Ultimate Sausage Rolls

What is it about train stations and sausage rolls? I’ve been travelling between London and Cambridge a fair bit this week and every station I’ve passed through has been filled with the scent of freshly baked (or at least reheated) sausage rolls and pasties. Each time I was tempted, but I held out knowing that homemade would be far better.

Ultimate sausage rolls

When I pulled a tray of these out of my college oven, that familiar pastry aroma was back. This was swiftly followed by a girl who shares my kitchen commenting, ‘that’s a lot for one person’… clearly not understanding the joy of batch baking! One of these reheated in the oven, with a spoonful of baked beans and pile of steamed broccoli is going to my dinner for the next few days and I am more than okay with that.

Sausage rolls are so simple to make that a few easy touches can elevate them to the position of ‘ultimate’. Nigella seeds sprinkled on top add a touch of extra interest, using all-butter pastry ensures the best flakiness, interesting sausages will add more flavour than plain sausage meat with no extra effort from you. Trust me, these take 15 minutes to bake and will be far better than any station imitation.

Ultimate sausage rolls

Makes 4

  • 6 sausages (I used caramelised red onion ones)
  • 1 apple
  • 1 onion
  • 300g ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sprinkling of nigella seeds

Preheat the oven to 200’C.

Use scissors to unpeel the sausages from their skins. Tip all the sausage meat into a bowl. Core and finely chop the apple – there is no need to peel it. Finely dice the onion. Add these to the sausage meat and mix everything together.

Unroll the puff pastry. Lay the sausage mixture down the centre of the pastry length ways. Lift the pastry around the meat and pinch together the join. Flip the long sausage roll over so this seam is on the base. Cut the roll into four and place on a lined baking sheet.

Brush each sausage roll with the beaten egg and top with a sprinkling of nigella seeds. Use a sharp knife to score three lines across the top of each one. Bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is risen, golden and crisp.

Roast cod, potato and tomato traybake

I’m bad at getting fish into my diet. A grilled fillet of salmon here and there or a few M&S melting middle fishcakes during exam term are about as much as I tend to get through. Even the cod I bought for this dish had to wait frozen for a few days before I was inspired enough to use it. Now I’ve made this though, I’m hoping cod might be a more regular feature of my shopping basket.

Roast cod, potato and tomato traybake

I think one of my fears of cooking fish at university comes out of sharing a kitchen with 10 other girls – I don’t want to be the college equivalent of the colleague who smokes out the office with a reheated fish lunch. However, the upside of this danger for me is the pure ease and speed of cooking fish – quicker than my meat staples of chicken and sausages. Plus, when you pair it with plenty of garlic and fresh lemon, any potential fish aromas are easily disguised. This one tray, two stage dish takes a while in the oven to ensure gorgeously caramelised roast potatoes, but requires very little actual prep for you. I love a whole meal coming together as one, saving me having to think about getting different elements ready. Whip this tray out the oven and voila – dinner is served.

Roast cod, potato and tomato traybake

Serves 2 – adapted from here

  • 1 large potato
  • 1 onion
  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 2 fillets of cod
  • sprinkling of dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 180’C.

Peel the potato and slice into wedges – halving any super thick ones to ensure they will all cook through. Peel the onion and chop into quarters. Tip the potato and onion into a large lipped baking tray. Drizzle generously with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss everything together. Smash the garlic cloves and add to the tray. Roast for 25 minutes.

Quarter the tomatoes and the lemon. After 25 minutes, add these to the tray with the potatoes. Lay the cod fillets on top of the potatoes and sprinkle with the dried oregano and more seasoning. Roast for a further 10-12 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Serve and enjoy – squeezing the roasted lemon over the fish.

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

When my sister and I started baking, everything we made was lemon flavoured. One of my earliest independent baking memories is of us making Lemon Meringue Pie to take to our Nana down in Eastbourne. There was one particularly memorable time we made it where I managed to get my hair caught in our electric whisk. Aside from attempting to sneak lemon into every bake, my other baking trait was that I primarily turned out biscuits. Of every shape, style, flavour and size – they were all I wanted to make. Now I’m at university, the most popular bakes with my friends are always chocolate based, but this weekend I wanted to recreate those early baking traits.

Lemon meltaway cookies

I always refuse to do any work on a Saturday – taking it as my one day each week to completely relax and temporarily forget about whatever Renaissance issue I’ve been tackling that week. Baking replaces reading as my top priority and the thought of whichever cookie, cake or pie I’ve chosen for the weekend ahead gets me through many a long library session midweek. This week, I fancied a break from chocolate and as I was considering a return to my lemon-obsessed ways, I thought may as well equally return to being a cookie fanatic. When I started baking I churned out many a tray of cookies, working my way through most of Rachel Allen’s back catalogue.

Today’s inspiration came from Smitten Kitchen, who initially made a key lime version that I’ve had bookmarked for years. They were every bit as buttery, crumbly and moreish as I had anticipated – with the bonus of being a total cinch to make. The heavy icing sugar coating means they are not the best surreptitious library snack – but that just gives you an excuse to take a break.

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

Makes 18-20

  • 175g soft butter
  • 40g icing sugar, plus around 150g more to coat
  • 1 lemon, zested and ½ juiced
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 240g plain flour

Mix the butter and 40g icing sugar together until well combined. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice and stir to incorporate. Add the flour gradually, stirring well until it is all incorporated and smooth.

Tip the dough onto a sheet of baking paper and shape into a 30cm log. Roll up in the paper, twisting each end like a cracker. Place in the fridge for an hour until firm.

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Remove the dough log from the fridge and unwrap. Slice into 1cm rounds and place on two lined baking trays. Bake fro 15minutes until beginning to go golden round the edge.

Tip plenty of icing sugar into a small bowl. Toss the cookies gently, a few at a time, in the icing sugar to fully coat and place on a wire rack to cool.

Tomato, courgette and pesto tarts

I have a thing for puff pastry. Covering a creamy chicken pie, twisted into cheese straws, folded over fruit to make a freeform galette, twisted with cinnamon sugar into tightly swirled palmiers – I’ll take them all please. This recipe therefore marks my continued quest to incorporate pastry into my diet in a way that isn’t completely over indulgent and unhealthy.

tomato, courgette and pesto tarts

These tarts are one of the simplest ways to get some flaky, buttery puff pastry into my diet whilst simultaneously getting some vegetables. It’s also really good for getting vegetables to stretch frugally far – just one courgette and three tomatoes make six tarts. These can either feed a crowd or, if you’re a student like me cooking for one, be stored in Tupperware and reheated for 5-10 minutes in the oven every day for a speedy hot lunch that isn’t a toasted bagel.

Tomato, courgette and pesto tarts

  • 1 package of ready rolled puff pastry
  • ½ tub of pesto
  • 1 courgette
  • 3 large tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 190’C. Unroll the pastry. Cut it in half horizontally, and into thirds vertically, giving you six even squares of pastry. Spread these out on two lined baking trays. Use a sharp knife to score a 1cm border around the edge of each square – do not cut all the way through.

Spread the pesto into the middle of each tart, right up to the border. Thinly slice the courgette and tomatoes. Lay over the pesto in alternating rows, creating whatever patterns you like.

Bake for 25 minutes, until the pastry is risen, golden, and crisp on the base.

Chorizo Naan Pizza

Naan pizzas used to be the ultimate treat when I was growing up. I don’t know where my Mum found the idea for this complete cultural hybrid of a dinner (update: we have Nigella to thank!), but I have vivid memories of pizza making sessions (although pizza decorating might be a more accurate description), especially when friends came round and everyone set up their own pizza stations. I hadn’t had a naan pizza in years until I made this but one bite and I was right back in my kitchen at home, getting uncharacteristically competitive over best design and mozzarella placement.

Chorizo Naan Pizza

This isn’t so much an exact recipe as an idea, a way of eating pizza that if you haven’t discovered yet then you need to try asap. There is something about the nigella seeds in the naan, the way the edges go extra crunchy but the middle stays doughy, the novelty of just eating it all at once rather than slicing it up that makes this so enjoyable. I added some chorizo to my super simplified pizza sauce for some extra heat (and just to add some Spanish flavour into the Italian-Indian meal) but, as with any pizza, this is endlessly versatile to whatever you usually put on your favourite pizza/Dominos order.

Chorizo Naan Pizza

Makes 2 pizzas

  • 1 onion
  • 250g diced cooking chorizo
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 2 plain naan breads
  • 1 ball of mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 200’C. Finely dice the onion and sweat in a generous glug of olive oil until soft but not coloured. Add the chorizo and fry for a few more minutes to cook through. Tip in the tin of tomatoes, season generously with salt and pepper, and simmer gently to reduce and thicken.

While the sauce simmers, place the naan on a baking tray and cook for 5-10minutes until beginning to go crispy. Slice the mozzarella.

Remove the naan from the oven and spread with the thickened sauce. Top with mozzarella and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until the mozzarella is melted. Enjoy!

Apple crumble

Apple crumble is pure nostalgia. The world could do with a little comfort food right now, and crumble is the dish to do this. For my family, crumble is what we miss whenever any of us go away. Whether it is me at university, my Dad for work, my sister since she’s moved out or my Mum going travelling – I think crumble symbolises home for all of us.

Apple crumble

Whether we’re going fancy with an amaretti laced plum version, or simple like this, you just can’t really go wrong with crumble. Tinned fruit work equally well if you’re in a pinch, but for my version I went as classic as you can get because I had some apples languishing in my cupboard that were beginning to get a bit tired and in desperate need of a covering of sugar and cream. I had such good intentions to share this, but somehow it was all gone within 24 hours…

Apple crumble

  • 75g plain flour
  • 20g brown sugar
  • 20g caster sugar, plus 1tbsp
  • 50g butter
  • 3 small apples

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Mix the flour and sugars (saving the extra 1tbsp of caster sugar) together. Cut the butter into small cubes, and rub it into the flour and sugar mixture until fully incorporated and sandy textured. I like to go a tiny bit further to get some larger chunks as well.

Peel, core and chop the apples into 2cm dice. Tip into the crumble dish and scatter with the reserved tbsp. of caster sugar. Scatter the crumble mixture evenly over the top.

Bake for 20-25mins until the crumble is golden and crisp. Serve with custard or extra thick double cream.

Macaroni Cheese

Sometimes I feel like my life is going to be one long mission to find the ultimate macaroni cheese. For a long time my favourite one was found at Mishkins, even when I went in spring and they’d added a whole load of veg into the mix. After Mishkins sadly closed down, my best ever mac was replaced by The Mac Factory‘s chorizo studded creation in Camden. I loved this one so much that I got them to come and serve it at a Cambridge ball for 2000 people when I was organising the catering. My Mum, tired of my sister and I raving about this, replicated it for us at home and her version with added tomatoes became my favourite. My point is that whilst my favourite mac and cheese is always changing, the love for the dish itself remains pretty constant.

Macaroni cheese

But these were all versions that other people made for me, and I wanted to try making it for myself. Hunting down my dream recipe provided the perfect procrastination for a week until I finally bit the bullet and tried a variation of Jamie Oliver’s ‘killer mac and cheese’. I’m not saying my search for ‘the one’ is over as it’s not yet up there with The Mac Factory fabulousness, but I’m definitely getting closer.

For me, I think the key is actually not baking the mac and cheese for very long – if at all. The joy for me is the saucy, melting, stretchy goodness that I find can quickly turn stodgy and dense if grilled for too long. My pet peeve in life is also crispy pasta – I can’t bear it. But of course, if that crackly top is king for you, feel free to leave this under the grill a while longer. ‘The one’ is different for everybody.

Macaroni Cheese

Serves 2

  • 15g butter
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1tbsp flour
  • 250ml milk
  • 150g macaroni
  • 100g cheddar, grated

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of lightly bubbling water, until just before al dente – with a little bite left in it.

Meanwhile, fry the garlic in the butter until fragrant. Add the flour and cook out for one minute. Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Return to the heat and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and add all the cheese, stirring until melted. Season generously with lots of pepper.

Drain the pasta and tip into the sauce. Now – which way are you going to go? Either now tip into a bowl and dig in, or tip into a baking dish, grate over a little extra cheese and grill until its how you desire – 5-10 minutes for a crisp cheesy topping.

Harissa salmon with lemon cucumber couscous

My food preferences rarely follow logic. When I was little, I loved jam in doughnuts, but hated it on toast (probably my sweet tooth talking). Now, I like pasta, tomato sauce and mince separately but hate lasagne. I love guacamole but would never eat a plain avocado. And finally, I hate smoked salmon but love salmon in all other forms, including my new favourite as of today – topped with harissa and served with couscous.

Harissa salmon with lemon cucumber couscous

Salmon was a supermarket staple for me when I first started university because I knew I needed to eat healthily (try as I might, even I admit a gal cannot survive on chicken goujons alone) and still wanted to have something that fills me up more than plain salads. But then I got lazy and stopped doing anything interesting when it came to cooking with it, meaning I never wanted to turn to a plate of plain microwaved salmon at the end of the day and it would hide in the back of my fridge instead. Now, I’m fully back on the salmon game and loading it up with flavour to make my ideal meal. This works equally well hot or cold, fresh or as leftovers, for lunch or for dinner – enjoy!

Harissa salmon with lemon cucumber couscous

Serves 2

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2tsp harissa paste
  • 120g couscous
  • ½ red onion
  • ½ cucumber
  • 1 lemon, zested and ½ juiced
  • small handful of mint
  • small handful of chives
  • olive oil

Place the salmon fillets skin side down on a lined baking tray. Spread the harissa evenly over the top of each fillet. Grill for 10-12 minutes until cooked through but still flaky.

Meanwhile, prepare the couscous. Place the couscous in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Pour over boiling water until just covering the couscous, cover with a lid or cling film and leave for 5minutes until all the water has been absorbed.

Dice the cucumber. Finely chop the red onion and herbs. When the couscous is ready, fluff the grains with a fork. Add a generous glug of olive oil, the lemon zest and juice. Stir, and add the cucumber, red onion and herbs. Taste for seasoning. Divide the couscous between two plates and top each with a salmon fillet.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

I mean. Recipes with titles like that don’t need much explaining, do they? Those five words should get you scrambling to the kitchen with very little persuasion from me. But I’ll go ahead anyway, in case by some miracle of resistance you are still here.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Want cookies but don’t have time to be scooping and rolling and swapping endless trays in and out of the oven? Love the crispy edge and gooey middle of a perfect cookie but never manage to bake it quite right? Are you cooking for others and need to provide dessert that’s fractionally fancier than a pile of biscuits in the middle of the table? This cookie pie solves all these conundrums.

I’ve written before about the issue of having to eat something for days on end when you’re cooking for one. This is entirely not an issue with this bake because not only would I be happy to eat just this for eternity, as soon as I posted this on Instagram I had multiple friends in college commenting enthusiastically. My message of ‘wanna chill and help me eat cookie pie?’ could not have been answered faster. Make this. I promise you won’t forget it.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

I adapted this from this Nigella recipe for chocolate cookie pots, which she makes in ramekins. Ramekin servings would up the adorable factor, whilst one big one feels extra decadent and ensures plenty of gooey centre – the choice is yours! I baked mine in an 18cm dish which serves up to 4 people (it’s very rich) but this would also be easily doubled up to suit bigger tins and bigger crowds.

  • 110g soft butter
  • 90g soft light brown sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 150g plain flour
  • big pinch of baking powder
  • 100g chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft. Add the vanilla and egg and stir until combined. Fold in the flour, baking powder and chocolate chips.

Spread the cookie dough into an 18cm pie dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden round the edge but still a little soft in the middle (the joy is the melting centre so better to under than over bake here). Serve warm with plenty of ice cream or crème fraiche. Enjoy!

Roasted cauliflower, sweet potato and pomegranate salad

I struggle with salad inspiration. I could give you cookie recipe ideas for days, but after a few salads I’ll start to struggle. After all, there are only so many things you can do with couscous. That’s why despite admittedly an element of scepticism, I was intrigued when I began seeing cauliflower becoming trendy again and popping up in salads everywhere.

Roasted cauliflower, sweet potato and pomegranate salad

I associate cauliflower with roast dinners at my Granny’s house, where it was certainly not grated and mixed with pomegranate. I never even knew you could eat cauliflower raw until recently and I was intrigued. As was perhaps to be expected it is fairly neutral in flavour, but that is what makes it a great base for this salad, acting in place of where you’d normally use quinoa or couscous. Combined with the caramelised roasted cauliflower and sweet potato, it made an enjoyably different and happily substantial lunch time salad. I’m still not totally on board with cauliflower pizza bases – if you want a pizza, just have a pizza babe – but I am all for embracing it for it’s intended vegetable goodness.

Roasted cauliflower, sweet potato and pomegranate salad

At first, I found this salad tasted a bit worthy, if you know what I mean – but it totally grew on me and I missed it once it was all gone. The trick is in adding plenty of lemon juice and herbs to make it really fresh and balance the earthiness of the roasted cauliflower.

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 cauliflower
  • one onion, finely chopped
  • handful of pine nuts
  • seeds of ½ pomegranate
  • small bunch of mint, finely chopped
  • small handful of chives, finely chopped
  • juice of ½ lemon

Preheat the oven to 180’C.

Peel and slice the sweet potato into fries around 1cm thick. Chop half of the cauliflower into medium florets. Tip the potato and cauliflower into a bowl and toss with plenty of salt and pepper and a generous glug of olive oil – this is the best way to get them evenly coated. Tip onto a baking tray, spread evenly and roast for 25 minutes until the potato is soft, stirring once half way through.

Meanwhile, fry the onion over a medium heat until soft and just beginning to caramelise. In the last few minutes, add the pine nuts to the pan and toast until golden. Tip it all into a mixing bowl.

Grate the remaining cauliflower (press the top of the florets into the grater instead of the side of the cauli for the most even grate). Add to the onions along with the pomegranate seeds, mint, chives, lemon juice, pepper and pinch of salt. Stir everything together and taste to check the seasoning.

When the roast veg are cooked, stir them very gently through the salad and serve.