Ever felt your stomach rumbling at the sight on an on-screen meal? Whet your appetite with iconic food moments from cinema history – then recreate them with these delicious recipes.
Picture the scene: you’re tucked up on the sofa, watching a film. Bowl of popcorn in hand, you sit transfixed as the plot picks up pace. Suddenly, a plate of food comes into view, so mouthwatering that its aroma somehow magically wafts its way through the screen towards you. Like a cartoon character with a one-track mind, all that matters in that moment is devouring the exact same thing.
If you’re nodding your head vigorously, then you’ve come to the right place. Food has a rich history on the silver screen, and can be a powerful means of storytelling without anyone having to utter a word. A beautiful meal can seal a friendship or rekindle a love interest; although, equally, sometimes it’s just a great cinematic moment that deserves appreciation.
As much as we love reminiscing about some of our favourite on-screen food moments, there’s one thing we love doing infinitely more: eating. So, to rescue you from your lockdown cooking rut, we have seven fabulous recipes inspired by classic films.
From the lip-smacking spaghetti and meatballs from The Lady and The Tramp and Mia Wallace’s “five dollar shake” from Pulp Fiction, to Marie Antoinette’s pastel-hued Parisian macarons, Liz Gilbert’s authentic margherita pizza in Eat Pray Love, and Remy the rat’s lovingly-prepared ratatouille from Disney’s animated comedy of the same name, these recipes will transport you far away.
You want to eat… the romantic dinner from The Lady And the Tramp
Try… Laura Goodman’s spaghetti and meatballs
Laura says: “What I want for you is to enjoy carbs in their most sauced-up, high-octane, lip-smacking forms, so how could I not give you meatballs? This recipe includes a large quantity of tomato sauce because it’s important that you really feel the cinematic slurp on that spaghetti.
“Excellent though this recipe is, I’ve put it here as much as a prod as anything – a reminder not to get so bogged down with complex braises and ragùs that you overlook the best things in life. And just so we’re completely clear, the best things in life include the toasted meatball–mozzarella subs you’re going to make with your leftovers. I’m so excited for you.”
- 360g spaghetti
For the meatballs:
- 75g white bread (after crusts removed, about 3–4 slices)
- 140ml milk
- 250g minced beef
- 250g minced pork
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- a grating of fresh nutmeg (about ¹⁄8 tsp)
- 2 tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley, plus extra to serve
- 35g parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
For the sauce:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried chilli (hot pepper) flakes
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 300g passata
- salt, pepper and sugar
Tear the bread into pieces and put it in a small bowl with the milk. Let the milk soak through. Use a fork to prod and mash until you have a mush (what the professionals call ‘wet breadcrumbs’).
Add all the meatball ingredients to a large bowl, including your mush. Use a fork to mix everything through, breaking up the egg and meat as you go, and making sure all the seasonings are evenly dispersed.
Use your hands to form about 24 balls. Oil your hands if it’s sticky. Rest the balls on a plate in the fridge while you get the sauce on.
In a wide sauté pan (big enough to fit all your meatballs and lots of sauce), heat the olive oil over a medium flame. When it’s hot, add the garlic and cook until soft, before adding the chilli flakes and cooking for another 30 seconds or so.
Add the canned tomatoes and passata and crush the tomato pieces with the back of your wooden spoon.
Season with salt and pepper, and add a teaspoon of sugar if it tastes really acidic. Stir well and cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes, until it’s thickened up but ample.
Turn the heat right down before you carefully lower all of the meatballs into the sauce. Make sure the sauce is simmering gently, cover the pan and leave the meatballs to poach in the sauce for 20 minutes. Don’t touch the pan or the meatballs while they’re cooking – just keep an eye on things, turning the heat down if it starts to look or sound bubbly and furious.
Get your spaghetti on while you wait, cooking it according to the packet instructions.
Serve the spaghetti topped with the meatballs, followed by more parsley and more parmesan, if you like.
From Carbs by Laura Goodman (£15, Quadrille), out now
You want to drink… Mia Wallace’s $5 milkshake from Pulp Fiction
Try… Tim Lannan and James Annabel’s milkshakes
- 2–4 ice cubes
- 125ml milk of your choice
- 60g peanut butter
For peanut butter and jelly:
- 2 scoops strawberry frozen yoghurt or strawberry ice cream
- quick and easy berry chia jam and fresh strawberries, to garnish
For the quick and easy berry chia jam:
- 750g frozen mixed berries or fruit of your choice
- 45g chia seeds
- 2 tbsp orange juice (from 1⁄2 orange)
- 60ml maple syrup or sweetener of choice (optional)
For the chocolate pretzel:
- 2 scoops chocolate frozen yoghurt or chocolate ice cream
- pretzels, whole and crushed, to garnish
- salted dark chocolate sauce, to garnish
For the salted dark chocolate sauce:
- 50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
- 3 tbsp peanut butter
- 2 tbsp syrup of your choice (e.g. rice malt, coconut, maple)
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- 75ml milk of your choice
For the coconut salted caramel:
- 2 scoops vanilla frozen yoghurt or vanilla ice cream
- 3 tbsp coconut salted caramel, plus 1 tablespoon extra, to garnish
For the coconut salted caramel sauce:
- 400ml tinned full-fat coconut cream
- 80g coconut
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
To make the milkshakes, whiz all the ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.
Pour into a glass, top with the garnishes below and enjoy!
Quick and easy berry chia jam
To make the chia jam, combine the berries, chia seeds and orange juice in a medium bowl and stir well. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 1–2 hours, or refrigerate overnight, to thaw.
Use a potato masher, fork or spatula to mash to your desired consistency. Add syrup to taste. Set aside for 20–30 minutes, for the chia seeds to absorb the moisture and expand.
Salted caramel sauce
Combine the coconut cream, coconut sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over a medium–high heat. Bring to the boil, watching carefully to ensure it doesn’t boil over, then immediately reduce the temperature to low and simmer gently for 20–25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Now begin to stir more frequently, to incorporate the darker caramel bits from the bottom, until the sauce is a dark amber colour and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 10–15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut oil and vanilla extract. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Salted dark chocolate sauce
To make the salted dark chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate in a small bowl placed over a small saucepan of boiling water on the stovetop (the water must not touch the bowl), stirring occasionally, or in short bursts in the microwave. Add the peanut butter, syrup and salt and stir thoroughly.
Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
From Peanut Butter: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Midnight by Tim Lannan and James Annabel (£11.99, Hardie Grant), out now
You want to eat… the pork ramen from Ponyo
Try… Louise Pickford’s shio ramen with pork and eggs
Louise says: “Every now and then a cookbook comes along that spends weeks next to my bed so I can read it nightly, absorbing the recipes to use at a later date. This happened with a book called Ivan Ramen, by an American ramen aficionado. The story is fascinating and the recipes inspirational. This is inspired by one such recipe, albeit a shorter version.”
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 50ml dark soy sauce
- 50ml light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 750g piece of pork belly, skin removed
- 4 eggs
- 2 litres chicken stock
- 250g dried ramen noodles
- spring onions, thinly sliced to garnish
Pour the sake and mirin into a small saucepan set over a medium heat and bring slowly to the boil. Add the garlic, ginger, dark and light soy sauces and the sugar, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Cut the pork belly in half across the grain to make two similar squares and put in a saucepan into which the pork fits snugly.
Pour over the cooled soy mixture, return to the heat and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour or until the pork is tender. Remove the pan from the heat but leave the pork in the stock to cool at room temperature. Remove the pork from the stock, reserving the stock, and cut into thick slices. Set aside.
Put the eggs in a saucepan of cold water and set over a high heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the eggs from the pan and immediately rinse under cold running water until they are cool enough to handle.
Peel the eggs and place them in a clean bowl. Pour over the reserved pork stock and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Lift the eggs from the stock and cut in half lengthways.
Meanwhile bring the chicken stock to the boil in a large saucepan and simmer until reduced by about one-third to 1.25 litres. Remove from the heat and stir in 4 tablespoons of the reserved pork stock. Add the pork belly slices and warm through for 5 minutes.
Plunge the noodles into a saucepan of boiling water, return to the boil and cook for about 4 minutes or until al dente. Drain well, then divide the noodles between soup bowls.
Spoon over the stock and pork slices, add 2 egg halves to each bowl and serve garnished with spring onions.
From The Noodle Bowl by Louise Pickford (£9.99, Ryland Peters & Small), out now
You want to eat… the macarons from Marie Antoinette
Try… Liz Franklin’s Parisian macarons
Liz says: “There’s no doubt about it, the first time or two you make macarons, you may find them a bit fiddly, but persevere and you’ll be knocking them up in next to no time and impressing everyone with your new-found pâtisserie skills.
“Just remember that cutting corners won’t do you any favours at all. Make sure you whizz the ground almonds and icing/confectioners’ sugar together until fine, and don’t skimp on the standing time either. It’s the standing time that gives these French treats their distinctive bases or ‘legs’ as they’re known!
“Drawing templates for the macarons on the baking parchment means that they will all come out the same size and look much prettier when finished.”
Makes about 8
- 110g icing sugar
- 80g ground almonds
- 2 large egg whites
- a pinch of salt
- 45g caster sugar
- pink food colouring gel
- good quality raspberry jam, to serve
- 2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment, each marked with 4 cm circles on the underside of the parchment
- a large piping/pastry bag fitted with a very fine nozzle/tip
Whizz the icing sugar and ground almonds together in a food processor until very fine and then push the mixture through a fine meshed sieve. Set aside.
Whisk the egg whites and salt together until stiff and glossy. Add half of the caster sugar, and beat again. Add the remaining sugar and beat again until stiff and glossy.
Carefully but thoroughly, fold the almond mixture into the egg whites, until they have been fully incorporated but the mixture is still light. Very carefully add a little pink colouring and fold in until the macarons are a uniform pink colour.
Spoon the mixture into the piping bag and pipe circles onto the parchment within the circular templates.
Tap the baking sheets firmly on the work surface two or three times, to knock out any air bubbles and leave them to stand for 30 minutes. During this time, preheat the oven to 140°C/gas 1.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until the shells are crisp and the macarons have grown little ‘feet’.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Sandwich the shells together with the raspberry jam.
Store in an airtight container or cookie jar and eat within 2 days, once filled.
From The Cookie Jar by Liz Franklin (£14.99, Ryland Peters & Small), out now
You want to eat… the ratatouille from Ratatouille
Try… The Silver Spoon Kitchen’s spring ratatouille
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 artichokes
- 200g courgettes
- 200g cherry tomatoes
- 60ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small red onion, such as Tropea or torpedo, cut into thin wedges
- 300g new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
- 40g coarsely chopped salted peanuts
- handful of basil leaves
Peel the asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler and slice them on an angle.
Fill a large bowl with cool water and add the lemon juice. Trim the artichokes, cut them into wedges, and cut the fuzzy choke from the centre, dropping the wedges into the bowl of lemon water as you go (this prevents them from browning).
Wash the courgettes and slice them thickly on an angle. Prick the tomatoes with the tip of a small knife.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes to let the flavour develop, then add 200ml boiling water. Season with salt and cook for 10 minutes. Drain the artichokes and add them to the pot. Add the tomatoes and cook for 6-7 minutes.
Add the courgettes and asparagus and season with salt. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Sprinkle with the peanuts and basil, then serve.
To make this a main dish, serve it over a bed of bulgur wheat. Rinse 200g bulgur wheat with cold water and put it in a medium saucepan. Add 750ml water, salt the water, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let rest for another 10 minutes before serving.
From The Vegetarian Silver Spoon by The Silver Spoon Kitchen (£35, Phaidon), out now
You want to eat… the margherita pizza from Eat Pray Love
Try… Thom and James Elliott’s margherita pizza
Thom and James say: “Where pizza all began… we can still remember the first time we tried a proper Neapolitan margherita in Da Michele in Naples while on our pizza pilgrimage. The mozzarella had been made that day and was perfect. The combination of the light, charred pizza dough, sweet tomatoes, aromatic basil, peppery olive oil, savoury parmesan and the milky white, creamy and slightly acidic mozzarella, just creates the most perfect flavour balance, which is the reason that the margherita is the undisputed heavyweight champion of pizza.
“It is always the pizza that any pizza chef would order to get the measure of a new pizzeria because there is nothing to hide behind; no snazzy flavours to mask the quality of your ingredients, dough and skill in the oven.”
For the pizza (makes 1 pizza):
- 1 ball of Neapolitan pizza dough (see below)
- 80g tomato sauce (see below)
- 4–5 fresh basil leaves
- parmesan, for grating
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 80g fior di latte mozzarella, torn or sliced
For the Neapolitan pizza dough:
- 1000g ‘00’ flour (we recommend Caputo ‘blue’)
- 2g fresh yeast
- 620ml tepid water
- 30g fine sea salt
For the tomato sauce (makes enough for 4 pizzas):
- 1 x 400g can of San Marzano (or any good-quality Italian) tomatoes
- a good pinch of sea salt
To make the pizza dough
Make a mountain of flour in the middle of the table. Using your fist, make a deep well in the middle of the flour, exposing the surface of the table (turning your mountain into a moon crater).
Crumble the yeast into the tepid water. Use your good hand to mash up the yeast in the water until it has dissolved. (Keep the other hand dry for taking Instagram photos to show off to your friends.) Fill your crater of flour with a third of the yeast/water mix. Using your fingertips, start making very small circular motions to combine the flour and water.
Start dragging in some more flour to the mix, by ‘undercutting’ the walls of the crater with your fingertips. As you do this the mixture in the middle will become thicker. Once it reaches the consistency of porridge you need to add a bit more water. Don’t let it get too thick; if it starts to form a dough too soon it becomes difficult to incorporate the rest of the water.
Keep dragging in a little flour to thicken the mix, then pouring a little bit more water in to loosen it, until you have all the water used up.
Sprinkle the sea salt over the mixture while it’s still very wet to ensure it dissolves and disperses evenly throughout the dough. Now use both hands to push the remaining flour from the outside into the middle.
Fold and press the mix until all the flour is absorbed and a dough comes together. If you have a dough scraper it really helps get everything off the table, but you can improvise with a paint scraper, spatula or knife.
Work the gluten by kneading the dough. Use the heel of your hand to stretch out the dough and roll it back up, while the other hand acts like an anchor. You’ll be able to see the strands of gluten stretching, breaking, being put back together and becoming stronger. Continue this for about 8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and glossy. It should also feel tighter and elastic.
Let the dough have a 10-minute rest to relax the gluten. Cover the dough with a damp cloth or some clingfilm to keep the air from drying it out. Then divide your bulk of dough into individual portions. We recommend 230g dough balls for 10-inch pizzas. Ensure your dough balls are neatly shaped – pinched at the bottom and tight on the top – then place them in a tray or container 3cm apart. Cover with a tight lid or clingfilm.
Now you can relax. The yeast will take over from here. Leave the dough at room temperature for approximately 6 hours until it expands to almost double its size, then store in the fridge overnight. The next day remove the dough from the fridge for 1–2 hours and bring it back to room temperature before making your pizzas.
To stretch the pizza base
Place your dough ball on a lightly floured surface then generally dust with more ‘00’ flour. The dough ball should be completely covered in flour, as you don’t want any sticky spots.
Using your fingertips, press out the dough ball firmly, starting at the centre and working your way out to the edges. It’s important that this motion is a ‘push down’ and not a ‘stretch out’. As you push out to the edges, leave the last inch of the dough untouched. This will become your crust.
Turn the dough over and repeat the process. The aim is to end up with a circle of dough about half the size of the final pizza, with a thin middle and a raised crust.
Transfer the pizza base to the back of your hands. The edge of the crust should rest on your knuckles, with the rest of the base hanging down. (It’s a good idea to ‘de-bling’ just before this stage, as jewellery will poke a hole in the delicate dough.)
Now start stretching the dough between your hands. Try to stretch the outside edge, rather than the centre, as it will become too thin. Keep rotating the pizza base until you have arrived back where you started. Now you should have a 10-inch (ish) pizza base with a raised crust and a beautifully thin middle. If you hold it up to a light you should almost be able to see through it.
To make the tomato sauce
Crush the tomatoes by hand in a large bowl. (This is the old-school way they used to do it in Naples, and for good reason. If you put the tomatoes in a food processor you end up with a depressingly smooth sauce that lacks texture.)
Once you’ve crushed the hell out of your tomatoes, add a pinch of salt to taste and that’s it! Pure, unadulterated tomato goodness.
To make the pizza
Preheat the grill to its absolute highest setting, and place a large, ovenproof frying pan over a high heat and let it get screaming hot.
Meanwhile, flatten and stretch the dough ball (following the instructions above) to make a 10-inch pizza base.
Lay the pizza base flat in the hot, dry frying pan, then, using a small ladle (or a large spoon), spoon the tomato sauce onto the middle of the pizza. Using the back of the ladle, make concentric circles to spread the sauce, beginning in the middle and finishing 1½in from the edge.
Next, sprinkle over the basil (it will burn if put on last). Grate over a little parmesan and drizzle with the olive oil.
Once the base of the pizza has browned, about 1–2 minutes, add your mozzarella, then place the frying pan under the grill on the highest shelf.
Once the crust has taken on some colour, about 1–2 minutes, the pizza is ready!
From Pizza: History, Recipes, Stories, People, Places, Love by Thom and James Elliott (£20, Quadrille), out now
You want to eat… the beef bourguignon from Julie & Julia
Try… Chris Hill’s beef bourguignon
For the beef:
- 1.2kg braising steak
- 200g smoked bacon, roughly chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 x small bunch of thyme
- 2 x bottles of cheap red wine
- 2 tbsp veg oil
- 3 x large carrots
- 2 x onions
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 10 peppercorns
For the garnish:
- 300g bacon lardons
- 400g pearl onions
- 400g button mushrooms (halved)
- 1 knob of butter
- 50g chopped parsley
Cut the braising steak into large pieces, place them into a bowl with the bay leaf, thyme, the red wine, and pepper corns and leave to marinade overnight.
The next day, pre heat the oven to 200°C.
Place a colander over a large bowl, and strain the marinated meat, make sure you keep the wine.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, brown the meat in batches, transferring to a plate once browned. When all the meat is browned, add a little of the wine to the pan and allow to bubble, to release the caramelised bits of beef.
Take your casserole and heat it on the stove with some oil. Cut the carrots and onions into large chunks and fry with the bacon until golden brown, add the flour, and stir, and then add the tomato puree.
Add the fried beef and any juices, then add the wine from the pan and the remaining wine from the bowl and the herbs. Bring the whole pot the simmer season with salt and pepper and give the pot a good stir.
Place the lid on the pot, and transfer, to the oven and bake for 2 hours, until the meat becomes really tender.
To serve, heat the small knob of butter in a pan, and fry the bacon lardons, the add the peeled button onions, you are looking for crispy bacon and soft tender onions. Add the halved mushrooms and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.
Take your hot casserole from the oven open the lid, and give a gentle stir, and check for seasoning, when happy scatter the cooked garnish on top, and finish with the chopped parsley.
This goes perfectly with some new potatoes or potato dauphinoise.
Recipe courtesy of Chris Hill, executive chef at Colette
Photography: Louise Hagger; Kate Berry, Ashley McLaughlin; Ian Wallace; Kate Whitaker; Phaidon; Pizza Pilgrims; Colette
Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.