I am a big fan of East Asian cuisine whether that be convenience sushi, underwhelming looking Vietnamese restaurants or greasy, hate-yourself Chinese takeaway at 2 in the morning. Having said that, I always shy away from making Asian food at home. In my head to make a proper stir-fry or a Vietnamese/ Thai curry I would either have to invest a vast amount of time and money sourcing all types of specialist ingredients, most of which come in bottles large enough to live in and which I would never use again; or give up and get it out of a Blue Dragon sachet, in which case I might as well sack the whole thing in and get a takeaway.
However, this is not always the case. In my search for more varied and interesting vegan and vegetarian dinner ideas I stumbled across a recipe for thai green curry which seemed to mostly use ingredients I already had (here is the original). And, being skint and lazy I decided to make substitutes for anything I didn’t have (eg. palm sugar). The end result was surprisingly easy to make and delicious. This recipe is really versatile so is great for using up any leftover veg and even those slightly more exotic ingredients can be bought fresh from most supermarkets meaning there is very little waste or extra cost.
You know it’s spring when you find yourself hauling a bag usually reserved for short holidays on a twenty minute walk to the supermarket. Our highly erratic weather necessitates a volume of paraphernalia and equipment not dissimilar to that required to climb everest. Sunglasses, an umbrella, some form of waterproof outerwear, a hat, gloves and a possible change of shoes and clothes may all be required at a moment’s notice.
On arrival at said destination, the dilemmas continue. It may be sunny at the point of purchase but you know there is every chance you will have to fight through a whirling blizzard to get home and following that ordeal you don’t want to be faced with some bullshit salad ingredients, bought in a fit of optimism.
Chorizo is pretty good in this situation. Get it in a salad, sit outside and eat it with a glass of Rioja and a cigarette. You’ll think you’re in Barcelona. Or maybe costa del sol, lets not aim too high. However, on a day when the air is so thick with misty grey drizzle that you could only be in Manchester, you can use the chorizo in a rich, warming stew like this one. Also, as an added bonus, this recipe uses mainly store cupboard ingredients so hopefully you won’t need to go out in the pissing rain to buy anything.
Over the last few years, food fashion has shifted away from the quirky and sometimes crazy molecular gastronomy of the last decades to a focus on fresh, local produce cooked at its best. I am not about to don my wellies and skip off down a country path in search of dandelion leaves, although leaving a juicy blackberry on a bush is pretty much sacrilege. Really, though, this new fashion has had very little impact on the way I cook except that I have started to pay more attention to the ingredients of the season.
In part, this focus on seasonality is due to the fact that my parents have a vegetable garden, which provides me with a plentiful source of free food. However, if you grow it yourself, you can’t get asparagus in December. This puts me in a bit of a bind because the veg selection gets a little bit more limited at this time of year; there are only so many ways you can cook a carrot!
Beetroot is one thing that comes into its own in winter though and its earthy flavour is a really comforting addition to many dishes. This dish is a really simple mid-week supper that makes great use of seasonal produce. It’s warming and comforting without being too heavy, meaning it is a great antidote to the plethora of stews and pies and puddings that will have you heaving your gut off the floor come January.
I realise that I have slightly missed the window for this recipe. I began writing it only days before an avalanche of essays, dissertation stress and exams hit, only to be thawed by the summer sun of the last few weeks. Now I am free though I thought I would return to few of my favourite spring recipes which work had prevented me from cooking and sharing with you. Even if this one is a little heavy for the weather at the moment you can be guaranteed that rain is never very far away, especially in Manchester. Keep this one in the back pocket then for a rainy summer day, and enjoy!
So its really really cold at the moment. I don’t know why it is but the idea of winter becomes so much less appealing after Christmas, the frosty mornings and air so chilly that your breath condenses as you talk is no longer charming, it is a nuisance. As the rest of the country experiences the first snowfall of 2015 and spends their weekends reliving a scene from a Victorian Christmas card, the Manchester skies are a flurry of dismal unidentified slush. I have never seen anything so depressing.
After Christmas I felt so sick I could barely eat for weeks but now with the advent of this weather a small part of me is longing for buttery mashed potatoes and pies and sponge puddings and roast dinners and ah everything that would screw up any hope of being able to fit through my front door by my forties. This is also seriously challenging my need for easy, cheap food, created by a mixture of essays, exams, a post christmas overdraft and some serious January sales bargains! As a result I have been trying my best to find interesting recipes that are comforting, healthy, quick and inexpensive, because at this time of year a salad just won’t cut it.
This skillet is a great example. Its more summery than wintery but it is a perfect hot lunch that won’t break your bank or rip your jeans and best of all it can be eaten straight out of the pan! The chorizo gives it a fiery, smoky hit and the oozy egg yolk brings a silky delicious texture. An added bonus is that you can chuck just about anything in it. If you don’t have potatoes this is really nice with just a handful of quinoa stirred through. Equally you can use half a tin of tomatoes instead of fresh ones. It also tastes great with spring onions, courgette, parsley or sweet potato so its a great one for cleaning out the odds and ends of your fridge. Enjoy!
It seems that in the last week the thermometer has plummeted. We were said to have had the warmest halloween ever and yet this week has seen me lusting after winter coats online as frost and fog has suddenly set in. This kind of weather is fantastic though because it excuses proper warming, filling dinners and allows any thoughts of weight-loss to be pushed out of the brain in favour of dreams of mince-pies and mulled wine.
One of my favourite winter-warmer style dinners is fish pie. Nothing fancy just classic, hearty, british food. You might think this a bit of a luxury especially those of you who are starting to feel the pinch in the no mans land between loan payments. But this is actually a fairly cheap dinner and you can get a few portions out of it so, if you’re not in the beans on toast stage yet, give this a go and it will definitely help you get through the next few hypothermic months! Continue reading
It seems to me, the toughest challenge faced by budding student foodies is finding as many uses for mince as is humanly possible. Chilli, lasagne, spag bol and shepherds pie are on the menu every otter night in unit up and down the country. Mince is such a good ingredient when you’re cooking on a budget, it is cheap and really adaptable. Sometimes the old classics get a bit boring though so here’s a recipe for mince that is a bit different.
This recipe is really simple except, for any sauce- virgins out there, the homemade cheese sauce might prove tricky. You can obviously substitute this for something from a jar but white sauce is such a useful thing to learn how to make, you only need 3 ingredients, all of which most people will have in the house already. The quantities here are just guidelines really, I don’t normally measure it all out, you just need enough butter so all the flour is incorporated but no more. The key is not to get frustrated, if it goes wrong you can try again, it won’t break the bank! Other things to remember: just keep whisking and it should turn out alright and don’t use a non-stick pan because the whisk will scratch off the coating. Continue reading