Is everyone ready for a night of ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night?
Halloween has snowballed in popularity in recent years and though there’s an assumption that it’s an ‘American import’, it’s actually thought to date back to the ancient Celtic pagan festival of Sahmain or ‘summer’s End’, which was a community celebration, held on November 1st to mark the annual harvest and the start of a New Year. It was a time of festivities and bonfires and the people of the time believed that the spirits of the dead were active.
Over time, elements of Sahmain merged with observance of the Christian feast day of All Saints or ‘All Hallows’ giving rise to the term of Hallow E’en for the night before the festivities . Children and the poor would go from house to house ‘souling’ to beg for small soul cakes in return for saying a prayer for the dead. Quite a ringer for modern day trick or treating!
Emigrants to the new world of America took these age old traditions with them and over time, it evolved into the much loved modern day celebration, which has come full circle back to the UK and is a perfect excuse to get together and party with family and friends.
Of course, all good parties need a celebration cake and we’ve found this fabulous idea from the Vegetarian Society for a creepy Black Widow cake. You’ve just got time to bake it before tomorrow night!
Serves 8-12 slices
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes
For the cake:
100g soft eating liquorice pieces
250ml vegetable oil
165g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
50g walnut pieces, ground
2 tbsp gram flour mixed with 4 tbsp water
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
Few drops vanilla extract
For the icing:
60g icing sugar
½ tsp food colouring (optional)
1 tbsp water
Black icing pen
1 piece of soft eating liquorice
1. Preheat oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4. Chop the liquorice into small pieces and put in a small pan with 175ml water. Boil for about 5 minutes until the liquorice is starting to go soft and mushy. Remove from the heat and pour in the vegetable oil, stirring well.
2. Put the remaining cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir in the liquorice mixture.
3. Put in a small (18cm) lined cake tin and bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the middle of the cake clean.
4. Leave in the cake tin to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Mix together the icing sugar, food colouring (if using) and water, then spread over the cooled cake with a palette knife, gently and evenly. Using the black icing pen draw a web pattern on top of the icing. Then make a spider out of the spare piece of liquorice!
Recipe © The Vegetarian Society 2012. Visit www.vegsoc.org for more recipes and information.
After years of thinking that we really didn’t like Tofu, last night we knocked up a quick stir fry with wholewheat Soba noodles, fresh allotment greens and some marinated tofu chunks from Cauldron Foods.
It was a revelation, because it was really very tasty and nothing like we remembered from our earlier tofu experiences (which were admittedly, a good few years ago.) Suffice to say, we’ll definitely be having them again.
It does show though, that tastes do change and develop over time and it’s never too late to try new ingredients, or give something another taste test.
With National Vegetarian Week 2011 on the horizon, it’s a great time to invite friends and family around the kitchen table to tuck into seven tremendously tasty and daringly different dishes, which have been developed to help celebrate the week.
The Vegetarian Society have kindly provided us with a sneak preview of one of the new recipes for Chickpea and Cashew Korma with Spicy Rice which looks delicious – we can’t wait to try it out.
Sponsored by Cauldron Foods, National Vegetarian Week starts on Monday 23rd May 2011, with events going on up and down the country which will provide information and advice and plenty of opportunities to try out some delicious vegetarian food. A new Vegetarian Society guide – ‘Going Veggie’ will be available free of charge by telephoning 0161 925 2000 or visiting the National Vegetarian Week website and it is packed with information on going vegetarian and has all seven new recipes in it.
The week is being launched with a free public event in Albert Square, Manchester – ‘Meat Free Manchester’ – which will take place on Saturday 21 May and will be hosted by the Vegetarian Society and there will be interactive games, information, live cookery demos from chefs, plus a chance to try some veggie food.
If you don’t want to cook up your own vegetarian wonders, there are restaurants and cafes up and down the country offering special deals and events during the week.
On 20th May, Northorpe Hall in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, are hosting a seven course, meat free charity banquet. Or for an exclusive dining experience in chic surroundings, why not try No 35 Restaurant in Bayswater, London, where there will be a special Vegetarian Evening Menu available between May 23rd – 28th with two courses for £15 or three courses for £19.