Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween Zombie Fingers!











     "My oh my, Honey!  These are the best tasting Zombie Fingers that I have ever had!  They taste so earthy and fresh from the grave! ... Mwahahaha!"

     Halloween Zombie Fingers!  
     Green Beer Batter Chicken Fingers with Black Tinted Onion Fingernails ... Fried Potato Headstone ... A Mounded Grave of Oregano Flavored Brown Earth Tone Tinted Mashed Potato ... Green Onion Sliver Grass Blade Sprouts ...  An Earthy Dusting of Cumin Powder.  Habanero Ketchup Blood Splatters.  

     This savory Halloween Zombie Fingers entree is very easy to make!  Because zombies tend to rot and decompose in the grave or pretty much any place that they hang out, the Zombie Fingers do not have to look like they are full of life.  They can be presented morbidly in the rough.  The more crude looking, the better!

     Green food color was added to beer batter.  The trick to retaining the bright green color and for keeping the fingernails attached, is to only pan fry one side of each Zombie Finger, till the batter is partially cooked on one side of each finger.  The Zombie Fingers are then placed on an oiled non-stick baking pan with the fried side facing down.  The fingernail can then be attached to the uncooked beer batter on top of the Zombie Finger.  The uncooked green beer batter acts like fingernail glue!  The Zombie Fingers are then baked in an oven.  This cooking method creates a ghoulish green mottled zombie skin effect!
  
     The mashed potatoes must be made stiff and not creamy, because the mashed potatoes need to support five zombie fingers and a headstone.  A combination of red, yellow and green food color will create a nice earthy color tone for the mashed potatoes.

     The Same Old Boring Bar Food, That Every Bar Serves On Halloween? 
     ... Just Say No!
     I am surprised to find that most bar and grill chefs seem to lack any macabre creative imagination during the Halloween week.  Then again, most bars and clubs only hire obedient cooks who are not paid to be creative.  That is one of the problems with corporate run establishments.  Why not let it all hang out and serve fun creative food to customers during Halloween!  
     I spent many years cooking bar and club food and I noticed that during Halloween, customers do get bored with the same old tired standard presentations of food.  I have heard customers who are in a Halloween party going mode say things like, "You know something ... I'm tired of eating the same old food that every bar seems to sell!  Its all the same and it is boring as hell.  Why can't they cook something that has to do with Halloween?"  
     Halloween week is the best time to impress customers with how daring, innovative and macabre food can be.  People in a Halloween mood want to be entertained with bizarre creepy food presentations.  Freaky fun conversations can be inspired by interesting fun Halloween food!  Then the Halloween party mode really starts rolling! 

     Habanero Hot Sauce:
     Ripe orange color habanero peppers can be found at nearly any asian market, Mexican market or regular grocery store.  Wear rubber gloves when handling habaneros, if you have sensitive skin.  This recipe is written in a way that requires minimum direct contact with the habanero peppers.  A food processor, blender or blending wand is required for pureeing this sauce.  The sauce is pureed twice, so it becomes a very smooth consistency.
     Remove the stems from 1/2 pound of orange habanero peppers. 
     Use a knife to slice halfway through each pepper, but do not cut the peppers in half.
     Place the peppers in a stainless steel sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the peppers, with 2" of extra water.
     Add 4 cloves of garlic.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 3 pinches of white pepper.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Allow the ingredients to gently simmer, till the peppers become soft.  (About 1 1/2 to 2 hours.)
     Allow the liquid to reduce.  Only add enough water to keep the peppers covered with 1" of liquid.
     Remove the pot from the heat and allow the ingredients to cool to room temperature.
     Puree the ingredients with an electric blending wand, a food processor or a blender.
     Return the thin puree to the stainless steel pot.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the thin puree, till is becomes a thin puree sauce consistency.
     Remove the pot from the heat and allow the ingredients to cool to room temperature.
     Puree the sauce a second time, so it becomes very smooth.
     The orange habanero hot sauce has a long shelf life, if the sauce is kept refrigerated.
   
     Habanero Ketchup:
     Mix 2 ounces of habanero hot sauce with 2 ounces of your favorite bottle ketchup and chill the habanero ketchup in a refrigerator!

     Chicken Finger Strips:
     Select a 6 ounce boneless chicken breast.
     Cut 5 strips that are shaped like fingers.  The fingers should have a maximum length of about 5".  (Keep in mind that some fingers are shorter than others!) 
     Keep the chicken finger strips cool in a refrigerator.

     Black Tinted Onion Fingernails:
     Peel 1 onion.
     Remove the entire outside ring of the onion and place it on a cutting board.
     Cut the the large onion ring into pointed fingernail shapes that will fit on one end of each chicken strip.  The width of each onion fingernail must be slightly narrower than the chicken finger.  The length of each fingernail should be about 3/4" long.
     Place the onion fingernails into a small glass.
     Cover the onion fingernails with cold water.
     Add 2 to 3 drops of black food color.
     Let the onion fingernails marinate, till they turn black and gray.
     Drain the liquid off of the fingernails.
     Keep the black tinted fingernails chilled, so they do not wilt.   

     Mounded Grave Mashed Potatoes:
     Place 1 large peeled russet potato in a sauce pot.  (About 10 ounces)
     Cover the potato with 2" of extra water.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Boil the potato till it becomes soft and tender.
     Drain the water off of the potato and leave the potato in the sauce pot.
     Partially mash the potato.
     Add 1 pat of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cream.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Note:  For the next step, the amount of food color needed depends on a few variables.  Use your own sense of judgement for when the color tint is correct.  The color tint goal is to create a muddy tan or light brown color.  The black food color will adjust the color tone to a darker shade.
     Add 3 to 5 drops of red food color.
     Add 3 to 5 drops of yellow food color.
     Add 2 to 4 drops of green food color.
     Mash and mix the potatoes, then check the color tint to see if it is an earthy mud color.  Adjust the color tint if necessary.
     Add 3 to 5 drops of black food color, to darken the tone of the mashed potatoes.
     Mash the potato mixture, till it becomes smooth.
     Keep the mashed potato warm on a stove top and allow it to become stiff in texture. 

     Green Beer Batter:
     Place 3/4 cup of flour in a small mixing bowl.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add just enough beer, while gently whisking, to create a medium thick beer batter.
     Add 4 to 6 drops of green food color, while whisking, to turn the beer batter into a green color.
     Set the green beer batter aside. 

     Fried Potato Head Stone:
     Peel 1 russet potato.
     Cut the potato in half across the middle.
     Stand the potato up on the flat end, so the rounded end is at the top.
     Make 2 vertical cuts, on either side of top dead center that are about 3/8" apart to create a headstone shape.
     Trim the edges of the headstone, so it looks real.
     Place the head stone potato slice in a sauce pot.
     Cover the potato with 2" of water.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Blanch the potato slice, till it is only less than halfway cooked and so it is still very firm.
     Remove the potato slice from the hot water and dry off any excess water that clings to the potato.
     Heat some vegetable frying oil in a non-stick saute pan to 360º.  The oil should be about 1/4" deep.
     Fry the potato slice on both sides, till it becomes golden brown and fully cooked.
     Remove the pan fried potato headstone from the hot oil and place it on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Keep it warm on a stove top.
     Season the headstone with sea salt.
     Keep the oil hot in the saute pan hot, so the zombie fingers can be cooked!

     Zombie Fingers:
     Pre-heat an oven to 325º.
     Brush a non-stick baking pan with vegetable oil.
     Dredge the chicken finger strips in flour.
     Dip the floured chicken strips in the green beer batter.
     Place each green battered chicken strip in the 1/4" deep hot oil in the saute pan, till they all are in the pan.  Keep the fingers separated!
     Do not flip the finger in the hot oil!  Only fry one side, till the batter becomes partially cooked and semi solid.  The fried batter should still be soft on the bottom half of each finger.
     Use a spatula to remove the half fried battered fingers from the hot oil and place them on the oiled non-stick baking pan, with the fried side facing down.  
     Note:  If any of the uncooked batter on the topside of the fingers becomes thin or it runs off, spread a thin layer of the excess green batter from the mixing bowl over the bare spots.  It is important to have uncooked batter on the fingertips, where the fingernails will be placed.  
     Place the black tinted onion fingernails on the end of each finger.  The Green batter will act as a glue.  Try to place the fingernails on the fingers, so there is a minimum of overhang, because the heat of the oven will cause the onions to curl!  (Curled fingernails are for fakirs in India not zombies!)
     Drizzle a few drops of vegetable oil over each green battered zombie finger.
     Place the pan with the zombie fingers in the 325º oven.
     Bake till the green batter coating becomes crisp and till some of the excess moisture in the fully cooked chicken meat has evaporated.  (This way the zombie fingers will be stiff instead of limp!  Rigor mortis is an important zombie finger characteristic!)
     Allow the zombie fingers to rest for a few minutes, before using a spatula to free them from the pan.
     Keep the Zombie Fingers warm on a stove top.

     Halloween Zombie Fingers Presentation:
     Gather the muddy dirt mound of of earth tone mashed potatoes with a serving spoon.
     Mound the muddy mashed potatoes on a plate like a mounded grave.
     Insert the fried potato headstone into one end of the mound.
     Note:  Use a fork to tamp the mashed potatoes around and against each item that is inserted.  This will stabilize the mounded grave so each item stand vertically!
     Insert one zombie finger vertically into the grave at a time and tamp the potatoes in place.  
     Tamp the entire mounded grave to create a macabre texture.  (The tamping with a fork will create a harrowed raked look!) 
     Use a pointed chopstick to poke holes in the grave mound.
     Insert thin green onion top slivers and then use the fork to tamp the green slivers in place.  (The onion slivers should resemble sprouting grass.)
     Heavily dust the plate with ground cumin.
     Spatter the habanero ketchup on the plate, so it looks like the blood of a victim of the evil Zombie Fingers!

     "Yes, Igor!  Another Halloween creation that is destined to diabolically and horrifically rule zee world!  Mwahahahaha!"  Yum! 

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