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Tentacles and A Bewitching Sip for #FoodNFlix

Food‘nFlixElizabeth at The Lawyer's Cookbook is hosting this month's Food'N'Flix event. We watched, or rewatched as the case may be, Hocus Pocus. Click to see Elizabeth's invitation.

On the Screen...
I have never actually seen this movie. But it was rated PG, so I put it in the Netflix queue and sat down with the boys when it arrived.

This was a good one-timer for us. It was fun, but I don't think we'll become the family that watches this every Halloween. The basic plot: three witches are hanged in Salem, MA, 300 years ago. Their bodies are cursed. Flash forward. The witches are trying to exact their revenge on two little kids in present day, well, present day when the movie was made.

There is a lot of witches fly around on brooms - and vacuum cleaners - and the cat can talk. It's mayhem and madness all stirred together in a confusing cauldron with a lot of hysterical shrieking. Lots. But the sisters' antics did make me smile every once in a while.

Winifred: Sisters, All Hallow's Eve has become a night of frolic, where children wear costumes and run amuck!
Sarah: amuck!
[dances around]
Sarah: Amuck, amuck, amuck, amuck, amuck...


In the Glass...
While I usually drink Strega straight, sipping it from a cordial glass, 'Strega Straight Up' didn't seem a worthy Food'N'Flix post.  So, I needed to add a recipe that uses Strega. Do you know about Strega?

Liquore Strega, Witches' Brew, is an Italian herbal liqueur whose bright golden hue comes from the presence of saffron in its formulation.  I remember when I first saw the sunny bottle on a shelf at a bar in Rome.  The bartender let me taste it and when I asked what was in it, he answered: "Tante cose, ma il colore viene da il zafferano." Many things, but its color comes from saffron.

Saffron, mint, fennel, and almost seventy other herbs are blended together to make this liqueur.  I was immediately smitten all those years ago and it has been a staple in my bar ever since.

On My Plate...
I also decided to make something that looks very Halloween-y to me: tentacles! And I added in saffron and fennel to mirror the flavors in the liqueur.

  • 2 pounds baby octopus
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 red onions, peeled and diced (approximately 1½ C)
  • 1½ C fennel fronds, chopped
  • 1 t red chili pepper (you can use more, but my mini boys don't like things too spicy yet)
  • 1 C passata di pomodoro (you can use tomato sauce if you don't have any passsata)
  • ½ C red wine
  • ½ C water
  • 1 t saffron threads
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T Strega
  • bread for serving

Clean the octopus in salted water and rinse well. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and add in the red onions, fennel fronds, and red chili pepper flakes.

Once the onions have softened and are beginning to turn translucent, add in the passata, red wine, water, saffron threads, smoked paprika, and the octopus. bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat and cover.  Braise the octopus in the tomato broth for at least 90 minutes. Stir occasionally. Ten minutes before you're ready to serve, add in the Strega. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, fold in the fresh herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grilled pieces of bread and Strega straight up! Cheers.


  1. A fitting feast for a spooky Halloween night.

  2. Cool! I've been waiting to see someone in the group do octopus. The amuck scene is one of my favourites.

  3. I am intrigued by this liquor. The octopus looks delicious too! I love your take this month.

  4. Oh such a great idea doing baby octopus, very spooky and delicious. Nope never heard of Strega and I want some now!

  5. A very Halloweenie-witchy dish, indeed. Love the sipper on the side.

  6. So now I really need to try Strega - I love the sound of it! And the baby octopus are perfect for a Halloween theme...they look perfect!

  7. A great combination of creepy and elegant! ;-) I am intrigued by the Strega--I have never heard of it but I am going to try to find some. Fabulous post!

  8. Eeep! That little octopus is freaking me out! Perfect for Halloween though!


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