Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Samhain Approaches

Samhain, celebrated on October 31, is a festival of the coming of darkness in balance with the Wheel of the Year and the celebration of Beltane, the coming of light. In honor of our beloved ancestors we light bonfires and invite our ancestors, friends, pets and others who have passed on to join us in our ritual, feasts and activities.
Light a single candle and place it in your window to help guide the spirits to your ritual. Place an empty chair at your feast for an unseen guest.
Decorate your altar with photos your loved ones who have passed. Of course, the traditional and common colors are black and orange. Use a black altar cloth and bright orange pumpkins.
Although not a common Samhain food, I am making Ajoblanco with grapes which is a very traditional Spanish cold soup made by pureeing blanched almonds with bread and adding cold water.
  • Ajoblanco with Grapes
9 oz raw almonds, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 oz bread crumbs
5 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 quart ice-cold water
coarse salt
9 oz muscatel grapes, peeled and seeded

Soak the bread crumbs in water. Pound the peeled garlic cloves and salt together in a mortar. Squeeze off any excess water from the bread crumbs, then add them to the garlic/salt mixture. If you are making it by hand, continue using a mortar or a round bowl. Otherwise, only use a blender from this point onward. Add the almonds and blend to a smooth paste. Slowly add the oil so that it emulsifies. Now add the vinegar and continue blending until the paste is spongy. Finally, stir in the ice-cold water until you achieve the desired consistency.
Chill until serving time. Before serving, check the seasoning and add more salt or vinegar if needed. Pour into the serving dish and garnish with the muscatel grapes.
Recipe from Spain GourmeTour Magazine
  • I am sticking to a tapas type menu and along with the soup we are having blue cheese stuffed olives, roasted red peppers mixed with feta, cured ham, assorted cheeses warm bread and mead. Yum.