How was everybody’s Halloween and morning-after sugar crash? We had a Halloween party over at our spooky haunted-looking house. Come on now, fess up – what’s your secret number? Mine is 4. As in 2 pieces of delicious carrot cake topped with coconut cream cheese frosting (I promise to share the recipe) and 2 bite-sized coconut chocolate brownies. All gluten-free, all somewhat paleo, all definitely faithful to the traditions of this sweet and sugary holiday. Oh well. Since I’ve never been a candy person, staying away from the lollipops and butter toffees was no problem for me. Staying away from the peanuts on the other hand… peanuts and me are a whole other story. I bought some raw peanuts and roasted, salted and curried them in the oven for our Halloween party that night. How could I resist that? There are a few things in life that I can’t just stop at one. Or fifteen. Peanuts, chocolate covered raisins, cherry tomatoes and episodes of Californication.
Back to Halloween. We had a great Halloween party over at our house with lots of improvised decorations, homemade food and creative friends who came up with some pretty insane costume ideas, including someone dressed up as a package of Oreo cookies. Just in case you weren’t already tempted enough to eat sweets. As always I had a blast in the kitchen making all kinds of treats and dishes for people to snack on. We had different kinds of salads on the table, stuffed baby squashes, the oven-roasted peanuts that nagged at me all night long, two types of cake including the addictive, perfectly moist, just-one-more-piece, slap-your-mama-delicious carrot cake with decadent not-so-paleo coconut cream cheese frosting on top (that would make a great blog post title by the way).
And then on a healthier note, there was this delicious orange-themed carrot and mint gazpacho which I personally found was one of the best things that night, because being in the spirit of Halloween doesn’t only mean filling your cute little brioche with candy. And I’m not a particular fan of chilled soups, but the flavors in this one are incredible. It made me think of Mediterranean Summer meets Morroco in a plastic cup (what we served it in). It’s sweet, refreshing, minty, spicy. It’s new and surprising. It’s so easy and quick to make that you won’t believe you’re already finished when you’ve barely started. It’s also scrumptious for breakfast the next day with little bits of fried egg, just FYI.
Recipe: Carrot-Mint Gazpacho
6 large carrots
2 large red and yellow bell peppers, chopped
3 cups of crushed tomatoes or tomato paste (BPA and sugar free)
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped + more for garnish
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you prefer to keep it mild)
1 tsp salt + freshly cracked pepper to taste
1. Bring a pan of water to boil. Peel and coarsely chop the onion and carrots and cook them in the boiling water until fork-tender, about 25 minutes (or in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes).
2. Once carrots and onion are cooked, discard the water and transfer them to the blender. Add the chopped bell peppers, the smashed garlic, the fresh mint, the salt and the crushed tomato (or tomato paste) and blend on high until entirely pureed. Add freshly cracked pepper to taste.
3. Refrigerate the gazpacho for 3 hours or overnight for the next day. Serve with freshly chopped mint leaves for garnish.