Pyjama picnics: Late-night snackers reveal their favourite nocturnal feasts

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Fergus Henderson's Sardines on Toast in Bed

This sensory midnight feast was taught to me by a wise old chef: sardines on toast eaten in bed in the dark. My earliest memory of late-night eating is of working my way through a sack of pistachio nuts late into the night as the parents jollied away. Now I would enjoy sitting on a rock in the Hebrides with Margot, my wife, eating Fruit and Nut, drinking malt whisky and being blown about by the wind. Also, it's strange how appealing mini bars of Toblerone can become between the hours of 12 midnight and 3am.

Ingredients

a few slices of brown bread
butter as desired
tin of sardines
half a lemon

Method

Toast your brown bread, butter liberally and then squidge the tinned sardines onto your bread with a fork. Add a healthy squeeze of lemon, turn the light off and get into bed and eat.

Serves 1

Samantha Clark's Chorizo with Sherry

My memories of eating late at night begin with summer holidays in France when I was young. Nowadays any late-night moments are spent with my husband Samuel in our garden, listening to Damien Rice. We had several midnight feasts at my school. My children also love the idea of a midnight feast – but always sleep through till the morning.

Ingredients

200g chorizo, suitable for cooking
olive oil
75ml fino sherry

Method

Cut the chorizo into little bite-sized pieces. Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a few drops of olive oil. You don't need much, as the chorizo will release its own oil.

When the pan begins to smoke, add the chorizo and fry, turning quickly when one side is coloured.

When both sides are crispy, add the sherry, watch out for the hissing, and leave for a few seconds to burn off the alcohol. Transfer to a dish and enjoy immediately.

You can grill this chorizo just as easily, but omit the sherry.

Serves 2

Mark Hix's Welsh Rabbit Crumpets

My grandmother used to leave out a tin of Dorset knob biscuits and a big lump of blue vinney cheese. I'd normally been out to the local club and the crumbs were everywhere the next day.

Nowadays, I normally crash out when I get home, although we often invite friends spontaneously and get through several bottles of wine or partida tequila, and snacks from

the fridge (like my home-smoked salmon or cured meats). I have a bad music collection, so we normally end up with Santana. Another reason for eating late would be night-fishing for sea trout with a headlamp – that normally gets a bit of an appetite going!

I'm not one for messing with the classics, but I do love toasted crumpets with this cheese topping. I've burrowed into the rabbit versus rarebit debate before, and I'm sticking to rabbit, the term used as far back as Hannah Glasse's day in the 18th century. She gives recipes for Scotch Rabbit, two for English Rabbit and one for Welch, yes Welch, rabbit. Whatever you call your poshed-up cheese on toast – or crumpets – it's delicious, and you can spice it up as much as you like.

Ingredients

8 crumpets, toasted
250g Caerphilly or
Cheddar cheese, grated
2 egg yolks
3 teaspoons Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon English mustard
40ml double cream
salt and pepper

Method

Mix the cheese, egg yolks, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and double cream together, and season. Toast the crumpets on both sides, spread the cheese mixture on top, about 1cm thick, and to the edges to avoid burning, and grill on a medium heat until nicely browned.

Serves 4

Prue Leith's Muscovado Heaven

At boarding schools all over Africa, the midnight feast was tinned sardines with sweetened condensed milk. Could there be anything more disgusting? Yet we ate it, with relish. But here's a recipe that would be easy to assemble on a dormitory floor.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons condensed milk or custard
1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar

Method

Tip two inches of plain yoghurt into each person's tooth-mug. Add an inch of double cream or custard and mix. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of dark muscovado sugar. Put the mugs aside while you eat everything else. By the time you get to the pud, the sugar will be half treacly sauce and half delicious crunch. (p.s. only dark muscovado gives the right flavour!)

Serves 1

Sophie Conran's Late-Night Salad

When I was a child, we had amazing eggs from our own chickens, as well as milk that I would collect in a pail from a local farm. Midnight feasts generally involved fried eggs and bacon on toast, and hot chocolate. My friend Gemma would come and stay the night and we would sneak downstairs together. I lived in a large house and it was a long way from the bedroom to the kitchen.

We would make hot chocolate using Cadbury's cocoa powder with heated milk, whipped cream and fresh chocolate grated on top – our idea of heaven. Hot chocolate and a fry-up make an amazing midnight feast, but nowadays I tend to have a midnight feast due to working late and forgetting to eat. My last midnight feast was a rather tasty salad, thrown together from the bits and bobs in the fridge.

Ingredients

large handful of herby salad
drizzle of home-made mayonnaise
1 smoked mackerel fillet, cut into chunks
various veg (eg parsnip, sweet potato and acorn squash, roasted in olive oil and a teaspoon of garam masala)
a sprinkling of fresh chopped tarragon and a grind of black pepper

Method

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

Wash down with chamomile tea.

Serves 1

Daisy de Villeneuve's Plum Conserve

My favourite late-night food is taken from a Sesame Street cookbook that I had when I was little, and I continue to enjoy eating it. The recipe is yoghurt, crushed-up digestives, honey and banana. I like to eat it in exotic locations, maybe on the beach with a boyfriend or a very good friend, listening to something Seventies. When I was about eight on the Brownie Pack Holiday we had a midnight feast and it was very exciting, even though I don't remember what we ate. But my chosen recipe dates back to a time when I was about three years old. I used to help my mother pick plums from the orchard next door to where we lived in Kent. She'd then make jam.

Ingredients

peeled rind of 2 oranges and 1 lemon, finely chopped
juice and pulp of 3 oranges and 1 lemon
550g finely chopped raisins
1.8kg sugar
2.5kg plums, pitted and chopped
4 peaches, pitted and chopped
225g chopped walnuts

Method

Cook on a low setting of your hob until thick, stirring frequently. Add chopped walnuts. Simmer another 10 minutes until set. Pour into clean, warm glass jars with metal lids. Store in a cool, dry place. Makes about 20 jars. Serve on warm toast with melted butter, straight out of the oven. Perfect with a cup of tea.

Sir Arnold Wesker's Potato Pat

When I think about midnight feasts it's with a new girlfriend to the sound of Manuel de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain. Bach, though, reminds me most of midnight, because of midnight mass. My memory of eating midnight feasts takes me back to camp in the Wye Valley, aged about 14. Everyone would have brought something with them from home, and come midnight we'd share what we had, spreading everything out in the middle of the tent and picnicking on a blanket: hardboiled eggs, matzos, bridge rolls, cheese, salami, fruit cake and bars of chocolate.

Ingredients

2 medium-sized potatoes
1 medium-sized onion
2 cloves of garlic
225g of mozzarella cheese
50g butter
olive oil

Method

Dice the potatoes, slice the onion and the cloves of garlic. Boil the diced potatoes. Meanwhile lightly fry the onion and garlic in olive oil. Strain the potatoes, and return them to saucepan. Gently fold the fried onion and garlic into potatoes. Don't make a mash of them, let the potatoes remain a little solid. Fry the mozzarella until it's soft. Fold into the mix of potato, onion and garlic. Season to taste. Take it out of saucepan and, when cool enough, pat it into two circles, like thick pancakes. Fry the two pats in butter until each side is brown and crisp. Serve on its own or as a vegetable with roast lamb or grilled steak. You may need to fry the pats separately, in which case, you might need extra butter.

Serves 1

Gillian Anderson's Peanut Butter & Banana

Here's a midnight snack that requires a little bit of forethought.

Ingredients

1 banana
2 tablespoons peanut butter

Method

Take the banana and slice it end-to-end down the middle. Take some peanut butter – smooth or crunchy, your choice – and lather it down one side of the banana, as thick as your taste desires. Place the other half of the banana on top like a sandwich.

Then slice two, three or four times, depending on the size of your banana, creating little individual peanut butter banana sandwiches. Wrap each section individually in tin foil and place the whole lot of them in a plastic container in the freezer. Then, in the middle of the night, open the freezer, grab a ball of tin foil, unwrap it, and find a surprisingly delicious snack just waiting for your enjoyment.

Serves 1

Rose Prince's Split Mealy Pudding, Scrambled Eggs & Cress

English children so often go to bed before daylight ends in summer. My brothers, sisters and I would lie in bed while the adults ate separately from us, and we could hear the tinkle of glasses, wine being poured, and the clink of knives and forks as we fell asleep. But when we visited my grandmother who lived in France, it was different.

We became French children and sat up with her and her friends. We ate what they ate and drank water with a drop of wine in it. It was so grown-up and civilised. After pudding, the watery wine would perform the intended trick and we'd sleepily slope off to bed, just around midnight.

My grandmother hated nostalgia and always bought albums (vinyl) of her favourite bands. It was the Seventies and the Rolling Stones and David Bowie were her favourites. We sat up for what seemed like hours, nibbling chocolate, listening to music and cracking very silly "in" jokes, teasing each other.

My grandmother used to drink Four Roses Bourbon on the rocks. She died in 1993; I wish I could bring her back, and those nights.

If I do plan a midnight feast, it's breakfast: scrambled eggs, grilled bacon and kidneys, toast and marmalade. Try it after a long night of partying and you will feel all the better for it next day. Mealy pudding consists of a natural sausage skin, about 30cm long, filled with oatmeal and meat juices. Sliced and fried, it is ready to be put on a plate with some creamy scrambled eggs.The cress greens it all up a little, but just to serve. Serve with brown toast.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 mealy puddings, sliced into 2cm chunks
9 eggs, lightly beaten
55g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons double cream
2 punnets of mustard and cress
sea salt

Method

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the mealy puddings over a gentle heat until golden on both sides. While they cook, scramble the eggs. Season the beaten eggs with salt, then melt the butter in a saucepan. Pour in the eggs and cook over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the egg begins to thicken on the base of the pan. Scrape at the base with the spoon and continue to cook until the egg is thick and creamy. Do not allow it to get too solid – before this happens, remove from the heat, add the cream and stir. The mealy pudding should be ready by now. Serve it on warmed plates with a pool of scrambled egg and the toast, mustard and cress on the side.

Serves 4

Midnight Feasts: An Anthology of Late-Night Munchies selected by Charmain Ponnuthuraiis (Delirium £12.99). All profits go to the children’s dyslexia charity Springboard. To order a copy for the special price of £11.69 (free P&P) call Independent Books Direct on 08430 600 030, or visit www.independentbooksdirect.co.uk

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform