Category Archives: Student Recipes

Slow Cooker Pulled Bacon with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

It used to be the case that meats that took a long time to cook were cheaper than the quicker cuts and while generally that still remains true, I found a little secret in some supermarkets which inverts that rule. “Cooking bacon” is what the supermarkets call those pieces of bacon which they can’t make into rashers and they put it all into one pack and it’s RIDICULOUSLY cheap, £1.15 for 1kg of bacon.

You do have to sort through all of the different packs as some of them can be incredibly fatty however if you do get a good pack then the bacon can be used in replacement for rashers, lardons or even slow cooked to make the most amazing pulled bacon!

My tips for looking for a good pack of cooking bacon is to choose a pack that contains hardly any fat/pieces of rind and depending on what you want to use it for, find a pack that contains what you want; packs usually either contain small rashers or large steaks. For my pulled bacon recipe, it’s best to go for the steaks. Of course choosing a pack with no fat/rind can be tricky so spend a few minutes preparing the bacon by trimming off any large pieces of fat/rind.

The pulled bacon is incredibly versatile and when it’s pulled in this way, it makes it go a lot further but for now, I am sharing my recipe for a homemade barbecue sauce which I mix with the pulled bacon and serve on poured over chips, similar in style to the Canadian dish poutine, which is chips topped with chewy cheese curds and covered in gravy.


For the slow cooker bacon:

200ml apple juice

1 tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

1 clove of garlic, crushed

½ tsp paprika

A pinch of dried chilli flakes

¼ tsp ground black pepper

1kg cooking bacon

For the barbecue sauce:

40g tomato puree

60g tomato ketchup

40g soft dark brown sugar

2 tbsp malt vinegar

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp hot sauce such as Tabasco or sriracha

Chips and grated cheese, to serve


Pour the apple juice and all the spices and seasonings into a 1.5L slow cooker. Mix to combine and place onto low while you prepare the bacon.

Trim off any large pieces of fat on the bacon and discard. Cut the bacon into manageable sized pieces that will fit into your slow cooker and then submerge into the slow cooker. Use a spoon to stir the contents so that the bacon chunks are coated in the spices.

Put the lid on and turn the slow cooker onto high and leave the bacon to slow cook for around 4 to 5 hours until the bacon is soft and falls apart easily, giving the contents a stir every hour or so. Once cooked, turn off the slow cooker and leave the bacon to sit in its cooking juices for 15 minutes. Gently lift out as much of the bacon as you can and use two forks to pull apart the bacon.

For the barbecue sauce, heat together all of the ingredients with 100ml of water and 100ml of the cooking liquid in a saucepan, stirring it constantly until it boils. Reduce the heat to medium and leave it to simmer for around 15 minutes until it has reduced slightly, stirring every so often to prevent sticking. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required.

Mix together the pulled bacon with the barbecue sauce in the pan and spoon over the cooked chips in a bowl and finish with a sprinkle of grated cheese.

Rainbow Vegetable Puff Pastry Tart

Vegetarian tarts are some of my favourite savoury bakes to make. It’s very easy to create a delicious vegetarian meal without feeling as if you’re missing the meat using puff pastry. And this Rainbow Vegetable Tart is an easy and delicious vegetarian puff pastry tart that can be ready in just 45 minutes!

There’s no shame in using ready made puff pastry, especially when it’s so readily available, cheap and good quality from many supermarkets. The tart has flaky and delicate buttery puff pastry with a layer of smooth cream cheese and lots of good vegetables which are tasty and texturally all different; the cucumber provides a soft mellow base, the carrots add slight sweetness as well as a tiny amount of crunch, the tomato adds moisture and sweetness as it roasts on the surface and the red onions cook down and become crisp. The tart is finished off with melted brie and gorgonzola.


1 x 375g block of shop bought puff pastry

75g full fat cream cheese

Ground black pepper

20ml lemon juice

Pinch of salt

½ a cucumber, cut into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler, seeds removed

½ a carrot, cut into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler

3 tomatoes, sliced

½ a red onion, sliced thinly

50g brie, cubed

25g gorgonzola, cubed

Beaten egg, to glaze


Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Cut a piece of parchment to fit a square baking tray.

Roll out the puff pastry into a square on a lightly floured surface measuring 23cm by 23cm. Use a knife to lightly score a mark 2cm in from each side.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with the black pepper, salt and lemon juice until it has a spreadable consistency. Spread the cream cheese on top of the puff pastry up to the marked edge.

Arrange the cucumber and carrot ribbons over the pastry so that the cream cheese is concealed, again reaching up to the border. Place 16 tomato slices on the tart in a 4×4 grid as in the picture and scatter over the thinly sliced red onions and the brie and gorgonzola. Finish with a crack of black pepper and brush the top of the puff pastry with egg wash.

Bake the tart for around 25 minutes or until the pastry is well-risen, golden and crisp and cooked all the way through to the base. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before slicing into 4 pieces and serving hot with a lightly dressed side salad.

White Chocolate Cheesecake Easter Eggs

You might not be left with many Easter eggs by the end of this Easter weekend however I beg you to save a few of them to make my White Chocolate Cheesecake-filled Easter Eggs; you’ll finish them even quicker than the Easter egg itself!

My choice of egg are the eggs that you might use for an Easter egg hunt so maybe persuade the young ones to hand over a few to make these cheesecake eggs. The eggs I used were from Co-op which I received as part of their #GoodEgg campaign. (I have not been asked to promote the Co-op or their product, I am stating where the eggs are from so that you can see what I am working with for reference, other supermarkets may have similar products available in their stores).

Slicing the eggs in half is very tricky and getting perfectly shaped halves was rare, as you can see! Hence you will need more than 6 eggs because some of them will crack in an odd place rendering them unusable. But reserve the broken pieces as they go brilliantly inside the cheesecake mixture! The quantity of cheesecake is enough to fill 12 half eggs as well as half of a large Easter egg or 2 large halves. The cheesecake recipe is adapted from the fantastic Becky over at https://biscuitbases.wordpress.com.


12 x 17g hollow milk chocolate Easter eggs, plus one half of a large hollow Easter egg or 1 large hollow Easter egg

100g white chocolate

200g cream cheese, at room temperature

25g icing sugar, sifted

175ml double cream


Use a serrated knife to halve the Easter eggs as best as you can and place one in each cavity of a 12 hole bun tin. Keep any broken pieces that fall off in a small bowl and break them up into small pieces.

Break the white chocolate into chunks and place into a microwaveable bowl. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds and then in 20 second intervals until fully melted, stirring between each interval.

Working quickly, soften the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Add in the sifted icing sugar and beat in until smooth. Add in the melted chocolate and fold through until even. Then mix through the reserved Easter egg pieces.

Whisk the double cream until it holds a soft but thick peak; do not overwhip or it will split. Fold the whipped cream through the cheesecake mixture. It should be relatively thick and hold its shape.

Fill the hollow egg halves with the cheesecake mixture. You can do this with just a spoon or you can use a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle however the chocolate pieces can block up the nozzle. Place into the fridge for 2 hours to set the cheesecake mixture for the small eggs and 4 hours for the large eggs.

Finish with a few sprinkles and mini eggs and transfer the eggs into a paper case.

Apple and Sultana Hot Cross Scones

Scones are a brilliant starting place for any beginner baker and homemade scones fresh from the oven are far superior to supermarket scones. I’ve given the classic scone a slight twist with the addition of apple and seeing as we’re in April and Easter is around the corner, I added a cross on top of the scones, as an alternative to hot cross buns. These are my Apple and Sultana Hot Cross Scones.

Traditionally, the liquid used to bind the ingredients in scones is milk however I toyed with the idea of using apple juice as the binding liquid and I found it worked just fine, adding slight sweetness as well as flavour. The variety of apple I chose was Gala as they looked the most delicious and sweet in the shops. I like to keep the red skin on however you can peel the apples too. The size of the diced apples is about 1cm.

I usually avoid using a rolling pin to flatten the dough so that I resist the temptation of rolling it too thinly and it also prevents knocking out as much of the air created thus far. Also, when you cut out your scones, don’t twist the cutter otherwise the scones won’t rise properly. The cutter I used was a mug which was 7cm wide at the top so these scones are fairly sizeable but feel free to use a smaller cutter for daintier scones (and also reduce the baking time).


250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

3 tsp baking powder

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

60g margarine, cut into cubes

45g granulated sugar

1 Gala apple, cored and diced

30g sultanas

1 large egg

60 – 80ml apple juice, plus extra for brushing the scones

30g plain flour

Water


Preheat the oven to 190˚C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Sift the flour, baking powder and the spices into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the margarine into the dry ingredients until it resembles fine and even breadcrumbs. Shaking the bowl will move larger pieces of the margarine to the surface. Create a well in the centre and add the sugar, diced apple and sultanas and stir to combine so the fruit is coated in the flour.

Make another well and crack in the egg and add three-quarters of the apple juice and using a palette knife and a cutting and stirring motion, bring together until it forms a loose dough.

Tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface and use your hands to knead the dough for about 10 seconds to bring it together. It should look quite rough but hold together as a dough; if it’s smooth, then you’ve overworked it. Use your hands to flatten the dough to around 2cm thickness.

Use a lightly floured cutter (I used a mug which was 7cm wide at the top), cut out as many scones as you can from the dough and place onto the baking tray, leaving space for expansion. Reroll and reshape any of the scraps of dough, doing this a maximum of 2 times to avoid overworking.

Brush the tops of the scones with apple juice. In a small bowl, mix together the flour with enough water to form a thick pipeable paste. Transfer into a piping bag and cut off a small hole at the end and then pipe a cross over the scones, starting from and finishing at the sides of the scones.

The scones took around 20 – 25 minutes to bake in my oven. I waited for the tops and sides to be evenly golden brown and lifting up the scones from the parchment, it should come cleanly off the parchment and be browned well on the base. Leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Ham and Cheese Sliders

When I hear the word ‘slider’, I think of mini burgers and searching images on Google, you’re bombarded with images of tiny (but delicious) burgers. The term however can also refer to generally a small sandwich served on soft rolls and it’s the latter which I want to share with you. These are my take on Ham and Cheese Sliders.

I first came across the Ham and Cheese Sliders from one of my favourite Youtube channels, Stephenvlog. Stephen Georg, along with his wife, runs various channels on Youtube covering content from video gaming to painting to daily vlogging. Stephen’s daily vlogs usually contain some food and whether it’s a recipe that Mal’s cooking, Stephen’s mother Debra’s cooking or food from a restaurant/fast food chain, there’s a lot of food there to inspire you to cook something!

And inspired I was by Day 1352 of their vlog to make the Ham and Cheese Sliders. You can watch the vlog here:

I’ve adapted the recipe slightly to the way that Mal makes it in the video. From watching the vlogs (and seeing other versions of the recipe online), the Hawaiian rolls that are used remain soft even after the baking but I much prefer a crunchy top which adds a slight contrast of texture to the soft base and the ham and cheese. So instead of melting the margarine/butter as Mal does, I mix it with lots of flavoursome ingredients before spreading over the top half of the roll. I also spread a thin layer of cream cheese on the rolls for extra richness.

I use honey roast ham and cheddar cheese, both of which are never amiss in my fridge, however you can use any type of ham and cheese you want. This recipe is also easily scalable to make a fantastic party dish and you can buy packs of 12 soft rolls from most supermarket bakeries.


4 soft bread rolls

50g cream cheese

12 slices of honey roast ham

80g cheddar cheese, grated

50g margarine

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp dried basil

¼ tsp salt

Ground black pepper, to season


Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line a baking tin with foil.

Slice the bread rolls in half and place the bases into the baking tin. Spread over a thin layer of the cream cheese and season with pepper. Top each half with 3 slices of the ham and sprinkle with the grated cheese, seasoning with a bit more pepper.

In a small bowl, mix together the margarine with the garlic powder, dried basil and salt. Then spread a layer of the margarine on the top of each top half of the roll. Season with more pepper and then put on top of each bottom half to make a sandwich.

Bake the sliders for around 15 minutes until the tops have browned and are crisp. Serve the sliders with a side of your choice; chips, crisps or coleslaw work brilliantly with the sliders.

Homemade Salt and Pepper Tofu

Salt and Pepper dishes (or as we call it at home, Chilli and Salt dishes) are very popular in Cantonese cuisine, high in flavour and savouriness with a punch of chilli heat. You might be surprised that making your own Salt and Pepper Tofu is surprisingly easily to do at home.

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Tofu’s got a bit of a bad reputation. It’s associated with blandness in appearance and taste and it’s only for the health conscious. But tofu is a fantastic food that is high in protein, cheap and not difficult to work with at all. I’d much prefer working with tofu than with a piece of chicken and sometimes I’d much rather eat tofu than chicken.

Tofu blocks are made by preparing soy milk from pressing and crushing soybeans with water. Then nigari, which is a coagulant, curdles the soy milk into water and the curds, which is the tofu. It’s then compressed in a mould to firm it up and the longer it is compressed for, the more water is released and the firmer the final tofu. Because of this, there are lots of different firmness of the tofu and each of them has their own purpose.

Soft block tofu is used in both sweet and savoury dishes. The sweet tofu fa is one of my favourite desserts. But in savoury cooking, it can be deep-fried so that the crisp outside contrasts with the soft and silky centre. But the one that is most versatile is the firm block tofu. It holds its shape much more readily than soft block tofu and so can be used in soups and broths, as the Chinese often do, simply pan-fried, thrown into a stir-fry as well as deep-fried. I think it’s also a lot safer to use the firm tofu for my Salt and Pepper Tofu because it will hold its shape and once drained well, won’t spit in the pan which could be dangerous in a domestic kitchen. But do not confuse it with silken tofu!

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I prepare my tofu by draining it well before cutting it into 1 inch cubes and then tossing into cornflour. I then panfry the tofu in my wok until it is crisp on all sides. Whilst it doesn’t stay crisp after tossing it in the vegetables and spice mix, it does absorb a whole lot of that flavour and provides a slight textural contrast that you would get if you were to deep fry soft tofu for example.

But coming back to the salt and pepper itself, I found a way to recreate the flavour of the takeaway dishes and it does involve using quite a few spices and different ingredients but the savouriness, almost umami, quality of this dish is addicting. I recommend going to an Asian supermarket and buying your spices there, it costs probably around 50 – 70p to buy a 100g bag of spices which lasts ages and is much cheaper than your supermarket which sells the jars.

This recipe will be enough to serve 4 people.


500g pack of firm tofu

60 – 75g cornflour

3 tbsp sunflower oil, plus 1 tbsp

1 tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

4 whole dried chillies, sliced

2 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp white pepper

½ tsp table salt

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp dried chilli flakes (you can adjust this according to your heat tolerance)

1 onion, sliced

A large handful of spinach leaves, roughly sliced

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

Salad leaves, noodles or rice, to serve


Cut out the pack of tofu and drain away all of the liquid. Then transfer to the blocks of tofu onto kitchen roll to dry as much as possible. Then slice the tofu blocks into 1 inch cubes; the pack I bought has 3 blocks and each block can be sliced in 2 halves, giving 16 cubes each.

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Heat a frying pan or a wok over a medium high heat. Once it’s heated up, then add in the 3 tablespoons of oil. Transfer the cornflour into a dish and then toss the cubes of tofu well in the cornflour and place onto a plate ready to pan fry; they sort of resemble marshmallows but try not to do this too far in advance, more than 2 minutes before you are ready to fry.

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Place the coated cubes of tofu gently in the hot oil and still on the medium high heat, fry the tofu on each side until the tofu is coated in a light golden crispy layer. Drain the pieces on another plate lined with some kitchen roll and repeat until all the tofu cubes are fried.

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Remove any excess oil from the wok and then throw in the coriander seeds and cumin seeds until they are browned and toasted. Remove them and place them onto a chopping board and use a knife to crush the seeds up. Add to a small bowl with the chopped dried chillies, garlic powder, white pepper, salt, ground ginger and cinnamon and the dried chilli flakes.

In the same wok, put the oil over a high heat and when hot, add in the onion and stir around to absorb the flavour from the wok. Then add in the spices in one go with the spinach leaves and toss around to wilt the spinach leaves and colour the onions slightly.

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Add in your tofu cubes and toss the contents of the wok to coat the tofu in the spice mix and heat the tofu through. Once they are coated and hot through, add in the soy sauce and sesame oil and give it a few final tosses before transferring to a plate to serve.

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Valentine’s Day White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

The combination of white chocolate and cranberry is classic in a biscuit; in fact I even used as the basis of one of my 12 Days of Christmas recipes, my White Chocolate Cranberry Crunch Biscuits. Instead of doing a crunchy biscuit, I’m combining white chocolate and cranberry with my signature soft cookie recipe and as Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I decided to make them pink too.

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I like to keep the white chocolate fairly chunky so that there are large chunks of sweet and creamy white chocolate which are still slightly soft in the cookie. The dried cranberries add a different flavour dimension as well as a good pop of colour.

I think that I’ve probably baked around 600 cookies using this recipe for charity events, open evenings at school and for friends. It still produces perfect cookies which are soft and chewy in the centre with a slight crisp edge. This is the first time that I’ve experimented with white chocolate in the cookies but it won’t be the last!

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You can find my original Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookie recipe by clicking on the name.


115g margarine

160g granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

170g plain flour

1 tbsp cornflour

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g white chocolate, each square chopped into 6 cubes

50g dried cranberries

Red food colouring paste or gel

Heart shaped sprinkles


In a mixing bowl, cream together the margarine with the sugar until they are incorporated and it is fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract well. There’s no need to worry if the mixture curdles as next, sift in the dry ingredients into the bowl all at once and using a spatula, fold them in.

When the dry ingredients are 50% folded in, add in the white chocolate chunks and dried cranberries and continue to fold through until a soft but not sticky cookie dough is formed. Add in enough red food colouring paste or gel to make the cookie dough pink enough to your liking.

Transfer the cookie dough into a plastic container, put the lid on and chill for 45 minutes (or in the same bowl if you have enough room).

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Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Line a few baking trays with baking parchment.

Half fill a standard ice cream scoop with the cookie dough and then roll the dough into balls, spacing them 2 inches apart on the baking tray; I can fit 9 on my baking tray. Top each cookie with some of the heart shaped sprinkles.

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Bake the cookies for around 13 – 17 minutes, depending on the size of your dough balls. They should be evenly spread and have started to turn a slight golden brown around the very edges of the cookie. Leave the cookies to cool completely on the baking tray before lifting off the baking parchment.

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They will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.