Review: The Nightmare Before Dinner, Recipes To Die For

A person approaches a haunted house, the perfect setting for a Halloween celebration with Zach Neil's new cookbook, The Nightmare Before Dinner. A Haunted House. Photo by Ján Jakub Naništa on Unsplash.

Review: The Nightmare Before Dinner, Recipes To Die For

Food & Drink

Review: The Nightmare Before Dinner, Recipes To Die For


With Halloween on the horizon, this cookbook hit my desk at just the right time. If you love this holiday as much as I do, you’re going to love, love, love this cookbook: Zach Neil’s The Nightmare Before Dinner, Recipes To Die For, published by Race Point Publishing, an imprint of the Quarto Group. Within the review below, you’ll find links to some of the incredibly fun and flavorful recipes from this book.

The Nightmare Before Dinner. Photo: Race Point Publishing, an imprint of the Quarto Group.

This cookbook evolved from a restaurant concept developed by the author, Zach Neil. He explains in the book’s introduction that he was raised in a family environment that didn’t celebrate Halloween, so for him it was a forbidden concept.

It’s Halloween Every Day

A full moon rises over a cloudy sky, the perfect setting for a Halloween celebration.

A Full Moon. Photo by Altınay Dinç on Unsplash.

As an adult, he exposed himself to the movies, music and art he did not experience as a child and it inspired him to create a place where Halloween happens every day of the week—the Beetle House restaurant which now has locations in Los Angeles and New York.

The author also loved to cook as a child, worked in restaurants as an adult, and pulled together his favorite chefs and mixologists to create the menu at Beetle House, designed to pay homage to autumn and the foods of the Northeast.

Along Neil’s journey, he also developed a personal interest in plant-based foods and provides vegan alternatives for nearly all of the recipes in this cookbook. It contains more than 60 recipes from the restaurant, inspired by the works of Tim Burton and all things dark and lovely.

An Eerie Assortment of Frightful Recipes

Within The Nightmare Before Dinner, you’ll find chapters for Sauces and Dips for the Recently Deceased with dishes like Edward Sauce, Hollow Sauce, Dead Sauce and Beetle Jam.

Nightmares Before Dinner includes eerie appetizers and sinister sides such as Brains and Chips, Graveyard Noodles, and Beetle Bacon Bread.

Herbs, Plants & Cauldrons includes Sriracha-Roasted Butternut Squash Death Soup, Giant Peach Salad, and Butcher’s Stew.

Moving on to the Platos de los Muertos, or Macabre Mains, it’s Cheshire Mac and Cheese, Edward Burger Hands, Love It Pot Pie, Frog’s Breath and Nightshade Risotto, and Silence of the Lamb Chops.

No Halloween celebration is complete without desserts, and the Tricks & Treats don’t disappoint. This isn’t your typical door-to-door trick-or-treat fare! Bloodbath Cobbler, Beetle Pie, and a 70s throwback: Boozy Mango Sorbet with Pop Rocks.

Libations, You Ask?

This Is Halloween Cocktail. Photo: Race Point Publishing, an Imprint of the Quarto Group.

But, of course. Those you’ll find in the chapter on Poisons, Potions & Elixirs—Deadly Drinks and Creepy Cocktails. The Beetle’s Juice (of course), Edward’s Lemonade, The Coco Skellington, the This Is Halloween cocktail, and the Franken-Martini will keep you and the Halloween lights lit. Just remember, if you find yourself as lit as the Halloween lights, you better be at home or have a designated driver.

In addition to the innovative recipes above (and many more in the book), you’ll find a chapter on how to create your own themed parties with suggestions for menus, props and other accessories.

Your Party’s In The Hearse, Or Bag That Is

With all the work done for you, well at least the conceptual part, The Nightmare Before Dinner is my new Halloween must-have handbook. A big dose of fun, some incredibly great recipes with fabulous themed-party ideas—what’s not to like?

We thank the author, Zach Neil, and his publisher Race Point for allowing us to review this book and share a selection of recipes with our audience. The book and recipes are ©2018 by Zach Neil. Race Point Publishing, an imprint of the Quarto Group.

Have a spooky, and delicious, Halloween!


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