Students these days... and yes I did just roll my eyes. In my day you were lucky if your digs weren't rat infested. Today, they demand freshly painted walls, en-suite facilities a George Foreman grill and a Nutribullet. The nerve of 'em! What happened to warming up Farm Foods beans over a bunsen burner? (ancient student folklore says that actually happened).
Today's students want a lot more dish for their dosh and who can blame them, considering they'll be paying off their fees for the next 20 years - a whole other political minefield that I'm not qualified to go into. What I am a professor in, however, is hip, affordable House Candy and if you're waving off a loved one soon (or you yourself are packing your cases) you need to hot foot it to Sainsbury's THIS VERY WEEK to snap up the last of their bright and breezy South American homewares line. The students are, like, mad-fer-it and my niece is proof. So much so that when I invited her around to my send-off soup kitchen yesterday, I let her take the bowls home.
Here's how to send students off to fend for themselves with fire in their belly and House Candy in their hearts.
My Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot End of Summer Soup
Sainsbury's Home South American range had me at Hola. Its bright colours, Aztec patterning and mix and match versatility makes it perfect for adding some vibrancy to very basic student kitchens. It inspired me to dig out Thomasina Miers' brilliant Mexican Food Made Simple cook book - a bible for social eating ideas - and cook up something hot and nutritious to stretch out the last days of summer and brighten up a grey day.
In it I found the recipe for Sweet and Spicy Squash and Chick Pea Soup - the perfect easy meal to make now and freeze for later, or pad out to feed an entire hockey team. Just add extra stock, any spare veg and throw in more beans and spice. It's also one of those dishes you can reinvent three days in a row if you need to get a little more creative with your shopping budget and - best of all - the spices warm your belly so you can go that little bit longer without the heating on ;-)
Sweet and Spicy Squash and Chick Pea Soup
For the chilli oil
4 red chillies, cut in half lengthways, seeded and finely diced
A generous pinch of sea salt
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
For the soup
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small leeks, washed and roughly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 chile de arbol, finely chopped
5 sprigs of oregano or thyme, chopped
1 butternut squash (about 320g), peeled, seeded and chopped into 2.5cm pieces
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
400ml chicken stock
220g cooked chickpeas
Sea salt and black pepper
30g lancashire cheese, grated, to serve
For the chilli oil, mix together the chillies and salt in a small bowl and gradually add the olive oil. The oil should only just cover the chilli, otherwise you are left with a lot of oil and not much heat. Leave to infuse for 30 minutes before using.
For the soup, warm the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan, then grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Cook the leeks for 5 minutes over a medium heat until tender, then add the garlic, chile de arbol, oregano/thyme and cumin and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the squash, the cinnamon stick and bay leaf and stir. Pour over the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the squash is soft but not falling apart. Add the chickpeas and season. Serve with the grated cheese sprinkled on top and drizzle each portion with chilli oil.
Sainsburys Home is my go-to for affordable luxury and bang on-trend bargains. A word of warning though, their ranges move fast so my advice is to bang it in your trolley while you can. The South American range is supposed to be in store until 20th September and appears to be no longer available on-line. Head to one of the bigger superstores for the best range to kit out the new breed of student super snobs in style.
Hey, if you enjoyed this post, please remember I'm still a student too - I'm learning on the job in the big, bad business of blogging (where cheesy alliteration is totally acceptable btw) so I totally need your vote in order to make the grade. PLEASE bob my a vote here http://www.interiorblogawards.com/vote/my-house-candy-blog/ and share, share, share away to send me off in a spangly new dress to the fancy awards do.
Thank you, happy weekend and happy studies