Happy Halloween

Happy Holidays everyone. I consider Halloween to be the start of the holiday season. The table setting above could be used for Halloween or Thanksgiving. Last year we had a fun start to the season by hosting an event for the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry. I posted about the event but I did not get a chance to share many of the photos taken by my friends.

The menu was Italian with a Halloween flare. All the recipes can be found in the recipe index. You can also just click on the recipe links provided in the text of this post.

We started the class off by making the Cranberry Tiramisu first, so we could give it time to chill and set before serving. Here are a few photos from the cooking class as we made our dessert.

The Cranberry Tiramisu was served with a Cranberry Champagne Cocktail, made by my husband.

The cranberry cocktail turned out to be the favorite drink of the night. We also ended up serving it for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Once our dolce was completed, we started on the antipasto, Italian Stuffed Vegetables . My intention was to serve stuffed mushrooms, but two diners did not like mushrooms, so I also prepared some stuffed zucchini and tomatoes. Here is a photo of the students as we began to make our antipasto.

The stuffing that we made during the class is a little different from the one in the posted recipe. I found fresh shaved brussel sprouts so I used them. You can vary the stuffing depending on what you like and what you have on hand.

I showed the class how to stuff the vegetables. Then we all worked together to prepare the dish.

Here is a photo of all of us enjoying our antipasto paired with a local Texas Italian style wine from Duchman Family Winery.

The next thing we made was the insalata, which consisted of a Golden Beet Salad topped with crispy goat cheese. I decided to serve the salad in maple leaf shaped bowls to fit with a fall theme.

This is an easy salad to make. All the steps are laid out in the recipe. The trickiest part is making the crispy goat cheese croutons. I did a demo for the students and then let them try making them.

Next we got started on the primo which usually consists of a pasta or risotto. I decided to make Pumpkin Gnocchi with Collard Greens. It is one of my favorite dishes. The collards are cooked with onions, garlic, spices and parmesan.

The pumpkin gnocchi is toasted to a golden brown and then added to the collards.

Again, I decided to use the maple leaf bowls for plating, to continue the fall theme.

The next dish we made was the secondi. It consisted of Pork Piccata and Roasted Squash Medallions. You can click on the links provided to get detailed step by step recipes. My husband removed the silver skin and prepared the pork medallions.

Here are a few photos of us making the piccata sauce during the cooking class.

Since I do not eat meat, I seared off a few scallops to make Scallop Piccata for myself. I will share the full recipe for this later. The spicing is a bit more delicate because the scallops are more delicate than the pork.

Lastly we made the Cheesy Cranberry Pistachio Crostini while my husband made the Jack-O-Lantern Cocktail.

We usually do a cocktail hour between the cooking class and supper. This allows the students to change clothes and relax before the main meal is served. We also have guests who do not participate in the class but join us for supper. We like to welcome them with a cocktail hour.

In our circle of friends, we usually also have themed trivia and dance parties. We were supposed to host an 80’s themed party, but had to cancel due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. At the end of the night our guests spontaneously broke out into an 80’s trivia competition. It was a lot of fun.

My husband and I worked hard to make this a fun and productive event for our community. We ended up raising $1,175 for The Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry, We were very happy to be able to help our community and make a toast with all who participated.