Lets start off with the Halloween cookies that I saw online that I thought would be fun to make. These were from Betty Crocker herself. I am NO baker let alone Betty Crocker and this should have been my first warning.
Oh easy! You just take packaged sugar cookie mix and mix part with orange food coloring (have you ever tried mixing in food coloring to sugar cookie dough? NOT EASY). You then mix part with melted chocolate...
You then cut it in strips and make wedges and bake.
Yeah, notice the cookie on the right.
I am not real patient when it comes to what it takes to be a baker.
And there you have it. Scary enough for Halloween but not looking like Candy Corn.
So, at the same time I was activating my starter for injera.
Guess it was active.
Lets move away from the baking and get into cooking. I hate sweets anyhow. Oh, I love lemonheads and chocolate covered cherries that really are covered in carnuba wax and not chocolate but I digress.
Meantime it was time to cook the corned venison that we had started a week earlier. I got this recipe from Hank Shaw who is really an amazing guy. This corned venison is really good. We gifted some to our neighbor who had given us the venison in the first place. It was a winner with him too.
It has been tradition that on Halloween I make Pumpkin and Shrimp Bisque. The only tedious part is using the fresh pumpkin. I have always used fresh pumpkin so I don't know what canned would taste like. You could also use butternut squash instead of pumpkin.
Sugar Pumpkins are roasted and then cooled.
All the pumpkin guts are then pureed in a blender (I would use a food processor instead).
I then put it into a chinois (you can use a strainer lined with cheesecloth or coffee filters). It is then left overnight (I did it for the day) in the refrig.
It then comes out a smooth puree. It is wonderful.
Shrimp are peeled and the shells are reserved to make a stock.
Shells are toasted and then simmered in wine.
A little saffron is added. I got to use the saffron that my kids brought me back from Spain. I love it!
All the solids are discarded from the liquid and then pumpkin and other ingredients are added.
In a separate pan shrimp is cooked. We add the shrimp to the soup and it is done.
Great Halloween dinner.
Pumpkin and Shrimp Bisque
Adapted from THE HERBFARM COOKBOOK by Jerry Traunfeld
1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups homemade or canned low-sodium chicken stock
Pinch saffron threads (about 24)
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion (about 8 ounces), coarsely chopped
4 fresh bay laurel leaves, torn, or 2 dried
3 3-inch springs fresh sage
2 cups pumpkin purée, fresh or canned (see note for fresh)
1/2 cup heavy cream
About 3/4 teaspoon salt, less if using canned stock
Scant 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
1. Shrimp stock: Peel and devein shrimp, reserving the shells. Cover the shrimp and refrigerate. Heat the olive oil in a medium (3-quart) heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add the shrimp shells to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until they turn deep orange and are just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. This step—pan roasting the shells—gives the stock much of its flavor, so take the time to do it carefully. The roasted shells should release a concentrated, toasty, shrimp aroma that will fill your kitchen. Add the wine to the pan, first turning off gas flames to prevent the alcohol from igniting, then boil it over medium heat until all the liquid is evaporated. Add the chicken stock, saffron, celery, onion, bay leaves, and sage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Partially cover the pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pushing down on the solids with the back of a spoon to extract all the liquid. Rinse out the saucepan and pour the stock back into it.
2. Soup: Whisk the pumpkin, cream, salt (omit if using canned stock), and cayenne into the shrimp stock. Bring the soup to a simmer, then cook very gently uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, taste, and season with black pepper and more salt if needed. (The soup can be made up to this point up to 1 day ahead store covered in the refrigerator. Keep the peeled shrimp in a resealable bag buried in a bowl of ice in the refrigerator.)
3. Finishing the soup: Pour the olive oil into a large sauté pan placed over medium heat. When hot, add the reserved shrimp and sage and cook, tossing often, until the shrimp is just cooked through, pink, and no longer translucent, but not curled into a circle, 2 to 3 minutes. They should still have a tender snap when you bite into them. Arrange the shrimp in warmed serving bowls or a tureen. Bring the soup back to a simmer and then ladle it over the shrimp. Serve right away.
NOTE: How to make Fresh Pumpkin Puree
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Brush flesh sides of pumpkin wedges with butter. Arrange, flesh side down, in a large roasting pan and cover pan tightly with foil. Bake, turning pieces after 1 hour, until flesh is very tender when pierced with a fork, about 2 hours. Remove foil and cool pumpkin in pan until it can be handled.
3. Discard any liquid that may have accumulated and scoop out pumpkin flesh, then purée pulp in batches in a food processor. Transfer to a large sieve or colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a large bowl. Drain purée, chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap, 8 hours or overnight.