Reward Season

Amid winter, is my favourite season, award season. It’s when my other half and I are at playful odds with one another over what makes a movie British, bets over which nominees will win and domestics over who saw which Globe/Oscar/BAFTA nominated movie without the other. Of course we aren’t half as excited this year without the Beasts of The Southern Wild nominations, but are rooting for Alfonso Cuarón for Best Director, Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor and of course Philomena for Best Adapted Screenplay and Her for Best Original Screenplay.

What award season often presents though, is an opportunity to combine movies, family, friends and food, my four favourite things in no particular order. As ever, careful preparation will be going into the food details for the night and while always up for some star studded decadence, this year I have been racking my brains to create some rewarding treats for award season.

Pan Popcorn

This one can’t go amiss, away from the butter laden variety at the real movies and the microwaveable sort, in recent years, popcorn been embraced by health lovers and is now sold liberally in supermarkets as pre-popped skinny corn.

Having always cooked popcorn at home in a pan with olive oil and a little salt, it was never an unhealthy experience. Using the same traditional method with a slightly revised recipe, this even healthier popcorn will bring the necessary cinematic delicacy to your night.

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(For 20 reasonable servings)

1 cup of popcorn kernels
3 generous tablespoons coconut oil
Himalayan Pink Salt

Melt coconut oil in a deep pan, without the lid on a medium high heat.
Once the oil has melted, add kernels to pan and season with salt and coat kernels with oil.
Leave the lid off for a few minutes and allow kernels to sizzle slightly, once they do cover pan with lid and turn the heat up.
After a few minutes the kernels will start to pop, be mindful of this and keep an eye on the pan, try not tinker with it too much, the odd shake here or there when you sense the pan needs it. The easiest way to keep an eye on this is to use a deep pan with a glass lid.
After sometime the popping will slow down, to a pop or so every few seconds, your popcorn is ready. Empty into a large bowl, a few kernels will remain under popped, if there are many, work quickly to remove popped kernels into the bowl and return the remaining few back to heat until they are finished.

For an extra oomph, make the popcorn fresh when your guests have arrived and serve in colourful cups.

Mini Thai Cakes

These yummy mini morsels are made of yam and brown rice, because they resist fish, dairy and gluten, one doesn’t have pass them onto other guests in a hurry.

(Makes 10 big ones or 20 little ones)

2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 large yam, boiled and mashed
1 teaspoon grated ginger
One clove finally chopped garlic
2 heaped tablespoons Thai Kitchen red paste (adjust to taste – I like it HOT)
Handful of coriander, washed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon Tumeric
1/2 Chilli flakes
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
Himalayan Pink Salt (to taste)

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl thoroughly, make small two-bite sized patties.
Lightly oil a non stick frying pan and cook for three to four minutes on each side, using spatula to keep the shape of each patty.

Tip: Prepare and cook the night before and heat up when your guests arrive.

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Serve each with a teaspoon of homemade guacamole…

Juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic
One large avocado

Blend all the ingredients with a hand blender, adding a little bit of water to ease blending.

Date-Pops

Cake-pops are more tempting because of how lovely they look, these date-pops are a sweet delicious alternative to to those sugary things and can look just as pretty.

(Makes about 10)

250g dates (pitted)
Half a cup ground almond powder
Half cup unsweetened desiccated coconut (to cover with)

In a blender mix the dates with the ground almonds, this should leave you with a thick sticky mass. You can also do this by hand if you want.
Form ten two-bite sized date-pops.
Scatter coconut on a flat plate, roll the date-pops in the coconut and cover, pressing coconut in as required.
Finish by pushing a cake-pop stick or tooth pick into each date-pop.

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