Blue cheese fettuccine with leek and walnuts

Blue cheese pasta is a slightly fancier student meal, but for its rich taste and fancy feel it does not cost a fortune to make (this recipe gives you food for 3 people, at £2 each. Although if you’re starving it’s perhaps more suitable for just two). A recommendation is to pick up St Agur when it’s on offer, because it lasts for ages in the fridge. This dish is super-easy to make and you simply cannot fail making it if you follow these instructions.
You’ll need:
  • 1 pack St. Agur blue cheese. Experimenting with other, cheaper blue cheeses is probably a good idea, however I’ve tried making this with english stilton and that was way too bitter.
  • 1/2 leek
  • Fettuccine (or any pasta you prefer, but the sauce works well with long, slingery things)
  • Half tub of creme fraiche
  • A few generous handfuls of walnut kernels
  • Spinach (optional)
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts in water, roughly chopped (optional)
  • Butter for frying
Put water in your kettle and prepare for boiling the pasta (the sauce takes no time to make). Get your guest to start breaking up the walnut kernels if you bought whole ones. Slice the leek and fry it in a knob of butter until it is soft. Add in some spinach (squeeze it if you’re adding frozen one, you don’t want all that water) and make that soft too on medium heat. Turn the heat down and add your creme fraiche until you have a sauce, and then add the roughly chopped cheese and make it melt into the pan. It is important it doesn’t boil, however it needs to melt enough to be smooth and creamy. Add salt to the sauce (remember it should taste a little bit too much when you taste it in the pan, for the pasta spreads it more thinly once it is served). If you fancy artichoke hearts, this is the time to add them into the sauce. Drain the spaghetti when it is done and mix it all together (serving spaghetti and sauce separately is a pet-hate of mine). Serve onto plates immediately and scatter the walnuts kernels on top. Eat!

Amy seemed pleased.

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Mushroom Bourguignon

When it’s freezing outside and you’re missing homely comfort food, there is nothing better than a stew. Although I would love to be able  to cook and eat a boeuf bourguignon almost everyday, there just is no time for a five hour stew during the week. So I bring you an adaptation of the boeuf bourguignon, the equally decadent mushroom bourguignon.

Altough the main ingredient (beef) changes, the other ingredients and method remain the same (bar the five hour cooking time!). This makes a very cheap and easy to make mid-week bourguignon.

So you will need:

  • Onion, finely chopped (one per 2 person portion).
  • Carrot, finely chopped (1/2 per 2 person portion).
  • Mushroom, with no stems and chopped roughly (500 grams per 2 person portion).
  • Garlic, finely chopped (to taste)
  • Beef stock (or vegetable stock if you are a vegetarian…)
  • Tomato Paste (1 tablespoon per 2 person portion)
  • Red Wine
  • Olive Oil
  • Lots of butter!
  • Thyme (dried is fine)
  • Small cooking onions, or pearl onions if you can find them (optional)
  • Some flour (not self-raising)
  • A sturdy pan

1. Start by chopping the mushrooms and frying them in your pan in butter and olive oil on a high heat so that they brown. While they are cooking chop the carrot, onion and garlic.

2. When the mushrooms are browned, take them from the pan and reserve. Turn the heat down to medium, add some olive oil to the pan and fry the onions, carrots and thyme, adding some salt and pepper to season. When the onion starts to brown add the garlic and fry for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic does not burn.

3. Turn the heat to high, add the wine and let it cook until it’s been reduced to half its original size.

looking good already!

4. Turn the heat down to a low setting, add the tomato paste, the stock and the mushrooms with the juice they have released from cooking (and the small onions, if using). Bring to the boil and then simmer until the mushrooms are tender.

Amazing, rich stew

5. While the stew is simmering start making a roux (it sounds harder than it is) and stir it in the stew when the mushrooms feel tender but the sauce is still a bit liquid. Simmer for a further 5 minutes to thicken the sauce and check the seasoning.

Serve it over your favourite carbs. We had it over pasta, but it’s great over polenta or mash. Add a little bit of butter for extra amazingness.


Swedish bacon pancake (Fläskpannkaka)

London is freezing at the moment. If you, like me, are living in a chilly, damp, poorly insulated house, this recipe is a good excuse to use the oven as a heater for a little while (as well as adding badly needed heating, leaving the oven open afterwards makes the house smell of bacon pancakes! And that can never be a bad thing.). Described as “Swedish comfort food” by Mr Meatball who I made it for yesterday, it needs very little work and few ingredients, so it is perfect for someone lazy, living off meagre student finances with an empty fridge. Rumour also has it Swedish air stewardesses make this a lot.

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For two hungry persons, you need

  • 3 eggs
  • one pack of bacon or some other kind of smoked porky meat (400 grams)
  • 2 deciliters flour
  • 4 deciliters milk
  • Salt (all Swedish cooking demands lots of salt. So think lavishly and salt with your heart)
  • (Optional yet crucial) Lingonberry jam* 

Put your oven to 225 degrees. Cut the bacon strips into smaller bits a wide, shallow oven pan. This is easily done with scissors. Put the pan into the oven and let the bacon pre-fry until it looks like the first picture in the slideshow, for about 10 minutes. Whilst that is in the oven, mix the flour and salt, and whisk in the milk slowly until you have an even mix. Crack in the eggs, whisk, and pour this on top of the bacon in the pan. I cut som parsley into it too but mainly to make it look pretty. Put the pan into the oven for 25-30 minutes until it has gone golden, and risen considerably. Once you take it out it will collapse upon itself. It should be a mellow brown in the edges, but gooey and yellow on the middle and inside. Cut into large slabs and eat with copious amounts of lingonberry jam. Enjoy!

* This is a sour, red jam, which like salt, comes in excessive amounts with most things considered Swedish traditional food. You can pick some up at your nearest IKEA, or if you’re in central London, get some here. Or you can supplement this with Cranberry sauce, but that woud be a shame.