Top tip: Cooking together is a great bonding activity. If this your first experience of cooking then don’t worry, you won’t be alone – find someone in your flat who can show you the ropes. Or, if you’re both inexperienced, have a go together.
3 quick and easy recipes to get you started
1. Tuna Quesadillas
Quesadillas (pronounced: kay-sah-dee-yas) are as tasty as they are simple. Ready in less than 10 minutes, they’re a perfect meal-in-a-hurry and are great for whizzing up when your mates come round.
200g Cheese – grated
- Warm the tortillas in the microwave as per the instructions on the packet.
- Spread the cheese on top of the tortilla and then spoon out the tuna and sweetcorn into the centre. Fold the tortilla in half and press down gently to get the ingredients firmly packed in.
- Heat up a frying pan (a griddle pan works best but don’t worry if you’ve not got one). Brush on a little vegetable or olive oil onto the tortilla then place in the middle of the pan.
- Give it 2-3 minutes on that side, then brush a little oil on the other side and flip it over in the pan and give it another 2-3 minute until the tortilla is firm.
- If your quesadilla starts to smoke then take it off the heat and leave it in the pan for the remainder of the time. Grab a plate and serve up – It will go really well with salad and salsa.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, try experimenting with other ingredients – mushrooms, ham, olives, sour cream and guacamole. It’s all good.
2. Simple Stir-Fry
For quick and filling, nothing quite beats a good stir-fry. They come in many different flavours and styles and they are particularly great for using up stale looking vegetables and spare meat. Supermarkets also make it very easy for you by selling packs of stir-fry ready veg so look out for these if you’re aiming for a hearty 5-minute meal. For those with a bit of time to chop, see below:
3 carrots, chopped into batons
1 onion, finely sliced
100g mushrooms, chopped
100g cashew nuts (These can be expensive so I sometimes use a packet of mixed peanuts and cashews which works out much cheaper)
1 packet of stir fry sauce (The Blue Dragon ones are pretty dependable and tasty.)
100g dried noodles
- Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the frying pan on a medium heat and throw in the nuts to brown them, meanwhile get a saucepan of boiling water and drop in the noodles.
- Throw the rest of the veg in with the nuts and mix well – don’t worry if the frying pan looks full, the veg will reduce in size. Keep stirring to make sure that nothing gets burned.
- The noodles should take about 3-4 minutes to become soft. Once they have, drain them and throw them into the frying pan. Give them a good mix and then stir in the sauce, cooking for another minute or so.
You can pretty much add anything into a stir-fry. For a meatier meal, diced chicken or beef make a great addition – add these in at step 1, making sure you give them a bit longer to cook properly.
3 - Chorizo and Bacon pie
Pies might seem complex but with the miracle of pre-packaged pastry, the hard bit is usually done for you. You’ll need a good sized oven dish for this one and a rolling pin is a good idea (I’ve tried using a roll of tin foil before – workable, but not the best!) and you can usually pick one up from your local supermarket for a couple of quid.
(Makes 4 portions)
4 large carrots
2 medium onions
1 Chorizo ring
200g pack of bacon
Half a pack of puff pastry (and some plain flour to help with the rolling)
Mixed herbs (for seasoning)
Salt and Pepper
Don’t forget: Gravy granules
- Preheat the oven to 200°c/Gas mark 6. Give the carrots a good scrub then cut them into small chunks. Peel the onions and slice them into similarly sized chunks. Throw them straight into the dish.
- Next, chop up the chorizo ring into slices about 5mm thick and spread the bits on top of the veg. Take the bacon and using scissors, chop it into strips about 1 cm thick. Dust the ingredients with mixed herbs and season with a little salt and pepper (as much or as little as you like) then give it all a good stir in the dish.
- Next, dust a flat surface with flour and taking half the block of puff pastry, roll it until it will roughly cover the dish. Puff pastry expands a lot in the oven so you only need it to be about 3-4 mm thick. Carefully take the pastry and cover the mixture in the dish, pressing down at the edges to cover any gaps.
- Place the pie in the oven for around 20 minutes. When it’s done, the pastry will be a nice golden brown colour. Make up your gravy as per the instructions on the packet then serve and enjoy.
This is another versatile recipe – for a vegetarian twist, you can replace the chorizo and bacon with mushrooms, broccoli and sweet potato.