Two-ring cookery class

By admin
Category: Practical | Date: Tue 30 Sep, 2008

You’re probably looking at the title of this post and wondering what the heck “two-ring cookery” is. Some strange culinary school of thought where everything is displayed in concentric circles? Checking out whether you and your fiancée have compatible skills in the kitchen?

Sadly, two-ring cookery is pretty dull. It’s the sort of cooking you can do when you have a hob like this:

two-ring electric hobWhen I was a first year, our communal kitchen (basically a cupboard next to the shower) was equipped with one of these two-ring electric hobs, a toaster and a kettle. Actually, our two-ring hob wasn’t as shiny and nice as that one.

If your self-catering facilities are similarly lacking, you need this masterclass on how to cook on just a hob.

Two-ring meals: pasta and rice

(I won’t go through the useful list of kitchen equipment you’ll want to get – no-one reads them, and there’s not much point buying extra pots and pans when your corridor-mates are likely to have plenty too.)

As a first-year, I lived mostly on pasta and rice. These last all term in your cupboard, they’re quick and very easy to cook on a hob, and are very versatile when it comes to what to put with them. Stock up on a big pack of rice and a few different types of pasta – spaghetti, fusilli (“twists”) and conchiglie (“shells”) are all good. Noodles and couscous are also good, and help vary things a bit.

My method usually went something like this:

  1. Boil a kettle full of water (it takes forever to boil on the hob – even when turned up to max, our crummy first-year electric hob wasn’t hot enough).
  2. Stick the pasta or rice on to boil (if you don’t know how to cook your pasta/rice, just read the packet instructions).
  3. Make some sort of sauce or side thing to go with it.
  4. Drain pasta or rice, dish up.

The sauce is where it gets interesting. Really simple sauces than you can do in the 10-12 minutes it takes your rice/pasta to cook are:


  • Tomato, bacon and veg: Cut a couple of rashers of bacon into pieces with kitchen scissors, fry, add chopped onions and mushrooms and continue frying, add a tin of chopped tomatoes.
  • Bolognaise: fry chopped onions, mushrooms and mince, add a stock cube and a tin of chopped tomatoes.


  • Vegetable curry: boil some veg (frozen is fine), drain, add some curry sauce and heat through.
  • Prawn stir-fry: get a bag of ready-chopped stir fry veg, fry ‘em, add some prawns and a dollop of your favourite stir-fry sauce.

If you only have one saucepan in which to cook the whole meal, or if you’re really lazy, try draining the rice/pasta then stirring through:

  • A jar of ready-made tomato sauce for pasta, or a jar of pesto. Liven it up with some grated cheddar or parmesan on top.
  • Curried tinned beans for rice.

(Even if your kitchen is well-equipped and you’re not lazy, it’s worth keeping a few jars of easy stuff on hand – then you’ve always got the makings of a meal if you don’t have time to trek to the supermarket.)

Useful additions to your kitchen

Try making a few worrying remarks in front of your parents about possible malnutrition and/or suicidal boredom brought on by a diet of pasta and rice, and see if they can come up with the cash for some of these goodies:

  • A kettle and toaster. If your kitchen is lacking these, your uni must be really strapped for cash. You can pick up a basic kettle and toaster for about a fiver each – try Sainsbury’s Basics or Tesco Value ranges, or Woolworths.
  • A microwave. I bought one for my first-year kitchen, since we didn’t have one supplied. Makes living off ready meals easy! You can get a bog-standard microwave for about fifteen quid.
  • A mini-oven. In my third year, I used part of my summer’s earnings to get one of these, and it was a good investment. They’re big enough to manage a small pizza or a stick of garlic bread, and baked potatoes are much nicer done in an oven than a microwave.

You might even find that you can get a second fridge, or a freezer, for your corridor kitchen – this might depend on your hall of residence’s rules, though. (We were told we weren’t allowed fridges in our rooms – I’m guessing to do with electricity usage.)

Further reading

Do you have a fantastic, quick recipe that you can cook with just a couple of rings? Are your kitchen facilities even worse than my undergrad ones were? Let us know in the comments!

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