Student-Friendly Pesto Tagliattele with Porcini “Bacon”

As a student,

No scrap that.

As a human, nothing better satisfies those salty cravings like some crispy bacon piled high on a plate of pasta. Nothing.

This vegan-friendly recipe uses meaty porcini mushrooms as “bacon” and uses whatever else you have left in the cupboard. Better still, it can be whipped up in around 20 minutes. This dish is what’s been what’s getting me through these dark January evenings back at Uni and in the past week alone I must have had it at least 3 times. That’s a lot of cravings satiated.

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Ingredients (serves 1)

75g of dry tagliatelle pasta

A big tbl scoop of pesto (use “free from” if vegan)

One large porcini mushroom

30g of pine nuts (about a small handful)

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp smoked salt (or replace with regular salt if you have none if you have none)

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper

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Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200℃
  2. Wash and dry the porcini mushroom and slice thinly, around 1cm, but the thinner the better.
  3. Toss the slices in a bowl with the olive oil and salt and then arrange pieces on baking parchment.
  4. Roast the mushrooms in the oven for 20 minutes, watching carefully throughout to make sure they don’t burn.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil (no need to add salt; the “bacon” is salty enough). With 6 minutes to spare add the tagliatelle, stirring periodically to make sure the strands don’t stick together.
  6. At the same time add the pine nuts to the baking parchment. After 5 minutes they should be nicely brown and toasted and flavoursome.
  7. Drain the pasta and stir through your pesto, topping with mushrooms and pine nuts.
  8. Grab a fork and chow down.

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Tangy Lemon Porridge

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The shame I felt when I realised that I hadn’t tried to combine lemon (one of my favourite things) and porridge (one of my favourite things) for 20 years was overwhelming.

But still, better late than never. This tangy and comforting breakfast will have you licking the bowl clean and thinking to yourself that it would be impossible to get scurvy because  there will now never be an extended period of time where you haven’t eaten lemons.

Ingredients (serves 1)

1/2 cup porridge oats

1/2 cup soy milk

1/4 cup water

1 tbs honey (or equivalent sweetener)

1/2 a lemon: grated rind and juice

To serve: rasperries and yoghurt/soy yoghurt.

Directions

Place the oats, soy milk, water and honey into a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce and simmer for 4-5 mins, stirring continuously.

Once the porridge has thickened, add the lemon rind and juice and stir through for about half a minute.

Take of the heat and serve swirled with yoghurt and sprinkled with raspberries.

Polish Rib Stew (Żeberka)

Once the 1st of September has passed then mum allows me to discontinue wearing shorts and sandals, and to begin wearing boots and hats and scarves. You have no idea how cold I have been while this seasonal legislation has been in force.

Being allowed to wear warm clothes means that it is officially Autumn and that means that it is the time to go oven-happy and start cooking Big Ol’ Hearty Meals.

Like this:

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The only time I’ve ever come across slow-cooked spare ribs is when my Babcia (Grandma) used to cook it for the whole family. The stew is so brilliantly hearty and worth cooking just for the meaty, bubbling smell!

Because you use tomato puree for this dish, rather than tinnned tomatoes, the sauce gets this kind of smokey flavour that really complements the sweetness of the carrots and pork (that’s falling off the bone.)

But the real beauty of this dish is that it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and then you forget about it till dinner time!

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Ingredients (serves 4):

Packet of 12 spare pork ribs

flour

3 tbs vegetable oil

3 medium onions, roughly chopped

6 carrots, peeled and sliced

5 tbs tomato concentrate

salt and pepper

1 tsp dried sage

4 bay leaves

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃.
  2. On a plate, use flour to coat each of the spare ribs.
  3. Heat the oil ion a high heat in a large, heavy based frying pan. Fry the coated ribs for a couple minutes on each side or until brown.
  4. Place the ribs, carrots, onion, tomato puree, sage and bay leaves into a large casserole dish. Mix, then pour in water till ingredients are all just covered.
  5. Cover with a lid. Put in the oven and leave for at least 2 hours. Keep checking on consistency of sauce: it should be about the thickness of yoghurt. If it gets too dry then add more water.
  6. Serve with rice or kasza (buckwheat) and enjoy!

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Marrow Jam

We have a problem.
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Marrow overload.

At this point I should explain that the family is currently in its 5th year of tending for (a very overgrown) vegetable patch, and in that time it has become apparent that one vegetable proliferates and grows like it is on steroids. You guessed it: the marrow.

Since going to University Dad has taken full control of our little plot and has decided to turn our garden into a haven for these monster squashes. On returning home I was greeted by about two dozen vegetables, each over 5kg. Scary.

So how to use up these Frankensteins? Make them into jam of course!

This may sound quite strange but just bear with me. When people use the word “interesting” to describe a taste, they normally say it while crinkling their noses. But this jam is a good “interesting.” It tastes sickly sweet yet has a quite rounded flavour and a really lovely butter-soft texture. Perfect on rye bread and washed down with a cup of English Breakfast tea.

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Ingredients (makes about 2 kg)

2 kg marrow flesh

Rind and juice of 2 lemons

2 kg sugar

Instructions

  1. Peel your marrow (approx 2.5kg to start off with) and remove pith and seeds. The flesh should weigh 2kg.
  2. Dice the marrow. I like my jam pretty chunky so I do 3cm cubes.
  3. Put a steamer and cook for 5-10 mins depending on size of pieces, until just tender.
  4. Leave the cooked marrow in a bowl together with the sugar and lemon juice. Cover and leave for 24 hours.
  5. Boil mixture over a gentle heat till sugar has dissolved and then continue till the marrow is translucent and the syrup is thick. Takes 30-40 minutes.
  6. Carefully pour/spoon into hot, sterilised jars and leave to cool completely before slathering onto toast.

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Carrot Cake Porridge

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 15.09.50Yes this recipe contains carrots. Carrots for breakfast?! Vegetables for breakfast full stop?! Let me dispel any vegetable-related qualms you might have and present you with this recipe. This porridge tastes like actual carrot cake and is just one of the most warming and delicious things you can possibly eat during winter time. I try to limit my intake of it because I’m absolutely mortified that I might eat too much of it and start to dislike it… The  grated carrots add the most amazing sweetness to the porridge, which is brought into full force with the addition of the raisins and cinnamon, as well as a beautiful slightly crunchy bite which really makes it special. Having a bit of vitamin A is always a plus too.

Ingredients (Serves 1):

For the oats:

1/2 a cup of rolled oats

1/2 a cup of water

1/2 a cup of almond milk

1 medium carrot, washed and grated

a handful of raisins/sultanas

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

pinch of salt

1 tbs maple syrup (or any other type of sweetener)

Put your carrots, salt, water and almond milk into a pan and bring up to the boil (just to let the carrot soften a little bit). Add the oats, spices, raisins and maple syrup. Reduce the heat and let this simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oats are soft and tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Pour into a bowl, lick the spoon and pan, and then add your toppings.

Topping ideas:

Try out various combinations of the following: banana, blueberries, apple (stewed or fresh), pear, nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut), raisins/sultanas, flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, walnuts, dates, figs, maple syrup, bee pollen, coconut sugar, cinnamon.

The Best Bircher Muesli

I love Bircher Muesli.

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 00.59.59So easy to make the night before if you know you’re going to be tight for time the following morning and perfect for munching on the go. If you’re really tight for time it’s also fine to multiply this recipe and then it’ll keep for about 4 days in the fridge for your breakfasts that week.

Originally created by a Swiss Physician Maximillian Bircher-Benner as a healthy breakfast alternative for patients in his hospital, this is the epitome of health in a bowl!

Ingredients (serves 1):

1 medium apple (red works best)

1/2 a cup of rolled oats

1/2 a cup of yoghurt (or yoghurt alternative eg. soy yoghurt)

1/2 a cup of milk (my favourite to use is almond milk)

1/2 a handful of sultanas

1/2 a handful of dried cranberries

optional: 1 tbs of honey for sweetness

Grate the apple into a large bowl, discarding the core and pips. If you want you can peel it but the skin is the most nutritious part and contains most of the fibre!

Add the oats, dried fruit, milk, yoghurt and honey if using. Mix together really well, cover and put int eh fridge to chill overnight. That’s it; what could be easier?

In the morning I usually microwave mine for ten second to take the chill out of it. Top it with nuts, dried and/or fresh fruit and sweetener. My personal favourites are dried cranberries, almond slivers, blackberries, blueberries and honey.

Coconut Cranberry Porridge

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 22.41.01I am going to kick this block off with a coconut-based post because coconut is simply unbeatable.

NB: All of my recipes use “cups” as measurements. In my “poor undergraduate student situation” I don’t really have the money, space or impetus to be dealing with measuring implements. With an kind of standard mug (mine is from Wimbledon, yay) youcan recreate all of these recipes with ease.

For cold autumn and winter mornings this porridge is one of my go-tos. The coconut adds a creamy mellow-ness which is perfectly contrasted by the tangy cranberries.

It’s super easy and quick too; perfect for people with busy lifestyles. Just wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual and you will easily have time to make plus savour/devour this every morning!

And this is worth making and devouring!

The carbohydrates in oats are broken down slowly by your body so this bowl should keep you satisfied and full right up till lunch time! (sometimes even past it). The volume of food here may seem quite large, especially if you’re not a big breakfast eater; but stick with it and you’ll get used to it. Ultimately you will be so much more productive with slow-release carbs in your system and this will prevent you from snacking on refined sugar and high-calorie foods that your body begins to crave later in the morning.

Get ready for a big, comforting coconutty hug!

Ingredients: (serves 1)

For the oats:

½ cup of rolled oats

½ cup of water

4 heaped tbs coconut milk (the really thick creamy kind you get in a can, definitely not the low fat one)

1 handful dried cranberries

1 tbs coconut oil

Pinch of salt

First pour your oats, water and salt into a saucepan, stirring in the coconut milk and cranberries. Turn the heat up so that it bubbles and simmer for around 7 minutes, stirring throughout so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan (nothing is more disheartening than seeing your porridge go to waste).

Take off the heat and stir in the coconut oil (you can get this from health food shops). This is what lifts that whole dish and makes it unmistakably coconutty.

Decorate prettily with your toppings.

Toppings:

Use any toppings that take your fancy!

For this bowl my favourites are:

  1. Banana (ripe and spotty is best), shredded coconut, almond butter, cashews and agave.
  2. Blueberries and mango.
  3. Walnuts, raspberries and coconut sugar.