It’s long since passed Halloween—sort of midway between then and Christmas—but, what can I say? I haven’t had any internet for over a month and a half—a very slow and stressful month and a half. As I’m writing this blog post (pre-publishing) I still haven’t got any internet. Maybe it will come soon, but I was promised that two weeks ago. Oh, well, life goes on—and now, as I’m officially a full-time blogger, so does this blog.
So, being that this was originally meant to be published on Halloween I decided to create a dish inspired by a film of the holiday. That didn’t happen, of course, but in the end it actually worked out better. You see, the film I chose was Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. Perfect. I skipped Halloween and by the time I get internet again, who knows, maybe it’ll actually be Christmas?
I really wanted to create something truly challenging and spectacular for my first blog post back—my first ‘real’ blog post. An Alice-in-Wonderland-style-madness came over me and I was fixated with the idea of doing pasta—and not just pasta but filled pasta—and not just filled pasta, but three different types of filled pastas with three separate sauces. Why would I do that to myself? It’s been over a year since I last made ravioli, or indeed pasta, and the experience/knowledge disappears over even a short amount of time. I made foolish mistakes that I only remembered were wrong after the fact (such as painstakingly cutting out the shapes and filling them one-by-one, instead of putting the fillings on a long sheet, covering with another sheet and then cutting out the shapes). Idiotic. Laughable.
I dragged both of my unsuspecting parents into this business, having one act as a vice for the pasta machine (as our new table is too thick) and another acting as my holder. Being left-handed on anything is hard, but a pasta machine is something I had to teach myself to do properly left-handed at college. It doesn’t come naturally when everything is working against you. The hole for the handle being on the wrong side, for example.
But we did it, people! My fears of them splitting didn’t come true, bar two which were stabbed by parts of the roasted chestnuts. We made my vision a semi-reality. Oogie Boogie’s face didn’t show as prominently but it’s chestnut stuffing (including herbs, lardons and sausage meat as well as the home-roasted chestnuts) tasted delicious. The onion gravy I served with it was easily drinkable. My dad decided to eat the rest of it even without any pasta to go with it. And bonus, the onions looked a bit like worms! I think Oogie Boogie would be proud of that fact alone.
The Pumpkin King could chow down on his own face, the star of any Christmas meal lying inside. I confited the turkey leg in duck fat, herbs and lemon two days before and put some deliciously crispy brussels sprouts in there with them (my favourite part of any Christmas feast). All with a homemade redcurrant coulis. It was supposed to be cranberry but they were out of season so we did what we could. This was the sauce my mum decided to finish the entire jug of. I tell you what, there was no point making the pasta for them, they would’ve happily just had their drinkable accompaniments.
Finally, a pudding—yes, a sweet pasta. Cinnamon pasta, to be specific, coloured with food dye (unlike the natural colourings of the spinach and pumpkin pastas). It wasn’t quite as I envisioned colour-wise, but you know what, it looked more like a Halloween-Christmas present anyway. Isn’t that the way Jack would want it? Or certainly what the residents of Halloween Town would prefer?
The filling on this was a simple boiled apple sauce, like one you would use for a apple pie, and the sauce (my favourite of the three) a Halloween-toffee-apple inspired butterscotch toffee sauce.
Was it perfect? No. Did it taste heaven-sent? Oddly enough, yes. Merry Christmas to my stomach and a Happy Halloween to my eyes. Most importantly it was a lot of fun—from thinking of the Christmas flavours to stuff into the Halloween shapes (or vice-versa) to failing miserably at getting the pasta through the machine and showering both our dogs with flour. Is it easy to make pasta? Definitely not. Should you? Completely. You’d be surprised at just how fun it is and the taste of the homemade thing is far, far superior to anything else anyone could sell you.
Thank you for reading this and I hope you’re going to enjoy a Literary Onion. Exciting news on top of this—I now have another blog ‘Literary Scribbles’. On this you can read my home-written stories, poems, plays etc. as well as pick up tips and tricks to writing your own masterpieces. It’s going to be a busy year but, well, let’s make it worth it, shall we?
Cheers to the year ahead (I know, I’m early) and, hopefully if you’re reading this then cheers to being back online.