Sure most folks can carve a pumpkin and nibble on a few pieces of candy corn and feel like Halloween has happened, but All Hallows Eve gives wickedly inclined home cooks the perfect platform to get creative in the kitchen and churn out a dinner party full of elegant and eerie fare.

Put those cliché thoughts of peeled grape eyeballs, finger shaped bread sticks and graveyard themed cakes out of your mind in favor of putting a spooky twist on an ordinary dinner party dish. Raising the fear factor on a plate doesn’t necessitate a trade-off in flavor, but merely requires looking at your favorite foods with all the spooky feels in mind.

Dumplings frequently grace the table at my least terrifying dinner parties. Putting a ghoulish spin on my entertaining mainstay was a simple as pulling out the paint brushes. Brushing store bought wrappers with intense black food coloring helped to bring out the dark side of these mushroom filled morsels.

With the dastardly looking dumplings cooking away in the steamer, I turned my attention to developing a vibrant orange hued sauce to anchor my Halloween themed meal. Adding a spicy dash of chili-garlic sauce to a traditional beurre blanc produced a fiery looking sauce with a down-right evil richness.

Finishing the Halloween themed dish with a cobweb like wisp of crunchy rice noodles brought textural interest to the plate and enhanced my mysterious theme, while sautéed mushrooms, crispy shallots and fresh scallions served to round out the Asian flavor profiles in this deceptively delicious dish.

Just remember the most devilish dishes can be met with shrieks of delight. Happy Haunting!

Midnight Hued Dumplings with Lucifer Sauce-four servings

Be sure to wear gloves when painting the dumpling wrappers and wrapping these creepy little morsels.

For the Dumplings:

  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 12-ounces Cremini Mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Cups shredded Napa cabbage
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons Hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 teaspoon beaten egg white (yolk from the egg reserved)
  • 12 round dumpling wrappers
  • High quality black food coloring (I used Wilton brand purchased at Michael’s craft store)

For the Lucifer Sauce:

  • ½ Cup rice vinegar
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili-Garlic sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand preferred)
  • 1 Stick cold butter, sliced into 10 pats

For the garnishes:

  • ½ Cup broken rice noodles fried in grapeseed or canola oil until puffy
  • Fried Shallot rings
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Sliced scallions

Make the filling: Sauté the mushrooms in the canola oil over medium high heat until golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until just fragrant-about 45 seconds. Add the cabbage and cook until soft and wilted-about two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the hoisin sauce and the brown sugar. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it looks like a rustic puree. Fold in the cornstarch, egg white and scallions. Set mixture aside until cool.

Shape the dumpling: Dip a wet paint brush into the food coloring and color one side of each dumpling wrapper black. Place a heaping teaspoon full of mushroom mixture on the unpainted side of the wrapper. Brush the edges of the wrappers with the reserved egg yolk. Seal and shape as desired. Steam the dumplings in a parchment lined steamer basket for ten minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Make the sauce: While the dumplings are steaming prepare the sauce. Combine the vinegar, lime juice and shallot in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow the liquid to cook down until two Tablespoons remain in the pan. Stir in the chili garlic sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the butter one pat at a time whisking constantly until fully incorporated before adding the next pat. When all the butter has been added remove the sauce from the heat.

Serve: divide the sauce among four bowls and top with three dumplings. Garnish with the rice noodles, shallots, mushrooms and scallions.

NOTE: The plastic spiders I laid on the plate are optional and not edible.

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