Recipes from my Student Days and Family Favourites

Here are a selection of some of my “old reliables”. Some of these recipes are tweaked from family recipes, others are from websites and some are some that have been around since I was a student – when cash was tight, these have really helped me out to stretch my money and make sure I am eating right.

The recipes here usually serve 2 people, with leftovers, unless otherwise stated. Feel free to leave out or substitute what you don’t like, or don’t eat!

EGGS

Quiche

Quiche is a great way to use up leftovers! You can really just dice everything up pretty and lay a few slices of zucchini or tomato and serve with a big salad. Leftovers are easily portable for a work lunch.

Crust

  • 1 cup flour (and a bit more and i use a mug)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup iced or refrigerated water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Filling

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 small yoghurt-sized pot of cream
  • half a packet of grated cheese (2 big handfuls)
  • packet of bacon bits
  • filling: you can use up leftovers really well this way. Some examples of combinations that we like are bacon, tomato and leek or spinach and mushroom or asparagus and smoked salmon. Around a cup to 2 cups of fillings is fine.

First thing to do is lightly fry up the bacon and leeks in a pan and leave aside to cool a bit.

Then get the crust ingredients mixed and rolled out (this is a very thin crust) and into the lightly greased and floured tin and then put it in the pre-heated oven (150deg C is fine for mine). It can cook a few minutes while the rest of the ingredients for the filling are being sorted. I don’t have a rolling pin, i used a clean, floured up wine bottle.

Then roughly beat the eggs, pour in the cream and the cheese. and grate in the carrot too. Mix it up and add some salt and pepper.

Then take out the quiche crust from the oven and pour this mixture on top. I garnished with a sliced tomato. Then just cook it for about 20-30 mins until a knife comes out clean.

MINCED MEAT / GROUND BEEF

Spaghetti Bolognese

This was my student staple! Freezes really well.

  • 500g Beef or Pork and Beef Mince
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 carton of passatta plus a heaped teaspoon of tomato puree OR two tins of tomatoes (any kind) and a large heaped teaspoon amount of tomato purée and a teaspoon of sugar
  • Beef Stock , I usually use an oxo cube dissolved in about a quarter cup of hot water
  • 2 teaspoons of each dried basil and oregano
  • Optional: diced mushrooms or grated courgettes

If you have a blender, blend the carrots, onion and garlic, this will save time with grating and chopping.

Put the meat into a large pot, turn the heat up high, but not so high it will burn, and while dividing up the “clusters” of meat with a wooden spoon, let the fats sweat off it. We drain this off in our house. The meat should then be browned after a few minutes, and then add in the chopped onions, garlic and carrots, put in the tomato mixture, the beef stock and the herbs, bring it to the boil and then cook it on low (lid on or off) for an hour and a half to two hours. Season to taste.

I made double this amount to freeze half of it, so I dont have a picture right now, but I will post one the next time :)

This mix can be layered with lasagne sheets and white sauce and cheese to make lasagne as another option. It also freezes very well.

Egyptian Baamyia

When I eat this it reminds me of my wonderful egyptian friend, we used to eat this together at his house :)

  • Around 20 Okra “fingers”
  • Tin of tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons of tomato purée
  • beef stock
  • Around 500g minced beef
  • A medium sized onion
  • Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 3 tablespoons of Sunflower/Vegetable Oil

Cook the above ingredients, starting with frying off the beef, adding the onions and then the okra (cut off the top and bottom too to give them a better texture). Put the rest of the ingredients in the pot, stirr and then transfer to an oven proof container and bake in the oven for 40 mins at around 150 degrees centigrade. until cooked. You can serve with some savoury rice and a little salad.

Moussaka

Like a lasagne with slices of aubergine instead of pasta.

  • 500g Beef Mince
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 carton of passatta plus a heaped teaspoon of tomato puree OR two tins of tomatoes (any kind) and a large heaped teaspoon amount of tomato purée and a teaspoon of sugar
  • Beef Stock , I usually use an oxo cube dissolved in about a quarter cup of hot water
  • 3 teaspoons of dried basil. I also use an additional 2 teaspoons of greek or turkish spice mix (bahrat for Kofteh).
  • 2 courgettes, sliced into rings around a centimetre to half a centimetre thick
  • half a block of feta cheese cut into small cubes
  • optional: black olives to serve

As with the bolognese, if you have a blender, blend the carrots, onion and garlic. Put the meat into a large pot, turn the heat up high, but not so high it will burn, and while dividing up the “clusters” of meat with a wooden spoon, let the fats sweat off it. We drain this off in our house. The meat should then be browned after a few minutes, and then add in the chopped onions, garlic and carrots, put in the tomato mixture, the beef stock and the herbs and spices, bring it to the boil and then cook it on low (lid on or off) for around 20mins.

In a lasagne dish put a small amount of olive oil on the bottom of the dish to line it and then layer the meat mixture and aubergines, giving the top layer of aubergines a little drink of water or olive oil and cover loosely with tin foil. Put it in the oven around 170 degrees celcius and bake for around 20 mins. Then remove foil and add the feta and bake for another 15-30 mins. Sprinkle with sliced black olives if you like before serving.

Enchiladas

I usually make this with the leftover “salsa” for chicken fajitas and then I freeze it to use later  (thawed) as a sauce for enchiladas.

Ingredients:

Salsa

  • Half a carton of tomato passata (could use tinned chopped tomatoes and a little tomato purrée)
  • Handful of sweetcorn (a whole large tin is too much for the two of us to use up, so I freeze it!)
  • Handful of kidney beans (ditto for freezing kidney beans from a tin)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of mexican spice mix. I buy this one.

Meat and Wraps

  • pack of tortilla wraps (for me these are bought cheapest from our turkish grocers)
  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • small bunch of fresh coriander (again, I get this cheapest from the turkish grocers)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • blob of olive oil for the bottom of the pyrex dish
  • Some grated cheese
  1. Dry fry the meat until browned and strain if necessary.
  2. Add the diced onion and fry another few minutes until the onions are see-through.
  3. In the meantime put the tortillas in the microwave to soften for a few seconds, and rub the blob of oil into the baking dish.
  4. Add the salsa (or salsa ingredients if making fresh) and half of the coriander in to the meat and onions and mix.
  5. Fill each tortilla with around 3 tablespoons of meat mixture and wrap into parcels, placing each parcel into the baking tray.
  6. Take a quarter of a cup of water and put it into the now empty meat pan/pot to mix the remainder of the juices and pour this liquid into the baking dish.
  7. Bake at around 160 degrees centigrade for 40mins (adjust your own oven – or just keep an eye on it for the first 20 mins and see how it goes!)
  8. Grate the cheese and sprinkle on top for the last 10 mins of cooking time.

Enjoy with a big salad!

CHICKEN

Egyptian Green Pepper Chicken

Again, another recipe that reminds me of home-cooked meals with my egyptian pal :)

  • 4 green peppers, cut into rustic chunks. The more rustic the better ;-)
  • Tin of tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons of tomato purée
  • half a cup of chicken stockstock
  • 4 chicken legs or thighs
  • A medium sized onion
  • Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Sunflower/Vegetable Oil

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and transfer to an oven proof container and bake in the oven for around an hour at around 160 degrees centigrade until the chicken is cooked. I really like this with some hummous, a simple salad (where i remove the seeds of the tomatoes and add just a little salt and lemon juice as dressing) and some pasta shapes, couscous or flatbread.

Japanese Mum’s Chicken

From Food.com (formerly Recipezaar)

  • 8 chicken drumsticks, skin on (the skin is important for flavour, and is so tasty to eat!)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and bruised
  • 1 small hot chili pepper, slit open, seeds removed
  1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over a high heat.
  2. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove any scum that rises to the surface.
  4. Increase the heat, turning the drumsticks frequently in the liquid, and cook until the liquid has reduced to a sticky glaze.
  5. Arrange the chicken on a serving platter, remove the garlic clove and chili from the liquid, and spoon the glaze over.

NOTE It’s a glaze rather than a sauce, so there’s not a whole lot of it.

PORK

Char Siu Pork

This is one of my boyfriend’s favourite Sunday roasts. He asks for this a lot :) The recipe is from the Just Bento Website, it looks like a lot of ingredients but it will yield a lot of meat that is very flavoursome and can be chopped up for stir frys and frozen. The drippings from the pan can also be reserved and frozen in a sturdy container and added as a sauce to stir frys.

Ingredients

  • A bit more than 2 lbs (1kg) pork shoulder or neck

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup (360ml) soy sauce
  • 3 Tbs. oyster sauce
  • 5 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 cup shaoxing wine (紹興酒)or sake or dry sherry
  • an inch-long (2cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with a knife
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 small piece of star anise
  • 1 clove

If you don’t have star anise, it tastes lovely just without it. Simply pop everything into a plastic bag, let the plastic bag sit in a bowl and rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. Then cook for an hour or two in the oven at around 220 degrees centigrade, turning every half an hour until it’s done. Reserve the juices to use in stirfries or on rice (I freeze this).

SEAFOOD

Paella

I keep a package of mixed seafood (squid, mussels, clams, prawns) in the freezer for this quick weeknight meal.

  • tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • loosely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • glass of white wine
  • chicken stock
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • an onion
  • spanish spice mix or saffron
  • short-grain rice, brown or white.

Just thaw the mix (leave to thaw a few hours before). When you’re ready to cook, boil the short grained rice in the chicken stock . Meanwhile fry up the onion, the garlic the chopped tomatoes and frozen peas, add the rice and then the white wine (it will smell great at this stage). If you are using saffron add it before the seafood mix and let it cook another 5mins. Finally add the seafood mix, cover and let it steam for five minutes. Just before serving mix through a third of the package of the spanish rice mix (it’s mainly only colouring). The garlic and white wine give it the real flavour.

Moules-Frites

A special treat from the fishmonger when fresh mussels are in season. We like to eat it with oven-cooked chips from aldi (the skinny ones).

  • around a kilo of (preferably) fresh mussels
  • loosely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • a knob of butter and a splosh of cream
  • a LARGE glass of white wine
  • a third of a cup of strong chicken stock
  • at least 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • a large onion
  • skinny-cut chips/ french-fries

Don’t let preparing fresh mussels scare you! They are so healthy and this is one of our family favourites.

When you buy the mussels fresh (you don’t need to worry so much about frozen – just thaw them as per usual), they need to be washed well. Steep them in a big pot of cold water for 10 minutes, rinse them out in a colendar and repeat. Scrub them a little bit and pluck off any seaweed “beards”. Then rinse them again. In an even bigger pot (that has a lid) because when they cook they will open wide and most likely push the lid of the pot off if it’s not big enough.

Melt the knob of butter and fry the onions and the garlic first. Then add the cleaned mussels, the stock and the white wine and most of the parsley. Close the lid and leave to steam for 5-7 mins.

VERY IMPORTANT! Discard any mussels that didn’t open at all or hardly opened!!!

Before serving add the cream to the stock. Give everyone two bowls (one for the shells) a side of chips/french fries and definitely some of the stock! And dream of being in France ;)



SOUPS

Quick Pea Soup (with Pork) for one

  • tin of peas, drained
  • stock cube dissolved in a cup and a half of hot water
  • fried bacon bits and/or sausage bits

Very easy, just combine the drained peas, the stock and the meat and leave it to cook, the longer the better and then finally blend. I like to reserve some of the “full” peas for texture. The salt content is quite high in this… but this is not haute cuisine!

Quick Minted Pea Soup for one

  • tin of peas, drained
  • stock cube dissolved in a cup and a half of hot water
  • two sprigs of mint, or to taste

Again, like the recipe above, just combine everything, heat for as long as you can (max 40 mins) and blend.

Quick Tortellini Spinach Soup for one

  • A clove of garlic, chopped and fried in a coin-size amount of olive oilHalf a carton of tomato passata
  • Half a cup of stock
  • one “ball” of frozen spinach
  • a small handful of dried tortellinis
  • a shake of dried basil

Combine the “wet ingredients” and boil the mini tortellonis in them for around 5 minutes, then add the frozen spinach and add a shake of dried basil. A healthy lunch in a flash.

Quick Leek and Tomato Soup with Cream Cheese

  • carton of tomato pasata
  • 2 medium sized leeks
  • half a tub of cream-cheese (no brand names necessary- aldi or lidl’s finest will do)
  • a cup of stock
  • a coin-size blob of olive oil for frying the leeks in

Fry up the leeks until they’re soft and add to the tomato passata and stock. Then leave cook for as long as you can (max 40mins, min 10mins) and before serving stir in the cream cheese and blend.

VEGGIE

Chickpea Curry based on this recipe Frugal.org

A student favourite that I still make and is also one of my boyfriend’s favourite dinners:)

  • 1-2 T vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 apple (good way to use up a little dented or slightly wizened apple)
  • diced peppers
  • courgette
  • tin or preprepared soaked, cooked chickpeas
  • tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 teaspoons of curry powder (or to taste)
  • handful of peas and/or raisins
  • tin of coconut milk / 2T desiccated coconut
  • vegetable stock
  • basmati rice (to serve)

Fry the onion, garlic and apple, peppers and courgette in the oil. Add curry powder and stir. Add the chickpeas and chopped tomatoes then the raisins and coconut. Simmer for 15mins and add the peas. Cook for another 10 mins and serve on basmati rice. This also freezes very well.

Quick Chickpea Curry with Sour Cream and Spinach for one

  • A cup of cooked chickpeas (either from a tin or pre-soaked and cooked)
  • a pot of sour cream
  • a LARGE handful of fresh, washed spinach (if using frozen then i think two “pellets” should do.
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon of tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • half an onion, chopped fine
  • some butter for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt the butter in the pan and add spices.
  2. Fry the onion and garlic in the pan for a few minutes until the onions are soft and starting to go see-through.
  3. If using fresh spinach put this in now. If using frozen spinach try to thaw out in the microwave or in another pot or with some hot water in a bowl before adding
  4. When the spinach is wilted add the sour cream and leave it to heat cook but don’t let it boil.
  5. When you’re ready to eat, serve with rice or roti or naan bread.
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