Despite the stigma of pot noodles and microwave meals, writers at The Siren know that students are more than capable of cooking up a great dish. Roisin O’Connor has a couple of ideas for your kitchen she thinks you’ll like, so why not try them out?

Vegetarians, rejoice! This post for A Students’ Guide to Cooking is especially for you. As a proud French obsessive, I’ve noticed how the French themselves aren’t big on the word “vegetarian” but actually have a lot of dishes from various regions that don’t involve meat. So I’ve put together a menu that hopefully both vegetarians and meat-eaters can enjoy.

Starter

Roasted Asparagus Spears (Serves 6)

Asparagus is great as long as it’s in season, so make the most of it while it is. This starter is almost too easy and can also be served as a side dish- all you need to do is drizzle the asparagus with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in the over on a baking tray at gas mark 5 for ten minutes.

Main

Tomato Tart (Serves 6)

This recipe is great served hot or cold, even if you’re not a huge fan of tomatoes. It’s best to get your ingredients from the local market, and similar to the lemon tart I made a few weeks back, it’s also best to make your own pastry.

Combine 250g of flour with 175g of cubed butter until they form breadcrumbs, then add a small splash of water and knead until the dough is smooth. Once this is done, put in the fridge for half an hour.

For the filling, you’ll need nine or ten large, ripe tomatoes, a clove of garlic, Dijon mustard, double cream, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Something I’ve learned is to peel the tomatoes for a smoother, velvety texture, which is really easy to do. Cut a cross-shaped slit into the top of each tomato and plunge into boiling water for around ten to fifteen seconds, after which the skin should just peel away.

Once the pastry is chilled, take it out of the fridge and roll out into a circle before folding it over an ovenproof flan dish.

Mix three full teaspoons of mustard with 100ml of double cream and spread this around the bottom of the pastry before slicing the tomatoes and layering them with the chopped garlic and time. Place in the oven for at gas mark 5 for 40 minutes and serve hot or cold with salad and boiled new potatoes.

Dessert

Chocolate brownies (serves 6)

My friends are always asking me to make these brownies for them, and they are very easy to make. This recipe means the brownies are gooey in the middle with a very thin, crisp coating at the top. They are best served with crème fraîche or your favourite ice cream.

You’ll need 360g of white caster sugar, 165g of self-raising flour, three large tablespoons of cocoa power, 200g of cooking chocolate, 50g of walnuts, (70%), four large, free range eggs, and 50g of butter. Optional: zest of one orange.
Sift the flour, sugar, and cocoa powder together into a mixing bowl. Once this is done, melt the chocolate into a bowl over a pan of boiling water and add the butter until the chocolate is thick and creamy.

Add this to the flour, sugar and cocoa powder then beat the eggs together, add the nuts and orange zest then pour into the mixture, folding until smooth. Tip this on to a baking tray then cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes at gas mark 5. Leave to cool or serve warm, and enjoy!

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