Category: Student

Coffee and Caramelised White Chocolate Cookies

Coffee and Caramelised White Chocolate Cookies

So last week I did a post on how to make yourself some delicious caramelised white chocolate – now it’s time to know how to use this ingredient in your baking! These cookies are really easy to make and can be frozen as a dough, so you can make a huge batch and then just bake them as and when you want so you always have fresh cookies! (And who doesn’t always want fresh cookies?) If you’re a bit short on time you don’t have to use caramelised white chocolate, this also works really well with normal white chocolate. That said, I would recommend giving the caramelising process a go if you can because it brings a new flavour dynamic which is well worth the effort!

In other news I’ve just moved into my student house for the year which is really exciting because I now have a gorgeous kitchen to cook in all year round! It’s gonna take a little while to find my bearings and get everything sorted, but hopefully I’ll soon start getting out some content from there so keep an eye out for that – and as always any requests just throw them my way!

Recipe

Makes 12

Time: 2 hours (plus chilling time)

Ingredients

  • 170g White chocolate (30-32% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
  • 105g Unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ tbsp Instant coffee granules
  • 200g Plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Baking powder
  • ¼ tsp Baking soda
  • 100g Light brown sugar
  • 75g Caster sugar
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 Large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • Flaked sea salt, for sprinkling

Method

  1. Begin by making the caramelised white chocolate. Pre-heat the oven to 120˚C. Spread the roughly chopped white chocolate on a shallow baking tray lined with baking paper and put it into the oven for around 10 minutes.
  2. Take the tray out, stir the white chocolate with a spatula until evenly mixed and then put it back into the oven. Repeat this mixing every 10 minutes for the next 30-50 minutes until golden and caramelised.
  3. Leave the caramelised chocolate to set on the baking paper. (It can then be wrapped in baking paper and stored like this for up to 2 months if you don’t want to use it straight away).
  4. Now start making the cookies. Put the butter into a small pan and melt it gently over a medium heat. Once melted add the coffee and stir until dissolved. Then leave this to one side until needed.
  5. Next mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk together the butter, sugars, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until fully combined. Add the flour mixture to these wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough starts to form.
  7. Break the caramelised white chocolate into pieces and add it to the dough.  Then mix everything together until the dough is smooth and the chocolate is incorporated. Wrap the dough in cling film and then leave it to chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
  9. Roll the dough into 60g balls and place them on the lined baking trays, making sure they’re spaced out by a couple of inches to prevent them from spreading into each other during baking.
  10. Sprinkle the cookies with a little sea salt and then bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and starting to crisp around the edges. Leave the cookies to cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. These will keep in an air-tight container for up to 5 days. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

 

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Meatball Pasta Bake

Meatball Pasta Bake

The start of Uni is coming up and so it’s time to dig out those quick, comforting student-friendly recipes for term time! This one’s a really useful dish to have under your belt as it’s hearty, tasty and will also give you some really useful skills that you can use to make loads of other things. My mum always says that if you know how to cook a bit of meat, make a tomato sauce and make a white sauce you’re pretty much set. From the skills you learn from this you can also make a chilli con carne, bolognese, cauliflower cheese, fish pie and a number of other dishes!

This is also a really easy dish to play around with to suit whatever you need.  Want to make it vegetarian – use a meat substitute or vegetables (I like aubergine and sweet potato!). Want to feed a crowd? Just double your quantities! Don’t have the cash for/can’t find meatballs? Use some chopped up sausages instead! Don’t have the time to make this in one go? Make the tomato and white sauce in bulk and then all you need to do is re-heat them and add the meat and pasta! I’ve included some herbs and spices in this tomato sauce as it really does make it so much better than boring ones you get out of jars, however, if you’re a student and/or on a budget I wouldn’t expect you to have these so they’re not essential. That said I would really recommend taking some paprika to uni with you if you can – it might seem pretentious but it’ll add instant flavour and kick to any dish without making it blow-your-head-off spicy!

This year I’m living out of college so I’ll have my first taste of true student cooking which is gonna be interesting… That said, I did use our little kitchen in halls quite a bit last year and found out some things that are kinda useful to know:

3  Nuggets of knowledge to take with you to Uni…

  1.  Pasta is life! It’s so versatile, goes with everything, and is really quick/easy to cook. Make sure you take some pasta and maybe some pasta sauces with you when you go to uni. (If you don’t like pasta a staple carb like rice or noodles will also work!)
  2. In the hectic life of uni the fruit you buy can often end up being neglected and before you know it the beautiful morsels you bought are 4 weeks old, squishy and gross. You may be tempted to throw these in the bin (and if they’re mouldy then, yeah, do that!) but if they’re looking generally ok, they’re just too far gone to eat raw, use them in your cooking! I found topping some chopped up eating apples with a simple crumble topping and baking them for 20-30 minutes gave a really quick apple crumble. You can use pretty much any fruit you want to make a good crumble, but stone fruits (like plums, peaches and nectarines) work super well! You can also put old bananas in banana bread and citrus fruits in smoothies!
  3. ALWAYS TIDY UP AFTER YOURSELF! Ok, so maybe I’ve not had the best experience this year with dealing with other people’s mess in the kitchen – but trust me, people know who are the ones who leave their stuff in the kitchen and though they’ll never tell you it, they won’t like you for it. Just make sure you leave the kitchen as you found it (or better) – wash up your dishes, put them away, put food back in the fridge and wipe down the work tops. It’s common niceties for using a shared space and it’ll stop people forming judgements about you before they know you!

I also had no idea what kind of equipment I’d be needing in the kitchen last year, and no matter what you do take you always end up forgetting something. So if you’re wondering what to pack for your student kitchen I’d say make sure to pack the following…

  • A good non-stick sauce pan.
  • A large mixing bowl  – This’ll be useful for everything, from making a 3 tiered birthday cake to eating cereal when you can’t find your crockery!
  • A mug – If you don’t drink coffee or tea before you go to uni you will by the time you come home! (Also really good for mug cakes and for measuring!)
  • A spare fork – great as a whisk, pastry crimper, tub opener, cake prodder, pasta tester and pretty much anything you can think of. You will also always get to a point where the only piece of cutlery you can find is a broken table knife and a ladle, so spare forks are very valuable!
  • A spatula – As a student you don’t want to be wasting any food you’ve spent money and time on making just because you can’t scrape it out of the pan.
  • Tupperware boxes – If you’re as bad as portioning as I am you’ll often end up with a whole other portion of food you want to put in the fridge and keep for another day!
  • Glass dish with lid – Great for baking and cooking things in (like this pasta bake!) and for then storing leftovers in the fridge.
  • A bottle opener – everyone always needs one, no one ever has one!
  • A chef’s knife and a smaller prep knife.
  • A chopping board – self explanatory, but also great for carrying hot dishes back to your room to eat.
  • A tea towel – can double up as an oven glove and ensures you have no excuses to leave your pans out!

Of course there are lots of other useful bits of kit like a wooden spoon, extra pans, oven gloves, a tin opener, a sieve, and of course crockery, but these are the the main things I found I reached for when I was in the kitchen!

Recipe

Serves 2 – 4 (really depends on how hungry you are!)

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ mugs of Pasta
  • 1 tsp Sunflower oil
  • 12 Meatballs (or 4 sausages)
  • Fresh basil to serve (optional)

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 Small white onion
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp Sunflower oil
  • ½ tsp Smoked papirika
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 400g Chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Beef (or vegetable) stock cube
  • 1 Bay leaf (optional)

For the white sauce

  • 50g Butter
  • 1 tbsp Plain flour
  • 450ml Milk
  • 75g Cheddar cheese, plus extra for the topping

Method

  1. Begin by making the tomato sauce. Peel and finely dice the onion and garlic. Put the oil into a large saucepan and fry the chopped onion until starting to caramelise and turn golden. Add the garlic, paprika and cayenne (if using). Stir and fry for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes and beef stock cube to the pan, stir and bring it up to a boil. Fill the empty tomato tin/carton with water and pour this into the pan (it’ll rinse the remaining tomatoes out into the pan and will give you the liquid you need!). Add the bay leaf, stir the mixture again and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Leave for 30-40 minutes until reduced and not too watery. Season to taste with salt and pepper and leave to cool until needed
  3. Meanwhile put a pan of water on to boil. Then cook the pasta to the packet’s instructions. When aldente take the pan off the heat and leave in the water until needed.
  4. Next prepare the meatballs. Put the oil into a frying pan and place over a medium heat. Add the meatballs and fry them for 1-2 minutes until browned on one side. Then turn them over and repeat the frying and turning until they’re brown all over. (If using sausages instead, pierce the skins 2-3 times with a sharp knife and pan-fry them in a similar way, before chopping them into chunks). Don’t worry if the meat isn’t cooked all the way through as it’ll continue to cook in the oven, you just want them browned all over on the surface. Leave to one side until needed.
  5. Meanwhile make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a pan and then add the flour. Mix the flour into the butter with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Beat it in the pan for around 1 minute to cook out the flour.
  6. Slowly add the milk to the pan, (around 3-4 tbsp at a time at first and then after 4-5 of these start to slowly pour it in), whisking constantly to slowly make a sauce. This is the most important step as if you add the milk all at once the mixture will become lumpy and won’t thicken. Once all the milk is added keep on whisking for 5-10 minutes until the mixture thickens and leaves a trail when the whisk is lifted out.
  7. Grate the cheddar into the sauce and whisk again until it’s melted and combined. Then taste the mixture and season with pepper and salt, if needed.
  8. When all the elements are ready start assembling. Drain the pasta and mix it into the tomato sauce. Then pour it out into a glass/oven-proof dish. Top with the meatballs and then spoon the white sauce in between the meatballs. Top with some extra grated cheese and then bake the dish in the oven for around 10-15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.
  9. Serve with a side salad and basil (if you want!). This will keep in a covered contained in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Healthy Banana Split

Healthy Banana Split

Something that’s really hard to balance when you’re trying to eat healthy is that end of a meal slump when you want something sweet but not so sweet it’ll spike your blood sugar. This is where these beauties come in! I used to eat banana splits a lot as a child, piling them high with sweets, ice cream and chocolate, but now I’ve found a way to make them healthy and just as delicious! Start with a banana and some yogurt (whatever variety you like) and then you can top that with whatever you want. Personally I like a mixture of fresh fruit with some nuts and a little bit of super-dark chocolate, but you can top yours with whatever you fancy – which is partly what makes it so good!

Recipe

Serves 1

Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Banana
  • 3 tbsp Greek Yogurt (or yogurt of choice)
  • 1 Passion fruit
  • A handful of fresh Berries (I went for strawberries and raspberries)
  • 1 Chunk (about 50g) of 100% cocoa chocolate
  • A few Coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp Runny honey
  • Optional extras (granola, nuts, melted chocolate, peanut butter, ice cream etc)

Method

  1. Peel and then slice your banana in half and splay out on a plate or in a bowl.
  2. Spoon the yogurt generously over the top, sandwiching the two banana halves.
  3. Prepare your fruit toppings, for example halve the passion fruit and scoop out the seeds and then hull the strawberries. Scatter the fruit over the top.
  4. Grate the chocolate over the top of this, sprinkle over the coconut flakes and finish with a drizzle of honey. Add any extras you want to the mixture and the enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

 

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Black Wild Rice, Cherry, and Rocket Salad

Black Wild Rice, Cherry, and Rocket Salad

Recently I’ve decided to try going on a detox again and this time I’m really going to try to get into the habit of healthy eating. I’ve said this before, however at the moment I’m not going away in the near future, I’m not being catered for and I’m free to really focus on what I’m eating, so I’m determined to make this work. They say it takes 30 days to make a habit and 90 days to make a lifestyle, so that’s what I’m aiming for! As of yet it’s going really well: I’ve started thinking out of the box and I’m now getting into the habit of making things that will nourish my body but also taste great. I am craving cake and would like nothing more than to make some danish pastries right now, but I’m standing strong and I’m hopeful that this time I won’t crack.  Something I experimented with the other day was this wild rice and cherry salad and I was chuffed with how well it worked. Delicious, filling and super quick to throw together!

Recipe

Serves 2

Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 100g Black wild rice
  • Roughly 8 Fresh cherries
  • 4 tbsp Puy lentils
  • 50g Feta cheese
  • A handful of Rocket

Method

  1. Fill a medium sized pan half way full with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the rice. Stir once and then leave on a gentle simmer until soft to preference.
  2. Meanwhile, halve and de-stone the cherries and leave to one side for now.
  3. Then put the puy lentils into a medium sized bowl and microwave for 20 seconds to gently warm through.
  4. Drain the rice and then add it to the bowl with the lentils. Stir gently to combine.
  5. Portion the rice out between your two plates. Arrange the halved cherries on top and then scatter over chunks of the feta cheese. Finish with a sprinkling of rocket leaves.

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Easy Spaghetti Bolognese

Easy Spaghetti Bolognese

Hello I’m back! It’s been a little while since I last posted anything as I’ve just been through exam season – but now I’m on the other side and ready to start bringing back the recipes. I thought I’d start this new season not with something particularly summer-y (have you seen the weather this past week!) but rather with a full-proof comfort food staple that everyone should know how to make.  A bolognese is such a versatile warming sauce – you can have it with baked potatoes, rice, or pasta, spicy or not spicy, and with any extra veg you want. It’s also easy to make in batches and freeze so it’s the perfect student food for busy times like exam season.

Another reason why I wanted to bring out pasta in this post is because at the end of the month I’ll be off to Italy for several weeks with some friends (yey!) and so I’m gearing myself up for mountains of pasta, pizza, tiramisu and gelato! When over there I’ll be soaking up the culture and art, but first and foremost I’ll be trying to sample as much of the local cuisines as possible so if you have any recommendations for places to go in Rome, Florence and Venice please drop it in the comment box at the end of this post!

Recipe

Serves 4

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

For the Bolognese

  • 1 White onion
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • 2 Carrots
  • 8 Chestnut mushrooms (optional)
  • 400g Minced beef
  • 500g Passata
  • 500ml Beef stock (1 stock cube dissolved in 500ml boiling water)
  • 1 tsp Mixed herbs

To serve

  • Pasta for 4 ( I went for fresh tagliatelle)
  • 100g Cheddar cheese
  • A few leaves of fresh Basil

Method

  1. Chop the top and bottom off the onion. Then peel off the skin and finely chop. Put the oil into a large pan and place it over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and gently fry for 4-5 minutes until just starting to caramelise.
  2. Meanwhile prep the rest of the veg. Chop the ends off the garlic clove and the carrots. Then peel both. Crush the garlic and set to one side. Then quarter the carrots length-ways and chop into small chunks.
  3. Add the garlic and the carrots to the onions once they’re just starting to colour and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Halve and then roughly chop the mushrooms and then add them to the pan. Fry for another minute and then tip everything into a bowl.
  5. Add the mince into the same pan as what you cooked the veg in. Fry over a medium heat until the meat is browned all over. Add the vegetables back into the pan and then add the passata, beef stock and mixed herbs. Reduce the heat and leave to gently simmer until reduced and rich in flavour (around 25 minutes).
  6. Meanwhile boil the pasta in a pan of boiling the water according to the packet’s instructions.
  7. Season the bolognese with salt and pepper to taste. Drain the pasta and distribute it between your serving dishes. Top with spoonfuls of the bolognese, some grated cheese and fresh basil!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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