Tag Archives: Halloween

Ready to Entertain: A Halloween Postscript

We had Mike’s Halloween Birthday Party on Saturday evening. Here’s an illustrated narrative.

When guests arrived I was ready to entertain.


The sink was empty.


And the dishwasher was empty.


Gracie had set the table earlier that afternoon. I carved the Halloween totem pole the night before.


Our house cocktail of champagne and pear nectar, a fall variation on a bellini, was ready for guests. This recipe plus three other seasonal champagne cocktails are in At Home.


Hors d’oeuvres in place on the coffee table, including a basket of English walnuts I picked up that morning at the Rittenhouse Square farmer’s market, a fall olive mix,  duck rillettes and crostini that I bought at Talula’s Table and Noah’s whole roasted pumpkin seeds. To the left and right of the jack-o’-lantern were glass bowls of beautiful autumn-hued dried pasta also bought from Talula’s Table.


In order to force myself out of the kitchen while everyone else was eating, I set up the buffet right in the kitchen. Turkey and Black Bean Chili was simmering on the stove and everything else was waiting patiently at room temperature. Chili Bar  toppings included a Bowl of Green (recipe in At Home) and a Bowl of Red (see below), sour cream, grated sharp cheddar, diced red onion, and torn leaves of cilantro. Also on the counter was Roasted Corn & Brussels Sprouts and a simple arugula salad with dried cranberries and apples. We served beer with dinner.

Dessert was a “Happy Birthday Mike—Go Phillies” Carrot Cake from my Frog Commissary bakery.

My goal was one relaxed hour for myself before guests arrived. An early guest arrival time of 5 PM added to this challenge as did my last-minute decision to carve an extra jack-o’-lantern and make the pumpkin seeds. So, I settled for a relaxed half-hour before guests arrived. Hey, that’s halfway to my goal, right?

Bowl of Red
The opposite of the Bowl of Green and its fresh, uncooked green tomatillos and chilies, Bowl of Red gets its deep, earthy flavor from dried ancho chilies cooked with vegetables and tomatoes. It can also be used as a condiment for grilled meats.

do ahead Bowl of red may be made up to a week ahead.

2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and halved (See note below)
1 cup boiling water
2  garlic cloves, crushed
2/3 cup diced red onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 In a heavy pan over moderate heat, toast chiles, turning frequently until they become pliable, about 2-3 minutes. Add to boiling water and remove from heat. Steep 30 minutes. Remove chiles, reserving soaking liquid, and cool.

2 Heat oil over moderate heat in a medium sauté pan. Add garlic,onion, celery and green pepper and cook, covered, until vegetables release some liquid, about 5 minutes. Remove cover and lower heat, cooking slowly until mixture turns golden, about 15-20 minutes.

3 Add tomato, cumin, oregano and strained soaking liquid from dried chiles and continue to cook over low heat until mixture gets quite thick and tomatoes break down, about 20-30 minutes. If it gets too thick and tomatoes have not broken down, add back a little bit of water and cover.

4 While vegetables are cooking, scrape the fleshy part of the soaked chilies away from the skin. Add the flesh to the cooking vegetables.

5 Transfer mixture to the work bowl of a food processor.  Add red wine vinegar and salt. Pulse until smooth.

Yields 2 cups

All seasons

Note: Dried chiles are hard and brittle. Before toasting you want to remove the stem and seeds. With a sharp knife, cut across the top of chile, cutting away a small portion of the flesh that surrounds the stem. Pull away the stem. Slit chile in half. Scrape away the seeds and discard. Be careful as the chile seeds and membrane are hot and while they will not hurt your fingers, they can cause discomfort if you touch your fingers to your eyes, lips or other soft tissue. Wash hands after handling chiles. After you have removed the seeds and membrane, toast chile in a dry pan over moderate heat. The chile will become softer and pliable as it toasts. Turn chile several times to toast evenly. You will then re-constitute the chile following the directions above. (At Home is loaded with tips like this.)

Reading Terminal Market this Saturday, November 7th.
I will be at Reading Terminal with a little At Home roadshow on Saturday, November 7th from 11 AM to 2 PM. I will work with selected Reading Terminal merchants on making your Thanksgiving better and easier. At Home will be available for sale.

Looking for Owners of The Frog Commissary Cookbook
If you know anyone who owns The Frog Commissary Cookbook—and you think they should know about At Home, please direct them to our website.

Giving Thanks by Giving At Home
Simple math suggests that far more people are Thanksgiving guests than Thanksgiving hosts. The perfect house gift for your Thanksgiving host is to bring them a copy of At Home. At Home is not available in bookstores so you will need to go to our At Home Shop to purchase it.

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Filed under Entertaining at Home, Family and Friends, Holidays, Recipes, Tips

Turkey & Black Bean Chili

I am on track for my one relaxed hour. My chili is done and waiting patiently in the refrigerator. If you too would like to do a  Chili Bar for your Halloween Party, here’s the recipe for Turkey & Black Bean Chili from At Home.

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Turkey & Black Bean Chili
This earthy chili owes its depth of flavor to ground ancho chili but you can substitute standard chili powder for excellent results. Serve a bottle of hot sauce on the side for guests who prefer more heat. You can substantially cut the time it takes to make this by using canned beans. They won’t have quite the same texture or color, but you can skip the first two steps.

do ahead Chili actually improves the second day, as the flavors soften. It may be fully cooked three days in advance and refrigerated, then reheated on the stove. It can also be frozen in an airtight container for three weeks.

4 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1⁄2 pound dried black beans (or 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed)
1⁄4 cup chopped jalapeño
2 tablespoons olive oil
21⁄2 pounds 15% lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons chili powder, ancho preferred
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1 cup finely chopped onion
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 pint sour cream (optional)

1 In a large bowl, cover beans with 6 cups water. Soak at least 6 hours or
overnight. Drain beans and rinse. In a large pot, combine beans with 4 cups
water. Simmer for 11⁄2 hours until beans are tender but still firm. Drain and set
2 Add olive oil to a deep, heavy pot over moderately high heat and heat until hot but not smoking. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned at their edges, about 20-25 minutes.
3 Add jalapeño, chili powder and cumin and cook for about 2 minutes. Add turkey and cook until opaque, about 5 minutes. Use the spoon to break up turkey. This mix will be very dry until the turkey starts to render some juice.
4 Add tomatoes and their juice, cooked beans, bay leaves, thyme and cilantro. Reduce heat to simmer, uncover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper.
5 Ladle chili into bowls and serve with sour cream, onion and a generous amount of cilantro leaves sprinkled on top.

serves 8-12

A Halloween Treat: If you are an invited guest to a Halloween party, At Home is the perfect treat for your host. At Home — the book and At Home Online, the companion website — is only available at athomebysteveposes.com — never in bookstores — and at occasional personal appearances.

My Free Library Event Podcast
If you were not able to attend my recent Free Library event, here’s a link to the podcast. The link will take you to the Free Libray page for the event. Once there, click on Listen on MP3.

Reading Terminal on Saturday, November 7th.
I will be at Reading Terminal with a little At Home roadshow on Saturday, November 7th from 11 AM to 2 PM. I will work with selected Reading Terminal merchants on making your Thanksgiving better and easier. At Home will be available for sale.


Filed under Entertaining at Home, Family and Friends, Holidays, Recipes

Happy Halloween Parties

Screen shot 2009-10-21 at 8.43.24 PMSince my goal is to increase home entertaining nationally by 10% I want to encourage you to have more parties. But I don’t want you to have more parties and feel resentful — not of  your partner or your children or your guests or your mother…or me. Life is just too short for that. I want your parties to be fun to plan and execute and for you to always get one relaxed hour prior to your guests arrival. I understand you may not be able to imagine that right now. But we haven’t worked on this together.

So, here’s what I suggest. Let’s use my plan for my Halloween party as a case study and introduction to More Parties. Better. Easier.  Then beginning the first week of November and continuing until Thanksgiving eve, we’ll use my principles of planning to help you plan your Thanksgiving…a party planners Armageddon. If you know someone who is responsible for a Thanksgiving meal you may want to give them a heads up about the blog between now and Thanksgiving.

My Halloween Party – A Case Study
I want my Halloween party to serve as a birthday party for Gracie’s brother whose birthday falls just after Halloween. (Note: Gracie is my nom d’amour for my wife Christina.) But, here’s the thing. I am incredibly busy between the start-up of At Home and the start-up of our new Franklin Institute operation. And to make matters worse (or better), Gracie and I plan to be away next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (my birthday!) so while I have time to plan I have very little time to do. As an entertaining overachiever I am striving to do less and enjoy it more so this is an excellent opportunity for me to come up with a deliciously practical plan.

Screen shot 2009-10-21 at 9.10.57 PM

This is Pascal’s idea of me at my Halloween party if I do not get my one relaxed hour. Not a pretty site.

One of the things I am trying to do when I plan my menus is to spend more time with guests and less time in the kitchen. We live in a Center City apartment unlikely to get trick or treaters to plan around. But I think my deliciously practical party plan will work for households that have to accommodate the early evening clamour of the doorbell. My guest list is mostly family with a few friends — about 8-10 people. That calls for an informal menu built around things I can mostly do this coming weekend plus some next Friday shopping and finishing up next Saturday.

Screen shot 2009-10-21 at 8.46.54 PMBecause I believe that what we serve should ideally reflect the season, my menu needs to capture a bit of fall without making things too complicated for myself. In an ideal world where time is limitless and daily pressures light, I would take a ride tomorrow to Maple Acres Farm for seasonal inspiration, but there is no way to do that. Instead, I will just use my Foods by Season chart in Part 1 of At Home to remind myself of what’s in season now.

Tomorrow: My Halloween Party menu and how I plan to use this weekend to help insure that I get my one relaxed hour prior to guests arrival next Saturday.

A Halloween Treat: If you are an invited guest to a Halloween party, At Home is the perfect treat for your host. At Home — the book and At Home Online, the companion website — is only available at athomebysteveposes.com — never in bookstores — and at occasional personal appearances.

Postscript: The Good Enough Entertainer — Cooking with Rick Nichols. You can read the final installment of Cooking with Rick Nichols, written by Rick himself, in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer or at Philly.com. My only objection to Rick’s otherwise fun article is where Rick says… “As for his mantra, “Increase Home Entertaining 10 Percent,” Poses acknowledges it’s pretty much a marketing slogan.” I believe passionately in the value of home entertaining and while the increase of 10% is a bit audacious, it nevertheless is my goal…marketing slogan or not.

Reading Terminal on Saturday, November 7th.
I will be at Reading Terminal with a little At Home roadshow on Saturday, November 7th from 11 AM to 2 PM. I will work with selected Reading Terminal merchants on making your Thanksgiving better and easier. At Home will be available for sale.

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Why Don’t You Have a Halloween Party?

Halloween falls on a Saturday about every seven years. (Leap years mess up this exact formula.) And this year is one of those Saturday Halloween years. So this Halloween is an especially good one to plan a little trick and treat at home. If you have been paying attention to this blog at all, you know that what I care about is increasing home entertaining  nationally by 10%. So, if we fail to take advantage of this unique Halloween Saturday at home, we will have lost a critical opportunity toward meeting my goal — that I hope to make our goal — and we’ll have to wait another seven years for such a opportunity to occur again. That would be a shame.

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Pascal’s Halloween Lemon dressed for a cool evening.

The first question to answer is are you going to invite some friends over? Halloween is an excellent occasion because it lends itself so well to relaxed, informal, easy entertaining. Don’t get overly ambitious. Think modestly and plan boldly. Maybe just a few friends? You have been wanting to have friends over for a long time so go for it! I promise I will guide through a Halloween Party experience that you will be proud of and enjoy, in your own way, almost as much as your guests.

One of my key plan to entertain principles is to be sure you have at least one full weekend prior to when you plan to entertain. That means that we need our plan in place before next weekend so that we can spread out our entertaining tasks without feeling hassled and overwhelmed. So, think about it over the weekend and I’ll check back with you on Monday. Together we can Plan to Entertain for Halloween!

Screen shot 2009-10-16 at 11.57.40 PM

Don’t be scared. It’s just Pascal’s Halloween Ginger.

More Parties. Better. Easier.


P.S. One thing you might do to get a jump on your Halloween planning is to stop thinking about ordering At Home and just go ahead an order it.

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Filed under Entertaining at Home, Holidays, Tips