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A Q&A and Recipe from "The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook"
What do you put on your Dead Man's Toe?
Hello, wonderful witches!
Happiest Samhain to you! This intro bit will be extra short today because… I’m on vacation in Antarctica! Well, technically I’m working, but it hardly feels like it. I’ve been trying in vain to include a photo of a penguin I took, but it’s just not happening on the ship’s wifi. In fact, no photos are happening in the post, sadly. I’ll go back in once I’m out of remote snowy lands and add them in. Meanwhile, you can see some great Antarctica photos on my personal Instagram.
Today’s issue is a Q&A with the author and a recipe from “The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook.”
“The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook” with Bridget Thoreson
By Amber Gibson
Now that we’ve seen the glorious return of the Sanderson sisters in Hocus Pocus 2, take some time to re-watch the original and cook through Bridget Thoreson’s 64 original food and cocktail recipes from “The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook: Bewitchingly Delicious Recipes for Fans of the Halloween Classic.” We caught up with Thoreson for a chat about favorite Hocus Pocus moments and her plans for Halloween.
When did you first watch Hocus Pocus? And how many times have you seen it over the years?
I first watched Hocus Pocus so long ago that I can’t even remember, and I’ve seen it hundreds of times since then. As a kid, I used to watch it every time I saw it on television—it always ran multiple times on Disney Channel or TBS or ABC Family. I missed a few years in college when I didn’t have cable, but reunited with it in my early 20s and probably watch it at least three or four times every fall.
Which character do you most identify with and why?
This is a tough question! Maybe Max and Dani’s mom, now that I'm older? Or Allison—she’s a nice, sensible girl who isn’t afraid of embarrassing a cocky guy in front of the entire class. Plus, she has an enviable red cape.
What's your favorite line from the movie?
My favorite line is when Jay tells Dani to “dump out yer sack” when she’s paying the candy toll—no licorice! He just says it with such conviction and flair, and he’s such a 90s dorky bully, it makes me laugh every time. And it inspired the recipe for Dump Out Yer (Chocolate) Sack in the book.
My second favorite line is probably “amok amok amok” because it’s classic Hocus Pocus and really fun to say.
When did you get the idea of turning your love of Hocus Pocus into a book?
I first had the idea to do something related to the movie three or four years ago but never mentioned it to anyone. Then I was talking with Casie Vogel, Director of Editorial & Acquisitions at Ulysses Press about the movie. The sequel had just been officially announced after years of rumors and we’re both huge fans so we were getting pretty excited. We both kind of went, “Should we... do a book for this?” and the other was like, “YES that's exactly what I was going to say!”
What were some of the first recipes you developed? Any especially tricky ones?
I don’t remember the first recipe I worked on, but when we decided to do the book, there were a few that came to me right away—the Black Flame Candle cocktail of course, Life Potion Soup, Shush Ke-baby Kebabs and Pecan Sandie Sisters were some of the very first things that I added.
There weren’t any especially frightful mishaps but I did originally make the Mischief Night Pasta (inspired by Mischief Night pranks and Jay and Ernie TP-ing houses) to be one long flat noodle rolled up like a toilet paper roll, but that looked a bit harrowing so I had to rework that one.
The Oil of Boil cocktail took a bit of work too—that is a recipe that is traditionally called a Slick Rick and it’s a very niche drink (it has olive oil and egg whites) so it took a few tries to get that one right.
Where is your favorite spot to go out for a spooky night on the town in Brooklyn?
I love Union Hall on a cold fall night. It’s dark and cozy and if you’re really really lucky you can score a couch by the fireplace. Otherwise, a walk through Park Slope is fun—there are parts of the neighborhood where they have old gas and flame street lamps, which is a fun vibe with the old brownstones and bare trees and chilly wind coming down the slope.
What are your Halloween plans this year? Will you be preparing any of your own recipes?
I’ll be keeping it pretty low-key this year. My first child was born in June last year so we’ll do some things with her that she won’t remember. My mom is helping me make her costume; she’s going to be a pineapple. Then, my partner and I will settle in to rewatch Hocus Pocus for probably the fifth time of the season.
We will definitely be making some recipes from the book—at the very least a couple of Black Flame Cocktails or “Ghost of Jimi” Hendricks G&Ts. But we’ll probably make a whole night of it—Dead Man’s Toes for appetizers, Black Magic Beef Stew for dinner, and maybe Mother’s Scorpion Pie for dessert!
And the million dollar question—do you prefer mustard or ketchup with your dead man’s toes?
I definitely would go for the ketchup, myself!
Dead Man’s Toes
Excerpted from “The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook”
Alas, it’s so difficult to find a good dead man’s toe these days, never mind keeping it fresh once you do. Though it certainly is easier than it was 300 years ago before the marvelous little invention called a refrigerator. The ancestors of today’s witches really were cursed with so many more struggles—how to keep potion ingredients fresh, how to hide their devilry from small-minded townsfolk in a tiny village, how to stay young and beautiful without the aid of retinol. But necessity truly is the mother of invention. And speaking of invention, with a good supply of dead man’s toes, you can conjure almost anything—including a hellishly spooky party. These appetizers are marvelously macabre. But if you’re interested in a less revolting refreshment, keep the mustard on the side and the hot dogs uncut.
Serves: 8 | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 12 minutes
8 hot dogs
1 package Pillsbury crescent rolls
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon your favorite kind of mustard
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Cut the hot dogs into equal halves.
3. Open the crescent rolls container. Unroll the dough and cut it so that you have 16 similarly sized triangles.
4. Roll each hot dog half with a crescent roll so that the cut half of the hot dog is wrapped in the dough and the uncut half is sticking out fully exposed.
5. Using a sharp paring knife, make two or three thin shallow slits in the top of the hot dog toward the middle right at the edge of the crescent roll dough (this will be the knuckle).
6. On the top of the hot dog at the uncut edge, use the paring knife to cut half of a long ellipse out of the top of the hot dog so that it looks like the shape of a fingernail bed.
7. Place the hot dog rolls on a greased baking sheet and bake for approximately 12 minutes.
8. When the hot dog rolls are done, use a pastry brush or small spoon to cover the nail bed of the hot dogs with the mustard or ketchup.
Variation: For a fancier manicure, you can make a mustard glaze by heating ¼ cup Dijon mustard, ⅛ cup Worcestershire sauce, and ⅛ cup light brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the ingredients melt together and thicken. Brush on the nail beds before the hot dog buns go in the oven.
Amber Gibson covers travel, food, wine, and wellness for Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveller, Departures, NBC, Forbes, USA Today, and Artful Living. Follow her adventures @amberyv on Instagram.
In the next issue…
The next newsletter will have… well, I’m not sure yet. We’ll find out together!
See you then!