Fanny Cradock doesn't mention Halloween much. She gives plans, ideas and instructions for almost every other festivity. Nothing for 31st October. It's a surprise as you'd imagine that all the spookery and ghoulishness would be right up her street. Dressing up. Making your food look eerily scary. Over the top, spine-chilling colourings. Putting the fear of god into children. Perhaps it's simply that, in England at least, it's only a relatively 'new' thing. Not on her radar. Growing up in Scotland, it was a major part of my childhood. Perhaps it's just that all this scary stuff was just everyday living for Fanny.
We can only imagine, but my guess is that Fanny's house was one of those doors that the 'guisers' as we call them up here, or Trick or Treaters elsewhere, just walked on by. Not worth the actual total fright that chapping on her door would provoke. Don't make me knock on the scary lady's door. No amount of treats would be a suitable reward for accidentally hammering on her door. Poor Fanny was likely inside waiting expectantly for the bash that never came. Surrounded by her own blood-curdling bespoke blow-out buffet, ready to share them with the local children. Perhaps this was the real issue. What Fanny thought of as treats would have been at best terrifying to many young eyes.
As all the kids skip merrily by, or perhaps run at hair-raising speed, Fanny was inside preparing party snacks just in case. We know her beloved banquet bites were Hors D'Oeuvres that could be easily passed around by the horrifyingly hearty hostess. We know that her favourite party food can be made in advance. It gives you more time to get yourself ready for guests to appear like it's all been an effortless excursion, despite the fact you've been preparing for weeks. We know that Fanny simply loved eggs. So put all three together, add a sprinkle of spookiness and get the Halloween Party started.
Fanny has seven ideas of egg based Hors D'Oeuvres. Seven. All a variation on a theme. All start with boiled eggs - some hard, some soft - and end up usually with something or other being van dyked. Not as in Dick, but as in cut into zig zags. I'm only making three of the seven. You'll see why. For the first ones, Fanny stamps out rounds of puff pastry, bakes them and then hollows out a circle in the centre. The eggs sit in this as a base. The eggs themselves can be excavated, removing the cooked yolks, replacing them with lemon mayonnaise if you like. Then small rosettes of Orange Mayonnaise are piped round the base of the egg. Or it can be a row of peas. The final flourish is a leaf of parsley on top. Maybe a splash of Tabasco. It's like an exploded vol-au-vent, if they ever made vol-au-vents for the film Alien.
You never really see eggs paired with oranges do you? You do in Fanny's world. As if orange mayonnaise wasn't already a step too far, she van dykes a small orange, places an egg inside then pipes more mayonnaise into the gaps. Remember those egg yolks you hollowed out earlier to replace with lemon mayonnaise? Fanny uses them to stuff into hollowed out tomatoes. To disguise the tomato as, erm, an egg, she van dykes some egg white to cap it off. You get the idea. Marry eggs, van dyke skills and orange mayonnaise in any combination for a treat that will never be tricked. Children will give your horrifying home a wide berth at Halloween, which may also be a neat trick, depending on how you view them. You'll be left with the full horror of eating the hors d'oeuvres yourself though, so beware.