I love nothing more than hosting a good party, and at this time of year there are more than enough occasions to do so – even if the numbers attending are smaller than usual. Hallowe’en is a given in our house: whether there are kids involved or just a slap-up meal for my family with ladles of spiced punch, I am determined to celebrate.
Although the commercialism around these holidays can feel out of control at times, especially if you’re a parent, I see it as the perfect excuse to savour the amazing produce and special days of autumn, whether it’s for Hallowe’en, Day of the Dead, or a good old-fashioned Bonfire Night.
These dishes in the menu below are hearty and warming, the kind you’d eat having peeled off a pair of mittens after a session of sparkler waving. I often make a fruity punch, which looks great, even more so if you have an old-fashioned punch bowl.
A one-pot dish like a cassoulet is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser, especially when accompanied by a sticky, unctuous layer cake for pud.
Prep time: 5 minutes, plus freezing
- 2 oranges
- 1 pineapple
- 250ml good-quality pineapple juice
- 100ml fresh orange juice
- Juice of 5 limes
- 300ml spiced rum
- Splash of grenadine (optional)
- 500ml ginger beer (or ginger ale if you like it less sweet)
- Lots of ice, to serve
- ¾ nutmeg, for grating
- You don’t have to do this step, but I quite like freezing my fruit ahead of serving – for drama and added chill factor. Slice the oranges into rounds or half moons and slice the pineapple into long wedges (I tend not to peel the pineapple as it looks better like that). Place in large freezer bags, keeping the fruit in one layer as much as possible, and freeze for at least four hours before serving.
- You can either build the punch in a punchbowl with ice and serve from there, or mix it in a jug, then add ice to the glasses and top with the ginger beer and fruit.
- In whatever vessel you are using, mix together the pineapple juice, orange juice and lime juice. Stir in the rum, and the grenadine if using. You can mix this ahead of time if you like.
- Just before serving, top the punch with the ginger beer and ice, and finely grate over the nutmeg. Nestle in the frozen fruits and serve.