Happy Hallowe’en

On this dark night, with my illuminated pumpkin grinning out at the night and a witch’s hat perched on my head, I thought I would write a little post combining a few of my favourite things: food & drink, books and Hallowe’en.

My homemade food and beverage of choice are linked (perhaps unsurprisingly) by Harry Potter. The other day I added to my collection by getting the next in Jim Kay’s gorgeously illustrated versions of the Harry Potter books, The Chamber of Secrets. I can’t wait to pour over its pages.

chamber-of-secrets

I love food in books and while we always get a wonderfully magical description of places like Honeydukes and Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor, I prefer savoury to sweet. So without further ado:

“Two Pumpkin Pasties Please.”

A good pasty is the best thing ever (perhaps after a perfectly made cup of tea), and I have always wondered what kind of pasty it would be. It is sold alongside sweets by the trolley witch on the Hogwarts Express, which might indicate that it is sweet. However, I suspect that it is savoury given that Ron woefully waves his corned beef sandwiches and it is a long trip up from Kings Cross.

I found a basic pasty recipe on the BBC Good Food website to make my shortcrust pastry and to get an idea of the approximate amount of filling I would need. Rather than just filling it with pumpkin alone, I added in some onion, potato, swede and carrot, effectively using the pumpkin in place of steak. It turns out that I had acres of filling, so I was dining off the ingredients for the rest of the week in curries and pasta sauces and jacket potatoes!

pasties

They looked pretty good and tasted very nice – though I was in such a forgetful mood that evening I forgot to season and add herbs (I was going to try sage). Next time I will definitely season and either add herbs and/or spices. I might even try a meat and pumpkin variation for the carnivores, but vegetarian were great.

Heading down to the Three Broomsticks

I confess I was pretty disappointed when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the US and the Warner Bros Studio Tour in the UK decided that Butterbeer was a sickly sweet butterscotch cream soda affair. While I can understand that there would be hundreds of kids visiting and that pumpkin juice might not be their cup of tea (does that even make sense?!), I have always thought of butterbeer as alcoholic (though perhaps not so strong). What’s that I hear you say? The daring trio drink it while they are still at school? Well, yes. But the legal age to drink in the UK is 18, and wizards are legally adults at 17… and to be fair, there is a lot of stuff they get up to at school which would be completely and utterly banned on safety grounds in the muggle world before we even got to Butterbeer!

I guess I have always just thought of Butterbeer as well, a buttery beer. So I had a hunt around the internets for something that would fit the bill… and found a medieval ‘buttered beere’ recipe from the 15th century courtesy of Gastronomy Archaeology (see the link). It has been adapted slightly and I went with the author’s suggestion of London Pride as a base:

butterbeer

It was interesting! It was a warm drink which is not quite as it would be in the Harry Potter books, however, this was quite nice for autumn evenings. It was a peculiar mix of being sweet, bitter, spiced and buttery both at the same time yet also separately. I enjoyed it, however I think I would need to adjust it more for my tastes. It was still too sweet for me, so I would need to experiment with toning that down and perhaps add more spices and butter to compensate, and also perhaps get a flat beer / let it go flat. Either way, for me it was fun and easy to make and an improvement on the commercial offerings!

Have you done anything literary themed for Hallowe’en this year?

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