Sunday, 29 May 2011

Mini Sausage Rolls

It was my 21st Birthday last December and I hosted a party at the flat to celebrate. I got very excited about hosting, as I always seem to do, and had grand plans to make heaps of nibbles to go with the case of Prosecco I bought. In the end I ended up getting everything from Sainsburys, and only managed to make the strawberry vodka jelly shots and a plate of smoke salmon bilinis. Poor effort I know. Well if only I had known how easy to make these little morsels of sausage deliciousness are, my guests would have had them coming out of their ears. Prepared ahead and baked in a preheated oven for 20 minutes and you’ve got the perfect finger food for a party or picnic (or a quick and easy snack for any day).

Adapted from Nigella Kitchen
Makes around 70
Packet ready rolled puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg
2 packets of original frankfurters
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Roll out the pastry and cut into pre-measured strips that are the length and width of the sausage. Beat the egg in a bowl (Nigella brushes the egg wash over the pastry strips, but I found this made them very difficult to assemble so I just put the wash over the top of the prepared rolls before putting them in the oven).
  2. Roll the sausages up in the pastry strips and cut each into 4 pieces, ensure you don’t unroll the rolls!! Then place on a baking sheet.
  3. Paint the tops of the rolls with the egg wash (I didn’t have a brush so dribbled it over with a spoon). Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry has puffed up and is golden in colour.

Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £4

Friday, 27 May 2011

Basil Pesto

I went through a phase of hating pesto with a passion. I know, I was young and foolish, I just really disliked that funny taste that pine nuts sometimes leave at the back of your throat, kind of like what I imagine you would taste if you’ve just eaten a roll of kitchen paper. However, I got past this and now enjoy the garlicky goodness of pesto regularly with pasta. I’ve been wanting to make my own pesto for a while now but have never really got round to it, making do with the jarred varieties. Well I can tell you now, those jarred pestos really don’t cut it when you’ve made your own. If you have an electric mixer then this is a doddle. Just throw everything in, whiz it up and serve with your favourite pasta. Simple As.

Serves 2 greedy students
1 supermarket packet of fresh basil leaves, torn
25g parmigiano reggiano (you can use parmesan but this is much cheaper)
1 small clove garlic, peeled
25ml olive oil
25ml extra virgin olive oil
a handful of pine nuts
  1. Whiz all the ingredients in an electric mixer, until you have fine paste.
  2. Cook your pasta according to manufacturers instructions, and just before draining add a couple of spoonfuls of the water to the pesto, to make it more of a runny sauce.
  3. Drain the pasta and stir in the pesto
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £2
Kitchen Requirements: ELECTRIC MIXER, SAUCEPAN.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Nigella's Speedy Scaloppine with Rapid Roastini

A recipe that really passed me by when I first got the book, this simple supper is cheap, quick and easy, perfect for those days you’ve been rushed off your feet (it does happen to students occasionally, promise). My sauce turned out more of a zesty mush as my pan was too hot and evaporated all of the juice, but apart from that the recipe was very easy to follow. The rapid roastini, or fried gnocchi, was surprisingly tasty, stodgy yes, but quick to do and a pleasant change from your average two veg. I served mine with a simple baby spinach leaf salad and a spoonful of tzatziki, I seem to be slightly obsessed with the stuff at the moment.

Serves 2
2x 15ml tbsp plain flour
a shake of mixed spice (I used ground cinnamon, ground ginger and ground cumin)
a shake of cayenne pepper
2 pork escalopes
2x 15ml olive oil (Nigella uses garlic oil), plus 2 for the gnocchi
zest and juice of one lemon
250g gnocchi
  1. Put the flour and spices into a bowl, then add the escalopes and coat them.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the meat and cook for 2 minutes on each side until cooked. Remove the escalopes to warm plates and take the pan off the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the other 2 tbsp oil in another pan and fry the gnocchi for 4 minutes on wither side, until golden.
  4. Grate the lemon zest into the still warm pan with the meat juices and squeeze over the juice of the lemon. Stir until you have a syrupy sauce. Pour this over the escalopes and serve the whole lots with a green salad.
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: £4
Kitchen Requirements: TWO FRYING PANS, BOWL, ZESTER.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Apple and Cinnamon Muffins

I never imagined these apple and cinnamon muffins turning out as good as they have. They’re certainly proving to be an excellent decision what with all the work that I’m doing at the moment. I’m just hoping that the batch will last me to the end of the week, they are so moreish. My only previous muffin experience consists of a chocolate chip variation, another Nigella, that turned out a little less successfully. Cupcake cases too small and I over stirred the mixture making them too heavy. This time I was fully prepared with proper muffin cases and a more controlled stirring technique. The result was a light and fluffy muffin, moist due to the chunks of apple, and with an added crunch from the cinnamon, almond and sugar coating. As I have a cold I was a little overzealous with the cinnamon (just to make sure that I could taste them) but this certainly wasn’t to their detriment, they taste absolutely gorgeous.

Makes 12
2 eating apples
250g plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
125g light brown sugar (plus 4 for sprinkling)
125ml honey
2 eggs
60ml runny natural yogurt (I used thick greek yoghurt and it worked out fine)
125ml vegetable oil
2 tsp baking powder
75g natural unblanched almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C and line the muffin tin with cases.
  2. Peel and core the apple, then chopped into 1cm cubes. Measure the flour, baking powder  and 1 tsp cinnamon into a large mixing bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, yoghurt, eggs, honey and sugar.
  4. Chop the almonds roughly and add half to the flour mixture. Mix the other half into a small bowl with 4tsp sugar and 1tsp cinnamon, and put to one side.
  5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry and add the chopped apple. Stir to combine, but don’t other mix, you’re aiming for a lumpy batter.
  6. Spoon the batter into the muffin papers and sprinkle the almond, sugar and cinnamon mixture on top. Bake for 20 minutes until they have risen and are golden.
  7. Let the muffins cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £3

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


The lack of posts this week is due to an increase in my university workload, namely a timed essay that’s in on Thursday. It doesn’t mean I’ve stopped cooking completely, just that I’m cooking less adventurous things. However, this weekend I had a three day Nigella cook-athon. I’m one of those people who has phases on cook books. I’ll get it, cook everything that stands out and then it’ll be on to the next one. I got the Nigella book in question, ‘Kitchen’ for Christmas and used it all through January, put it away, and now its having its second airing. Although it pains me to say it, I have a bit of a love hate relationship with everyone’s favourite domestic goddess. Now don’t get me wrong, obviously she is amazing, I am a fan on facebook, watch her programmes and drool over her recipe books, but I find that her recipes are a tad hit or miss. I think I am alone in this but I do find a lot of her recipes go a bit wrong for me, most memorably toad in the hole, turkey meatballs and chocolate pots which were total culinary disasters!! Luckily only one recipe went wrong this weekend, the Indian rubbed lamb cutlets, and the rest were roaring successes.

Exploding Chocolate Pots
Flat as a Pancake Toad in the Hole
The first recipe that I had to share with you was the wonderful Churros one. I love to pick up a bag of these sugary doughy treats when on holiday in Spain. I think I doubled my body weight eating them at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona the other year (they make the best festival breakfast), but I haven’t really found any of comparable quality in England. The great thing about churros is that they are blissfully simple to make, and can be knocked together quickly and with ingredients that you’re likely to have in your cupboard. Dip these little drops of sugary goodness in a chocolate sauce of choice; Nigella makes her own thick chocolate dipping sauce but I used Nutella, just as good in my opinion.

Culinary Know How: 2ND YEAR
Budget: UNDER £2

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Cumin and Chilli Sweet Potato with Tzatziki

My mum is crazy about making this; over the 5 days I was home for Easter she cooked it twice, and I can’t say I blame her. It is wonderfully simple to prepare and makes the perfect light supper or side dish. Mum makes hers with butternut squash but I got a bit carried away at the fruit and veg stall on campus and bought some massive sweet potatoes and used these instead. I'm pleased to say they have pretty much the same effect. The measurements are a guide only. If you like your chilli, add some more, and the same goes for the other ingredients too. To be honest, I don’t think you can ever use too much cumin, garlic or olive oil!! Serve with a large dollop of homemade tzatziki and salad leaves if you wish.

Serves 2
Two large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm thick slices (or peel, deseeded and cut into slices one butternut squash)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1. Preheat the oven to 220C, put the sweet potato into a baking tray, sprinkle over the cumin, chilli and garlic, and drizzle with olive oil.
2. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes (20-25 for butternut squash), turning over once halfway through.

Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £2
Kitchen Requirements: GARLIC CRUSHER, BAKING TRAY.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Calamari with Garlic Mayonnaise

Bens been begging for us to cook some homemade calamari for well over a month now, but after keeping an eye out for some fresh squid we were only able to find some very sorry looking baby squids which wouldn’t really suffice. That was until we went to the Brighton Farmers Market on Saturday and found some lovely big fat squid, much better. Now, my relationship with the Brighton Farmers Market is a bit love hate. I always get over excited about trying out fresh organic produce, but the food we have got from there has been a bit hit and miss. Luckily this time around we were a lot more successful. The very nice fishman offered to prepare the squid for us, ie. Get rid of all the nasty bits you definitely don’t want to eat, and I’m glad we accepted the offer, goodness knows what we would have done with the thing otherwise. Once we got the squid home it was simple enough to chop it up into rings, then mix with flour and paprika before frying with groundnut oil.

The results really did take me back to long lazy days spent at vine smothered tavernas in Greece. Anyone who has read my Tzatziki post will know I have a bit of a soft spot for, in my opinion, one of the friendliest most beautiful places in the world. Calamari is a true staple of any Greek menu, sometimes served with just a squeeze of lemon, providing one of the simplest, yet tastiest dishes there is. Thankfully I don’t have to wait too long for my next Greece dose as I’m off to Corfu with my mum in just over two months time, Yay!!

Serves 2
2 medium sized fresh squid, prepared by the fishmonger and cut into 1cm thick squid rings, and the tentacles cut into bitesized pieces
a few good glugs of groundnut oil
2 tbsp cornflour
4 tbsp plain flour
1tsp salt
1tsp paprika
-For the Garlic Mayonnaise-
½ clove garlic, peeled and crushed
pinch paprika
100g mayonnaise
  1. Put the cornflour, plain flour, paprika and salt into a plastic freezer bag, add the squid and toss to coat.
  2. Heat the oil in a smallish frying pan, until it sizzles fiercely if you put a crumb in to the pan. Fry the squid in batches, 3 to 4 minutes per batch, until golden and crunchy.
  3. Mix the garlic and paprika into the mayonnaise and serve with fried squid and a wedge of lemon.
Culinary Know How: SECOND YEAR
Kitchen Requirements: FREEZER BAG, SMALL FRYING PAN. 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Curry Night

It was no mean feat getting everyone on my course together between holidays and the start of exams, but I managed it and the result was plenty of curry and cake. Managing to fit 8 people round my small table was also quite a challenge, considering I only have 4 actual chairs (a coffee table, step ladder and guitar amp made good alternatives). I started off by making two chutneys, coriander and mango, to dip poppadoms into, which went down very well if I do say so myself. I went on to make Sophie Dahl’s Dad’s Chicken Curry, brilliantly easy to make with a very delicate flavour making it suitable for all, while my friend Lydia rustled up a veggie option. Clean plates all round. And what did I get in return? 4 cakes, including 2 chocolate fudge cakes; don’t I have lovely generous friends.

-Coriander Chutney-
Makes one ramekin
One large handful of coriander, roughly chopped
½ red onion, roughly chopped
1 green chille
1 tsp cumin seeds
juice of ½ a lime
1 tsp light brown sugar
pinch of salt
  1. Put all of the ingredients, apart from the coriander, into a blender and blend to a coarse paste.
  2. Add the coriander and blend to a fine paste.
  3. Check to see if you need any more salt.

Culinary Know How: FRESHER


Saturday, 14 May 2011

Chicken Fajitas

I think one of my most favourite student food discoveries is the fajita. Before the first year I had never encountered this DIY supper. That is until my lovely first year housemate Emily and her boyfriend James bought an Old el Paso fajita kit, and the rest, as they say is history. These were the dark days when I didn’t know how to cook, and tended to make do with readymade pasta and curry sauces. Now don’t get me wrong, when you’re a student its kind of ok to cheat a bit, but the readymade varieties never do live up to their made from scratch counterparts. In the case of fajitas, there really is no need to buy a kit when all of the ingredients can be bought separately for a lot less money. I like to add homemade guacamole and tzatziki, tomato salsa and grated cheddar cheese to the spicy chicken and peppers, but if you're not feeling all that adventurous, or really don’t have the time, you can opt to buy readymade sauces.

Serves 2
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of fajita mix (available in large jars at around £1.50)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced into crescents
Packet of tortillas
  1. Mix together 2 tbsp of the oil, the fajita mix and cumin in a bowl, and toss in the chicken. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large pan on a high heat. Add the remaining oil and stirfry the peppers, garlic and onion for 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Heat another pan until it is smoking hot. Drop in the chicken and fry until cooked through.
  4. Mix everything together, season and serve with your preferred fillings, all wrapped up in a grilled tortilla.
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £3
Kitchen Requirements: BOWL, TWO FRYING PANS.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


So I was a little bit apprehensive about making these meringues. I used to help my mum make them when I was little and they would turn out great, but I was a little worried about all the whisking and folding. Luckily my first solo meringue making experience turned out really well, an almost fluffy interior encased in an ivory shell. Obviously, the moment they had cooled I smashed half of them up and mixed them with some whipped double cream and raspberries to make Eton Mess, the quintessential English pudding.

The recipe can be found here, I followed it to the letter.

Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £2

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Sticky Tamarind Chicken Wings

I’ve had a wedge of tamarind lurking at the back of my cupboard for a while now. Having never cooked with it before, I found its brown twiggyness rather daunting. I have to admit that I didn’t even know what it was until I hacked into it (in case you don’t either, it is the matured fruit of the bushy tamarind tree). After a bit of dissolving, prodding and sieving I was left with a sweet brown liquid that, along with a few other ingredients, created a mightily impressive sticky marinade for chicken wings. Baked in the oven for half an hour and served up with a simple green salad and some skinny sweet potato fries, these deliciously sweet caramelised chicken wings make the perfect summer supper.

Serves 2 to 3
20g tamarind
1 dessert spoon vegetable oil
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 dessert spoon soy sauce
1cm sized piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp dried chili flakes
10 chicken wings
  1. Place the tamarind in a bowl and pour over 30ml of boiling water. Mix with a fork and leave for a few minutes. Strain through a course sieve, pressing the pulp down with the back of a spoon. Add the liquid to the honey, sugar, oil, soy, ginger, garlic and chili in a large bowl and set aside in a cool fridge for ½ an hour, or longer in the fridge if you can.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C and place the wings on a baking tray. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, turning half way through.
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £3

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Alice Hart's Cumin-Spiced Lamb Skewers with Fresh Mango Chutney

Perfect for the barbecue but tasting great under the grill if the weathers not up to scratch, the meat for these cumin lamb skewers can be left to marinate over night to really take advantage of the cumin-spiced, and the chutney can be made ahead too. Along with a lemony couscous, the pre prepared lamb can be grilled in under 6 minutes, making it a great choice for summer entertaining. The recipe is from Alice Hart’s brilliant Cook Book and comes under the ‘Terribly Chic Drinks Party for a Winters Nights’ section, although I think it’s a great summer option too. The quantities for her recipe make 24-26 mini skewers, so not being that greedy, I halved the quantities to make two generous main meal portions.

Serves 2
- For the Skewers -
600g cubed lamb leg
1tsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g Greek yoghurt
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
small bunch of mint, finely chopped
- For the Chutney -
1 ripe mango, peeled and finely diced
1 green chili, finely chopped
finely grated zest and juice of ½ lime
1 tsp brown sugar
  1. Soak 6 long wooden skewers in cold water for atleast thirty minutes, to ensure they don’t scorch under the grill.
  2. Put the lamb in a large mixing bowl and add the spices, garlic, yoghurt, sugar, oil and 2/3’s of the mint. Leave to marinate for a few hours, or overnight if you can.
  3. Combine all the chutney ingredients together and stir in the remaining mint. If you prefer your chutney smoother, and if you have one available, blend a little with a hand held blender. Otherwise, ensure the mango is finely diced and squish with a fork to ensure its not too chunky.
  4. Preheat the grill to medium, thread the lamb on to skewers and line up on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
  5. Grill for about 6 minutes, turning halfway through. Serve with a dollop of chutney and couscous. 
Culinary Know How: FRESHER
Budget: UNDER £6
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