“Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd,
His skin was pale and his eye was odd,
He shaved the faces of gentlemen who
Never thereafter were heard from again.
He trod a path that few have trod,
Did Sweeney, Did Sweeney Todd,
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”
I have been a musical theatre lover all my life. I’ve seen dozens of shows and know as many soundtracks by heart– for a short time in my life I even moonlighted as a musical theatre critic for a magazine. Taking all that into consideration, it says a lot that Sweeney Todd is hands down my all-time favorite musical. It’s perfectly fitting to have my very first musical menu blog be Sweeney. While I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing the show live, I have seen Tim Burton’s movie adaptation three hundred times (give or take), and I watch the original filmed Broadway debut every now and then.
It’s hard to know where to begin to tell you why I adore this musical so strongly, but I guess I’ll start here: it breaks the mold in just about every way. Typically, Broadway shows are filled to the brim with razzle dazzle– there is always choreography, sparkle, jazz hands, tap dance, show-stopping numbers, comedy, happy endings, false eyelashes, bright lights, and enormous smiles. There is nothing wrong with any of these things– they’re always a good time. And yet, one day in the nineteen-eighty-somethings, Stephen Sondheim thought to himself, “I wonder if I can make a musical that will scare people.” He subtracted each and every one of those shiny, time-tested elements, added a lot of fake blood and a depressed and bitter lead, and made absolute magic.
This is a story about a barber-turned-prisoner-turned-serial killer-turned cannibal. It’s scary, unsettling, comically morbid, and at moments, endearing. Sweeney Todd was absolutely the first of its kind and to this day, there’s hardly anything like it. The main characters are both antagonists and protagonists all at once, and it’s almost hard not to root for the humorously sick and twisted pair.
What I find to be the most addicting part of the production is the contrast between the murky optics and the gorgeous audio. The setting of old London and the tone of the story are dark, gloomy, bleak, and cold. The score of the show, however, is rich, lush, melodious, warm, and beautiful. For the most part, it’s more legato and indulgent than your typical song-and-dance musical. It’s like a sweet and salty candy bar that I just can’t stop biting into. I watch the movie several times a year, but it really is great for Halloween. If it’s going to be your Halloween night movie this year, let’s do it right with this menu!
Because there’s No Place Like London.
Like most people, I used to think London Broil is a cut of meat. I was wrong. It turns out “London Broil” refers not to any certain cut of meat, but a method of preparation.
I simply brought a cut of flank steak (top round or roast would also work) to room temperature, rubbed it with salt, pepper and canola oil, and grilled it to my liking. You can also cook it in the oven if it’s too cold to grill where you live. Serve it in thin slices cut against the grain. Assuming you’re serving this with the rest of my menu items, a single flank will feed 4 or 5 people.
I also served this with some roasted potatoes, because nothing goes better with a big cut of beef.
Fleet Street Soup
Here’s a great recipe for Cheddar and Ale soup.
Needless to say, I recommend using English cheddar, and an English Ale if you can find one. The ale would be a perfect beverage to serve at your party!
Serve it with a bottle of hot sauce so your guests can add some “bloody” spice to their soup,
The Worst Pies in London
“Eat them slow, ’cause every one’s a prize.”
These are fairly easy to make, and can be baked and frozen days ahead of time. You can fill them with cooked ground beef and a little gravy– however, I know if I were attending a Sweeney Todd party, I would be hesitant to eat any meat pies. That’s why I made these yummy bite-sized pies mushroom instead of meat. Your guests can be guaranteed not a bit of flesh went into this savory side dish. I elaborated on my Vegan Ground Beef recipe from my Vegan Cheeseburger Egg Rolls blog.
Mini Mushroom Pies
8 oz (one package) baby portabello mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp butter
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic
1 tsp vegetarian beef base or Worstershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
2 Tbsp blue cheese crumbles
2 rounds prepared (or 1 store-bought box) pie crust
1 egg, beaten
1. In two separate batches, pulse mushrooms and onion in the food processor, until the mixture resembles crumbled, cooked ground meat.
2. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add minced mushrooms, onions, and bay leaves. Saute until onions are translucent and mushrooms are slightly wilted, about 10-15 minutes. Add garlic, beef base, thyme, and pepper, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
2. Remove bay leaves and transfer cooked mushroom mixture into a mixing bowl. When mixture has cooled, stir in mozzarella and blue cheese.
3. Preheat oven to 400°. Roll out pie crust to two rounds. Out of the first round, use a 3 ½” round cookie cutter to cut out as many circles as you can. Press each round into an lightly greased muffin tin.
4. Repeat cutting out as many circles as you can from the other pie crust round, this time using a 2 ½” cookie cutter. Fill each muffin tin crust with 2-3 tablespoons of the mushroom mix, filling the crust to just under the rim. Top each pie with a 2½” crust round. Brush the top of each pie with beaten egg. Cut a slit in each top crust to vent steam during baking.
5. Bake 25-28 minutes, until top crust is puffy and golden brown. Cool completely before removing from muffin tins.
“It’s man devouring man, my dear, and who are we to deny it in here?”
Johanna’s Yellow Curls
You can use my Skinny, easy, creamy pasta recipe for this. Just go easy on the herbs, or omit them altogether, and use yellow cheddar instead of white to give it some yellow color.
Now on to dessert!
Blood Spatter Cupcakes
These are as simple as red velvet cupcakes topped with cream cheese icing and bloody spatter.
The “blood” is seedless strawberry jam with a little added red food coloring. Warm it up in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds until it’s loose and pourable, but not hot. I took about half a teaspoon at a time and flicked it onto the cupcakes. If you’re concerned about your counter or wall getting splattered, lay down a plastic wrap backdrop before you make the mess.
By The Sea Cookies
Shell cookies or Madelines work perfectly. You can add some “blood” spatter to these too if you’d like.
I bought them here.
“My friends, you shall drip rubies; you’ll soon drip precious rubies.”
That is my all-time favorite musical theatre lyric, and since it’s from my all-time favorite musical, that’s saying a lot. It gives me chills every time.
Fruit Gushers are perfect for this. Not only do they look like cut gems, they’re also filled with yummy “bloody” juice.
I figured out that General Mills sells just Strawberry Splash gushers by themselves and had great luck finding them in a combo pack at Wal-Mart. The combo comes with both strawberry packs and tropical packs. I just got out all the strawberry ones (the packets will say “strawberry” on the front or “tropical” on the back) and put them in a small serving dish. That serving dish contains two mega packs worth.
If you have a hard time finding these, you can also use pomegranate seeds as precious rubies.
Shaving Cream Shots
Fruit dip = edible shaving cream! It’s so delicious you could eat it with a spoon, and that’s just how I served it here. If you don’t want to do it this way, you can absolutely serve it in a bowl with some halved strawberries, apple slices, and red grapes.
The dip is two ingredients combined together: 1 jar of marshmallow fluff and one 8 oz. block of softened cream cheese.
On to cocktails!
Judge Turpin’s Nightcap
Ready for a four-ingredient cocktail?
4 cups boiling water
6 bags Earl Grey tea
⅓ cup honey
1 cup gin
1. In a heatproof pitcher or large measuring cup, steep tea bags in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove and discard bags. Stir in honey and cool completely.
2. When tea and honey mixture is completely cooled, stir in gin. Chill at least 3 hours and serve neat or over ice with a lemon slice or an orange peel twist.
Last but not least…
Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir
“Get a bottle of it! Ladies seem to love it!”
“Flies do too.”
“Was it quick, sir?”
“Did it in a tick, sir, just like an elixir ought to do!”
You’ll be happy to know that this elixir is only two miraculous ingredients:
1 12 oz bottle ginger-flavored hard cider
1 oz. (2 Tbsp) cinnamon-flavored whiskey
Serve this cold, preferably in one of these old-fashioned apothecary style bottles. A beer pint will also do.
It’s a perfect cocktail for this. It’s quick and easy, it looks like the Signor’s elixir (“Piss, piss with ink”), and the apple, ginger, and cinnamon taste like fall!
You have to admit, this is all a lot more fun and more memorable than some generic Halloween party. No one will ever forget it!
Here are some links to a few more ideas to make your party perfect:
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