I like to flatter myself that I can cook. So much so that I was a little insulted when my mum bought me a ‘Cook with Confidence’ book for Christmas. Keep in mind, this is the same day I made Christmas dinner for eight. By myself. It still hurts to think about. But it doesn’t matter if you’re Nigella Lawson or Letitia Cropley – Google her and thank me – university will force you to budget and refine your skills.
The first recipe comes from dear old Italia. Pasta with garlic and oil is the easiest and most filling you will ever have. It’s beyond simple to make – boil the pasta (about ten minutes, unless you like it crunchy), crush or chop the garlic, and then drizzle with olive oil and mix. In a moment of kitchen snobbery, I recommend getting a garlic press. It’s a couple of quid and garlic is a lifesaver in food, despite the unsavoury connections to halitosis.
My next cooking staple is for the carnivores in the world. Chicken is by far the best meat you can buy, it can be mixed with almost any spice combination, and there’s seemingly nothing it can’t do. It’s basically wonder-meat (enjoy the image). Combine it with bacon and cheese and you have a heavenly combination – not healthy, but who has time for kale and smoothies at university!? Budgets people. Simply wrap the chicken in bacon, stick some cheese under there and cook it at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 to 30 minutes. Easy as pie.
The one to impress
It’s back to Italy for the conclusion, and what a glorious ending it is. Parmagiana di Melanzene. Basically aubergine lasagna, this is something you make to impress (or carb-load as a group). Grab something with deep sides, tomato puree, mozzarella balls and Parmesan cheese. Pre-heat the oven to about 180 degrees Celsius. Slice the Aubergines lengthways and salt them – don’t worry about peeling, it’s extra work and leaves less time to drink!
Leave the slices for half an hour, then smother the bottom of the tin with tomato before making a layer of aubergine in whatever pattern takes your fancy. Then sprinkle with both kinds of cheese liberally (cheese is great) and repeat. Tesco Everyday does great mozzarella, and this is a cost-effective way to have a group meal, which is nice now and again. Y’know, being social and all that jazz.
Finally, a word of caution. Don’t be an idiot (like me) and buy everything you used to have at home. Balsamic vinegar is not cheap, as I soon learned. And I won’t patronise you by telling you how to do things like frying eggs, it takes a special snowflake to muck those up. Luckily for his halls, my brother was and is that snowflake.
Do you have any more cooking tips and basic recipes for students? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo: thebittenword.com / Flickr