Student Dining, Day 4.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Still bleak here in Loughborough so today I'm trying to bring a little heat to the kitchen. I do like my spicy food. This one is a recipe given to me by my wonderful friend, Chad. She is a fantastic cook and often feeds me lots of Indian goodness. I wanted to try this one for myself, partly because it's easy, mainly cause it's delicious!
So here is Chad's Chickpea Curry.
Ingredients, to serve 2, will take 10-15 mins:
1x Can of chickpeas
3 Handfuls of long grain white rice
1tsp Mustard seeds
1tsp Cumin
1tsp Coriander and black pepper (fantastic spice I hadn't tried before I knew Chad, how she has enriched my life!)
Pinch of turmeric
1 Garlic clove
2x Mixed chillies
Tomato puree
Few sprigs of coriander. 
Although this is a long list of ingredients, it is mainly spices so this dish is very cost effective.
To begin with you heat about a tablespoon of oil in a pan. When this gets hot you add the spices and it will smell delishhhhh. After a few minutes they should start to pop. When this happens drain the chickpeas and add them to the spices.
Then you need to make a tomato sauce. Mix together 2 tablespoons of tomato puree and 300ml of water together. Add this to the chickpeas. Make sure you have a pan of rice on now for everything to be ready at the same time, as the curry needs to cook for 10 minutes now.
For an extra kick (which I insist on putting into nearly all of my food) I've also added two finely diced chillies. After a quick taste I also thought a sprig or two of fresh coriander would be nice and I very conveniently had some left over from earlier in the week. So that was chopped up and chucked in!
Leave on a low heat until the rice is done and then serve up together.
Done, done and done.  I did have some nice, finely sliced, bright red chillies to go on top but my boyfriend (when trying to be helpful and wash up) put them in the bin. No pointless garnish today I'm afraid.

I love ethnic food and really REALLY love the variety of vegetarian options that there are to chose from. Something for all.
Ratin' or hatin'... (I will continue to use street-slang until someone tells me otherwise).
Overall cost: £1.57, just 79p per person!
Looks: 7/10
Taste: 8/10
Cost: 9/10
Ease/time to make: 8/10
Overall score: 32/40
Additional comments: This is such a bargain meal and is tasty, filling, healthy and the rest! However, I borrowed (I say borrowed, she ain't getting them back) my allotted spices from Chad. If this is your first time at making the recipe it will be more expensive because you have to create your own spice stock. However, if you go to the right place (not a supermarket but a spice shop) you will be able to get them for a reasonable price. If you like vegetarian food this will hit the spot with you, just as it does for me every time. But if you are a bit more of a meat eater like my boyfriend, this might not be a regular in your recipe book.

I hope you liked this one, it is one of my favourites and will always be something that reminds me of university and Chad looking after me. 
Please enjoy this artsy shot of my spice packet that she hand delivered to me this morning. I hope you all have a spice friend you can call upon, they are priceless!

Tomorrow is Mexican. Might draw on a moustache and wear a poncho. Happy days!
L. xxx


Remember a while ago I blogged (like a crazy person) about Sharwood's disappointing meal kits? Well readers, I've been sent a £5 gift card. Woohoo! Needless to say I will not be buying another wrap kit with it. But perhaps a nice curry.
Pays to complain people. Don't take it lying down but fight the turgid slick of conformity!
Will be back later with kitchen adventures.
L. X

Student Dining: Day 3.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Gutting news readers, it has rained. Luckily today I had scheduled a hot, hearty meal that had sweating so much I was surprised I hadn't come out of the kitchen with sunburn. Sorry about that image of me sweating, it was a bit too intrusive wasn't it...
Anyway, today's dish is A Cheat's Nandos. We don't have a Nandos in Loughborough, it's a real shame because I'm sure it would make a brilliant profit and I would be in there reppin' the chicken all the time. Ok, I also can't pull off "reppin'" either, another one to add to the list. Not all doom and gloom though, I can make my own Nandos and make a massive saving. Hurrah!
Ingredients, to serve 2, will take 15-20 mins:
2x Chicken fillets
3/4 Red pepper
2x Mixed chillies
3 Handfuls of white long grain rice
Slice of lemon
Good glug of Nandos hot sauce (or whichever flavour you'd prefer)
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Not many ingredients for this, most of them are from the stock cupboard anyway, so a really easy and accessible dish.
Now, I like my food spicy so have gone for two chillies and hot sauce but moderate to your own taste. I can vouch that this was a good clear out for the sinuses!
Firstly start by putting the oven to 180c for the chicken. And actually do this, I asked my boyfriend to carry out this simple task and when I went to put the chicken in, surprise surprise, he hadn't turned it on. Learn from his fail and make sure it is raring to go!
Now, to begin with pour about a tablespoon of Nandos sauce onto each chicken breast. Then rub it in. (Like you didn't see that one coming after my 'rub it in' theme this week). When this is done, place the chicken in foil and grind a good amount of salt and pepper on each. Whilst doing this bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add 3 handfuls of rice to the water and put the chicken in the oven at the same time. They will both take about 15 minutes. 

I quickly want to add, readers who don't know of Nandos or who are put off by them for some reason - don't be. Their sauces are really good and I would chose them as a marinade over any other. I know Nandos is sweeping the younger generation but don't push it out of your lives readers! Trust me, it doesn't play offensive music until the early hours of the morning, it just tastes good.

Back to cooking! Whilst everything is cooking, dice up the pepper and very finely dice both chillies. These are to soften and then add to the rice, for a Nandos -esque facade! Put a very small amount of olive in the saucepan just to stop the pepper and chillies sticking. I've kept a few chilli seeds in, just for an extra kick. But if you don't like your meal to beat you up, leave them out. Make sure you soften them five minutes before the rice is ready.

After five minutes of softening, drain the rice and add it to the pepper/chilli combo. Add another tablespoon or so of Nandos sauce to make it a little more exciting. By this time the chicken should be ready now too. Plate them both up together with a slice of lemon on top for a citrus kick.

And there we are. Cheating on Nandos with its own sauce! But I am not getting the train to Nottingham just to eat the real thing and spend valuable £! And if you make your own, you can eat it in your pants. Win win.

Time to rate!
Overall cost: £3.12, £1.56 per person (about £8 cheaper than a regular Nandos, just saying...)
Looks: 6/10
Taste: 8/10
Cost: 7/10
Ease/time to make: 7.5/10
Total score: 28.5/40
Additional comments: If you like filling spicey food, you will like this. It was a big hit with my boyfriend who likes heavier food, but if you are a fan of yesterdays more fragrant salad (as I am) this one may be less to your taste. Tasty, easy option for chicken. Very little preparation involved and again very cost effective.

Now writing my blog with the sight of just one eye. NB readers, wash hands thoroughly after handling chillies. They will just come back to get cha.

Ethnic cuisine tomorrow, I'm excited already!
L xxxxx

Quick fix for halls with no air conditioning.

Homemade ice lollies!
Squash works well but orange juice is great. Tesco everyday orange juice is just 62p and you can make a load of batches. Refreshing, cheap and as fattening as consuming air (although much more fun than air-eating).
Brilliant summer additions. Definitely beats my peely nose and insects bites.
So hurrah. Also, it is still sunny even though the weatherman said there would be thunderstorms!

L xxx


This is it readers, I've found my calling.
Food. Call it student, call it recession, call it whatever you want. But I want to blog about good, honest food that is affordable for all.
If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I haven't blogged religiously on just one subject, one day I'm cutting my own hair and the next rambling about gender stereotypes.
But I love this food blogging and I want to keep going. Not only is it great for my shopping budget it is actually really, really enjoyable to eat well.
Vive la revolution!!
Stay tuned readers and foodies everywhere. I'm off to follow fellow (hehe fellow!) chefs on twitter.
L xxxxxx

Student Dining, Day 2.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Hello! Today is the second day of my Student Dining week and the weather here in Loughborough is absolutely wonderful. So today I have decided to do a dish that works its magic just as well inside as it does alfresco. Puy Lentil Salad with feta cheese, parsley and tomatoes.
The ingredients are as follows:
1x bag of pre-soaked puy lentils serving 2 (you can get dried lentils for a cheaper price but these are a massive time saver and there were no dried lentils to speak of in Tesco, huff).
1x bag of parsley - but you won't need quite all of this.
Half a pack of feta cheese.
2x vine tomatoes. 
3-4x Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper.
For the optional dressing:
2x Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1x Tablespoon olive oil
Drizzle of honey.
Salt and pepper.

This recipe serves two, takes about 5 minutes to throw together (discounting the time to roast the tomatoes).
Right. To begin with you roast the tomatoes for 2 hours on a low temperature. These are to replace the otherwise pricey (and not as accessible to the student) sun dried tomato. Leave them for two hours to soften up. 

When the tomatoes are done, empty the lentils into a mixing bowl ready to morph into the wonderfully summery dish. 
Said lentils, just waiting for exciting stuff to happen!
 Then chop basically all of your ingredients. Chop the feta, chop the tomatoes and guess what? CHOP THAT PARSLEY. Add it all in. The lentils should look less like coco pops now.

 Then add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then stir it all in so it looks more like a salad.

Then that is it for the salad, wasn't that as easy as the lemon we were squeezing yesterday?
But now for the optional dressing. Here is a sufficiently crazy picture to make it seem a little bit more exciting... 

But don't get hopped up, all it is is 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a drizzle of honey and a little salt and pepper.
And there it is. Add it to the salad if you want, take as little or as much as you like!
And that is literally it readers, a lovely, easy summery supper!
Et Voila!

Now, to review the meal.
Overall cost: £3.28, £1.64 per person.
Looks: 8/10
Taste: 8/10
Cost: 6.5/10
Ease/time to make: 9/10
Total score: 31.5/40
Additional comments: This salad was a hit but can only really perform as a light dinner or lunch on its own. It could have used a bread, perhaps a crusty ciabatta or herby flat bread. It would also make a cracking salad at a BBQ. Not much else to say because it was super super speedy to make.

So that's another day done, and I loved eating outside. Just because I'm living in halls doesn't mean I have to eat in the bacteria haven that is my shared kitchen.

My advice for any summery food readers would be this, best served outside, in the sun with a cold cider!
L. xxx

Student Dining, Day 1.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Hello readers! This week I am going to 7 (hopefully) cost effective and (hopefully) tasty meals for students and my readers beyond who are just sharply savvy!
Today, we start with sweet potato and feta mash with chilli, lemon and coriander river cobbler fish.
Bit of a mouthful of a title but as this is student dining it isn't going to get much classier than my pink Wilkinsons tin opener.
Anyway, lets eat people.
Ingredients, to serve 2, will take 15-20 mins: 
1x Sweet potato
1x Baking potato
3x mixed chillies
2 River Cobbler fillets (or whatever fish really, I was going for Salmon but it was expensive and this made a really good alternative) 
Half a bag of coriander
Half a pack of feta
3/4 of a lemon.
Salt and pepper.
I get all of my ingredients from tescos. Would love to say that I buy locally but I'm busy pretending to write my essays.

To begin with, put the oven to 180c for the fish. Then chop 1 of the mixed chillies and half of the allotted coriander, these are to bake with the fish. Once this is done, microwave both the potatoes for 15 minutes.
Place the River Cobbler in foil, grind both salt and pepper onto it. Add the chillies, coriander and squeeze half of the lemon juice allotted. Then rub all of this into the fish. Not sure if you should do this, but I see Jamie Oliver do it all the time, so rub it readers, rub away. Then put the fish in the oven for 15 minutes. The potatoes should have been going for about 5 minutes by now so you have time to sort them out before the fish is done.
Pre-rubbed fish. Looking jolly and colourful.
Once the potatoes are done, the messy part begins. Normal people can probably do this quite neatly but I like to get my hands dirty.
 Chop another two chillies and the rest of the coriander, these are to add to the mash. Peel the skins off the potatoes, they should be nice and soft inside and ready to mash.

Crumble the feta cheese in, add the coriander and chillies and mash readers. Mash mash away. once this is done squeeze the bejeebers out of the lemon. Get it all in there. GET YOUR MONEYS WORTH STUDENTS!!
Once this is all done the fish should be ready. Remove it from the oven and gently plate it up with the mash. Make sure not to be too rough or it will fall apart and you will be forced to mash that too.
If you are feeling arty (snobby) like me, add a lemon wedge or two for extra lemony goodness/visual effect.
And there it is.
Not looking too shabby if I do say so myself. A nice attempt for my first day and first try at cooking this dish.

But it is not over yet readers, oh no. Here is where this week gets really special, as I'm not trying to sell you something, breasts pressed together and sensually describing chocolate (nobody is looking at you Nigella...). I really want to try and help out. So I'm going to rate the food and give any comments.
For each dish I am going to rate it on: cost, looks, taste and ease/time to make. So here goes.
Overall cost: £4.11, £2.06 per person.
Cost: 4.5/10
Looks: 7.5/10
Taste: 7/10
Ease/time to make: 7/10
Total: 26/40
Additional comments: I would consider peeling the potatoes first and boiling them next time as that was a bit of a hassle. Also, the mash and the fish didn't quite gel. As respective dishes they were brilliant but perhaps something slightly heavier like chicken would have done a better job. But I am using chicken later in the week. It is one of the more expensive dishes I am doing this week but is still quite reasonably priced.
Also readers, the reason why I have some .5's on my scores is not because I'm really anal but because they are average scores that my boyfriend and I gave respectively.

So readers, as Gordon Ramsey would say readers, "done".
I hope you enjoyed the first Student Dining blog, back again tomorrow.
L! xxxx

An advert that made me cry.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Enjoy other wimpy kids, and sob, sob away. 

L x

Shaming Sharwood's.

Today's post is not one of jolly revelry, nor is it a witty quip or insight into my life. Today readers, I am tasked with an exposé. A horrifying exposé.
Our case today, concerns a Sharwood's Sweet Chilli Wrap Kit. This item turned a Saturday night meal into a Saturday night nightmare. See offending item below:

Ok, so you may all be vastly disappointed with the content of this exposé case. BUT, it is of crucial importance that I notify student and other grocery savvy shoppers to avoid this kit.
Biting into one of these wraps was like munching on a fennel plant. I may as well have stuffed my mouth with liquorice and then added chicken, onion and pepper! It was a massive shock (and not a good one, seeing as I hate liquorice - especially when it rudely invading savoury wrap kits). The dream of Sweet Chilli had been lost and the only taste left in my mouth was of the Pepsi Max I had to down, consequently making my nose fizz - the night could not have been worse! 
I feel sure in saying I would have been safer with a Tesco's own kit. That's right people, it seems as if we're not even paying for brand quality anymore. My faith in branding has been destroyed. Luckily, I'm a lowly student and was already more than friends with the value and yellow dot sections.
So readers, I must admit. I wrote a complaint letter, well an email as it is 2012 after all. Nevertheless, it was sharp tongued and condemning. Watch out Sharwood's I come from a family who are not afraid to complain. As Russell Howard would say - FETCH MY PEN OF RAGE!
ALSO, (just to drive this rant into the ground) whilst expecting the packaging when writing my complaint letter to Sharwood's I noticed a flaw in the photography choice on the front of the packet.
See wraps, looking delightfully un-fennely and bursting with chicken and peppers.

Then see instructions. Add just one pepper. Not one red pepper and a yellow pepper/mango as the picture suggests.  

Alas the misleading image just adds more false hope to the fearful meal. 

So I end this blog with a warning:
Beware readers, beware of the brands. Perhaps their only distinguishing feature is their colourful packaging and ability to inspire excitement, but maybe now that will be crushed with the first bite you take.


L/Food critic/established drama queen. X
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