So, who misses mum’s cooking?
It’s been less than a week since you were cut loose from those apron strings and I’m willing to bet you’re already day dreaming of home cooked food, or anything that isn’t microwaved pizza. For many, cooking for themselves is a daunting and time consuming process, making ready meals and takeaways more attractive than they ever have been. Many students will spend their entire time at University with the same cooking skills they left home with. However, if you feel like impressing mother dearest with a bit of culinary flare, then here are a few simple recipes that you can quickly master. Learning even the basics of cheffery is exactly the kind of skill today’s Univerities are bred to enforce, and keeping your body fuelled through college is one more way to ensuring you come out with the best possible classification on that certificate of life.
This series will guide you through the basics of cooking, helping you to make food that is not only delicious, but most importantly, nutritious and healthy.
Who knows, you may even be able to stave off malnutrition till Easter.
There are many variations of Bolognese and everyone’s parents seem to have their own way of doing it. My editor has told me his mother likes to do everything in a pressure cooker: definitely not recommended. Ever.
I’ve found that this recipe is by far the quickest and easiest method and can be comfortably done within 15 minutes – try serving it with garlic bread and red wine to make a suitably romantic meal
Ingredients: 500g lean beef mince • 250ml passata OR 1 tin chopped tomatoes • 1 onion • 1 beef Oxo cube • 2 cloves of garlic • 2tsp tomato puree • 50ml red wine (optional) • Pasta of your choice (for this recipe I used tagliatelle) • Parmesan Cheese • 1tsp dried mixed herbs • Olive oil for frying • Parsley
Serves: 2-4 Time to prep: 3 mins
Time to cook: 13 mins
1 Start by chopping the onion as illustrated in the end column and fry with the garlic (which should be peeled and crushed) in a saucepan on a medium heat.
2 Once the onions have turned golden brown, add the beef mince. As this cooks, crumble in the Oxo cube and stir in the tomato puree, making sure the meat is evenly coated by both.
3 When the beef is completely cooked, pour in the passata and leave to simmer – if you are bringing out the guns and using red wine add this at the same time – then mix in the herbs.
4 The contents of the pan will look very liquid heavy but don’t worry, by leaving it to simmer the meat sauce will reduce and thicken; make sure you keep stirring regularly so that the contents don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Not only does this ruin the flavour, but by keeping it off the bottom you save yourself some serious scrubbing.
5 While this is simmering you can cook your pasta, the instructions for which will be on the back of the packet. For best results with pasta, make sure you season the water with salt and pour a bit of olive oil in the water. If you don’t feel like waiting for water to boil on the stove, cheat and use an electric kettle to get things going.
6 Once the pasta is cooked, drain from the water and mix in with the Bolognese sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and finely chopped parsley and voila – buon appetito!
This dish packs loads of taste and nutrition into one bowl, or three; combining a wonderful mix of vegetables, tomatoes and (hopefully fresh) chicken breast with classic aromatic herbs and pungent spices. It’s rather impressive looking too, so perfect for that “Check me out, I can cook” first date.
Ingredients: 250g Chicken breast · 4 x tomatoes · 2tbsp Crème fraiche · 1 x onion · 3tsp mild curry powder · A handful of coriander · 1 bag Uncle Ben’s microwaveable rice · ½ bag of spinach · Olive oil
Time to prep: 5 minutes
Time to cook: 15 minutes
1 Start by finely chopping the onion (see method used in the ‘Classic Bolognese’ recipe).
2 Take a saucepan and fry the chopped onions in olive oil.
3 Quarter the tomatoes and add them to the pan, stirring constantly so that the contents don’t stick and burn.
4 Take your chicken and cut into pieces that are just a bit bigger than bite size.
5 Add the chicken to the softened onions and tomatoes and stir until cooked – the chicken will be an opaque white colour when this has happened.
6 At this point, you should add the curry powder, making sure all of the tomatoes, chicken and onions are evenly coated.
7 Finally stir in the crème fraiche. Allow this to simmer and add the spinach, letting it wilt slightly as you microwave the rice; you’ll find the instructions on the back of the pack.
8 Just before serving, shred the coriander (I prefer to just use the leaves, but it is possible to use the stalks as well) and stir into the curry. Spoon onto the rice and serve.
! Like your curry hot? Add one finely chopped red chilli with the tomatoes, if you can’t find fresh chillis that extra-hot chilli powder makes a good student-substitute. This dish can be made more of an event by the addition of sundries like poppadoms, naan bread and mango chutney.
Omelettes are great for when you have to eat straight away, perfect for those unpredictable 4am munchies after a night out, taking only ten minutes to quickly throw together. They’re also incredibly good for you and utterly delicious, a little treat for your starving, jaundiced housemates.
Ingredients: 2 eggs · 5 cherry tomatoes · 50g grated cheddar · 2 diced rashers of bacon · knob of butter · salt and pepper · handful of parsley · Olive oil
Time to prep: 3 mins
Time to cook: 7 mins
1 Beat the eggs in a bowl with some salt and pepper.
2 Quarter the tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and salt then place in an oven on a low heat – this dries them out for the best texture .
3 Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the bacon chunks or lardons.
4 When cooked, pour the beaten egg mix on top.
5 Add the oven roasted tomatoes and cheese and get it all mixed up.
6 Once the cheese has melted and the omelette has solidified, fold in half to form a half crescent.
You can serve once the egg is completely cooked, making it a meal for two with the addition of some chips or side salad.
! If you want to make it a bit fancy, use duck eggs – the larger yolks make for a creamier more delicate dish.