Make restaurant-quality food right at home sweet home
For many students, keeping yourself fed often bottoms out into a quick and dirty stir-fry or a bowl of hot instant noodles. While the occasional bowl of salty broth and bouncy noodles does wonders for the soul, it’s difficult to deny the desire for something more.
But with many restaurants in the city checking in at around $15-$20 a head, having a fancy meal becomes something of a luxury, which is really a shame once you realize how easy many of these recipes are.
So stop staring jealously at pretty instagram pictures and plan a trip to your nearest market, because what follows are ten original recipes anyone can throw together for under $10 a head, for any meal of the day. Ranked in order of difficulty, here are my 10 recipes under $10 you never knew you could do within the comfort of your own home!
1. Perfect Scrambled Eggs
Stop paying $15 for scrambled eggs and toast! This recipe yields perfectly creamy scrambled eggs and crispy, sweet-savory toast to carry them home (into your mouth).
All You’ll Need: Eggs, Butter, Bread, Mayonnaise
1. Slather your favorite Mayonnaise on both sides of a slice of Bread and put into a cold pan.
2. Crack three Eggs into a cold pot and add two yolk-sized chunks of Butter.
3. Place both pot and pan on low flames.
4. Stir Eggs constantly until desired doneness and turn Bread when crisp.
5. Optionally garnish with pepper and cayenne.
Notes: Cooking more or less eggs? For every two people use about five eggs. For every x eggs use (x – 1) chunks of butter.
2. Scrambled Egg Melt
Once you’ve gotten the hang of doing scrambled eggs in your sleep, this recipe will be a breeze.
All You’ll Need: Eggs, Ham, Toast, Cheese (Mozarella and Cheddar), Butter
1. Butter Toast and assemble with Ham then Mozzarella Cheese.
2. Melt in oven at 165C.
3. Prepare scrambled Eggs then stir in Cheddar Cheese (or other strong-flavored cheese) while hot.
4. Cover ham and cheese melt with scrambled eggs.
5. Optionally garnish with chives and cayenne.
Notes: This dish is rich and hearty, and is best paired with orange juice for a power breakfast.
3. The Standard
My signature sandwich has seen me through countless meals and requires almost no effort to prepare.
All You’ll Need: Bread, Mayonnaise, Ham, Cheese (I prefer Cheddar), Lettuce (I prefer Arugula/Rocket), Sundried Tomatoes, Cayenne.
1. Spread Bread with Mayonnaise
2. Assemble in a cold pan in this order: Bread, Cheese, Arugula/Rocket, Sundried Tomatoes, Cayenne, Ham, Bread.
3. Cook on low heat for approximately 8 minutes before flipping and finishing for 4 more.
Note: This sandwich does not disappoint. It’s no #TimeSandwich but it’s a worthy substitute!
4. Grilled Cheese
My grilled cheese sandwich is the result of over four years of experimentation and adjustment and satisfies munchies of any kind.
All You’ll Need: Bread, Mayonnaise, Cheese (I recommend Jack and Cheddar), Cayenne
Method: You know the drill.
1. Get a good amount of Mayonnaise on both sides of two slices of Bread.
2. Load some sliced Cheese and a healthy sprinkle of Cayenne. (See Notes)
3. Pop on a cold pan and heat on a low flame.
4. At approximately 8 minutes flip the sandwich and finish for approximately 4 minutes.
Notes: If changing cheeses try to keep one slice of strong cheese (Gruyere, Strong Cheddar) and two slices of melting cheeses (Jack, Mozarella).
5. Perfectly-Timed Afternoon Sandwich
Directly inspired by Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, this sandwich is simply divine, and surprisingly hearty.
All You’ll Need: Bread, Mayonnaise/Butter, Eggs, Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Dill (Optional)
1. Lightly toast some Bread spread with Mayonnaise/Butter.
2. Crack an Egg into a cold pan and gently heat until whites are completely opaque.
3. Assemble in this order: Toast, Egg, Salmon, Dill, Cream Cheese, Toast.
4. Enjoy whilst warm.
Notes: Fans of the cartoon know that this works even better on bagels! #StevenUniverse represent!
6. Chorizo Baked Eggs
This spicy, smoky dish is perfect for cold mornings or lazy afternoons, and is a breeze to prepare.
All You’ll Need: Chorizo, Potatoes, Eggs, Thyme (Optional)
1. Pre-heat your oven to 165C.
2. Cut Chorizo and Potatoes into bite-sized pieces.
3. Toss Chorizo into dry pan on low heat to render out fat.
4. If using Thyme, toss into fat once Chorizo develops slight char, then follow with Potatoes.
5. Once Potatoes are soft, crack Eggs directly into pan and finish in oven until yolks reach desired doneness.
Notes: No oven-safe pan? Transfer everything into a ramekin and top with an egg for a creamy breakfast-bowl.
7. Spaghetti al Pesto
This staple comes together in under twenty minutes and has a complex flavor that is hard to beat.
All You’ll Need: Parsley, Basil, Olive Oil, Parmesan, Pine Nuts, Spaghetti, Blender
1. Toast Pine Nuts in an 180C oven for approximately 5 minutes.
2. Wash and dry Basil and Parsley.
3. Blend herbs and cooled pine nuts, slowly adding Olive Oil until texture is almost pourable.
4. Add salt and pepper, then blend in some Parmesan to taste.
5. Toss through with your favorite pasta cooked how you like.
Notes: You’re going to need A LOT of basil and very little parsley. I’ve found that 2 or 3 bunches of basil and a quarter bunch of parsley makes enough pesto to flavor a 500g box of pasta.
8. Salmon Cream Pasta
In my circles, cream-based pastas have always eluded home cooks, who opt for the seemingly simpler tomato or oil-based pasta sauces. This recipe seeks to correct that and prove that cream-based pastas are just as easy.
All You’ll Need: Salmon Pieces, Dill, Cream (Optional), Milk, Butter, Flour, Pasta, Shallots.
1. Measure out equal parts Butter and Flour.
2. In a saucepan on medium heat, melt the measured butter and sauté finely minced Shallots until translucent and soft.
3. Add flour and cook out raw taste to make a roux.
4. Slowly add cold Milk to roux, stirring constantly to make a simple béchamel sauce.
a. It’s perfectly fine for the mixture to seize up and solidify. Just stir till combined and continue adding milk. Use a whisk to get it extra smooth.
b. If using Cream, substitute milk for cream only after sauce runs smooth.
5. Add Dill and raw Salmon pieces to cream sauce, cook for at least 12 minutes.
6. Toss through with your favorite pasta.
Notes: Once you’ve learnt how to prepare béchamel sauce, you’ve learnt how to make one of the French mother sauces! It’s the perfect blank slate to play around with to accompany poultry or fish!
Here’s a quick and handy ratio guide to béchamel sauce:
1. Béchamel Sauce = 1 part Roux : 10 parts Milk/Cream
2. Roux = 1 part Butter : 1 part Flour
9. Mussel Pot
The perfect end to a cold wintry day, this is best served in a large pot and shared with your best mates.
All You’ll Need: Mussels, White Wine, Aromatics (Leeks, Shallots, Garlic), Optional Aromatics (Basil, Parsley), Butter.
1. Soak Mussels in cold water for 20 minutes then debeard.
2. In a large pot on medium flame, melt Butter and saute finely minced Aromatics until soft.
3. Add about enough White Wine to cover mussels (more never hurt) and boil off the alcohol.
4. Add Mussels, turn up the heat all the way and cover.
5. Allow mussels to steam for at least 6 minutes.
6. Take off heat. Add Optional Aromatics and another chunk of butter.
7. Stir until broth thickens, serve with bread.
Notes: More detailed recipe available here. Unopened Mussels should not be eaten!
10. Apartment BBQ Pulled Pork
This may be the most complicated recipe in the list, but don’t let it fool you – once you get down to it is refreshingly simple to prepare, and oh-so-worth the wait.
All You’ll Need: Pork Shoulder, Apple Cider Vinegar, Onions, Paprika, Cayenne, Brown Sugar, Dry Rub (Paprika, Cayenne, Salt, Pepper, Allspice), Coke.
1. Generously massage Pork Shoulder with Dry Rub.
2. Pre-heat oven to 120C. In a saucepan, melt some Butter then toast Paprika and Cayenne.
3. Saute thinly-sliced Onions in spice mixture until soft and golden.
4. Melt in Brown Sugar and add Apple Cider Vinegar to taste (mixture should be slightly less sweet than your favorite BBQ sauce).
5. Place Pork Shoulder in a large oven-safe pot or baking tray and cover with onion sauce.
6. Add enough Coke to cover the pork at least halfway.
7. Cover with foil and braise in oven for at least 4 hours, turning Pork Shoulder halfway.
8. Pull pork and serve with BBQ sauce.
Notes: Don’t throw away the braising liquid! You can reduce it in a pan and add tomato paste to make your own BBQ sauce instead of using store-bought sauce. Toss in a blender for a smoother result!
Use leftover Pulled Pork with Coleslaw to make a quick and dirty sandwich!
The Restaurant Touch
Once you’ve worked your way through this list from top to bottom you’ll start to see the true cost of meals at restaurants, but that doesn’t mean that all restaurants are out to get you! Always remember that the hefty price tag outside is to be justified by good service and atmosphere, so love and understand the food, then never let yourself be shortchanged when eating out!
Never forget that the true “restaurant touch” doesn’t come from a magical genie in the mysterious annals of a restaurant’s kitchen. The “restaurant touch” is simply a love for food and a pride for your creations. Don’t shortchange yourself on flavor and presentation and always push yourself to cook better!