IIs there anything better than movie night? Feet up, movie selection, food on the tray. Ordering something on such occasions is often the way to go, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Cooking a dish or two for a sofa session takes some planning, true, but takeout isn’t the only way to spend the night. Here are some of my movie-night favorites, dialed straight.
Sticky wings and pickles (pictured top)
One of the joys of having dinner on the couch watching a low-light movie is that no one can see how messy you are, but make sure you have plenty of napkins on hand for this. This makes more pickles than you need here, but they keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to a week and are great on sandwiches.
preparation 15 minutes
Marinade 1 hour+
Cook 75 minutes
800 grams of chicken wings
1 tablespoon lemon juice
For a sticky marinade
1 tablespoon gochujangor red harissa
1½ teaspoons tomato paste
170 ml apple juice
100ml dark soy sauce
2½ teaspoons demera sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin seedsCoarse ground in mortar
¼ teaspoon Szechuan pepperFinely grind in a mortar or spice grinder (optional)
2 star anise
¾ teaspoon fennel seedsCoarse ground in mortar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
For pickled cucumbers
2 Lebanese cucumbersOR 1 regular cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, flesh thinly sliced (150g net)
Fine sea salt
2 fresh jalapeño peppersThinly sliced (if you like less heat, discard the pith and seeds)
10 grams of caster sugar
65ml apple cider or white wine vinegar
20 grams Dill leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
First make the pickle. Place the sliced cucumber in a large colander with a quarter teaspoon of salt, toss to combine, then set in a large bowl and leave for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put the jalapeños, sugar, vinegar and 40ml water in a small pan and boil for 30 seconds. Drain any liquid from the cucumber bowl, then place the cucumber and dill in a bowl, pour the pickling liquid over the top and leave to cool completely. Once cool, stir in half a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Meanwhile, whisk all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the wings, tossing with your hands until well coated, then place them in a single layer in a high-sided, 33cm x 26cm roasting tin and leave to marinate for at least an hour (and up to overnight).
Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/Gas 6. Cover the wing tray tightly with foil, then bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and, using tongs, turn the wings and roast uncovered for a further 20 minutes. Spoon any marinade left over all the wings in the pan and bake for 20 minutes more, until sticky and charred in places. Remove from the oven, leave to rest for five minutes, then stir in the remaining half teaspoon of lemon juice.
Arrange the sticky wings and any remaining marinade on a platter, scatter half of the pickles over the top and serve the rest on the side.
Peanut Butter and Sour Cherry Rice Pop Squares
These addictive treats bring peanut butter jelly vibes to any movie night or lunchbox. They can be made ahead, if you like – they will keep in an airtight box for up to two days.
preparation 15 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
chill 1 hour+
175 ml golden syrup
75 grams unsalted butter
100 grams of natural smooth peanut butter – I love Mani Life’s deep roast
100 grams the rice Pops
75 grams of roasted and salted almondsroughly cut
75 grams of dried sour cherriesOr dried cranberries, soaked in a little lemon juice for 10 minutes, then roughly chopped
40 grams of good quality milk chocolateAlmost broken
¼ teaspoon flaked sea salt
Line a 20cm x 20cm square tin with greaseproof paper, making sure there is plenty of overhang.
Place the golden syrup and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring, until the rice is bubbling, three to four minutes. Add the peanut butter, stir for another minute, until smooth, then take off the heat and, working quickly, mix in the rice pudding and 60g each of the almonds and sour cherries.
Transfer the mix to the lined tin and use the overhanging paper to press it down until it’s as flat as you can get it. Refrigerate for one hour until firm.
Meanwhile, fill a small pan a quarter full with water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the chocolate in a small bowl and set it to melt in the pan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the hot water. Remove from heat and, using a spoon, pour the melted chocolate filling into the cooled rice pop cake. Sprinkle over the remaining 15 grams each of almonds and sour cherries and a quarter teaspoon of salt, then refrigerate for about 10 minutes to set.
Remove the tin from the fridge, remove the cake using the overhang, then cut it into 3cm squares. Arrange it on a platter and serve at room temperature.
Mushroom quesadillas with plum salsa
Plum salsa makes these quesadillas extra-special, but if you’re pressed for time, some hot sauce will work as an optional condiment. If you want to make ahead, stuff the mushrooms the day before.
preparation 20 minutes
Cook 40 minutes
1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
350 grams mixed mushroomsCut into ½ cm thick slices
Fine sea salt and black pepper
3 cloves of garlicPeeled and crushed
½ teaspoon rosemary leavesfinely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 medium flour tortillas
100 grams low moisture mozzarellagrated
140 grams of red Leicester or mature cheddargrated
100 grams of sour creamto serve
For the plum salsa
2 slightly underripe plums (210 g), stoned and coarse
1 shallot (40 g), peeled and thinly sliced
10 grams coriander leavesRoughly chopped, add 10 grams to serve
¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
1 red chiliStems removed, cut in half lengthwise, then finely chopped (if you want less heat, discard the pith and seeds)
Heat half a teaspoon of oil in a large, nonstick frying pan over medium heat, add the mushrooms and a quarter teaspoon of salt and cook for 12 minutes, until golden.
Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the garlic, rosemary, remaining vegetable oil and a fine grind of pepper, and cook for another two minutes. Add the tomato paste and 100 ml of water, cook, stirring frequently, for three minutes, until the mixture thickens, then remove from the heat and set aside for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine all the salsa ingredients and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl.
Clean the mushroom pan and place it over medium-high heat. Place on a tortilla and sprinkle with half the mozzarella, half the mushroom mix and 40g red Leicester. Place another tortilla on top, to sandwich the filling inside, then leave to cook for three minutes until golden and crisp.
Remove the quesadilla from the pan, sprinkle 30g more red Leicester onto the frying pan – it will sizzle and melt almost instantly – then place the quesadilla on top of the cheese and press down. Cook for 90 seconds, then use a spatula to lift the cheese-coated quesadilla from the pan and invert it onto a wire rack. Make the second quesadilla in the same manner.
To serve, cut each quesadilla into eight pieces and arrange it on a large plate. Sprinkle over the cilantro and serve in bowls with the salsa and sour cream.