Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Bloody Eyeball Chocolate Truffles

     Bloody Eyeball Chocolate Truffles
     Plain chocolate candy eyeballs are easy to make.  Today's recipe goes a few steps further.  Tempered crisp white chocolate coats a classic brandy dark chocolate ganache truffle center!  White chocolate was tinted to create the black, blue and red color detailed highlights on each bloody eyeballs.
     There is nothing tricky about today's recipe.  An accurate digital candy thermometer or a digital probe thermometer is required for tempering chocolate.  This is because the temperatures for tempering white chocolate fall into a narrow range.      
     Tempering is different than simply melting chocolate and the result is easy to notice.  When chocolate is heated to a melting temperature, the coconut oil is displaced.  When melted chocolate is cooled, it will be semi hard and the finish will have a dull luster.  This is because the oil (cocoa butter) was not recombined with the cocoa.  Candy made with cooled melted chocolate will easily melt when handled with fingers.  A snap sound will not be heard when the piece of cooled chocolate is broken, because the texture is too soft.    
     The characteristics of tempered chocolate are the opposite.  Tempering involves melting chocolate at a specific temperature, then constantly stirring the melted chocolate till it cools to a specific temperature.  This way, the cocoa butter recombines with the cocoa.  After the tempered chocolate cools and solidifies, the chocolate candy will be shiny and hard.  Cooled tempered chocolate candy is hard enough to hear a snap sound when it is broken in half.    
     Ganache also is easy to make!  Chocolate ganache can be flavored and a classic choice is brandy.  Ganache can have a variety of textures, depending on the cream proportion and the amount of time that the ganache is mixed.  For truffles, a firm stiff ganache that is minimally mixed is best.
     Plastic chocolate candy molds were used to make the chocolate truffles.  Thin plastic candy molds are safe to use with tempered chocolate, because the temperature of the chocolate is low.  Plastic Bloody Eyeball Chocolate Candy Molds can be found in craft stores and specialty shops during the Halloween season.  These chocolate molds can also be found at internet shopping websites, like Amazon.
     The assembly of the bloody eyeballs must be done in stages, so this recipe does take some time to make.  The white chocolate shell has to be hardened in the mold, then the ganache filling is set in place.  More white chocolate seals the ganache filling in the candy.  To do this, the candy project must be chilled between each step.  
     Tinting small amounts of white chocolate with liquid food color can be tricky.  Water is the enemy of chocolate, so concentrated food dyes are best.
     The black chocolate pupil and blue chocolate iris are applied directly in the mold.  Painting the red tinted bloodshot eyeball streaks on the raised highlights can be done by dipping the tip of a chopstick in the warm tempered red tinted white chocolate and dragging the chopstick over the raised highlights.
     By the way, I used a hot knife to cut the one truffle open for display in the photos above.  Do not make the mistake of thinking that the white chocolate was soft!  The heated knife blade melted the chocolate truffle as it was sliced open.  A hot knife is the best way to cut tempered chocolate.  

     Tempered White Chocolate:
     This recipe yields more than enough to make 4 Bloody Eyeball Chocolate Truffles. 
     • For chocolate candy making, it is best to melt more chocolate than what is needed.  In fact, the more chocolate, the better.  It is easier to control the temperature of a large quantity of chocolate, than a small quantity.
     • The white chocolate is added to the double boiler in two stages.  A small proportion of white chocolate is added to the melted white chocolate just before the cooling and tempering process begins.   
     • An accurate digital candy thermometer or probe thermometer is necessary.  The exact temperatures are critical for white chocolate tempering!  
     • Do not allow the melted chocolate to come in contact with any liquid or water.  Water is the enemy of chocolate!
     • Any excess tempered chocolate can be cooled and stored.  The extra chocolate can be melted and reused at a later date.  One pound of white chocolate is tempered in this recipe.  
     Step 1:  Select a small pot and a small mixing bowl that can be used as a double boiler.
     Fill the pot half full with water.
     Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat and allow the water temperature to stabilize at the lower temperature.
     Step 2:  Place 11 ounces of chopped high quality white chocolate in the small mixing bowl.
     Set the mixing bowl on top of the pot of hot water.
     Clip a candy thermometer in place.
     Constantly gently stir the white chocolate as it melts with a small rubber spatula.
     Step 3:  Bring the melted white chocolate to a temperature of 110ºF.
     Immediately remove the mixing bowl from the heat.
     Add 5 ounces of finely chopped white chocolate, while gently stirring.
     Constantly gently stir till the chocolate reaches 84ºF.
     Step 4:  *The white chocolate is now tempered.  The tempered white chocolate now has to be heated a few degrees, so it can be applied.  Take care not to overheat the white chocolate or it will have to be tempered a second time. 
     Place the mixing bowl of tempered white chocolate back on the double boiler.
     Reheat the white chocolate for about 5 to 10 seconds, till it reaches exactly 87ºF.  (Do not allow the temperature to exceed 89ºF!)
     Step 5:  The white chocolate is now tempered and ready for use
     The white chocolate may have to be reheated to 87º a few times during the bloodshot eyeball candy assembly.  As long as the white chocolate temperature does not drop below 84º, it will not solidify, but it will have to be stirred occasionally.

     White Chocolate Truffle Shell:
     This recipe yields 4 bloody eyeball candies that weigh about 1 1/2 ounces apiece.
     The application of the tinted chocolate and white chocolate are done in stages.    
     Step 1:  Black Eyeball Pupils:  
     Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the warm tempered white chocolate in a small stainless steel ramekin.
     Add 2 drops of black food color, while stirring.
     Allow the chocolate to cool, till it becomes a putty consistency.
     Step 2:  Roll 4 tiny balls of the black colored chocolate, that are the size of a dried split pea.
     Press each ball in place where the pupils are in the bloody eyeball candy molds.
     Place the candy mold in a freezer for a few minutes, so the chocolate becomes solid.
     Step 3:  Blue Eyeball Iris:
     Mix 1 tablespoon of warm tempered white chocolate with 2 drops of blue food color in a stainless steel small ramekin.
     Step 4:  Remove the candy mold from the freezer.
     Spread the blue tinted white chocolate over the black pupil and fill the iris section of the candy mold.
     *Use a sterile piece of paper towel to wipe off any excess if necessary.
     Place the candy mold in the freezer, till the blue tinted chocolate becomes solid.
     Step 5:  White Eyeball: 
     Remove the candy mold from the freezer.
     Spread a thin layer of tempered white chocolate in each bloody eyeball mold.  The layer should be about 1/8" to 3/16" thick.
     *The entire white of the eyeball should be coated.  Any excess can be scooped out after the white chocolate starts to become firm, when it is chilled.
     Chill the candy mold till the chocolate becomes solid.

     Dark Chocolate Ganache Truffle Filling:
     This recipe yields enough dark chocolate truffle to make 4 eyeball candies, plus a few extra truffles.   
     • The chocolate ganache for truffles is rich and thick.  The ganache should be cooled to less than 78ºF, before it is rolled or shaped.
     • You will have to judge how much chocolate truffle filling will be needed for each white chocolate eyeball shell.  If you want to completely seal the dark chocolate truffle with white chocolate like I did, then only fill the shell, so a 1/8" empty space is left at the top.  Then tempered white chocolate can be spread over the dark truffle filling to completely seal the shell with hard white chocolate.
     • As an easy alternative, the dark truffle filling can completely fill the white chocolate shell and no white chocolate seal will be needed. 
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of cream in a sauce pot.
     Place the sauce pot over medium heat.
     Allow the cream to scald.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Step 2:  Add 1 ounce of brandy.
     Add 10 ounces of finely chopped Couverture Bittersweet Chocolate.
     Allow the mixture to stand undisturbed for 30 seconds.
     Step 3:  Stir as the chocolate melts, to create the ganache.
     Cool the mixture to 90ºF.
     Step 4:  Immediately add 1 1/2 ounces of soft unsalted butter, while stirring.
     Stir till the truffle ganache is thoroughly mixed.
     Allow the mixture to cool to 78ºF, so it becomes thick enough to be shaped.
     Step 5:  Place the chilled white chocolate bloody eyeball candy mold on a countertop.
     Press a small amount of the truffle ganache into each chilled white chocolate eyeball shell.  (About 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons.)
     Leave a 1/8" space on top of the truffle filling, if you want to seal the truffle filling with white chocolate.
      *An option is to completely fill the white chocolate eyeball candy shells with truffle, if you prefer to leave the eyeball candies unsealed.  Unsealed black truffle will necessitate covering the exposed truffle filling with fancy candy wrapper foil.
     Step 6:  Return the candy mold to the refrigerator and chill till the truffle filling becomes solid.
     *Any excess truffle ganache can be rolled into small ball shapes, then refrigerated till they become solid.  The chilled ganache balls can then be dredged in cocoa powder to create classic truffles.
     Sealing the Truffle Filling inside Bloody Eyeball Candies:
     If you chose to seal the truffle filling in the eyeball candies with the white chocolate, then follow these steps!
     Spread tempered white chocolate over the truffle filling to seal the bloody eyeballs.
     Freeze the candy mold till the chocolate becomes solid.
     Bloody Eyeball Vein Detailing Steps:
     Step 1:  Scrape off or cut off any excess chocolate flash that may surround each eyeball on the candy mold.
     Step 2:  Invert the candy mold onto a chilled plate and pop the chocolate candies out of each mold.
     Trim any flash off of the edges of the eyeballs.
     Freeze the eyeballs, till they become cold.
     Step 3:  Mix 2 drops of red food color with 1 tablespoon of tempered white chocolate in a stainless steel small ramekin.
     Step 4:  Place the plate of chilled bloody eyeballs on a countertop.
     Dip the tip of a chopstick in the red chocolate.
     Drag the red chocolate dipped chopstick tip over the raised veins on each eyeball, to paint the veins.
     *Use the tip of a pairing knife to scrape off any goof ups!
     Chill the finished Bloody Eyeball Chocolate Truffles till the red chocolate solidifies.

     Bloody Eyeball Chocolate Truffles:
     Keep the eyeballs chilled till they are needed.
     Allow the chocolate eyeballs to reach room temperature before serving.
     Present the Bloody Eyeball Chocolate Truffles on a small platter!

     Viola!  Bloody Eyeball Chocolate Truffles for Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Green Zombie Chili Mac

     Halloween Cuisine!
     Why go to a bar or restaurant on Halloween just to eat the same old chicken fingers that probably are nothing more than a cheap manufactured frozen product that is loaded with everything from growth hormones to preservatives that have a mile long name?  That is pretty scary!  Even worse, the chicken fingers are probably deep fried in a blend of vegetable oil and cottonseed oil.  Cottonseed oil is loaded with pesticides and saturated fat.  Now that is as scary as being chased by a herd of creepy clowns!
     Food is a scary subject in reality, but it does not have to be.  Being more selective about food choices is the first step.  By actively choosing organic Non-GMO food products, that are preferably locally sourced, a consumer supports a system of safe guilt free food.  That is not scary thought at all and this is the way things should be.
     Halloween party food is meant to be fun and entertaining.  Guests want to have a good time and they do not want to be distracted by unhealthy food issues.  The best way to please Halloween party guests in this modern age is to use healthy ingredients to make some appetizers and creepy looking food items.  Scary Halloween food should be guilt free healthy food! 
     Chili Mac is a scary topic of its own, especially when it is made with Chile Verde.  A mixture of Green Chile Sauce, Pork and Macaroni does look kind of gross, but it tastes great and it is a real crowd pleaser.  Gross food qualifies as Halloween food, so today's Green Zombie Chili Mac certainly is en vogue. 
     The ingredients for the recipe example in the photos were sourced at a local organic food market in Las Vegas.  Even the organic pork was drug and hormone free.  As mentioned before, Green Chili Mac always looks gross, but it tastes great and when it is made with organic ingredients, this creepy chili mac is quite healthy.            
     Fresh Nopales Preparation:
     This recipe yields 1 1/2 to 2 cups.  
     A trimmed Prickly Pear Cactus Paddle that is cut into strips is called Nopales in Mexico.  Canned Nopales can be used for this recipe, but fresh Prickly Pear Cactus Nopales are much better.
     *When trimming cactus paddles, wear thick heavy gauge rubber dishwasher gloves to protect the hands from the small cactus spines.  A sharp curved boning knife is best for shaving the patches of spines off of a cactus paddle.
     Step 1:  *About 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of fresh nopales strips are needed for the chili recipe.  
     Select 1 prickly pear cactus paddle that measures about 5" x 8".  
     Use a shallow escallop style shaving motion with the knife to cut through the cactus skin under each group of small cactus spines.  Try to retain as much of the cactus paddle skin as possible and try to only remove the spines.
     Step 2:  Slice the trimmed prickly pear cactus paddle into thin 1/4" wide strips.
     Step 3:  Blanch the nopales in boiling salted water for 1 minute or till they are cooked al dente.
     Step 4:  Use a pasta net to remove the nopales from the hot water.
     Place the nopales in a container of ice water.
     Step 5:  Drain off the water.
     Refrigerate the prepared nopales till they are needed.  
     Salsa Verde:
     This recipe yields 2 cups of salsa verde!
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of chopped tomatillos in a stainless steel sauce pot.
     Add 1 or 2 coarsely chopped seeded green jalapeño peppers.  (to taste)
     Add 2 coarsely chopped roasted poblano peppers.
     Add 3/4 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 2 chopped garlic cloves.
     Step 2:  Cover the ingredients with 1" of extra water.
     Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer the vegetables till they become very tender.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Allow the vegetables and liquid to cool to room temperature.
     Puree the vegetable stew with a blending wand (emersion blender), blender or food processor.
     Step 5:  Return the vegetable puree to the sauce pot.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Step 6:  Add 1 teaspoon of minced epazote.
     Add 2 pinches of Mexican oregano.
     Add 2 pinches of cumin.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 7:  Simmer and reduce till the puree is a medium thin sauce consistency.
     Step 8:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro.
     Stir the sauce.
     Set the salsa verde aside or chill it for later use.

     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Step 1:  Cook 2 portions of elbow macaroni pasta in salted boiling water over high heat.
     When the pasta becomes al dente, drain off the water.
     Step 2:  Cool the macaroni under cold running water.
     Drain off the water.
     Chill the macaroni till it is needed.
     Green Zombie Chili Mac:
     This recipe yields 4 portions. 
     The level of spicy heat is very mild!  
     Pork Chile Verde does not need to simmer all day.  This chile only needs to simmer till the chunks of pork shoulder become tender.  Too much stewing time will result in shredded meat.  Some folks actually prefer shredded pork in a green chili, but chunks of tender pork add a nicer visual effect.
     Step 1:  Heat a braising pan or a wide sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or lard.
     Add 16 to 18 ounces of lean pork shoulder that is cut into bite size pieces.
     Sauté the pork till light golden highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Drain off any excess grease, but leave about 1 tablespoon in the pot.
     Step 3:  Add 2 1/2 teaspoons of masa harina (Nixtamal Corn Flour) while stirring.
     Stir till the corn flour combines with the grease in the pot.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of chicken broth or light pork broth.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil over medium heat.  Stir occasionally.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer till the pork starts to become tender and the volume of liquid reduces by half.
     Step 6:  Add the reserved 2 cups of salsa verde.
     Add the reserved nopales.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 2 minced green onions.
     Adjust the seasoning with sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 7:  Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can cling to a spoon.
     Step 8:  Add the reserved prepared macaroni pasta.
     Simmer till the green chili mac is hot and the sauce clings to the pasta.
     Step 9:  Keep the chili mac warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced cilantro before serving.
     Serve with sour cream on the side.

     Healthy, tasty and gross looking Halloween party food!

Halloween Candy Zombie Fingers, Bones and Bloody Brain Lollypops ~ Candy Melts Product Example

     Wilton Candy Melt Product Example 
     Homemade candies, gummies, candy apples, caramel apples and popcorn balls are an old American Halloween tradition.  Hand crafted Halloween sweet treats always get plenty of compliments at Halloween parties.
     In modern times, the problem with making Halloween treats is convenience and experience.  Not every home cook is an experienced confectioner.  Those who have little candy making experience will not only have to figure a candy recipe out, they will also have to learn candy making techniques on the spot.  The time involved with a candy making project can be more than doubled if the project turns out to be a learning experience.
     Another problem is "biting off more than one can chew."  Some candy recipes are quite complicated and if the project does not turn out like it is supposed to, then frustration sets in.  One disappointing experience can put an end to candy making ideas altogether.  For beginners, it is better to accomplish a simple project, rather than take on a complex project that may lead to failure.
     Today's Candy Making Product Example features Wilton Candy Melts.  This convenient product is good for beginners that just want to have fun making candy, without having to learn confectioner techniques.  
     The Wilton Candy Melts product is not really chocolate, but the finished candies look like chocolate.  Wilton Candy Melts can be described as being a solidified glacage.  The Candy Melt glacage is a stabilized emulsion of vegetable oil, whey, milk solids, soy lecithin and/or arabic gum.  The flavors and colors of the Candy Melts can be natural or artificial.

     Weighing the benefits and drawbacks is the best way to determine whether this product is worth the money spent.

     The Benefits:
     • Wilton Candy Melts are a convenience.  A home cook can make well over 100 pieces of Halloween candy in two hours time.
     • Wilton Candy Melts easily melt in a double boiler at 115ºF and it solidifies like chocolate when it is chilled.
     • Wilton Candy Melts are available in several flavors and colors. 
     • The price is about half the price of chocolate.   
     • As long as there is adult assistance, this product is relatively safe for children to use. 
     • Any kind of candy making molds, fancy ice cube molds or chocolate molds can be used with this product.

     The Drawbacks:
     • Expense.
     • Artificial ingredients and colors.
     • Contains saturated fats.
     • Candy Melts are a vegetable oil based product that is not compatible with water based substances, like standard food colors.
     • Some gel or icing products will not adhere to the Candy Melts.
     • The flavor of Candy Melts tastes like extra sweet hardened cake frosting.  The flavor tastes nothing like chocolate.  

     Candy Melts come in a variety of colors and the colors can easily be combined to create custom tints.  The manufacturer only recommends mixing different Candy Melts colors and nothing else.  The problem is that purchasing extra bags of Candy Melt just for the color will raise the expense of the project.
     Because Wilton Candy Melts are an oil based candy product, water base food colors should only be used to very lightly tint the melted candy.  Adding one or two drops of food color is okay, but anything more than a couple of drops will result in candy that will never harden when chilled.
     Using Wilton Candy Melts To Make Halloween Candies:
     Step 1:  Select a variety of Halloween candy molds.  Zombie Finger, Bones and Bloody Brain Molds are a nice choice.  Plastic or silicone chocolate molds work best.  Lollypop Molds require Lollypop Sticks. 
     Step 2:  Imagine what colors will be needed and purchase the corresponding Wilton Candy Melts Colors.
     *Or just purchase White Candy Melts and use a few drops of food color!  If not too much liquid food color is added, then the Candy Melts will still solidify when the cool.    
     Step 3:  Follow the directions on the package for melting the Candy Melts.  The Candy Melts will melt at the same temperature as chocolate, so they are safe to use with plastic candy molds.
     Step 4:  Spoon or pour the melted Candy Melts into a candy mold.  Smooth the surface.
     Step 5:  Chill in a refrigerator till the candy hardens.
     Pop the candy out of the molds.
     Trim off any flash or rough edges.
     Step 6:  Decorate and present the finished candies.
     *Since this product review is all about convenience, purchasing small tubes of manufactured cake decorating gel is a good choice.  Betty Crocker Brand cake decorating gels will adhere to the finished Candy Melts.  Black gel was used to to paint the fingernails on the zombie fingers.  Red gel was dripped like blood on the zombie fingers in the pictures above.  A latex glove was used to smear red gel on the Zombie Brain Pops and the bone candy.

     Overall, I recommend Wilton Candy Melts for those who are looking for convenience.  This product is good for those who just want to have fun making cool Halloween candy.  This product also helps children develop creative skills.
     The Wilton Website offers classrooms and tutorials that explain the candy making process.  For more information about Wilton Candy Melts products, follow this link:  Wilton - Candy Melts   

Friday, October 14, 2016

Zombie Barf Frittata!

     Zombie Mania!
     Zombie mania has swept over the world the last few years.  Plenty of people want to be zombies for Halloween and this is great for the seasonal costume shops.  In order to get the most out of the Halloween zombie experience, one must walk, eat and breathe like a zombie.  
     The zombie dining experience in Hollywood movies can be rather ghastly.  Brains are usually the most popular item on the menu, but when the zombies are hungry, nothing is wasted.  As one can imagine, the contents of a zombie stomach must look rather bizarre.  Many low budget horror movies include a scene where zombies spew whatever they ate all over the place.  The zombie barf scene in a grade B horror movie offers the necessary shock value that gets the audience involved.    
     So, what are the zombie dining options during the Halloween season?  Most restaurants and bars just offer the same old glorified junk food.  Very few restaurants are willing to offer Halloween theme menu items.  This means that one must do some home cooking if the guests want some Halloween theme food.
     Zombie Barf is a nice choice for a Halloween theme meal, because it offers the shock value that can turn the dining experience into a fun event.  Like the old saying goes, "Sharing is caring!"  Sharing some Zombie Barf with the ones that you love, is an act of kindness that will surely be rewarded with thanks.  
     Today's recipe is easy to make.  Zombie Barf actually is a tasty frittata that can be served for any meal.  The eggs are flavored with Thai Green Curry Paste and Indian Cilantro Chutney.  Those two ingredients give the eggs a natural green color.  Jars of Cilantro Chutney are available at Indian food markets.  Thai Green Curry Paste can be found in Asian food markets and some grocery stores.
     To create a dramatic effect, the green eggs have to be topped off with food items that represent the contents of a zombie stomach.  Tube pasta looks like guts, the roasted red peppers look like chewed body tissue and the ham looks like muscle tissue.  These toppings keep the Zombie Barf Frittata within the realm of comically tasteful bounds.    
     For the sake of keeping things convenient for the Halloween holiday, a few pre-made products are used in today's recipe.  Bottled Green Jalapeño Hot Sauce was used to paint the plate.  I chose to use some bottled Green Hof's Sauce.  Hof's Sauce is named after Dennis Hof, who owns a few brothels in Nevada and he operates the Area 51 Alien Travel Center & Alien Cathouse near the old Nuclear Test Site.  This is where gourmet food shoppers can find bottles of the authentic Green Hof's Sauce with the alien abducted cow on the label.  This green hot sauce will certainly please guests that are alien zombie conspiracy theorists.   
     Occhi di Lupo Pasta:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Occhi di Lupo pasta translates to "wolf's eye pasta."  Wolf's Eye Pasta is perfect for this recipe, but if none is available, then any wide tube pasta can be used.
     Step 1:  Cook about 6 to 8 pieces of occhi di lupo pasta in boiling water over high heat, till they are al dente. 
     Step 2:  Cool the pasta under cold running water.
     Drain the water off of the pasta and set it aside.
     Ham & Vegetables:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add about 5 pieces of thick sliced onion center section.
     Sauté till the onion just starts to become tender.
     Step 2:  Add 3 tablespoons of coarsely chopped roasted red bell pepper.
     Add 4 thin slices of green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 5 asparagus tips.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of thin sliced deli style ham that is cut into wide ribbon slices.
     Add 3 long green onion tops.
     Step 3:  Sauté till the vegetables start to become tender and till a few light brown highlights appear on the ham ribbons.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Set the pan aside and let the ingredients cool.

     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of small fresh spinach greens.
     Saute and stir, till the spinach wilts.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the wilted spinach on a small platter and set it aside.

     Zombie Barf Frittata:
     This recipe yields 1 petite frittata entrée.  
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Thai Green Curry Paste.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Cilantro Chutney.
     Whisk the ingredients till the eggs start to foam.
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add the egg mixture.
     Cook the frittata till the eggs are firm on the bottom half and the top half of the frittata is uncooked.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place dabs of the wilted spinach on the uncooked eggs on the top half of the frittata.
     Arrange the sautéed vegetables and ham on the green frittata, so they create a Zombie Barf visual effect.
     Arrange the pieces of wolf's eye pasta on the frittata, so they resemble pieces of protruding intestines.
     Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of imported Italian canned crushed plum tomato over the frittata.
     Lightly season the toppings with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 4:  Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of grated mozzarella cheese over the frittata.
     Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil over the frittata.
     Step 5:  Place the frittata pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake till the eggs on the top half of the frittata are fully cooked.  (Try not to let the frittata toppings brown.)
     Step 6:  Slide the Zombie Barf Frittata onto a plate.
     Pour and splatter about 2 tablespoons of Green Jalapeño Hot Sauce on the plate around the Zombie Barf Frittata, so it looks like green barf splatters.
     No garnish is necessary!

     The aroma of a steaming hot fresh Zombie Barf Frittata is captivating!  

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Halloween Zombie Brain!

     Halloween Zombie Brain!
     A tasteful Zombie Brain presentation of Cherry Mango Cream Aspic, Pomegranate Gastrique and Teriyaki Thai Silkworms!  With Zombie Green Chromosome Gummies!  
     Halloween 2012 was definitely the year of the zombie.  The zombie craze has continued to gain popularity in recent years.  There are zombie movies, zombie TV shows, zombie shooting galleries, zombie strippers, zombie slot machines and even Halloween zombie parades.  Anything and everything zombie seems to get a lot of attention these days.
     In Las Vegas, there is a place called the Zombie Apocalypse Store.  This shop stocks everything that one could possibly need to survive an unthinkable catastrophic event.  The Zombie Apocalypse Store also is a good place to get some zombie ideas for Halloween.  
     After visiting the Zombie Apocalypse Store, I got the bright idea to publish some Halloween recipes.  In order to make some crafty Halloween zombie food, some specialized equipment was needed.  After doing some internet shopping, I ended up with a Zombie Brain Gelatin Mold, Zombie Brain Lollipop Molds and Bloody Eyeball Chocolate Molds.  Items like these make it easy to create some macabre Halloween food!
     I could not wait to break in the Zombie Brain Gelatin Mold package when it arrived.  I gave careful thought as to how I was going to present the first zombie brain of the season.  I soon realized that I was developing a mad scientist persona and a sadistic evil laugh.  Instead of making a gelatin zombie brain that would be comically entertaining, I decided to go to the opposite extreme.  Creating a realistic looking zombie brain that tastes good became the goal.
     Mixing colors to create a lifelike effect took a little imagination.  Simmering dried cherries, red food color and dried mango will create a reddish orange tinted water that looks like a lifelike flesh tone when cream is added.    
     To create a grainy translucent effect for the top of the zombie brain, add milk to the boiling fruit broth and allow the milk to curdle.  Fresh curdled milk is still edible.
     Gummy worms are what most people decorate a gelatin brain with, but there are more realistic options.   I purchased frozen edible Thai Silkworms at an Asian food market in Chinatown, Las Vegas.  The silkworms were simmered in a Japanese teriyaki sauce glaze.  The glaze coating made it easy to stick the silkworms to the zombie brain.  The silk worms definitely create a realistic maggot infested zombie brain effect.
     Pomegranate Gastrique was my choice for a sauce that resembled fresh blood.  By pouring the pomegranate gastrique over the zombie brain, an oozing seeping blood effect was created.  The pomegranate gastrique also compliments the flavors of the zombie brain and teriyaki silkworms.  
     The blue green color of the zombie chromosome gummies add a captivating color combination.  The agar gelatin was flavored with mint, so it actually is a mint gummy.  Minty fresh tasting zombie pathogen chromosome gummies add a nice touch.
     Put it all together and you have a nutritious, good tasting and realistic looking Zombie Brain for a Halloween party!

     Mango Cherry Cream Aspic Zombie Brain:
     This recipe is written for a 1 quart zombie brain gelatin mold.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of chopped dried cherries in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped dried mango.
     Add 1/4 cup of sugar.
     Add 1 quart of water.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Gently simmer till the dried fruit flavor infuses with the liquid and a pinkish peach color develops.  Allow the liquid to reduce to 3 1/2 cups.
     Step 3:  Pour the liquid through a strainer into a large measuring cup.  (Discard the fruit or save it for another recipe, like a porridge.)
     Check if there is 3 1/2 cups of mango cherry flavored liquid.  Add water if the amount is short or drain off any excess liquid.
     Step 4:  Place the 3 1/2 cups of mango cherry liquid in a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of milk.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     *The total amount of liquid in the pot is now 1 quart.
     Stir the mixture.
     Bring the liquid to a simmer.
     Step 5:  Adjust the color of the liquid to a light flesh tone by adding 1 to 4 drops of red food coloring.  (Add 1 drop at a time, while stirring, till the color is right.)
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. 
     Step 7:  Rain 1 ounce of powdered gelatin over the surface of the liquid. 
     Allow the gelatin to bloom.
     Step 8:  Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Gently stir the mixture, till the gelatin dissolves.
     Remove the pot from the heat.  
     Step 9:  Place the zombie brain gelatin mold on a roasting pan.
     Pour the warm mango cherry aspic mixture into the zombie brain mold.
     Carefully place the pan with the mold in a refrigerator.
     Allow the aspic to chill for at least 16 hours, so it firmly gels. 

     Zombie Green Chromosome Gummies:
     This recipe yields about 1/4 cup.
     The texture of the Green Chromosomes Gummies should firm.
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped mint leaves.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.
     Add 2 drops of green food color.
     Add 1 drop of blue food color.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over medium heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Boil for 2 minutes.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
     Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature.
     Step 4:  Rain 5 grams of seaweed agar gelatin over the liquid.
     Allow agar to bloom.
     Step 5:  Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Stir till the agar gelatin dissolves.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Allow the liquid to cool to almost room temperature.
     Step 6:  Cut 6 plastic soda drinking straws into 4" lengths.
     Place the short straws on a small pie pan.
     Line the straws up in a row.  
     Place a knife across the top of the drinking straws as a weight to hold them down.
     Step 7:  Slowly pour the agar gelatin mixture into the pan, till the straws are covered.
     Refrigerate till the agar gelatin is firm.
     Step 8:  Remove the straws from the pan.
     Scrape off the excess agar.  (The excess agar can be later melted down for a second use or it can be snacked on.)
     Step 9:  Pinch one end of a straw and squeeze the agar gelatin rod out of the straw.  Repeat till all the straws are empty.
     Cut the green agar gelatin rods into about 3/8" lengths.
     Chill the zombie green chromosome gummies till they are needed. 

     Pomegranate Gastrique:
     This gastrique recipe yields about 1/3 cup!
     The sugar is cooked to a medium dark amber color for today's gastrique recipe.  It is important to observe the sugar as it changes color from clear, to very pale yellow, then to a light yellow brown amber color.  This happens quickly!  
     Take caution!  Hot molten sugar will cause severe burns.  Wear protective clothing!
     Do not stir a gastrique, till shortly after the liquid flavorings are added or the sugar will stick to the utensil like rock candy.
     Step 1:   Separate 1 cup of fresh pomegranate fruit from the rind and pith.  Set the clean pomegranate fruit aside. 
     Step 2:  Boil 1/2 cup of water over medium high heat in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
     When the sugar begins to turn a light amber color, stay close to the pan and watch for the sugar to turn a dark amber color.  (Dark amber is a yellow brown color.)
     When the sugar turns a dark amber color, immediately add the pomegranate fruit.
     Allow the caramelized sugar to coat the fruit for about 1 minute.
     *The sugar will stop caramelizing when you add the fruit.  The hot molten sugar will seize the fruit and pull all of the flavor and color out of the fruit.  
     Step 3:   Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of pomegranate vinegar.
     Add 3/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns.
     Add 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves.
     Add 2 laurel leaves.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped shallot.
     Step 4:  Simmer and reduce the gastrique, till becomes a thin glacé syrup consistency.  The glaçé should be thick enough to barely coat the back of a spoon.  (Keep in mind that when a gastrique cools, it may become a little bit thicker consistency.)
     Step 5:  Pour the gastrique through a fine mesh strainer into a container and set aside.
     A gastrique can be refrigerated for up to six months.  

     Teriyaki Thai Silk Worms:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Frozen edible Thai Silk Worms are available at Asian food markets.  These bugs are actually tasty tidbits of protein!  Stir fry silk worms are traditional Asian street food.
     Gummy Worms can be substituted for a less realistic effect. 
     Step 1:  *The Thai Silk Worms should be prepared just before serving the zombie brain!
     Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/4 cup of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
     Simmer the ingredients, till the teriyaki sauce is a thin syrup consistency.
     Remove the pot from the heat and set the teriyaki sauce aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 15 to 20 edible Thai Silk Worms.
     Briefly sauté till the golden highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Add the reserved teriyaki sauce.  
     Simmer the silkworms in the teriyaki sauce for about 2 minutes.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the Teriyaki Thai Silk Worms warm on a stove top. 

     Halloween Zombie Brain Presentation:
     Step 1:  Heat a wide pot of water over medium low heat.
     Dip the zombie brain mold in the hot water to warm the mold.
     Step 2:  Invert the mold onto a serving platter.  
     Tap the platter and mold together as one against a countertop, till the zombie brain pops out of the mold.
     Step 3:  Center the Mango Cherry Cream Aspic Zombie Brain on the platter.
     Pour the pomegranate gastrique over the zombie brain and onto the platter.
     Step 4:  Sprinkle 1/4 cup of pomegranate fruit on the platter.
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the Zombie Green Chromosome Gummies on the platter.
     Step 5:  Arrange the Teriyaki Thai Silk Worms on the zombie brain and the platter in a ghastly manner.

     Voila!  Magnifique!  A lifelike zombie brain that tastes great!