|Horrifically healthy pumpkin patch - pic by Yap Chee Hong|
We don't celebrate Halloween here in Malaysia. Kids don't walk the streets in their neighbourhoods for candy and adults don't decorate their houses to look like something out of a horror flick. It's not that we don't love our share of horror - practically everyone has a ghost story or two (real, mind you) to share, whether it's something they'd heard from a friend or an experience they've had themselves. I've got a few myself which I will re-tell upon request :)
Nevertheless, my colleagues at work and I decided to create some Halloween-inspired food for a fun spread (any excuse to eat!) and I was initially stumped for ideas on what to make. I'm not good with decorating cupcakes (my colleague Yuha did an amazing job though - check out her cupcakes below) and I wasn't too keen on making cake eye balls (Ann Marie did that gory job). Julie made a mummy (and yummy) vegetarian lasagna and Jane of The Wayward Oven made a giant spider bread with a creamy, cheesy and bloody dip. Check out some of the photos below.
I settled on making something horrifically healthy instead. Candy? No way! I made a pumpkin patch. The pumpkins were made from ... err... pumpkins. Well, pureed roasted pumpkins, roasted cauliflower and tempeh to be precise. The soil was made from tri-coloured quinoa, minced mushrooms and black sesame seeds. And the leafs? Rocket.
It wasn't a visual masterpiece, I have to say. But it was a whole lot of fun to create and it tasted pretty damned good. I discovered that pumpkin, tempeh and cauliflower go really well together and, well, you can't go wrong with quinoa and mushrooms.
Halloween Pumpkin patch
For the 'pumpkins'
500g pumpkin, cubed
60g tempeh, cubed fine
200g cauliflower, cut into florets
handful of parsley, leaves only
breadcrumbs - between 1/2 to 1 cup
salt and pepper
Drizzle some olive oil on the pumpkin and cauliflower and toss to coat. Roast in a preheated oven (180C) for about 30 mins.
Fry the cubed tempeh until they're brown and cripsy.
Once the pumpkin is cool, puree with half the tempeh. Roughly mince the cauliflower. Add to the puree together with the parsley, breadcrumbs (use as much as needed to bind the pumpkin) and remaining tempeh. Season.
Form the puree into balls and bake (180C) for about 20-25 mins.
For the soil
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
6-7 button mushrooms, roughly minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp black sesame seen, toasted
handful of walnuts, roasted, chopped roughly
salt and pepper
Wash the quinoa under running water to remove the bitter coating (as you would wash rice). Drain.
Heat a skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the drained, washed quinoa and gently toast it for about 2-3 minutes. Transfer into a saucepan. Add 1 cup water/stock and cook on medium heat. When the water starts to boil, reduce the heat and cover. Cook for 15 mins. Remove pot from the heat. Uncover, place a paper towel or kitchen cloth over the mouth of the pan and place the lid over (the cloth will absorb any remaining moisture). Let it sit for 15 mins.
Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet. Add the garlic and after a minute or two, the mushrooms. Cook till the moisture from the mushrooms leaves. Season and remove from heat.
Mix the mushrooms with the quinoa, black sesame seeds and walnuts. Drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil (or regular olive oil) and mix to toss.