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Posted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 8:49 pm
by D.B.
It has been pointed out in the past that several of us cook. We also have in common that we're nerds with better things to do with our time than cook all day, so I'd venture that we've each developed methods of making edible/nice stuff with minimal effort, and can benefit by sharing these!

I'll get the ball rolling with the only thing i know how to make, which is a sort of tagliatelle. It has bacon and cream in. You'll love it  :homer:

A sort of tagliatelle

Onion              (1/2-1 medium onion per person)
Garlic              (Don't go nuts)
Bacon             (A rasher each is too little, a packet each too much)
Peas               (a handful - mostly for show)
Chicken breast (1 per person works)
Pasta              (however much people want)
Double cream   (enough to make it sauce-ish. I'd say 300mls for two people works)
Oil                  (to fry in)
white wine       (optional)

  • Start boiling the pasta.
  • Chop bacon into thins strips/little cubes. You can buy packets of this pre-chopped, but I think you get nicer stuff if you slice up some rashers directly.
  • Chop onion into small chunks, garlic into very small chunks, chicken into medium chunks
  • All these chopped things go in a very hot wok. It's sometimes worth putting the onion and garlic in on its own for a while to brown up. I've also found that the bacon can take a surprisingly long time to do, so might be worth putting this in next, and the chicken in last.
  • Heat, until no-one will get food poisoning.
  • Once pasta is done, drain it. Then add this along with the peas, wine and cream into the wok. Heat until warm through. Wine is optional, it works just fine without.
  • Done. Best served on plates.
Someone else's turn.

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:12 pm
by AssistantCrone
What's this? Instructions for a nice hot meal? :E

Here's a recipe I use for cheese straws, one of the finer breeds of snacky baked goods.

Cheese Straws

Makes about one large tray

• 4oz (100g) plain flour
• 3oz (75g) butter
• 2oz (50g) mature cheddar, grated
• 1 egg yolk (use the white for glazing)

Measure the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter – the recipe says 'until it resembles breadcrumbs' but mine always just sticks together. As long as everything's rubbed in, I doubt it matters -- mine come out fine. Stir in the grated cheddar, then the egg yolk, then bring the mixture together to form a pastry ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for half an hour or more.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

Roll the chilled dough out on a lightly floured work surface (extra points for improvisation). Cut into bite-sized strips, place on baking trays (greased/non-stick/covered in baking paper, etc), and brush with the egg white.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 mins or until golden (better too pale than too dark). Cool on a wire rack. According to the recipe, these can be frozen, but it's much wiser to send any surplus to me.

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:07 pm
by Terry Y
Ohhhhh, this is a great thread. 

One of my favorite recipies for Chili Con Carne (that I shamlessly ripped off from Alton Brown, like I do all my recipies).  The best part of this version is that it uses stew meat instead of the usual ground beef, so there's actually some nice sauce that goes with it.

You will need:

3 pounds stew meat of your choice.  The cheaper the better. (you can also do 2 pounds of meat and 1 pound of baked beans if money's tight or you prefer to have beans in you chili)
2 12oz  (355 mL) bottles of a dark-ish beer.  Stouts tend to be to bitter, so a nice ale works here.
16 ounces (473 mL) of chunky salsa (so you don't have to spend hours chopping tomatoes, onions, etc.)
About 30 corn tortilla chips
2 tsp vegetable oil
1.5 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chili powder (not "chile." Watch that final vowel!)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 canned chipotle peppers chopped and 1 tbsp of the adobo sauce it comes in.*

*I realize it might be difficult to find chipotles in adobo sauce outside the US, but if I can find Vegemite in the US, who knows, you might get lucky!  If you can't find it, substitute 1 fresh jalapeno and 1 tbsp of your favorite BBQ sauce.

The original recipie calls for a pressure cooker, but I don't have one.  But I do have a Crock Pot or similar electric slow cooker which takes a few hours, but works just as well. 

Season the meat with the salt and oil and sear over high heat in a non-stick skillet.  Once seared (but still rare inside), set the meat aside and deglaze the pan with half a bottle of beer, scraping to get off all the stuck-on bits.  Once desolved, pour this mixture into the bowl your meat is in.  In your slow cooker, combine all the ingredients, and crush the tortilla chips into tiny bits.  Add the meat, stir to combine and set your cooker to "high."  Cook for about three hours, stirring occasionally.  Serve with the other bottle of beer.

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:03 am
by AssistantCrone
I like crispy things. The line between crispy and carbonised is a thin one, but sometimes I get it right. With that in mind...

Crispy Noodles

  • Dried fine noodles (about one hand-length brick per. person; your appetite may vary).
  • Oil -- anything from sunflower to one of those fancy infused jobs.
  • Lemon juice
  • Soy sauce
  • Optional: a stir-fry sauce of your choice (sweet & sour works well).
  • You will also need either a non-stick frying-type pan, or the reflexes of a hyperactive eight-year-old. If the former, make sure the pan is still non-stick and doesn't have any big scrapes for the noodles to cement themselves to.
Boil some water in a smallish pan. Put the oil, lemon juice and soy sauce in the frying pan and turn the heat on low (hopefully, the water should come to the boil before you see any smoke).

When the water is boiling, drop in the dried noodles and stir. IMPORTANT: Only leave them in long enough to start going floppy. If they cook any more than that, they'll go all squishy and won't fry properly.

Now that your noodles have reached the beginnings of floppiness, drain the water, put the noodles in with the oil, and stir. The idea is to get them as crispy as possible without burning. This will require you to keep a close eye on them and not go anywhere near the chatroom.

Once they start to crisp up, add the optional sauce a bit at a time (or more oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, whatever's tasty).

When you're thoroughly convinced that any more crisping would be plain dangerous, turn the heat off and serve. Good with anything stirfryable (you can even use the same pan, but it's best to do the noodles last).

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 7:19 pm
by D.B.
Further adventures in student cooking.

First, an observation that I made a while back:

Pizza maths
  • 3 tescos frozen pizzas for £4 = £1.33 per pizza
These are non-trivial pizzas we're talking about, they do for a meal. £1.33 each? That's excellent!

The problem is I suspect the nutritional breakdown is approximately as follows:
  • 150% of your RDA of pizza
  • Trace vitamins and vegetable matter - approximately equal to licking a bus window, or a really good glass of scotch.
Hmm. That's less good. So, I set myself a goal today of trying to cook something which has things like vegetables, etc in, for as close a price as I could manage. Here's what I came up with:

Random stirfry
  • Chicken - I can get 4 tescos chicken portions for £6, each of which looked big enough to feed me
  • Beansprouts, etc - You can get a 340g packet of beansprouts, onion, peppers, etc for £1. I figure this will do me for two servings
  • Broccoli - a moderate sized pack of this is also only £1. I went for this over the somewhat cheaper mushrooms (87p) as I figure broccoli has iron and is green. Again, only using half of this.
  • Pasta A massive pack is only about £1. It'll do me for ages, but let's be pessimistic and say ive got a week's worth.
  • Garlic, ginger, oil, soy - all these cost so little they're essentially negligable

  • Boil pasta. This is the dry stuff, so takes a while.
  • Chop everything.
  • Fry in this order: garlic and ginger; chicken; veg; pasta
  • Add lots of soy
Not bad really taste wise. Might get a bit dull every day. Portion size was surprisingly large - I think I could cut it down to about 2/3rds the size and it'd still be a meal. The big question though is how it compared cost wise:
  • Chicken - £6/4 = £1.50
  • Veg - £2/2 = £1
  • Pasta - £1/7 = £0.15
  • Soy, ginger, garlic ~ £0.05
  • Total = £2.70
Bugger. That's over twice what I'm paying for pizzas - even if I cut down the portion size to 2/3rds what it was I'm still losing. It gets worse if we factor in the extra time cooking and washing up afterwards and give myself a moderate hourly rate for this work, (pizzas = 15mins cooking and 1 plate to wash up, whereas stirfry = 30 mins preparing and cooking plus two pans, plate, and cutlery to wash).

Further research required...

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 7:35 pm
by Archonix
You can probably get bulk pasta or rice from a wholesaler, that'll cut your costs a fair bit right there, and you can probably get your garlic and onions from the same place, as long as you don't mind having garlic and onions hanging around your kitchen. Also, invest in curry paste. If you're ever tempted, don't buy the X Y and Z in a nicely chopped packet; the packet is convenience but you're paying a premium and getting less of each ingredient. The only exception to this rule seems to be the chopped frozen garlic sold in Sainsbury, which works out cheaper than buying fresh and is quite handy.

Cook in bulk and freeze. The freezer is your friend.

Our Tesco has a "three for £10" thing on one of its end fridges, so every time I'm in there I buy meat. 1.5kg of steak for £10 ain't bad. Pop it in the freezer. Beef-steaks and lamb steaks can be eaten raw if you're really desperate but I wouldn't recommend eating mince, chicken or anything on the bone without cooking it first.

And as a backup, buy beans and tinned soup from Aldi. You can get a weeks worth of meals for less than a fiver.

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 8:15 pm
by c_nordlander
This one's fairly easy to do, if not instantaneous (takes a bit over 40 minutes to make). If I can do it, that makes it easy.

Spaghetti puttanesca (Means "whore's spaghetti" in Italian; I don't think anyone knows why. One theory I've heard is that prostitutes didn't get to go out in public most days of the week, so they wouldn't have much scope for buying fancy ingredients, and this pasta sauce is made from base ingredients that most Italian kitchens would have.)

To serve two:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of fresh basil, chopped
50 g anchovy fillets, drained
175 g pitted black olives, chopped
1 tablespoon of capers, drained
450 g canned tomatoes, chopped
1 rounded tablespoon tomato purée
1 pinch black paper


To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan, then add the garlic and basil and cook them briefly until the garlic is pale gold. Then add all the other sauce ingredients, stir, and season with a little pepper (but no salt yet, because of the anchovies. Seriously, I've made this pasta sauce without adding any salt at all.)

Turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer very gently without a lid for 40 minutes, by which time it will have reduced to a thick mass, with very little liquid left.

While the sauce is cooking, boil up the water, and put in the spaghetti when the sauce has about 8 minutes left. Salt a little.

If you're having wine to it, a red Italian wine is pretty excellent.

(I really like this recipe. Once you've put in all the ingredients, you just let the heat do the rest of the work - and the end result is *so* tasty. The only thing that's a bit hard work in the preparation is chopping the olives: pitted olives are really soft, but you'll be using *a lot*, so be prepared for it to take some time.)

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:00 am
by Terry Y
Being poor and having to shop at the 99-cent store is actually a great way to learn to be creative.  Here's a fun thing I tried:

You will need:

1 loaf Ramen noodles
1 single-serve vacuum pack of tuna fish (or salmon if you can find it)
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup chunky salsa (for kicks)

Cook and drain the noodles (without the soup, of course).  In a separate sautee pan, combine the fish, sauces and noodles and heat through.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve with toast.

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:25 pm
by missy_misery

2 sticks butter, softened
2tsp coconut extract
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime peel
1 1/3 c. sugar
4 eggs
2/3 c. milk
1 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
2 1/2 c. self-rising flour

1: Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin pans with muffin/cupcake liners.

2: Beat together butter, extract, peel, sugar and eggs until combined.  Stir in milk and coconut.  Add flour and stir until just combined.

3: Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin cups.

4: Bake about 25 minutes, until tester inserted into cakes come out clean.  turn out onto a wire rack.  Cool.  Frost with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.



5 TBS Butter, softened
5 OZ cream cheese, softened
2 tsp coconut extract
3 c. powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter and extract together until fluffy gradually sift in powdered sugar until a spreadable consistancy is achieved.

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:48 pm
by Archonix
That sounds delicious. :)

Ok here's one I just tried tonight. I do most of my shopping at Aldi, famed for providing incredibly inexpensive stuff, mostly in tins and bags. This has an advantage of allowing preparation in bulk at very good prices.

For instance, tonight I made something that I've decided to call Tasca di pollo con anacardi, which means approximately "pocket of chicken with cashews".

Ingredients are:
One bag of frozen chopped chicken breast
One or two cloves of garlic
Salad veg
Dried chopped coriander leaf (optional but adds a nice fresh hint)
Lemon juice
Bread pockets or flat-breads of some description (eg piadina from Aldi for 99pence)
Cashew nuts

First prepare a salad. Salads are simple, you can buy a bag of Mediterranean salad from Aldi for 99 pence, and then top it up with other veg as you need it for a similar price again. I used mushrooms, spring onions, tomatoes, some left-over walnuts and baby sweet corns. Half a bag plus veg can last you several days without any problem, and if it's going a little bit limp by the end then it makes a perfect backfill for burgers, giving you that authentic McDonalds texture.

Next take an Aldi bag of frozen chopped chicken breast (£1.99), one large clove of garlic chopped (not crushed) finely, and half a red pepper that I found getting ready to go soft in the back of the fridge, also chopped finely. Glaze the garlic in olive oil in a large pan (preferably not non-stick - it's probably my imagination but teflon always seems to add a funny flavour) and then start frying the chicken on a low to medium heat straight from frozen, as this will give it a nice browning and infuse the garlic flavour. Toss in the cashews and some ginger and continue turning for a while until everything is well coated in the oil, then leave to soak heat on a low setting.

Whilst the chicken is infusing, pop the piadina or other bread pocket-style thing under the grill to start warming and toasting it. Depending on your bread choice the time for this can vary.

When the chicken is starting to brown a little, throw in a couple of shakes of the coriander and the chopped pepper and turn up the heat for a final blast, turning vigorously. Towards the end add in a little lemon juice and if you're feeling adventurous a splash of white wine. Continue to turn until the coriander is well spread and everything looks satisfactory.

Remove the bread from the oven when it's toasted to preference. I used Piadina, which meant that once it was cooked I had to chop each round in half and then wiggle a knife inside it to make the pocket, since they don't have a natural airspace inside.

Now fill the pocket with chicken and salad and add pepper or whatever else takes your fancy. Two pockets will probably fill you up, and from a single bag of the chopped chicken you get enough to make at least six. Once cooled the chicken also makes a decent sandwich filler.

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:44 pm
by D.B.
The experiments continue. After a week or so of pretty sub-par food, I hit upon the following tonight which was surprisingly good (in a simple, everything in the pan kind of way  :E)

Sausage Fried Rice

  • Onion (0.5-1 per person)
  • mushrooms (a handful per person)
  • garlic and ginger (to taste)
  • peas (as required)
  • pre-cooked frankfurter sausages (2 per person)
  • rice
  • 1 egg
  • soy sauce
  • Boil the rice. This can take longer than everything else, and needs to be done before the rest is finished,so start it first.
  • Chop onions, mushrooms, garlic, ginger and sausages, and fry them up with the peas.
  • Once rice is done, drain off excess water. Add egg and mix in
  • Once the frying stuff is looking almost brown enough, add in the eggy rice and mix thoroughly. eggy rice will
stick to the pan, so keep mixing.[/li]
[*]Once you think the egg is al cooked, add soy + serve

This came of a slightly misguided attempt to make egg fried rice (according to google you fry the egg to one side when doing this, then mix in the rice) but is actually not bad in its own way. Though deciding when the egg is all cooked requires guess work. My theory is that it's mixed thinly enough with the rice that it'll naturally cook quite quickly, so you just need to keep stirring. Sausages work much better than chicken, which I tried yesterday and was really dull.

Cost breakdown:
  • Onion >£0.30
  • Mushrooms >£0.35
  • peas >£0.15
  • Ginger and garlic = incidental, lets say £0.05
  • Rice > £0.15
  • Sausage = unknown, as was a gift. Assuming £1.50 for the jar though, that works out at £0.60 for two
  • Egg = £0.15
Total ~ £1.75

So have broken the £2 barrier and it actually doesn't taste too bad. Plus I'd guess I'm getting about 2 of my 5 a day veg portions in there. This is pleasing to me  8)

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:23 pm
by AssistantCrone
One of the easiest and tastiest things I've cooked for a while. Like most of my favourite recipes, it's pretty open to variation.

Honey Mustard Chicken

  • Wholegrain mustard (about a tablespoon per. person)
  • Clear honey (ditto)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Some chicken. Doesn't have to be any specific part of a chicken, just enough to feed you. I guess this would work with turkey or pork as well.


Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. If the chicken is in a large piece, cut it into slightly smaller pieces (more surface area means more honey mustard). Put said chicken into a roasting tin or other ovenproof thingy.

Mix together the mustard and honey (add salt and pepper to taste), and brush/spoon/pour it over the chicken.

Cook for 25-30 minutes (time may vary depending on size/type of chicken pieces. You might also want to baste or turn them over now and then). Any honey mustard stuff left over in the tin can be poured back over the chicken, or salad, or potatoes (if they can be crammed into the tin with the chicken, all the better), etc.

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:57 am
by satanslittlehelper
Last night I made a lovely chicken roast to celebrate that i sell my gold

The actual putting together of ingredients isn't that hard, as roasts are all about timing and peeling, but I made my own stuffing which was really tasty.

Stuffing for Chicken:

Handful of dried apricots
Two handfuls of stale bread
A cup of hot water
Fresh parsley
A nob of butter
1 small onion
Tablespoon of olive oil

I got about a quarter loaf of stale bread, which I whizzed together with a handful of dried apricots, adding a bit of hot water as I went, to get the right consistentcy (its should be sticky but not pastey). Then add some butter, oil, seasoning, finely chopped parsely and the onion. You can add egg if it is not sticking properly, but I dont.

Then stuff the bird and roast for about an hour and a half, hopefully leaving some stuffing left to make stuffing balls which take about 1/2 hour to get nice and crispy on the outside(the actual stuffing inside the chicken always gets soaked in fat, so benefits from either being taken out and roasted on its own at the end, or do what I do and just make sime extra little balls for enjoyment on their own.)

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:34 pm
by D.B.
Hmm. I didn't know stuffing was so minimalist when it came to ingredients. Plus, a useful way to use up that left over bread. Iiiiiiinteresting...

Re: Cooking!

Posted: Thu May 20, 2010 11:42 pm
by Archonix
Superior Noodles

This one's inspired by Terry's noodles, which prompted me to experiment with more inexpensive ingredients. Essentially it's a sort of soupy chow mein.

Ingredients are:

Ramen noodles (which I've taken to nicknaming inferior noodles when they're done alone, no idea why)
Chilli powder or similar
Powdered ginger
Various other spices to taste
Soy sauce
Tomato purée
Worcestershire sauce
one spring onion
Baby sweetcorn
Garlic (optional)
Chicken stock cube

First chop the veg. It helps to have it prepared beforehand.

Get some water boiling. Pop a little bit of the flavour from the ramen noodles into it (just a couple of pinches, it helps boost the flavours) and toss the rest in the bin, because that stuff is a killer. Add in the stock cube, some soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, tomato purée, chilli powder and anything else you think will help and leave to boil together.

Separately, start frying the vegetables in a shallow pan wok, flavouring to taste with soy, ginger, other spices and so on. Start the ramen boiling in the flavored soupy stuff until it's just starting to go soft. Add some more oil to the frying pan, then extract the noodles from soup and drop them in the frying pan. Start mixing them around. Here you can crisp the noodles if you like with more oil, or just let them fry. Add plenty of soy, more ginger and whatever else you think will help the flavour. By now your vegetables should be starting to caramelize just a little, which is when you need to stop. Drop the noodles and veg into a bowl and pour the soup over the top until it's nearly full.

Make sure you carry the bowl on a separate plate, or you'll probably do what I did the other day and spill it all over your hands. This isn't a good idea. :)

Can be eaten with rice cakes, crisp-bread, green salad or entirely alone. Probably not even remotely healthy but it tastes nice, and that's all that matters. ;D