In about a week and half, the perennial onset of freshers’ flu will take away our senses of smell, taste, and general wellbeing. The 50 per cent off Dominos, late night Effies and college canteen chips-with-everything ethos will all come back to haunt our stomachs, serving as a reminder that bland food can have an almighty hand in numbing our taste buds.
Ratatouille is a traditional French dish from Provence, and it’s the perfect recipe to blast away illness. A hot, warming dish made with late summer vegetables, early October is the last chance to make it. It’s a straightforward mix of aubergines, courgettes, peppers and tomatoes. It’s so simple, there’s space for additional aromatics such as basil, thyme or marjoram. This version includes an onion and raisin side which makes the recipe all that much better, and I’ve also added fresh chilli to give colds a kick.
The best way to cook Ratatouille is in the oven, but cooking it on the hob is quicker and less messy. It can be eaten with pasta or bread, but the protein in couscous makes it a good meat substitute. Couscous is an ingredient that should become synonymous with university meals, because it’s cheaper than basmati rice and is ready in an instant. Chick peas, hot smoked paprika and harissa can be added to give the Southern French dish a more North African feel. This recipe serves two, and if given a go you’ll find that health is only five fruit and vegetables away.
Ingredients for Ratatouille:
1 red or yellow pepper
1 or 2 onions
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp raisins
Fresh chilli, chopped
1 to 2 tsp sugar
Splash of vinegar, any kind
2 skinned and chopped tomatoes, or a tin of chopped tomatoes
Fresh basil, but preferably thyme, dried or fresh
1. Chop up the aubergine, courgette, pepper and half an onion into large chunks and place them aside in separate bowls.
2. Heat a pan with a liberal amount of oil and fry off the aubergines until soft. Set aside in a large bowl and repeat with the courgette and pepper and set aside.
3. Fry the chopped onion in a good amount of oil, and add the chilli, garlic and basil/thyme to the pan.
4. When you can smell the aroma of the garlic and thyme, add in the rest of the vegetables, along with the sugar and vinegar.
5. Tip in the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. In the meantime, thinly slice an onion and fry with a liberal amount of oil on a medium heat with the raisins until caramelised.
For the couscous:
1. Pour 150g couscous into a bowl, and cover by about 2cm with boiling water.
2. Cover immediately and leave to steam for 3-5 minutes.
This is a drink to get you through a tough seminar, or perhaps to give aid once it’s over. It’s a mix of hot coffee, sugar and whisky, topped with a delectable layer of double cream. If made correctly, it should make you feel warm, drunk and satisfied.
This version uses scotch instead of the traditional Irish whiskey, purely because the latter tends to be more expensive. But what makes the coffee is leaving the layer of cream untouched, no mixing or muddling is allowed. Just drink through it with a stiff upper lip.
Shot of whisky
Tsp of brown sugar
Freshly brewed hot coffee
1. Put the sugar and shot of whisky into a small cup.
2. Pour some freshly brewed coffee near to the brim of the cup, and stir.
3. Pour the cream over the back of a tea spoon and into the cup, until a thick layer of cream forms.
4. Drink and be merry.