Great Bites: Trick & Treat

By Sean-Patrick M. Hillman

This time of year is special. The cooler temperatures start to take hold which means comfort-oriented food takes priority. Here, three recipes that can easily be prepared for Halloween celebrations and beyond. Bon appetit!

STICKS & BONES (Chinese Sticky Ribs)
You’ll find this recipe is simple and delivers big flavor.

1 rack of pork baby back or St. Louis style ribs, membrane removed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup + 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
¾ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoon oyster sauce
½ cup of water
¾ cup dark brown sugar 
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon five-spice powder 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh or minced ginger
2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, stir for 30 seconds. Add ½ cup soy sauce, water, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, ½ cup hoisin sauce, five-spice powder, and 1 tablespoon honey. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened some (about 10–15 minutes). Pour 2/3 of the marinade into a large zip-top bag; reserve 1/3 cup for basting later. Add ribs to the bag and marinate, refrigerated for at least three hours (although overnight is ideal). Using an air fryer, set the temperature to 400F. Place ribs in the basket for 10 minutes; flip ribs and cook another 10 minutes. Combine reserve marinade with remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Baste ribs and cook for the final five minutes. When finished, set on a plate to cool for 5 minutes. When finished, set on a plate to cool. Serving suggestion: Slice ribs and place one or two ribs on a small plate or bowl over sticky rice. Serving suggestion: Use Chinese take-out containers, and fill with one large spoon of rice, one or two ribs, sprinkled with chopped scallion.

Plain pound cake doesn’t cut it anymore, try this recipe to kick it up a notch!

1½ cups cake flour
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons of unsweetened powder
1 teaspoon of almond extract
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup of whole milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
1¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and hot

Use middle rack position and heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 8½” x 4½” loaf pan. You can also use a 9” x 5” pan (see below for baking time). Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl until well-mixed. Set aside. Using a blender or food processor mix milk, semi-sweet chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa powder until thoroughly chopped (15–20 seconds). Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla until combined (15 seconds). Add hot melted butter until well-mixed (15–20 seconds). The consistency will resemble a thin pancake-like batter. Transfer to a large bowl. Sift flour mixture over batter in 3 portions, whisking to combine after each. Continue to gently whisk batter until there are no lumps (do not over stir!). Pour batter to the loaf pan, and smooth top layer with a rubber spatula. Lightly tap the pan on your counter to settle the batter. Sprinkle sliced almonds over batter. Place in oven and bake for 60–65 minutes (if using a 9” x 5” pan bake 55–60 minutes); rotate pan halfway during baking. Let cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes. With a knife loosen cake from pan; cool completely on a wire rack for about 2 hours. Serving suggestion: Slice the pound cake, and sprinkle with confectionary and orange-colored sugar.

My friend, Buzzy Sklar, who created J.F. Haden’s Mango Liqueur (, developed this recipe. Use a pitcher to make sure people are observing safe distancing.
4 oz. J.F. Haden’s Mango Liqueur
2 oz. fresh orange juice
8 oz. white wine 
4 oz. lemon-lime soda
Stir well. Add sliced fruit to pitcher (oranges, lemons, and limes). Serve over rocks.