiate like the spokes of a wheel, into a combination of a mad scientist's laboratory and Party Central for the creepy-costumed cast.
On the show, a Savannah-style Sea Creature Stew with whole shrimp, crabs, lobsters, clams, mussels, squid and more is prepared by Southern food expert Paula Deen ("Paula's Home Cooking"), dolled up as a green-skinned witch.
Rachael Ray ("30-Minute Meals") prepares a mummy-shaped cheese dip. And "carpenter/handyman" Marc Summers ("Unwrapped") unwraps a trick-or-treat stash to assemble a candy-studded haunted-house centerpiece.
Whether using these recipes or creating your own, why not enhance the Halloween festivities by including some public holiday event in your plans? Invite friends, and start or continue the celebration with appetizers and cocktails or with dinner or dessert at your home.
Make it a progressive party with courses at different homes in the neighborhood and some trick-or-treating along the way.
"Emeril Live": Emeril Kicks Up Halloween
8 p.m. Oct. 31, 3 p.m. Nov. 1, 4 p.m. Nov. 2 (all times ET)
VAMPIRE CHICKEN WITH 'BLOOD' BRAISE
Makes 10 servings
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons Emeril's Original Essence (see note)
1 (4-pound) chicken (giblets removed), rinsed well
3 pounds hot Italian sausage links (attached, if possible)
1 pint pearl onions, peeled
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
1 cup crimini mushrooms, cleaned
1 cup oyster mushrooms, cleaned
1 pound baby carrots (tops trimmed), peeled
1 bunch red baby beets, tops trimmed
1 whole head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
2 cups red wine
¾ cup canned beet juice
½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove one oven rack and place the other on the oven's lowest shelf.
2. Mix the butter and Emeril's Original Essence to form a paste. Rub paste over chicken and under the skin of the breast; set aside.
3. Place a large roasting pan over 2 stove burners at medium-high heat. Lightly coat the pan with olive oil. When oil is hot, add the sausage coil. Brown both sides, 3 minutes per side; remove pan from heat. Make room at the center of the sausage coil for a vertical roasting rack and chicken.
4. Set the chicken on the rack. Arrange the onions, mushrooms, carrots, baby beets and garlic around the sausage. Scatter rosemary and thyme sprigs on top of vegetables. Drizzle vegetables and herbs with olive oil.
5. Roast until chicken and sausage are cooked through, about 1 hour. (Check after 30 minutes to be sure there is enough liquid in the pan. If pan is dry, add a little water.)
6. As the chicken cooks, in a saucepan mix the red wine, beet juice, cream and mustard. Reduce by half over high heat, about 15 minutes. Stir in the thyme and season with the salt and pepper.
7. Remove chicken, still on the rack, to the center of a large platter. Push a wooden "stake" (a whittled paint stirrer or chopstick) into the chicken. Surround chicken with sausage, garlic and vegetables, and garnish with the rosemary and thyme sprigs. Ladle the sauce into a goblet or gravy boat, and serve with chicken.
Note: Emeril's Original Essence spice blend is sold in supermarkets. To make a facsimile at home, mix 5 tablespoons sweet paprika, ¼ cup each salt and garlic powder, and 2 tablespoons each dried oregano, thyme, cayenne, onion powder, and freshly ground pepper. Store in an airtight container in your spice cabinet for up to 3 months. Makes about 1½ cups.
Per serving: 850 calories, 60 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams sugar, 61 grams fat, 288 milligrams cholesterol, 1,522 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.
SEA CREATURE SOUP WITH SLIME AIOLI
Makes 16 servings
1 ½ pounds smoked chorizo sausage, cut into ¼-inch rounds
4 medium onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
2 small heads fennel, halved and thinly sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cups dry white wine
4 (14-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in puree or juice, undrained
2 gallons fish stock (see note)
4 (1-pound) lobsters, quartered, or 4 pounds frozen lobster tails, defrosted
2 pounds blue crabs, halved
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
2 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
2 pounds shrimp (with heads)
2 pounds squid, cleaned
1 pint shucked oysters with liquor
¼ cup chopped parsley leaves
Slime aioli (see note)
16 slices toasted French bread (optional)
1. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Add the chorizo and cook until some fat is rendered and chorizo starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel. Cook until onions begin to brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper.
2. Add the wine. Cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until wine is reduced by one-fourth, about 10 minutes.
3. Break up the tomatoes and add them and their juices to the pot. Add the fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
4. Raise heat to high. Add the lobsters and crabs. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the mussels and clams; cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, squid and oysters. Cook, covered, until mussels and clams open and shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Ladle soup and seafood into bowls. Garnish with the parsley. Spoon a little aioli on each serving or spread aioli on toasted French bread and serve with the soup.
Note: Fish stock can be made at home or bought at some specialty markets. Low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock may be substituted.
To make slime aioli: In a food processor, puree 2 egg yolks, 1 clove garlic, the juice of half a lemon, ½ cup basil leaves, a pinch of cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil until mixture is thick and blended. If desired, thin with more lemon juice.
Per serving: 818 calories, 89 grams protein, 34 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams sugar, 31 grams fat, 449 milligrams cholesterol, 2,386 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.
SPELLBINDERS' PUNCH WITH DEVIL'S EYEBALLS
Makes about 20 (1-cup) servings
For the punch:
¼ cup blue curacao liqueur
¾ cup Galliano liqueur
1½ cups coconut rum
2 quarts pineapple juice
2 quarts seltzer water
Spooky ice cubes (see note)
For the devil's eyeballs:
20 maraschino cherries
20 chocolate chips (white or dark chocolate)
20 pitted litchi nuts
1. Prepare the punch: Mix the curacao, Galliano, coconut rum, pineapple juice and seltzer in a large glass bowl. Add the spooky ice cubes; mix well.
2. Make the devil's eyeballs: Remove stems from the cherries. Insert a chocolate chip "pupil," point side in, into the stem end of each cherry. Stuff a cherry into each litchi.
3. Ladle punch into glasses or laboratory beakers. Garnish with spooky ice cubes and devil's eyeballs.
Note: For spooky ice cubes, tint water with food coloring and freeze in novelty ice cube trays with a Halloween theme.
Per serving (with 1 devil's eyeball): 139 calories, 0.4 gram protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams sugar, 0.3 gram fat, no cholesterol, 23 milligrams sodium, 0.3 gram dietary fiber.
© 2003, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.