Trick 'n Treat WineGame

You’re never too old to enjoy Hallowe’en. Keep everyone happy with a WineGame while the kids are out trick or treating. Serve up finger food that isn’t silly or sweet – this month’s pairings play with the flavors of the season in a totally nice way.

Here are the treats – with wines to pair in a WineGame that will trick even the savviest taster.

Devils on Horseback: Though no one quite divines the backstory to naming this classic hors d’oeuvre comprising a stuffed date wrapped with crispy bacon, it may be a take-off from Angels on Horseback, which features an oyster rather than date. We make ours seasonal (and easy!) by stuffing it with chutney. The Trick: Serve with a crisp but full-bodied white like a Chablis (Chardonnay), Italian Arneis or Chenin Blanc.

Pumpkin Toss: Your guests will never guess you used canned rather than fresh pumpkin for this savory soup. Serve in a shot glass for ease of use, and your guests will keep coming back for more. Luckily, they’re 0% proof, save that for the wine! The Trick: Bring this out when you taste a Spatlese or Auslese Reisling from the Mosel, Germany.

Olive Eye Poppers: Ignore the gross moniker, these are totally delicious to pop right in your mouth. The recipe is adapted from a local specialty of Marche, Italy, where legend has it these were invented to use up leftover meats. So while here we specify chicken and pork, if you’ve something else in the fridge go for it. The Trick: An unexpected pairing for olives is Cabernet Franc, but if you need a white go back to the Italian Arneis.

Tamarind roasted ribs: Skip the BBQ sauce and go for the savory citrus glaze on these tender knuckles – no one will guess they didn’t cook all day. The Trick: Pinot Noir from Oregon, California or New Zealand.

Roasted red pepper dip on a cucumber moon: While many dips rely on a dairy base, this simple spread keeps its edge with just olive oil and lemon, making the flavors of the Mediterranean shine through, and adding a dash of healthy to your Hallowe’en. Cut the cucumbers on the bias like little half-moons to complement your theme, if you wish. Or just pull out a cracker and call it a night. The Trick: This app pairs well with a generous red, so pick a Grenache, Mourvèdre or Zinfandel.


The Recipes:

Devils on Horseback

  •     24 dates sliced lengthwise

  •     ½ cup prepared chutney

  •     12 strips bacon, halved

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Stuff each date with ½ tsp of prepared chutney. Lay a stuffed date on top of each bacon slice; wrap to enclose. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes, flipping each wrapped date after 8 minutes. Transfer wrapped dates to paper towels to drain. Serve with toothpicks.


Pumpkin soup with cinnamon cream

  •   2 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree (not flavored pie filling), about 3½ cups

  •   3 to 4½ cups low sodium vegetable or chicken stock or broth

  •   1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  •   1 teaspoon ground ginger

  •   1/2 teaspoon allspice

  •   1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  •   2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo puree

  •   1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream

  •   Salt and freshly ground pepper

  •   1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

Put the pumpkin puree in a large saucepan, whisk in 2 cups of the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and honey. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add more stock if the soup is too thick. Remove from the heat and whisk in the crème fraiche and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Transfer the soup to a pitcher or measuring glass and fill 3-ounce glasses 7/8 full, top with a small dollop of the cinnamon fraîche, some of the pumpkin seeds and chives. Place shot glasses on a platter and set out for people to help themselves. 


Roasted red pepper dip

  • 14 ounces roasted red peppers, either store-bought or homemade

  • 1 medium clove garlic

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained

Arrange the peppers on a double layer of paper towels, and let dry. (Tip for home roasting, set on the edge of a gas burner and rotate until charred on all sides. Put in a paper bag for 5 mins, the steam will make the skin slip right off.)

Smash and peel the garlic. Then in a small bowl mash to a paste with the salt.

Combine the garlic mixture, oil, parsley, lemon juice and capers in a food processor, and process until chopped fine. Add the peppers, and process until they are coarsely chopped. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Serve at room temperature.

Olives all’ascolana

  • 30 large green olives, pitted

  • 4 eggs, plus extra if needed

  • 2 cups (300 g) plain flour

  • ⅔ cup (50 g) dried breadcrumbs (GF option see below)

  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying

·      Stuffing

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 small brown onion, roughly chopped

  • 1 small carrot, roughly chopped

  • 1 small celery stick, roughly chopped

  • 150 g pork sausage meat, removed from its casing

  • 100 g chicken thigh fillet, cut into cubes

  • 150 ml white wine

  • salt flakes

  • 2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs (see below)

  • 2 tbsp freshly grated parmigiano or pecorino

  • 1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

  • finely grated zest of ½ lemon

Place the olives in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes to get rid of the briny flavour. Dry them and set them aside.

To make the stuffing, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until softened. Add the pork and chicken meat and brown well. Pour in the wine and cook over high heat for 1–2 minutes or until the alcohol has evaporated, then reduce the heat to low, season with salt and cook for 15–20 minutes or until the meat is cooked through. Remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs, then set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blitz for 10–15 seconds or until it looks like a thick paste. Scrape the paste into a large bowl and add the cheese, parsley, nutmeg and lemon zest. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then mix 3 tablespoons of the beaten egg through the stuffing (reserve the rest for later). Rest for 30 minutes. 

Cut a slit in each olive and fill with ½ teaspoon stuffing. Roll the filled olives in the flour, then in the reserved beaten egg, and finally in the breadcrumbs. Roll them one last time in egg and breadcrumbs to create a super-crunchy double coating. You may need to replace the breadcrumbs halfway through rolling, as the wet egg mixture will inevitably make it a bit too sticky to be workable. Likewise, you may need to add an extra egg or two if the olives absorb more than you predict.

Half-fill a large frying pan or deep-fryer with sunflower oil and heat over medium–high heat to 180°C or until a cube of bread browns in 15 seconds. Add the stuffed olives in batches and fry for 3–4 minutes or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.


• You can double the quantities and freeze half the stuffed and crumbed olives, ready to deep-fry from frozen when you need them. Arrange them on a flat tray, without overlapping, and freeze them for about 2 hours. Then you can transfer them into a zip-lock bag. They will keep for up to 4 weeks.

• Any leftover stuffing mix can be turned into mouthwatering meatballs or filling for ravioli.


• To make breadcrumbs, simply blitz stale bread in a food processor until coarsely chopped. If your crowd is gluten free, whiz up some GF bread: we promise they will never know the difference. The breadcrumbs will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.


Pressure Cooker Sticky Tamarind Baby Back Ribs

·      2 kg baby back ribs

·      1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

·      1/4 cup tamarind paste or concentrate

·      1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from about 1/2 orange)

·      1/4 cup honey, plus more as needed

·      2 tablespoons soy sauce

·      1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest

·      1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

·      1 star anise pod

·      2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as safflower or canola

·      4 small shallots, diced (about 1/3 cup)

·      1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger

·      2 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced

Cut the ribs into chunks of 2 or 3 ribs, depending on their size, and place them in a large bowl. Toss with 1 teaspoon salt, and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

In a small bowl, combine the tamarind, orange juice, honey, soy sauce, lime zest and juice and star anise. Set aside.

Using the sauté function, heat the oil in the pressure cooker. Stir in the shallots and cook until they are starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute, then stir in the tamarind mixture. Bring to a simmer, and then scrape the sauce into the large bowl of ribs. Toss gently to combine.

Arrange the ribs standing up along the outer edge of the pressure cooker, making a ring with the meat side of the ribs facing out. Continue with the remaining ribs, arranging them to make concentric circles. Pour any remaining sauce over the ribs, cover and cook on high pressure for 32 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.

Heat the broiler.

Transfer the ribs, meat-side down, to a rimmed baking sheet. Turn the pressure cooker to the sauté function and cook to reduce the sauce until it’s thick, about 15 minutes; spoon the fat off the top when finished. Taste the sauce, and adjust the seasoning or add more honey if necessary; then brush the ribs with the sauce. Broil the ribs until they are charred in spots, 1 to 3 minutes. Then flip them over, brush with more sauce, and broil on that side until charred. Serve immediately, with more sauce on the side.

NOTE: If you’d rather use a slow cooker, add 3/4 cup water to the machine when adding the sauce in Step 4. Cook the ribs on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. Remove the ribs, reduce the sauce and broil as described in Step 6.


Credits: Stella de Smit, NYT,, Martha Stewart