“Come dine with me” on a student budget – Part 1

Hello, everyone! Ever wanted to host a great dinner with friends but don’t know what to make, or how much it will cost … Well you are in the right hands, because I have got a few great options that will definitely impress your friends and please everyone’s bellies.

First menu suggestion is for all of you that love sushi, but never tried to make it at home.  For sushi, I’ve always found that there is no need for an appetizer, since the sushi rolls are quite filling, but this time I am going to include in addition a delicious chocolate brownie recipe for the dessert lovers!

Ingredients – serves 4:

  • sushi rice (500g) ~ £1.50
  • seaweed leaves (1 pack) ~ £1.00
  • 1 large avocado ~ £1.00
  • 2-3 medium eggs ~  £0.50
  • 2-3 medium carrots  ~ £0.50
  • 1 cucumber  ~ £0.50
  • 1 red/yellow bell pepper  ~ £0.60
  • 2 cans of tuna fish in brine   ~ £1.20
  • smoked salmon (200g)  ~ £2.50
  • sushi rolling mat ~ £2.00

Total:   £11.30 (£2.82/person)

We now need to prepare the sushi rice.

  • In a large pot, put all the rice and rinse it a couple of times in cold water until the water becomes clear. Remove all the excess water and for 500g of rice add 660ml of water.
  • Place the pot on the hob on medium-high heat and bring the rice to almost a boil. You should see small bubbles coming up on top of the rice. Leave it like this for 2-3 minutes and then turn the heat down to a minimum (for my hob at home this a level 1).
  • Cover the top of the pot with a clean towel and add a lid over that. Let the rice cook for 10 minutes and only after this time remove the lid to check the rice. If you still see a little bit of water, then cover it back again with towel/lid for two more minutes, otherwise remove the pot and leave the rice to cool down.

It is now time to prepare the vegetables.

  • Crack the eggs in a bowl and add a little bit of salt/pepper to taste, then whisk everything together.
  • In a saucepan, add 1 tbsp of sunflower oil, or any other oil of choice and then add the eggs. Make sure you turn your pan to the right and left in order to make sure the egg mixture is spread all over the pan (it should look like a big egg pancake).
  • Cook the eggs on each one of the sides and remove onto a plate.
  • After they have cooled down, cut small strips and place them aside.

Next up are the carrots.

  • I like to pre-boil them in advance in order to soften them.  If you choose do that then boil the carrots in a small pot for 5-6 minutes on high heat. Then remove them on a cutting board after rinsing with cold water to cool.
  • Cut the carrots in small sticks and place them on a separate plate.

The peppers should be cut in similar fashion.

For the avocado:

  •  Remove the outer skin, remove the stone and scoop the inside of the avocado with the help of a spoon.
  • Cut small slices from the avocado and place them again aside. If you find that the avocado starts to oxidise very quickly, add a small splash of lime or lemon juice and that should help to prevent this from happening.  

Lastly, the cucumber needs to be peeled and cut in halves.

  • Cut each one of the halves one more time in half and you should obtain 4 cucumber quarters. For each one of the quarters remove the watery part and cut the remaining part again in half.
  • At the very end, you should end up with 8 long sticks of cucumber.

Once the sushi rice has cooled down, add a little bit of seasoning to it. I  usually start by adding 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1tsp of sugar.  After mixing, give it a quick taste and add a bit more of seasoning if needed.

The only thing that is now left to do is to actually roll the sushi. This is a lot of fun and each one of the guests should attempt to make one.

  • For rolling the sushi, you start by placing down your sushi rolling mat and then on top one seaweed leaf. The leaf should have the rough side up so that the rice sticks to it.
  • Now add a handful of the sushi rice and spread thinly across the leaf. I prefer to roll the sushi, from the closest side to me and then forward.
  • In that case, place some of the vegetables and fish in a line that is parallel to your body. As an example, you can add to begin with some avocado slices, some smoked salmon strips and then some carrot sticks. Make sure not to overfill your sushi otherwise it will become very difficult to roll. At this stage, we are ready to roll the first sushi.
  • Lift the sushi rolling mat and curve it so that you cover the vegetables/fish.
  • After this, you can release the mat from the sushi and continue to roll all the way forward with the help of the rolling mat.
  • At the end, make sure to give your roll a good squeeze to ensure that everything stays put inside.
  • Remove now the sushi roll and cut the sushi in small slices. The final result should look something like this.

Sushi Rolls Sushi Rolls

If you happen to have some mayonnaise on hand then you can mix a little bit of that with the tuna fish. No worries if you do not have some, the tuna should still taste amazing inside the sushi rolls, but it just helps the tuna to hold that extra bit better. I have also found a nice video showing all of the above-mentioned steps.

Now, to finish this fantastic sushi evening, we are going to prepare a yummy chocolate brownie that will surely leave everyone asking for more of it.

Ingredients:

  • 100g of all-purpose flour (1.5kg for approx. £0.50)
  • 100g of white sugar (1kg for approx. £0.60)
  • 120g of unsalted butter (250g of butter for approx. £0.90)
  • 2 medium eggs (1 pack of 6 eggs for approx. £1.00)
  • 1 tsp of instant coffee powder (200g for approx. £2.00)
  • 4 tsp of hot cocoa powder (200g for approx. £2.00)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract (1 small bottle for approx. £1.10)
  • 80g of white/dark chocolate chips (optional) (~ £0.90)

Total: £9.00 (for 4 people: £2.25 each)

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C  and line a square baking tray (medium size) with some parchment/greaseproof paper.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the butter with the sugar until smooth.
  • Add the eggs and mix everything together well.
  • Then add the hot cocoa powder, espresso powder , vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.
  • Slowly fold in the flour and make sure everything is mixed in well, but do not over mix.
  • Lastly, add the chocolate chips if you have decided to add any.
  • Pour the batter into the baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Check to see if the batter is cooked around the 28 minute mark. It is done if a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle and the brownie has started to come off from the side of the tray.

brownie

Bon appétit!

Let me know if you have enjoyed these ideas – I would love to see you putting them in practice with your friends. Stay tuned for another post in the series, next time a menu inspired from the Mexican cuisine.

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