Getting Cookt off the ground during lockdown this year had us all chatting about the recipes and dishes that have been getting us through this unexpected and stressful time. One thing we were all in agreement with was how home cooking has had the power to boost our moods, with most of us having more time to ourselves to cook a decent meal from scratch. Some of us experimented more — whether out of necessity or purely out of interest, but we hope that part is here to stay for everyone cooking from the comfort of their own homes.
So, we’ve rounded up our tasty lockdown lifelines for you to take a read through and hopefully inspire some of you to get cooking out there. We’re definitely hungrier after writing them all down…
Happy cooking! #CooktForYou
I’m all about making great food, and if I can do it on a budget; even better! I’ve always been a fan of Miguel Barclay’s One Pound Meals. I just love the way he rustles up kick-ass meals on a budget. I’ve cooked a tonne of them over lockdown and the one which always sticks out for me is his Sweetcorn and Courgette Feta Fritters. Combining a healthy dose of vegetables with a salty feta kick, the dish is topped off with a poached egg that just oozes flex appeal. Gotta love it!
On the side, I like to throw in some rocket — tossed with a good grating of parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt to really send it off. Oh, and it all comes in at just over £1 a portion, so it’s healthy on your wallet too! If you’re ever stuck for what to make for brunch or lunch, I’d highly recommend trying these!
For me, the dish that has been life-changing over lockdown has been a homemade lasagne. It’s not a recipe or dish that we’ve only just started to make, but it’s a dish that I love because it’s just so hearty and comforting. I also love that because there are only two of us at home, we can do a nice big dish of it and there are always leftovers for the next day. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve always enjoyed the lasagne more the following day, instead of fresh out the oven!
My Nan would make lasagne every Sunday for any family who turned up to hers that day, so lasagne is something I’ve had most Sunday’s from a young age. I suppose that could be why I’ve loved it so much during lockdown — it reminds me of home back up north, and the family I’ve sadly not been able to visit.
My dish of choice would be an Indian Red Lentil Dhal. I love this meal because it’s quick and delicious, but tastes so rich and fragrant that you’d think it had been cooking away for hours. The simple combination of ginger, garlic and shallots marries beautifully with a range of store cupboard spices to elevate the flavour of the humble lentil, to create a hearty, flavourful and comforting meal.
It’s such a versatile dish which has made this a great weekday staple in our house — you can add whatever you’d like to the lentil base. A few favourites of ours have been butternut squash, cauliflower, peas, and spinach. It’s got the added bonuses of being cheap to make, easy-to-freeze, super healthy and vegetarian, so it’s really become a regular for me during lockdown as I have significantly reduced the amount of meat I’m eating.
As we are now well and truly into autumn, I have no doubt this warming bowl of deliciously spiced goodness will continue to find itself on our dinner table.
Who doesn’t love a good curry, aye? Especially a Thai one.
I was raised with Thai influence and culture around me, so I pretty much live off Thai food and have continued to do so throughout the pandemic. Curries are something which have kept me going, and luckily they are my favourite thing to cook! For me, a massaman curry hits the spot every time. The hot thick sauce I make is made up of an authentic massaman curry paste, coconut milk, and add a little bit of honey for that extra sweetness!
If you’re veggie or vegan, it’s just as tasty without the meat too. My version is jam-packed with crunchy bamboo shoots, spring onion, crispy echalion shallots, fresh Thai basil, Kaffir lime leaves, and juicy cherry tomatoes. If I’m keeping it veggie, I’ll swap the chicken for tofu for the extra protein hit!
I like to serve mine with egg fried rice, and then I pour the sweet, sweet curry sauce over it… So good!
During lockdown, I spotted Ravneet Gill had been uploading teasers of her new book The Pastry Chef’s Guide, and like hundreds of others, I joined her for her cookie cook-along on IGTV, showcasing her recipe for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. And my god, they’re great.
After baking my fair share of batches over the past few months, I’ve mastered how I like them: 100g dark chocolate and 100g of white chocolate, plus a big pinch of salt. Unlike any other cookie I had baked before, these were chocolatey, soft in the middle and crispy around the edges. I had not understood the importance of letting your dough rest in the fridge or the freezer until now, but it makes a huge difference in preventing a flat, thin cookie. You don’t even have to cook them all at once; I leave mine in the freezer and bake each cookie fresh, finished with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Simple, but it makes the perfect treat after a day’s work at home.
My Masala Dabba, which involves an assortment of spices (and is the foundation of Indian cooking) has become my best friend over lockdown. I’ve always followed my family’s recipes which have been handed down from generations. It contains the perfect blend of spices; ground cumin, turmeric, and authentic Kashmiri red chilli (just to name a few). This base helps me in creating incredible, deep-flavoured traditional curries, which leave irresistible aromas in the kitchen — perfect whilst stuck in the flat!
Taking the top spot for my lockdown lifeline is my Bombay potatoes — they’re so versatile, but they’re number one because they’re so easy! You can add water to the base if you want a flavoursome gravy, or keep it thick to keep the intense flavour with every mouthful. I sometimes like to add a good heap of spinach, peppers, and even mushrooms to boost the nutritional value per bite! You can serve them with rice, eat them alongside different breads, wrap them in tortillas, and even use them when stuffing crispy samosas. The options are endless. It’s a great one for anyone experimenting with Indian cuisine.