Happy Halloween! In honor of this delicious day, we are making a traditional recipe for All Hallows’ Eve / Samhain from the UK, “Mash O’ Nine Sorts.” This funnily- yet descriptively- named dish consists of mashed root veggies (traditionally nine types, including turnip, potatoes, parsnips, etc.) and cheese, and is eaten in the Northern UK at this time of year. It is also tradition for the lady of the house to hide her wedding ring in the dish, and the person who found it would be the next to get married. While pumpkins are the most popular in the US, other old-world root veggies have pride of Halloween place in the UK. It was even traditional in Scotland to carve tunips! Lavender and Lovage has a recipe for Mash O’ Nine Sorts here (seen above). If you decide to make Mash O’ Nine Sorts, here is some mood music to help you out – “The Monster Mash!.”
On Halloween in Ireland, there is merriment and good food, principally among them, Barmbrack (sometimes also called barnbrack). Modern Halloween celebrations are actually descended from the Gaelic celebration of Samhain. This sweet bread/cake hybrid is dotted with raisins (sometimes soaked in liquor or tea) and flavored with autumnal spices like cloves and nutmeg. However, the Barmbrack also presents a twist. Much like a French King Cake, there are also little trinkets baked into the bread that have special meanings: a ring for an impending marriage, a pea for no marriage, a stick for fighting, a coin for luck, and a rag for a poor year. Whatever charm you get in your slice supposedly tells you what kind of luck to expect for the new year, though many people only put positive charms in the bread nowadays (who would want to find a rag in a piece of bread anyway?!). You can find a classic recipe from One Perfect Bite and Edible Ireland has a version with tea.