RECIPE: Halloween Cheddar Eyeball Appetizer


When I’m not cooking and writing for Edible, I’m working on various book projects. For those of you who may not know me, I’m a well-known historian and ghost investigator, and the author of the Ghosts of Long Island books. I’m also the co-author of an Italian cookbook, and no, it’s not a haunted cookbook.

Even though what I do for a living has nothing to do with Halloween, I can’t help but get into the season by dressing up in costume, and transforming my home into a haunted house. Food also comes into play, and I thoroughly enjoy creating a “spooktacular” Halloween meal.

For starters, there are buttery and toasted pumpkin seeds, which were removed from the jack-o-lantern carved the night before. Then I serve bloody toe appetizers. They are quite ghoulish if I do say so myself. Mini hot dogs (which can be purchased from the Forest Pork Store in Huntington) are wrapped halfway with strips of flour tortilla to resemble a bandage. Leave part of the “toe” exposed, and gently shave off the edge of the hot dog so it looks like a toe nail. Add a small dollop of ketchup on the “nail bed” and bake in a 350 degree oven until warm.

For a main course, stuff orange peppers that have been cut out like a jack-o-lantern, with spaghetti marinara. With a fondue fork, gently pull strands of the spaghetti through the eyes, mouth and nose of the face you created on the pepper, so it looks like brains emerging from a pumpkin. Top with the “lid” and place your spaghetti pumpkin on a bed of arugula or mesclun greens to resemble a pumpkin patch.

My favorites are cheddar eyeballs. Every Halloween I make these creepy and delicious appetizers, which I found in Sharon Bowers’ A Frightful Cookbook, Ghoulish Goodies. They are so easy to make, and they pair wonderfully with a glass of wine.

Cheddar Eyeballs
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into six pieces
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 (6-ounce) bottle pimento-stuffed green olives, drained

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the cheese, butter, cumin and salt in a food processor and process until well blended. With the machine running, slowly add the flour and stop as soon as a ball of dough forms. Scoop up a tablespoon of the cheese dough and mold it into a ball. Push an olive down into the middle of the eyeball, leaving only the stuffed end showing. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and olives. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve hot or warm.
Makes about 32 eyeballs.