“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 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 sometimes it’s 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. It’s like a salty-sweet candy bar that I just can’t stop biting into. For the most part, it’s more legato and indulgent than your typical song-and-dance musical. 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 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 human 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
3 Tbsp butter
8 oz (one package) baby bello mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp vegetarian beef base or soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
2 Tbsp blue cheese crumbles
1 egg, beaten
2 rounds prepared (or 1 store-bought box) pie crust
In two separate batches, pulse mushrooms and onion in the food processor, until the mixture resembles crumbled, cooked ground meat.
- Place a skillet over medium high heat and melt butter. When butter is melted, add all of the ground mushroom and onion mix along with bay leaves, and saute until onions are translucent and mushrooms are slightly wilted, about 10-15 minutes. In the last two minutes of cooking, grate fresh garlic and add beef base and dried thyme into the skillet and stir well.
2. Remove bay leaves and transfer cooked mushrooms into a mixing bowl. When mixture has mostly cooled, add ground pepper and cheese. Stir to combine thoroughly.
3. Preheat oven to 400°. Roll out pie crust to two rounds. Out of the first round, use a 3½” round cookie cutter to cut out as many circles as you can. Press each round into a muffin tin.
4. Repeat cutting out as many circles as you can from the other pie crust round, this time using a 2½” 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. Cut a slit in each top so the steam can escape from the inside during baking. Brush the top of each pie with beaten egg.
5. Bake pies for 20-27 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 or too thin. 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 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 is 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. stick of room temperature 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
Steep tea bags in boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove and discard bags. Stir in honey and cool completely.
When tea is completely cooled, add gin. Chill for several hours before chilling. 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.”
You’ll be happy to know that this elixir is only two miraculous ingredients:
1 12 oz bottle ginger-flavored hard cider
1 Tbsp Fireball whiskey
Serve this cold, preferably in a beer pint or one of these old-fashioned apothecary style bottles.
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! Sweeney Todd is streaming on Netflix NOW!
Here are some links to a few more ideas to make your party perfect:
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