Bring vintage entertainment right into your living room when you host a vintage Halloween party. This is the second installment of a series on throwing a Halloween party, Twenties style. If you missed the first part, you can find it here. This time we’re going to focus on food: adding a vintage Halloween party menu to your plans.
When you plan a vintage party menu, the first thing you have to remember is to keep it simple. Gathering people together for an evening of fun trumped ornate, formal entertaining. Most party hosts bought some crepe paper in the appropriate holiday colors (in this case, black and orange). They then spent a few evenings crafting party decorations at home.
Although paper companies released catalogs and idea books filled with ways to decorate with pre-packaged paper items, most party hosts preferred a handmade touch. While a vintage homemaker might buy a printed crepe paper with pumpkins on it, she would be likely to cut out those pumpkins and use them as part of a larger decorating scheme. It created a handmade I cared enough for you that I made it myself touch. Plus, those preprinted sheets of crepe were eye-crossingly busy. A partygoer could only take so much.
Your vintage Halloween party menu
1924 brings you not one vintage Halloween party menu, but two. The first one is very informal and would welcome breaking into the popcorn table centerpiece mentioned in the first Halloween party section.
- Jack O’Lantern Salad
- Brown Bread Sandwiches
- Cake of Fate
- Orange Ice
- Witches’ Brew
Jack O’Lantern Salad
For Jack O’Lantern salad, select as many large, red apples as there are people to be served. Cut off the top of each one and scoop out the inside. Carve eyes, nose, and mouth on one side like a Jack O’Lantern.
Chop the apple you removed and mix it with an equal amount of diced celery and chopped ripe (black) olives. Put the mixture back into the shells and serve with a dollop of mayonnaise dressing piled on top.
Note: If you want to keep your apple from turning brown, dip it in a little lemon juice. Mix a small amount, a teaspoon at a time, into the cut apple before you combine it with the other ingredients.
Brown Bread Sandwiches
You can use whole wheat, rye, or any other bread that you think would go well with the filling. A bakery loaf is best for this recipe, because you want it whole when you begin.
Slice the bread very thin (in about 1/4-inch slices) and cut the slices into circles with a round biscuit or cookie cutter. For the filling, use 8 oz cream cheese mixed with 2-3 Tbsp drained, shredded pineapple and 1-2 Tbsp chopped pecans.
The Cake of Fate
To make the Cake of Fate, make a two layer cake from any recipe and cover it with firm, white icing. After the icing sets, pipe or draw the clock face, cats, bats, and owls with either a fine clean paint brush dipped in melted chocolate (semi sweet chocolate chips would work well), or chocolate icing in a decorating bag with a fine round tip. The paint brush and melted chocolate is traditional; the cake decorating bag with tip is a modern application.
The witch decoration for the cake is made from black card stock. Print the illustration below and use it to trace onto the sheet of card stock. Cut two witches, and glue them back to back with a wooden chopstick or skewer between. Stick that in the top of the cake.
Traditionally, three items were placed inside the cake: a ring, a thimble, and a silver coin. They were placed inside after baking, as the cake was assembled. Often they rested in the icing between the two layers.
If you want to continue this tradition, you can cut small pictures of a ring, thimble, and silver coin into about 1″ x 1″ squares. Wrap them in Saran wrap or a comparable cling wrap, and slide them between the two layers in three different places before icing the final covering layer over the cake. If you do this, you must tell your guests to look for a piece of paper in their cake. I don’t recommend using the real items because they are all serious choking hazards for a population not accustomed to looking for metal or plastic items in their desserts.
Another option is to get an assortment of cake decorations in the shape of rings, thimbles, and coins and use those to decorate the top of the cake outside the clock. That way everyone gets a “fortune” and they can see it as soon as they look at their piece of cake.
Mold the orange ice in cone shapes. You can get paper ice cones at Amazon. If you look during the summer you can probably find them locally and stash them away for Halloween ice treats. If you want to use a silicone mold that’s cone shaped, Wilton has one but it forms a cone only 2.5 inches high.
To mold an ice, you will make the mixture by the directions and then pack it solidly into whatever mold you are using. In a pinch, a muffin tin would work. Cover the top of the mold with wax paper and then put it into the freezer to freeze for at least two hours. Unmold by turning the container upside down on a platter and wrapping each section with a towel dipped in hot water and wrung out.
In the top of each cone put a crepe paper (or card stock) cutout of a bat, a witch, or an owl.
Since you probably don’t have a recipe for Orange Ice sitting around in your household cookbook, here’s one:
Orange Ice Recipe
2 cups sugar 2 1/2 cups orange juice
4 cups water Grated rind of one orange
3 Tbsp lemon juice
- Boil the sugar and water together for five minutes.
- Cool the syrup mixture, and then add the fruit juices and orange rind. Let stand an hour.
- Strain, and then freeze in an ice cream maker.
- Pack into molds as described above or place in a freezer-safe container with a lid. Cure in the freezer at least 2 hours before serving.
For the Witches’ Brew, use any cider punch recipe that you have and love. If you need a recipe, you can use this one:
2 oranges, juice 1 quart grape juice
2 lemons, juice 1 cup sugar
1 quart cider 2 quarts water
- Grate some of the lemon and orange peel, and set aside.
- Juice the lemons and oranges. Add the grape juice.
- Add the peels to the juices.
- Stir in the cider, sugar and water.
- Pour in a punch bowl in which you have floating a block of ice.
- Serve in small punch glasses.
The second menu is a bit more formal than the first.
- Creamed Chicken in Cream Puffs
- Apricot Ice
- Gold Cake with Chocolate Icing
- Popcorn Balls
- Cider Punch
Creamed Chicken in Cream Puffs
Creamed Chicken in Cream Puffs is the autumn version of chicken salad in cream puffs. If you don’t know where to find cream puffs locally, and you are up for some invigorating stirring, A Pretty Life in the Suburbs posted a good, doable recipe. I have made cream puffs before from scratch, and this looks similar to the recipe I used.
Creamed Chicken Recipe
3 cups cold cooked chicken, diced
2 1/2 cups milk
5 Tbsp flour
1 pimiento cut into tiny pieces (optional. This is a roasted red bell pepper.)
1/8 tsp pepper (feel free to use more if you like)
5 Tbsp fat (oil, butter, ghee, etc)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
- Scald the milk.
- In another saucepan or skillet, melt the fat/heat oil over medium heat and add the flour, salt, and pepper. Use a whisk to get the lumps out.
- Add the milk slowly to the flour mixture. Stir constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
- When thick, add chicken and cook long enough to heat the chicken. Add the pimiento last if you are using it.
- To fill cream puffs with the creamed chicken, cut the top off the puff, hollow out the puff leaving 1/4 inch or so around all the edges, and fill with a spoon of warm chicken mixture. You can replace the top of the puff or leave it off, as you please.
A fruit flavored ice provided a unique, light dessert for the vintage host.
You will need:
1 1/2 cups apricot pulp, 1 20 – 28 oz can or 2 15 oz cans
2 cups sugar
3 cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice
Use canned apricots and put through a coarse sieve. If you have neither the patience nor the equipment for that, give them a whir in the blender or food processor.
Boil the water and sugar together for ten minutes in a large saucepan. This makes a syrup.
Cool the syrup and add with the lemon juice to the apricot puree.
Freeze in an ice cream freezer to a mush. Transfer to a freezer-safe container let stand one hour or more in the freezer to ripen. Or freeze in individual molds as detailed in the Orange Ice instructions above.
Gold cake with chocolate icing
This is simply a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Use whatever recipe you have. Even a boxed cake with canned icing will work. Keep it simple.
Nuts and coffee
Meals like this typically ended with nuts or mints, little nibbles to clear the palate. Serve whatever nuts you like as long as your guests aren’t allergic to them. They can go in a small bowl in the center of the table or into individual nut cups at each place setting.
Coffee is self explanatory. Serve whatever you like, however you like it.
The original article offered no recipe for popcorn balls. This recipe from Taste of Home is pretty standard. Popcorn balls last for several days wrapped in cling wrap film, so you can make them in advance.
See the recipe above under Witches’ Brew.
Now that you have the decorations and your vintage Halloween party menu under control, the next thing we need to discuss is games for the evening. Stay tuned for the next installment!