As we move into the winter months, sunglasses are being left at home and it’s time to don your hats and scarves and battle the cold weather. But these well-loved items of knitwear aren’t the only way to warm up this winter. There are plenty of dishes to warm your soul too. For students, cost is always a consideration, but never fear — there are plenty of low-cost hearty meals that are quick and easy to prepare. No longer should you have to open the fridge, stare blankly at what is presented to you and feel somewhat disappointed with the outcome. So here are some practical suggestions for your culinary mind block over this season.
The Early Bird: Why not swap your standard bowl of cereal for a bowl of porridge with a handful of dried fruit or another favourite topping? If this doesn’t tickle your fancy, how about scrambled egg on toast or treating yourself to a bacon sandwich to kick start your day?
For Sharing: Why not try cooking cottage pie or a vegetarian equivalent? This is the perfect dish to share with your friends at the end of a frosty day. This dish will take around 20 minutes to prepare before you can pop it in the oven for another 20 minutes — enough time to update your Facebook status to inform the world of your skills in the kitchen!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
450g minced beef or Quorn mince
1 tablespoon plain flour
450ml beef stock (use beef stock cube in boiling water)
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
125g button mushrooms, sliced
1kg potatoes, mashed
Optional salt and pepper to season
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion. Fry on medium heat until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Boil potatoes in a pan until cooked; this should take about the same amount of time as cooking the mince filling. Once soft, mash the potatoes with some butter, a pinch of salt and a dash of milk. Preheat the oven to 200º C (180 º C fan oven), gas mark 6. Meanwhile, add the mince to the garlic and onion and stir until browned. Stir in the flour and stock; cover the pan and bring to the boil, before adding the carrots and mushrooms. Spoon the filling into an oven proof dish and top with the mash, then cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
The Sugar Fiend: If you don’t really do savoury, let’s just skip to dessert! There are plenty of sweet things that don’t have to cost the earth. Apple crumble is good for using up old apples in the fruit bowl. However, don’t feel limited to apples; almost any fruit can be stuck in a crumble to make a thoroughly enjoyable dessert.
Apple Crumble (for two):
2 apples (of any variety)
110g plain flour
60g sugar (or more if you like the crumble topping very sweet)
Pre heat the oven to 180º C. Peel and slice the apples. Place in a small oven proof dish with a small amount of water to moisten. Put the flour, butter and sugar together in a bowl and rub together between your fingers until it is the consistency of bread crumbs. Pour the crumble topping onto the apples and cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the apples are soft. Enjoy!