Despite the stereotype 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?

Brrr. We still haven’t turned the heating on in my house, so I’ve resorted to comfort food to stay warm, and I’m also considering hibernation.

Starter

Homemade Pumpkin Soup (Serves 6)

Our photographer Donna made this and it sounded so good I wanted to make my own! For obvious reasons this is perfect to try in October, but while pumpkins are going cheap at the market, why don’t you give it a go? Gently cook 2 finely chopped onions in a dash of olive oil for 5 mins until soft. Add the pumpkin or squash (peeled, deseeded and chopped) to the pan, then continue cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally. Pour 700ml of vegetable stock into the pan , bring to the boil, then puree in a blender. If you don’t want to eat the soup straight away you can also freeze it for two months.

Season to taste with salt and pepper then serve with croutons and a drizzle of olive oil.

Main

Meatballs in a Rich Tomato Sauce (Serves 4)

Easy, delicious and quick, but you can’t be squeamish about using your hands. To make the meatballs you need 500g of minced beef (preferably organic), a slice of white bread, one egg, olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Tear the bread into tiny pieces, beat the egg, and mix in with the mince before adding the herbs.

Using your hands, squish together until the mince is formed into one big ball, then drizzle olive oil over it and make sure it’s rubbed in. Next, halve the meat into two and roll into balls, then again, until you have 18 small meatballs. Fry these in a shallow pan for 10-15 minutes, splitting a few in half to make sure they’re not pink in the middle.

For the tomato sauce, you need a small carton of tomato pesata, garlic, onions, oregano, three large tomatoes, and pepper. Gently fry the garlic and onions for 4-5 minutes, add the tomatoes for another 2 minutes, then pour in the pesata. Add oregano and a generous amount of pepper, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve with spiral, penne or spaghetti pasta with the meatballs covered in the sauce.

Dessert

Pear and Chocolate Crumble (Serves 4)

I saw this recipe by Nigel Slater (my favourite chef of all time) in a magazine last week and had to try it out. Perfect on a cold winter night, served with hot custard or double cream.

You need 850g ripe pears, half a lemon, 30g of butter, and golden caster sugar for the filling. For the crumble, use 50g of butter, 45g plain flour, 45g demera sugar, 3tsp of jumbo oats, and 50g of dark chocolate (80% cocoa). Peel the pears, rub them with lemon juice to prevent them from discolouring, then cut them in half and remove the stalk, scooping out the pips and the core with a teaspoon.

Melt the butter over a moderate heat. As it starts to sizzle, add the sugar and pears and let them colour very lightly, allowing the sugar to caremelise in places as the pears soften. Tip the contents of the pan into a deep-fill baking dish then set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Remember how to make “breadcrumbs” using butter and sugar? Do this then add the sugar and oats. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and fold it through the crumble.

Tip the mixture over the pears, resisting temptation to make the surface completely smooth. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Want to let us know how these recipes went for you, or have your own ideas you think we should try? Leave a comment, or email thesirenswansea@hotmail.co.uk

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