Antonia Landi

Posts Tagged ‘quick’

Lunch x2 – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on February 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

Nothing is sadder and less appetizing than a few bits of bread, thinly covered with a bland filling, straight from the supermarket fridge. We all eat sandwiches like that far too often – I say, it’s time for a change!

 

Britain is a nation of sandwiches; there are no two ways about it. And while I love a good, decadently filled homemade sandwich that has fresh veg and fillings poking out at the side, I dislike nothing more than those awful, cold and soggy sandwiches you get with your ‘meal deal’. Who wants to look forward to that? No wonder people can’t find the joy in cooking and eating if all they live on tastes, well… horrible.

I haven’t made many videos that work well as lunch, because I often told myself that people wouldn’t have time for that in the morning. I’m one of the laziest people you’ll ever meet and no matter how much I enjoy cooking, I don’t want to wake up half an hour earlier every day just to spend it on the stove. But this term I find myself eating at university a lot, and since I prefer preparing my own food instead of paying over the odds for something substandard, I always take a packed lunch with me.

The great thing about these two recipes here is that they work wonderfully in single servings, taste delicious and they are so quick to prepare. I bet any of you that you could make either of these dishes in six minutes or less. I’m not even joking.

These are only two of many recipes that can be re-arranged, re-developed or invented from scratch that work great for lunch. If you have a day off, treat yourself to a warm lunch, or if your work has a microwave, even better. The tuna and broccoli noodles are quickly becoming a favourite dish of mine, and the couscous salad is easy to transport, superquick and supereasy to make. But whatever you want to take with you, do invest in a good lunch box. Don’t do it like me, you’ll have tuna leaking all over your bag and you’ll be smelling it for weeks! Although I must say, I do enjoy the company of the cats I’m attracting.

 

Both recipes feed 1

 

Couscous salad:

75g couscous

Enough boiling water to cover

50g feta cheese

2tbsp raisins

1tbsp pine nuts

Salt, pepper

Olive oil

Pinch of cloves and/or nutmeg (optional)

 

Tuna noodles:

1/2 can responsibly sourced tuna in brine

1 ‘nest’ of egg noodles

150g frozen broccoli

Salt, pepper

Soy sauce (optional)

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

Fed up with the usual sandwiches? Me too, and so is Hugh! Follow this link for a great guide on how to make lunch tasty, everyday.

If you’re unsure about where you can get responsibly sourced fish, here is a list of Supermarkets and their involvement in sustainable fishing.

If you have leftover couscous may I suggest making it into a tasty quiche? This recipe looks so fantastic, I might just have to try it myself!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Vegan Bolognese – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on January 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

I’m back and I can’t wait to get stuck in. Prepare yourselves for some delicious cooking coming your way, because I’ve got great things lined up for you!

After a lengthy winter break due to a minor injury I’m finally back doing videos. Having a break every so often is really good, as it gives you time to reflect on what you’ve achieved so far and also gives you the opportunity to plan ahead. And boy do I have some ideas! First of all I’d like to introduce you to TVP. If you are vegan or vegetarian you probably already know what I’m talking about. TVP is short for textured vegetable protein and comes in little granules as well as bigger chunks. It is an ideal substitute for mince and has so many advantages over meat. It’s cheap – especially if you buy it in bulk, it lasts forever, it’s low in calories, and it looks and tastes great. There’s really nothing TVP can’t do.

One of the reasons I’ve decided to make this video is because it’s January and most of us are dieting, or feel like we should. To compare: one serving of TVP has 125 calories, compared to the 350 calories of 200g extra lean beef mince. You can see where I’m going with this. Nowadays you can find TVP pretty much everywhere; check your local supermarket (it usually likes hang out with the stuffing mix…) or health food store. Health food stores will usually have TVP for cheaper and carry two kinds: light and dark TVP. There is absolutely no difference between them, except that the dark TVP has been coloured with caramel to make it look even more like mince. Honestly, once it’s on a plate, you really can’t tell the difference.

I must warn you now, since I’ve just recently gotten 15kg of the stuff there’s a good chance I will be cooking with it every now and then but don’t worry, if TVP is just not for you, simply replace it with some mince and follow the recipe as usual. And for the icing on the cake, or if you are indeed cooking for someone who is vegan, simply get some vegan parmesan to complete the dish.

Feeds 2:

200g short pasta

1 can chopped tomatoes

75g or 1 sachet TVP

1/2 diced onion

2 garlic cloves

1tbsp tomato concentrate

Olive oil

Basil to taste

Salt, pepper, other herbs & dried chilli to taste

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

For a more thorough explanation of what exactly TVP is click here.

If you’ve grown to like TVP and are wondering what else you could use it in, then why not start with a taco?

Last but not least here is a list of common veggie/vegan/raw foods and what they are. Very helpful if you feel a bit lost!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Baked potatoes with two fillings – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on November 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Picture: bbc.co.uk

Aah, the good old baked potato. Crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, there’s not many dishes that can make one feel warm and fuzzy inside quite like this one. Pair that with how easy it is to make one, and you got the perfect lazy day dinner.

In Switzerland, there’s a dish we make called ‘gschwellti’ which basically consists of boiled potatoes accompanied by an extensive cheese platter, so the idea of pairing potatoes with cheese isn’t foreign to me (especially if you consider the more well-known raclette). But that’s just about how far the Swiss will go. Over here, the classic baked potato is loaded with a mound of cheddar, but there are so many other great toppings to choose from too. From baked beans to a posh chilli, from a simple helping of cheese to a healthier veg alternative – there is nothing the baked potato can’t handle. And that’s what’s so great about this dish – the potato is like a blank canvas, itching to be painted on and you can make it as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Today, I’ve chosen two of my favourite toppings – tuna mayo, because it’s so easy to make, and Brie, bacon and cranberry sauce, because the sweetish-salty-creamy combo of this fancy topping is just divine. Plus, it’s got cranberry sauce in it, which’ll give it a nice Christmassy twist! But do have a look at any of my previous recipes, as some of them would make fantastic toppings – the homemade chilli and the boozy mushroom sauce from the polenta recipe are only two of the many options to choose from! So do go out and get yourself a bag of baking potatoes and bake the winter away – and do share your favourite topping combos in the comments below!

Makes 2 baked potatoes (1 of each)

2 baking potatoes, roughly the same size

Olive oil

Salt

Bake the potatoes for approximately 1 hour (depending on size) on a medium-high heat

For the tuna mayo:

1/2 tin responsibly sourced canned tuna

1/2 tbsp mayonnaise

Capers (optional)

Salt, pepper, dill to taste

Small handful grated cheddar

For the Brie, bacon & cranberry:

4-5 slices Brie

2-3 bacon rashes (best cut with scissors!)

2 tsp cranberry sauce

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

First time potato baker? Here are fourteen helpful tips on how to make your baked potato a success!

For those who want to be more spud-literate, here is a great link that summarizes which kind of potato is best for which kind of dish. Incredibly helpful, and yes, that’s a purple potato.

And for the purists among us, here is a simple recipe on how to make your very own cranberry sauce.

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Real spaghetti carbonara – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on November 6, 2011 at 1:21 am

Picture: bbcgoodfood.com

If you think you’ve had this dish before, think again. Carbonara just happens to be one of the most misunderstood Italian dishes in the world. So much so, that most sauces and recipes widely available have little in common with the original. Real carbonara is deliciously creamy and oh so moreish – and it can be done in just ten minutes.

You will notice from my recipe that there is no cream involved in this dish – that’s right, not even a single drop of cream. ‘But, how else would I be able to make a creamy sauce?’ I hear you say. And here’s where I let you in on the secret of first class carbonara – use eggs. Do you remember how we made custard last week? Heat the milk, stir in the eggs and let it thicken. Well this is a similar concept. Again, the last thing you’ll want to do is to make the eggs coagulate. In other words, solid bits are not allowed. As long as you stick to my instructions, you’ll get perfect carbonara, every time. And what a delight it is to eat!

Whenever I explain to people how to make authentic carbonara, most of them look at me with a disgusted look in their face. Barely cooked eggs? Are you mental? But trust me, once you’ve tried it you’ll never go back to those horribly gelatinous white sauces that you can buy in a supermarket. The combination of the egg and the cheese, which will just slowly melt into the sauce, delivers such a great result that will leave you with a plateful of pasta finely coated in the simplest, and quite frankly, greatest sauce for a satisfying midweek meal. And if on your way to carbonara heaven you encounter any sceptics just ask them this: Do you eat custard? Good! IT’S THE SAME THING.

Feeds 2:

180g Spaghetti (I use DeCecco)

1 pack cubed pancetta (equivalent to approx 100g)

Generous handful of grated pecorino Romano

Knob of butter (optional)

2 fresh eggs

2 garlic cloves

Plenty black pepper (salt is optional, as the pancetta and pecorino are quite salty themselves)

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

I don’t know about you but I love to find out where a dish comes from! I won’t spoil anything, so here’s a great link about carbonara and its origins.

For this recipe you’ll want to get the freshest eggs possible. If you’re not sure just how fresh your eggs are, take a look at this site, which should help you out.

And finally, here’s an article about one of my favourite rant subjects! Do you think you know Italian food? Check out this link to find out!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Homemade fish fingers & potato salad – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on September 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Picture: tescorealfood.com

Hey guys! Do you like fish sticks? Good! Because with this tutorial you can make your own in no time!

Fish fingers are a staple of comfort food. They are quick and easy to make and even people who don’t like fish will usually eat them. And since fish fingers have had a lot of bad press about what’s in them, this way you know exactly what goes in them – delicious fish, and nothing else. I have used Pollock for my recipe today for three good reasons. It is cheaper than both Haddock and Cod; it can be sustainably sourced in British waters and it’s actually the main ingredient for most commercial fish fingers anyway! It is a firm white fish, and therefore perfect for our recipe. If you would like to make a more grown up version, you can use salmon instead of Pollock, and serve with a wedge of lemon.

When choosing a side for today’s recipe it was difficult to get away from the traditional ‘fish and chips’ but I find that one fried component is more than enough for any plate, so I opted for a potato salad instead. Now the deal with potato salad is this: it’s either well made or badly made. A lot of potato salads you get in supermarkets or dodgy restaurants are too starchy and thick with mayo, with little flavour to speak of. To avoid this, use a firm cooking potato, such as Charlotte, Maris Peer or Nicola, and add crème fraîche to your mayo to make the whole thing less heavy. For extra flavour I have added some spring onions and capers – spring onions for the freshness and capers to deliver that much needed kick.

Feeds 2:

For the fish fingers:

250g Pollock

50g flour

2 eggs

Approx 100g breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the potato salad:

Approx 300g potatoes (equivalent to 8 small potatoes)

2 tbsp mayonnaise

2tbsp crème fraîche

2 spring onions

1-2 tsp capers in vinegar

Salt, pepper and herbs to taste

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

Made too many fish fingers? Why not go for a fish finger sandwich! This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover fish fingers in a tasty sandwich.

When cooking with fish it is extremely important to realise how the fishing industry works and what damage over-fishing can do. Please do visit this website and join Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s fish fight. Hugh is one of my favourite food writers, and this website is full of great ideas and recipes on how to be a more responsible cook.

And finally, here is a great website filled with everything you need to know about fish. What they look like, what they taste like, and what you can do with them. A fun and good-looking resource for all your fishy needs!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Cat treats – Better than Toast

In Animals, Food on September 5, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Picture: The Useful Times

 

Have you ever wondered how they make cat treats? What do they taste like, what’s really in it? Well fear no more! With this simple and quick recipe you can make cheap and tasty cat treats at the touch of a paw.

Here in Scotland it’s the start of Scottish Animal Week, and to support the SSPCA and all the great things they do for animals I wanted to make something special. From re-homing cats, taking care of abandoned dogs, to looking after injured animals, the SSPCA is a great charity to support. Unlike the RSPCA, it doesn’t get government funding, so they really need all the help they can find. I donate £3 a month to the SSPCA and I hardly even notice it leaving my bank account. It’s a very small sum, so small that even a student can afford it!

But enough about charity. Today’s recipe is really as simple as it could get. Simply take one tasty thing, and mix it with two floury things and bake. I chose mackrel this time around, as it is a welcome change to the salmon and tuna treats you can find out there. But if your cat is not fond of fish, you can easily replace it with cooked chicken. Whatever ingredient you choose, make sure you get the option with the lowest salt content. We don’t want to have a thirsty kitty! My mackrels already came in sunflower oil, but if yours don’t, just add a splash before adding the rest of the ingredients. Now, if you find your mixture to be too dry, you can add water. If you want to go all out and use milk, please only use cat milk, or full fat milk in very small doses. Cats are naturally lactose intolerant and too much milk can upset their digestion. The lower the fat content of milk, the higher the lactose content – so if you want to go all natural, opt for a mix of full fat milk and water.

Last but not least please remember that I am in no way qualified to give you expert advice on cats – you as the owner know what your cat likes and dislikes. If you are unsure about any of the ingredients or simply want a bit of advice before you start cooking, please do go see your vet. They will be more than happy to help you out.

Makes approx 200g of cat crunchies:

1 tin mackrel in sunflower oil (you can also use tuna, salmon, sardines or chicken)

50g whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting

50g cornflour

1 egg

small tub of catnip (use as little or as much as you like!)

 

Bake in the oven on a medium to high heat until crunchy (about 15-20 minutes)

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Three starters – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on August 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Think you can’t make three starters in three minutes? Think again!

Even though they don’t always seem it, starters are a very important part of the meal. Want to be a bit fancy? Simply add another course to your dinner! Invite some friends round to a three-course meal – starter, main, and dessert – and you’ll be amazed at how easily you can pull it off!

As I mentioned before, starters are an integral part of a meal. Think about it – they are the first thing your guests will taste and serve as a mood-setter for the things that will follow. I usually try to keep the starter as seasonal as possible – if you’re unsure of what is in season and when, a quick search will do the trick. The golden rule is to always keep it light – you don’t want to fill your guests up right away! Keep it fresh – starters are an ideal way to serve a cool course during the hot summer months. Alternatively, opt for a warm salad or a soup during colder periods.

There is nothing better than finding a recipe that works for you and then sticking with it. Why not make your starter into a main? I love to serve up my caprese salad as a light lunch during summer, or make bigger portions of the couscous and leek salad and serve it with some toasted pitta bread! The truth is, as long as you keep it light and fresh there is not much you can do wrong. I love to use herbs in starters – since most of them rely on delicate flavours, you can really work with different herbs and make them shine.

Just a quick note on olive oil: I strongly suggest you buy good olive oil for these recipes – try to go for extra virgin olive oil whenever you can. As these recipes work with mild flavours, you will really be able to appreciate a good quality olive oil.

Feeds 4 as a starter or 2 as a main:

Caprese salad:

4 medium tomatoes

2 mozzarelle

Some fresh basil

Salt, pepper and olive oil to taste

Orange salad:

4 oranges

Thyme

Salt, pepper and olive oil to taste

Warm couscous and leek salad:

150g couscous

1 leek

1 lime

Mint

Salt, pepper and olive oil to taste

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

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