Sick of a diet consisting mainly of 9p noodles and trips to the chippy, it is no wonder that the lure of homecooked food is such an appealing luxury to students. The most torturing time of year has got to be the end of term pre-Christmas just when your loan has been frittered away on over priced library coffee, printing credits and cider & black. Every advert offers the promise of a homecooked meal. We all know it is Christmas when the Coca-cola van chugs through the scenic winter’s landscape. M&S are guilty of playing the temptress – step forward homely celebrities like Stephen Fry and Joanna Lumley reassuring us of the promise of food far beyond the budget. Of course, there is that alluring voice over describing meals bit by bit. I don’t know one guy who can resist the voice that says, “this is not just chicken, this is M&S Oakham Farm Organically reared corn fed chicken.” The fact that said prize chickens were outted as coming from the same battery farms as Tesco Value is neither here nor there.
As much as I love the narrator of Come Dine With Me, he does little to convince the audience that culinary delights are about to be unveiled. The promise of gastronomic experiences that can be cooked at home (if you own a blow torch) are dangled before us by the undeniably odd Heston Blumenthal. And so a communal sigh emanates across campus as students then turn their eyes from the TV to their tortellini. In a bid to counteract this doom and gloom it is almost inevitable that some desperate soul suggests attempting to cook the most hallowed meal of all – The Roast. Suddenly every housemate gleans a new lease of life, mouths watering. The Roast makes it ok to stay home for a night in. The Roast makes you the envy of those who are baffled by the kitchen or bound to their Halls canteen. Best of all, The Roast is glutinous and reminiscient of Christmas day. Some go all out buy crackers and download Christmas classics to watch. But it all comes down to this: making it taste like your family’s own, not getting food poisoning (finger’s crossed) and basically eating so much you have a ‘food baby’. Only you don’t have the Queen’s speech to distract you. So viva The Roast and all those who try it.
Note: Simultaneous cooking and boozing leads to burnt Yorkshires...
If after all that, you are feel adventurous here is a recipe for home made pizzas, as perfected by my housemate Ciara.
Homemade pizza (makes four)
40ml of oil
225ml warm water
125g spelt flour
350g white strong flour
1 sachet dried yeast
10g sea salt
2tsp dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
Cheese of your choice (try a blend of grated cheddar and mozzarella)
1 can of tomatoes
Any additional toppings such as olives, pecorino peppers, mushrooms, salami, ham........
1) Weigh all the ingredients for the dough into a large bowl. Pour in the water and combine with your hands into a soft and springy ball. Kneed for 10 minutes. Lightly cover a sheet of clingfilm with oil and then cover the bowl oil side down. This prevents the dough from drying out.
2) Put in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. I put my doughs by the radiator to rise. In the mean time whizz the tomatoes, garlic, chilli, paprika and oregano with a lug of olive oil in a food processor. Leave to one side. When the hour is up, remove the cling film and punch the dough down in the bowl.
3) Preheat the oven as high as it will go. Divide the dough up into 4 balls. Flour your work surface with some extra strong white flour and use a rolling pin or your hands to shape the dough into a rough circle.
4) Drizzle your base with olive oil on one side and place it oil side down onto a baking try. Bake in the oven until slightly brown (5-10 minutes - keep an eye on it) Then remove and scoop some of the tomato sauce onto your base. Sprinkle with cheese and your preferred toppings. Then bake in the oven for another 3-4 minutes until the cheese and crust are golden brown.