Menu Mistress @Uni

The idea of Menu Mistress @Uni is to bring home cooking to student life with simple recipes, many of these recipes appear on my main pages but in some cases I have tweaked them to suit student life. All of the recipes are easy and affordable, and most importantly are as at home on the university campus as they are on the family table – just because you’re a student you don’t only have to eat ‘mince and beans’! In some cases, the leftovers can be frozen in portions for future meals, there are also ‘Sharing Recipes’, which are great to have with friends particularly now that you are living in ‘bubbles’, allowing the cost and preparation to be shared! (Go to my Tips@Uni page for further ideas on keeping costs down)

During term time I will be posting new recipes weekly on the Menu Mistress @Uni page, so keep an eye out!

*Follow me on Instagram @MenuMistress …Why not share a photo of a recipe you’ve cooked – don’t forget to tag me!

Spaghetti with Anchovy & Tuna (Serves 1)

This recipe is one that I found in a the book ‘Cook, a Year in the Kitchen with Britain’s Favourite Chefs’, it has recipes from many renowned chefs including this one from the Michelin starred chef Giorgio Locatelli. Don’t be put off by the fact that he is a professional cook – this recipe is very easy!

The white wine may seem extravagant but you can use the small 18.7cl bottles which are around £1.75 to £2 from your supermarket and you’ll have a small glass left to have with your meal!

*Tip  – You won’t use all the anchovies but they can be used to make a delicious butter which you can keep in your freezer to be sliced to have with jacket potatoes or simply spread on toast, or for a real treat with a lamb chop or minute steak! – See recipe below. Alternatively just place an anchovy on a slice of buttered toast for instant ‘salt gratification’!

100g spaghetti (gluten free if required)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic,  cut into quarters

2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained

125g canned tuna in olive oil, drained

25ml white wine

25g capers, rinsed and drained

1 tomato, diced

To Serve:

5 basil leaves (optional)

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and fry over a gentle heat for about 3 minutes, then add the anchovies and cook until they have melted into the oil.
  2. Increase the heat and add the tuna, stir for a few minutes, then add the white wine, let it bubble for a few minutes for the alcohol to evaporate.
  3. Stir in the capers and tomatoes.
  4. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions until al dente.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving 2-3 tablespoons of cooking water. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce, mixing in the basil leaves (if using) and extra virgin olive oil, season to taste. If the pasta seems a little dry add a little of the reserved cooking water.
  6. Serve – how simple is that!

Anchovy Butter

This butter is great on toast, over a jacket potato or simply stirred through some cooked pasta for a quick snack, or for something a little more fancy slice it over a piece of meat, such a lamb chop or a minute steak. It’s a great way to use up leftover anchovies, this butter will keep in your freezer, then you can simply slice it as and when you need!

150g unsalted butter, softened

8 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped

A little juice from a lemon

  1. Mash up the anchovy fillets with a squeeze of lemon juice. Mix well with the softened butter until combined.
  2. Place on a sheet of clingfilm and roll into a log shape. Place in the freezer, wrapped in the clingfilm and slice as needed.

Emergency Chocolate Brownies (2 – 4 )

The perfect treat for any day – just make sure you’ve always got the ingredients at hand!!

This is a brilliant recipe from Nigella Lawson – only she could have come up with the idea of ‘Emergency Brownies’ – the idea of a small batch for those days when you urgently need a chocolate fix!  This recipe makes 2 very generous brownies, so on a good day you’ll get 4!

This recipe is cooked in a foil appox. 18 x 11 x 5cm, so there is no need to line or grease it!

50g unsalted butter, softened

50g soft light brown sugar

1 tablespoon golden syrup (or maple syrup)

3 tablespoons plain flour, gluten free if required

3 tablespoons cocoa powder (I use Green&Blacks)

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

50g walnut pieces (optional)

50g chocolate chips (plain or milk)

1 x foil tin approx. 18 x 11 x 5cm

  1. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a small saucepan and gently heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  2. Mix together the flour, cocoa and salt, then beat into the butter mixture in the pan, until smooth.
  3. Whisk the egg with the vanilla and then stir it thoroughly into the pan mixture. Finally fold in the chocolate chips and walnut pieces (if using).
  4. Pour the mixture into the foil tin.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven, 170’c/ 150’c Fan, for 15-20 minutes until it is beginning to come away from the sides and the top has dried a little around the edges.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack in the tin and leave to cool for 20-30 minutes.

*Click here to see the video of this Brownie recipe!

Perfect Jacket Potatoes (Serves 1)

A Perfect Jacket Potato

I find that by lightly oiling the potatoes with olive oil before baking them, really helps crisp up the skins.

1 large baking potatoes

Olive oil

Sea salt

Butter to serve

  1. Prick the skin of the potato lightly with a fork. Using a piece of kitchen roll lightly wipe it over with some olive oil and then sprinkle with salt.
  2. Place directly on the shelf of a preheated oven, 200’c, and cook for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the skin is crisp and the potato inside is deliciously fluffy!
  3. Serve with a knob of butter.

Chicken & Pea Traybake (Serves 1)

This is such an easy recipe as everything is cooked together in one pan. I found this recipe in Nigella Lawson’s ‘At My Table’ cookbook, a great book full of tasty recipes which are also very straight forward in that very special ‘Nigella’ way. The peas and leeks are cooked underneath the chicken thighs, so soak up all their delicious juices while the leeks become beautifully caramelised. You really do need the white wine here, although it’s only a couple of tablespoons; you can buy small bottles of wine and you will still have a full glass left to enjoy with your meal! The original recipe called for dill, however, I prefer tarragon but, of course, you could use dill if you prefer!

2 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in

200g frozen petit pois

100g leeks, cut into 3cm slices

1 fat clove garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

½ small bunch of tarragon, roughly chopped

  1. Place the peas in small roasting pan. Add the leeks, garlic, white wine, ½ tablespoon of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of salt and most of the tarragon. Mix everything together.
  2. Arrange the chicken thighs on top, skin side up, then drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the salt.
  3. Roast in a preheated oven, 180’c, for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and give the peas a stir, so that any on top are mixed into the liquid and are not drying out too much. Don’t worry about the leeks, as you want the bits peeking out to caramelise.
  5. Put back in the oven for a further 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through with a golden and crisp skin.
  6. Scatter over the remaining tarragon and serve (steamed new potatoes are good with this!).

Chicken Escalopes & Lemon Sauce – ‘Pollo al Limone’ (Serves 1)

A classic Italian recipe. One of my staple dishes at home, as it is really easy to ‘whip’ up – perfect for Uni life. I often  serve it with plain white rice (I know, not very Italian!!), as it’s quick and simple to make – also I like the way it mops up the lemon sauce!

By marinating the escalopes in the lemon juice for 30 minutes before cooking it tenderises the meat, you will notice the difference, but if I’m in a hurry, I must admit that I often omit this part.

I normally cut the chicken breast into three or four pieces, lengthways, and then flatten them out into escalopes by covering them with clingfilm and hitting with the base of a saucepan – not the most elegant way but it works! Alternatively you could ask your butcher to do it for you. Because you are flattening out the breasts, I find that they go a long way, so you may find that you don’t use all the escalopes that you make from one breast, if not, you could freeze them for another day – defrost them naturally in the fridge. In this same recipe that I’ve posted on my main recipe page, I use half stock and half white wine, but to suit the student budget I have suggested you use all chicken stock, however if you do use wine you would find that the flavour of the sauce is a little more concentrated as the wine enhances the flavours.

*Watch the video here of how to make escalopes out of a chicken breast!

*To watch the video of this sauce being made click here!

1 chicken breast (see note above)

4 tablespoons of lemon juice, plus a little more to taste (about 1 lemon)

25g butter

180ml chicken stock (or 90ml white wine and 90ml chicken stock – see note above)

1 teaspoon softened butter

2 teaspoons flour (gluten free if required)

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped (optional)

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Cut the chicken breasts into 3 lengthways, cover these slices with clingfilm and flatten by hitting with the base of a heavy saucepan (see the video of me doing this here!).
  2. Sprinkle the escalopes with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and leave aside for 30 minutes. Then dry with a piece of kitchen roll and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the escalopes, fry on each side over a fairly high heat, until they are evenly browned. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
  4. Pour the remaining lemon juice and the stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Boil for about 3 minutes, until the liquid it reduced slightly.
  5. Meanwhile mix the softened butter with the flour to create a paste – a ‘Beurre Manié’.
  6. Add the butter paste (Beurre Manié) to the sauce, mixing well. It will thicken the sauce slightly. At this point check the seasoning, you may want to add a little more lemon juice, I sometimes add an extra knob of butter at this point – just go with your tastebuds!
  7. Return the escalopes to the pan to reheat (and sprinkle over the fresh parsley if using)
  8. Serve the escalopes with the sauce.

‘Everyday’ Bolognese Sauce with Spaghetti (4 – 6 portions)

This is  a great Bolognese Sauce, very tasty and easy to cook with homely, satisfying flavours. It can be cooked on top of the stove or in the oven, either way you should cover it with a lid or a sheet of foil. It is from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Happy Days with the Naked Chef’ (one of his original cookbooks – he looks incredibly young in the photos!), I have slightly tweaked it over the years. I serve it with spaghetti but you could serve it with other pasta shapes. The red wine in this sauce does make it richer however you could choose to omit it, depending on how your student budgeting is going(!), likewise the basil could be omitted. I would definitely use the balsamic vinegar as it really sweetens the sauce, this vinegar will keep in your cupboard for a very long time and is is great for making a quick salad dressing (1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, whisked together with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste).

This sauce will give you four- six portions, it keeps well in the fridge for a few days, or alternatively, freeze individual portions, tightly sealed, in heatproof bags (I use roasting bags – you can buy them from amazon), then when you want a portion all you have to do is place the bag in boiling water and boil for 10 -12mins, whilst you’re cooking your pasta. When the pasta is ready, add the defrosted, reheated sauce (ensure that it is piping hot!) to your pasta; a simple, quick dinner is served!

150g cubed pancetta

Small bunch of basil, leaves picked, and stalks chopped (optional)

Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

450g minced beef

1 wineglass red wine (optional – see note above)

1 level teaspoon dried oregano

400g tin of tomatoes

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

200g tomato purée

100g spaghetti for 1 portion (400g for 4 portions)

Sea salt and black pepper

Parmesan cheese, grated, to serve

  1. In a large pan/ casserole dish that can go in the oven, fry the pancetta in a little olive oil until lightly golden.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and, if using, chopped basil stalks (not the leaves), and fry for a further 3 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add the minced beef, continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes before adding the wine (if using) and reduce slightly.
  4. Add the oregano, both the tinned tomatoes and tomato purée, and the balsamic vinegar. Season well.
  5. Now cover with a lid (or with foil), and either place in a preheated oven, 180’c or cook on top of the stove over a very low heat – you want it to barely simmer. Cook for an hour and a half.
  6. Once cooked separate into portions if  freezing (see note above)
  7. Cook your portion of spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente. Stir the sauce through the pasta, and serve with the torn basil leaves (if using) sprinkled over and some grated parmesan cheese.

Watch the video of this sauce being made here!

Lamb Chops with Herb Butter (Serves 1)

Lamb chump chops are a cheaper cut of lamb so are  a great choice for cooking on budget – the really good news is that they take minutes to pan- fry!. The parsley butter is the real winner here as it completely lifts the flavour of the chops. The good news is that you won’t use all the butter, so just roll it, wrap it in clingfilm and freeze it. Once frozen, you can slice off pieces as and when you need them; either again for this dish or with other cuts of meat, or simply to spruce up some steamed potatoes or vegetables. You will really appreciate having this ‘quick fix’ in the freezer!

2 lamb chump chops

100g butter, softened and cubed

A bunch of parsley, chopped

Juice of ½ lemon

Olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. First make the parsley butter. Place the butter in a bowl with the chopped parsley, lemon juice and seasoning, mix well. Spoon on to a sheet of cling film and roll into a log shape, place in the freezer, wrapped in the clingfilm.
  2. Season the lamb chops and brush with a little olive oil, fry on a griddle pan (or in a normal frying pan) for about 2½-3 minutes each side so that they are still pink in the middle.
  3. Finally, cut a slice from the parsley butter and place on top of the chops.

*Tip – The Herb Butter will keep in your freezer for months, it is great sliced over most cooked meats, and will liven up plain steamed vegetables – it’s particularly delicious over new potatoes.

Sharing Recipe’ – Spatchcock Chicken (Serves 4-6)

Cooking and eating together is a great way to reunite with old friends and make new friends. Now, with your student ‘bubbles’, there is the perfect excuse to enjoy a party in the kitchen! This recipe is super easy, you could serve it with my Homemade Oven Chips or Perfect Roast Potatoes and a salad or vegetables of your choice.

Spatchcock Chicken is a great way to roast a chicken – it enables the chicken to cook quicker and is a lot easier to carve. The rosemary, garlic and chilli oil in this recipe, is a particular favourite of mine, it is a tasty and very simple way of seasoning the chicken. If  you get your chicken from your butcher, ask him to spatchcock it for you, alternatively it is very easy to do yourself…

Watch my video of ‘How to Spatchcock a Chicken’ on my Instagram Page!

How to Spatchcock a Chicken:

On the backside of the chicken use a pair of strong kitchen scissors to cut along either side of the back bone to remove it, then flip it over and press down very firmly on the breast bones, it will give a satisfying crack as it flattens! Some people like to insert skewers to help keep the chicken flat during cooking but in my experience they make no difference, so I prefer not to use them as they make it more difficult to carve the bird.

1 x 1.8 – 2.25kg chicken

1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes

For the marinade:

1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary (about 3 sprigs)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (about 20 grinds of a pepper grinder)

½ teaspoon chilli flakes

Juice of half a lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Firstly make the marinade by combining all the ingredients together.
  2. Cover the chicken all over with the marinade – I use a brush to do this.
  3. Place it breast side up, flattened out, in a roasting tin. Sprinkle over with the sea salt flakes.
  4. Place in a preheated oven 180’c for 45-50 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken.
  5. Serve with Homemade Oven Chips or Roast Potatoes and a salad or vegetables of your choice.

Chocolate Crispy Cakes

These, in my opinion, are the perfect student no bake chocolate fix! They were the staple children’s birthday party food when my son was a toddler, but honestly they should not be reserved only for children – everyone deserves these! I make them with Lindt 70% cocoa chocolate, which gives them a more adult flavour; they are certainly not a childish treat – yet you feel indulgent like a kid when you eat them – what a winner!!

50g unsalted butter

4 tablespoons golden syrup

100g Lindt 70% cocoa chocolate (or other good quality plain chocolate)

75g cornflakes

  1. Gently melt the butter, syrup and chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water (a bain marie).
  2. Stir in the cornflakes.
  3. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases or if you don’t have cases, just spoon large spoonfuls onto a buttered baking tray, and place in the fridge until set and enjoy the ultimate, quick chocolate fix!

Penne with Creamy Tomato, Bacon and Pea Sauce (4 portions)

A very easy pasta sauce, you could almost make it with your eyes closed – it’s that easy! Mascarpone cheese is an Italian cream cheese, it is not ‘cheesy’ tasting, it makes this sauce deliciously creamy! You could substitute it for cream cheese for a cheaper option, the flavour will be slightly different, but it will still very good.

This sauce will give you four portions, it keeps well in the fridge for a few days, or alternatively, freeze individual portions, tightly sealed, in heatproof bags (I use roasting bags – you can buy them from amazon), then when you want a portion all you have to do is place the bag in boiling water and boil for 10 -12mins, whilst you’re cooking your pasta. When the pasta is ready, add the defrosted, reheated sauce (ensure that it is piping hot!) to your pasta; a simple, quick dinner is served!

50g butter

150g smoked back bacon, cut into strips

450g tomato passata

200g frozen peas

8 basil leaves (optional)

150g mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese – see note above)

100g  penne pasta for one portion (400g penne for 4)

Freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the bacon strips, cook until beginning to crisp.
  2. Add the tomato passata and the peas, cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile cook the penne (100g for one portion) according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente (i.e. still has a little ‘bite’ to it).
  4. Add the mascarpone cheese and the basil leaves (if using) to the sauce, stir until warmed through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. At this point you should separate the sauce into portions if you are freezing it or storing it in the fridge.
  6. Drain the penne.
  7. Serve the sauce (1 portion per 100g penne) mixed through the pasta and sprinkle with lots of parmesan cheese.

*To see the video of this dish being made go to my Instagram Page!

*Tip – A Sweet Treat!…left over mascarpone cheese is delicious whipped up with a little sugar, preferably icing sugar but you can get away with caster sugar (you could also add a drop of vanilla essence if you have any), and serve it with fruit – Yum!

Pan-Fried Lemon & Thyme Chicken (Serves 1)

In my recipe on my main Menu Mistress recipe page I have suggested that you marinate these overnight or for a few hours, but I realise that student life may not allow this! So, even is you don’t marinate them, this recipe is worth doing as it will still be tasty and is super quick. Serve with my Homemade Oven Chips (recipe below)

2 boneless chicken thighs, skin on (or off is you prefer)

1 -2 tablespoons olive oil

chopped leaves from about 2 generous sprigs of thyme

sea salt and black pepper

juice of ½ lemon

lemon wedges to serve (from lemon above)

  1. Flatten out the chicken thighs and make some slits on them with a sharp knife. Rub with the olive oil and pat on the thyme leaves. If you have time leave them to marinate for a bit (in the fridge if for a longer period), they will be tastier if marinated but still good if not!
  2. Heat a frying pan until it is really hot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and put on the pan, skin side down. Let it sizzle for about 2 minutes then lower the temperature and continue to cook until the thighs are cooked through – turning half way through, so that both sides are well browned.
  3. Pour over the lemon juice and serve immediately with homemade chips (recipe below) and perhaps a bit of salad.

Homemade Oven Chips (Serves 1)

These go with almost everything and also make a great snack on their own! Depending on how hungry you are, or the number of friends you’re feeding, double, triple or quadruple the ingredients!

1 baking potato

1 tablespoon olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven 200’c
  2. Cut the potato into thick chips, there is no need to peel them.
  3. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the chips, boil for 4 minutes then drain well.
  4. Coat the chips with the olive oil and lay them out in single layer on a baking tray.
  5. Place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, turning a few times during cooking.
  6. Serve immediately.

Penne Pasta with Sausage (4 portions)

This is a really easy pasta to make and very tasty, it is worth investing in the spices – ground cloves and nutmeg, they will keep in your cupboard for a very long time and I am sure that you will make this recipe time and time again. This recipe will make four portions, depending on how hungry you are, it will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, or alternatively, freeze individual portions, tightly sealed, in heatproof bags (I use roasting bags – you can buy them from amazon), then when you want a portion all you have to do is place the bag in boiling water and boil for 10 -12mins, whilst you’re cooking your pasta. When the pasta is ready, add the defrosted, reheated sauce (make sure that it is piping hot!) to your pasta – simple!

The white wine may seem extravagant but you can use the small 18.7cl bottles which are around £1.75 to £2 from your supermarket.

400g penne pasta (100g per portion)

75g butter

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

300g pork sausage meat, removed from casings and broken up

1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

150ml dry white wine

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Melt the butter and gently fry the onion and garlic.
  2. Add the sausage meat, continuing to break it up, mixing it in with the onion and garlic. Fry gently until well browned.
  3. Add the wine and rosemary, reduce heat and cook gently for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the nutmeg, cloves and season with salt and pepper.
  5. At this point you should separate the sauce into portions if you are freezing it or storing it in the fridge.
  6. Meanwhile cook the penne (100g for 1 portion) according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente (i.e. still has a little ‘bite’ to it).
  7. Mix the sausage mixture with the penne and serve with lots of parmesan sprinkled over.