Public huddling around a bonfire may be off limits, but we can still cook up a Guy Fawkes feast.

As with everything, it’ll be a strange and somewhat makeshift one this year. But to us, Bonfire Night is always worth celebrating as one of the most atmospheric festivals of the year. All our usual ways of marking the historic moment when Guy Fawkes and his Gunpowder Plot co-conspirators attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5 November 1605 may be off the table for now, but there is nothing stopping us from creating the ambience of Bonfire Night at home.

In lieu of fireworks (unless you can safely set some off in your own garden) and huddling round public fires, why not throw some logs on the firepit, or just sit out with a blanket and some sparklers telling stories of gunpowder, treason and plot while devouring a warming feast? Here are our top treasonously good recipes for bonfire night, 2020 style.

Sticky Honey And Mustard Catherine Wheel Sausage With Pears, Cobnuts and Celeriac Mash


Olive Magazine


This has to be the ultimate bonfire dish. It is hearty, it oozes comfort, it supplies plenty of the requisite warmth through the mustardy heat and it is stickily sweet, thanks to the pears and honey – timely reminders of the toffee apples of our youth (more on which later). It looks spectacular and, let’s face it, is probably as close as any of us are getting to an actual Catherine Wheel this year. We also love the inclusion of celeriac mash – an often overlooked autumnal veg; it is so good for you, whilst also balancing the sweetness with earthy, slightly nutty flavour. Perfection.


Fish Pie Jackets


Delicious Magazine


We’re suckers for a baked potato all year round. To elevate it from your usual tuna/mayo-laden style mid-week dinner, why not try it topped with fish pie, made particularly simple here with the suggestion of using a sustainable ready-bought fish pie mix. For bonfire night, we recommend keeping the potatoes in their tin foil jackets and eating huddled round a flame outside, weather permitting.


Hasselback Potatoes


BBC Good Food


These Swedish style potatoes are so simple and yet so effective. And since Bonfire Night is all about heat-supplying foods you can pick at, we recommend loading these piping hot crispy beauties, flavoured with melted butter and lemon, into a bowl and encouraging people to eat them with their hands, while washing them down with a glass of something equally warming.


Pig Cheek Goulash


Olive Magazine


Nourishing warmth is the name of the game when it comes to feeding people at bonfire. Even if our crowds are to be depleted to the core family this year, the same aim remains true: to heat up chilly digits and thaw out cold bones, whether you’re eating outside or for when you come in from the crisp night. This is one for the carnivores, but if you fall into that camp, it is sublime. You need the time to set aside – at least three and a half hours – so it takes some planning, but as long as you’re not in a hurry, it is simple to make and well worth the whiling away an afternoon dedicated to its making. Melt in the mouth soft meat in a smoky tomato sauce with ribbons of pappardelle: there is nothing not to love.


Merguez Sausage, Roat Potato and Aioli Baguettes


Delicious Magazine


If you want to delight friends and/or family (sadly unlikely both this year), homemade hotdogs are an instant winner. They’re transportable, delicious and the kind of thing you don’t usually make at home and are thus packed with the festive factor. But there are hotdogs and hotdogs. Forget the dirty sort that you probably haven’t eaten since rolling home after nights out in your student days; there is nothing of that to see here. These are made with lovely, crusty warm baguettes, goose fat-roasted potatoes for extra wintry indulgence and delicious aioli for dipping. This recipe advises griddling the Merguez sausages, which we’re on board with, but if the weather cooperates, why not barbecue them for the final outdoor grill of the year?


Vegan Mini Doughnuts


Jamie Oliver


Bonfire celebrations call for a good helping of the sweet stuff as well as hearty savoury dishes to keep us from getting too icy. To that end, it’s a great time to try your hand at doughnuts, the ultimate portable feast to devour as you waft a sparkler about (don’t neglect to bring napkins, all the while keeping the paper and your sparklers suitably socially distanced). We love Jamie’s mini versions which, as the great man suggests, are ‘not too tricky’ despite our usual misgivings about attempting baking beyond the most basic of cakes. But the jolliness of these, served up in an understated paper bag for those in your bubble to root around in, is well worth an attempt.


Homemade Toffee Apples


BBC Good Food


Toffee apples are a classic and should, by law, always be served on Bonfire Night, particularly if there are children in the house. This recipe is so easy, you need never again buy a shop-made version again. They taste infinitely better, as well as being fun to make for little ones with some supervision.


Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate


Nigella


For those committed to recreating a traditional Bonfire Night by braving the elements and sitting outside this fifth of November, there is one perk of staying at home to do so. And that is being able to refill your own mug again and again with all the best warming things available in your kitchen. Whilst endless cups of tea are lovely, for something really special, do try this extraordinarily good salted caramel hot chocolate, which is just the thing for clasping your fingers around to keep warm. We prefer ours minus the squirty cream (though each very much to their own), and recommend highly serving in an enamel mug – yes it may be too hot for a few moments, but your thoroughly warm hands will thank you later.


Quick ‘n’ Easy Mulled Cider


The Londoner


Is too early to start mulling everything in sight? If it is, we don’t care. This recipe is too fantastic not to whip up a batch of for bonfire celebrations at home. Cloves, an orange, cinnamon sticks, cloudy cider, ginger beer and optional spiced rum: if there is anything more redolent of autumn, we are unacquainted with it.

By Nancy Alsop
October 2020

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Nancy Alsop

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