Lockdown has deprived many of us of our favourite guilty pleasures. Gone are the days where we could pop to McDonald's when you had a McFlurry craving or wonder into Pret at lunchtime for a sandwich.
Luckily some of the tastiest food brands know how much we struggle to live without them and have made the ultimate sacrifice for us; released their secret recipes. This means we can now make some well-known fast foods from the comfort of our own home. Oh, they do spoil us.
We've rounded up all of the best recipe releases in one handy place as your go-to hanger cure. Let's go!
1. Ikea Meatballs
If you've ever been to Ikea and left without having anything to eat, you haven't had the full Ikea experience. We all know that part of the motive of a trip to Ikea is the promise of a plate of meatballs, Daim cake or ice cream.
Since Ikea was forced to shut, we're not only missing out on the thrill of flying down warehouse aisles trying the number corresponding to your cute but practical set of drawers, but also meatballs... until now.
For the Meatballs:
500g beef mince
250g pork mince
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic (crushed or minced)
5 tbsp milk (whole milk)
Generous salt and pepper
For the Cream Sauce:
Dash of oil
40g plain flour
150ml vegetable stock
150ml beef stock
150ml thick double cream
2tsp soy sauce
1tsp Dijon mustard
Instructions for the meatballs:
Combine beef and pork thoroughly until the meat is not lumpy. Add finely chopped onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, egg and mix. Add milk, and season with salt and pepper.
Shape mixture into small, round meatballs (it should make about 16-20). Place on a different plate, cover and store in the fridge for two hours.
Heat oil on a frying pan on medium heat. When hot, add meatballs and cook until browned on all sides.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
When browned, add to an ovenproof dish and cover. Place in the oven for 30 minutes.
Instructions for the cream sauce:
Melt butter in a frying pan. Add in the plain flour and whisk, stirring continuously for two minutes.
Add the vegetable stock and beef stock to the pan and continue to stir. Combine with the thick double cream, soy sauce and Dijon mustard.
Bring to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken, continuing to stir.
2. Pret a Manger Mac 'n' Cheese
Mac 'n' Cheese is the ultimate comfort food (unless you're lactose intolerant, then it's probably uncomfortable food). Pret arguably have one of the tastiest takeaway Mac 'n' Cheeses going so when they released their recipe, it sparked an embarrassing amount of excitement.
The best part about this recipe is it can be adapted into your favourite flavour combination. Some suggested additions are: salmon and kale, sun-dried tomato and bacon, chorizo and red pepper, ham and sprouts, butternut squash and sage or mushroom and tarragon.
Ingredients (serves four):
300g dried macaroni
4tbsp plain flour
2tsp Dijon mustard
600ml whole milk
250g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
200g blanched cauliflower florets
Handful of chopped parsley
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
50g parmesan cheese
3tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
2tbsp olive oil
Any added extras you’d like
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water until “al dente,” then drain and refresh under cold, running water.
Heat the butter in a pan on medium to low heat and stir in the mustard and flour to make a roux. Gradually add the milk, beating continuously with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. Slowly bring to a boil over a low heat and whisk frequently until the mixture thickens.
Stir the cheddar cheese into a white sauce and mix well until the cheese has melted. Add the cooked macaroni, cauliflower, parsley, and the additional extras to the sauce and mix well. Season with sea salt and black pepper and spread the mixture in a large, wide gratin dish.
Combine the parmesan cheese with breadcrumbs and olive oil, sprinkle over the top of the macaroni mixture and bake for around 30 minutes until the topping is golden and crisp and the middle is piping hot.
3. McDonald's Sausage and Egg McMuffin
This recipe might not only be useful for lockdown, but for those of you who appreciate a lie-in more than a 9am breakfast trip. These just as (if not more) delicious if you swap out the muffin for a bagel.
1 English muffin
75g sausage meat
1 slice of American cheese
Toast the English muffin until golden brown.
Season sausage meat with salt and pepper, then shape into balls. Flatten the balls into patties and cook under a preheated grill for six to seven minutes on each side.
Brush the inside of a metal ring with oil and place in a small frying pan. Pour in water to cover the base and then bring to a boil. Crack the eggs into the rings, cover the pan and cook for two to three minutes.
Layer a slice of cheese on top of the English muffin, and then assemble the patty and egg on top of the cheese.
4. Pizza Express Margarita Pizza
You can now become an Italian chef extraordinaire and bring the restaurant home (check out menu psychology here). You could even use this basic recipe and add any pizza toppings you like to it.
150ml warm water
1 teaspoon of sugar
15g fresh yeast
225g of plain flour
1.5 teaspoons of salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of oregano
1 Basil leaf
1. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
2. Add the sugar and crumble the fresh yeast into warm water.
3. Allow the mixture to stand for 10 – 15 minutes in a warm place (we find a windowsill on a sunny day works best) until froth develops on the surface.
4. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture and olive oil.
5. Lightly flour your hands, and slowly mix the ingredients together until they bind.
6. Generously dust your surface with flour.
7. Throw down the dough and begin kneading for 10 minutes until smooth, silky and soft.
8. Place in a lightly oiled, non-stick baking tray (we use a round one, but any shape will do!)
9. Spread the passata on top making sure you go to the edge.
10. Evenly place the mozzarella (or other cheese) on top, season with the oregano and black pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil.
11. Cook in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes until the cheese slightly colours.
12. When ready, place the basil leaf on top and tuck in!
While this might not be a recipe, you can still get your Greggs-fix during your weekly shop. Yes, that's right, Iceland sell boxes of Greggs rolls, bakes and melts that can be cooked in your oven at home. They're just as tasty and fill the kitchen with that Eau de Greggs scent that we all lust after.
Let us know if you try any of these recipes, we'd love to know how you got on.