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Recipes to Spread Joy – Cooking with the Ones You Love

More than simply a means of keeping ourselves alive, cooking has been a way of bringing people together for millennia. During long lockdown days it can be something to get you moving after a long day of uni work, a way to keep your mind off the news cycle, or maybe just a way to fill the time. Cooking alongside the people you live with is a great way to unwind and feel like you’ve achieved something together at the end of the day.


Here are a couple of great dishes to make together. Although cooking by yourself can be really relaxing too, these two recipes are much more fun when made as a team!


Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Vegetarian)

Olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped

2x 400g tins of plum tomatoes

1 ½ tsp golden caster or granulated sugar

Handful of basil leaves

3 large (or 5 small) aubergines

2-3 balls of mozzarella, torn into pieces

100g vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, finely grated


Serves 4


  1. Preheat the oven to 200℃ (180℃ fan).
  2. Cut your aubergines into long thin slices. Lay them out on a tea towel and sprinkle on some salt.
  3. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over a low to medium heat. Add the garlic and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and squash them with a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon. Add the sugar and basil and bring to a simmer, allow it to bubble away for 20-25 mins. Season to taste.
  4. While the tomato sauce is simmering, you’ll need to grill your aubergine slices. Warm a griddle pan on the hob over a medium to high heat- if you don’t have a griddle pan, use a large frying pan with no oil. Grill the aubergine slices on either side until soft and slightly charred.
  5. Time to assemble your parmigiana: spread about a tablespoon of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 30×25 high sided roasting dish. Lay down a few slices of aubergine next to one another, followed by a layer of parmesan and then a few pieces of mozzarella. Repeat this (tomato, aubergine, parmesan, mozzarella) until you run out of ingredients.
  6. Top with a couple of small pieces of butter and some more basil leaves.
  7. Bake for around 30 mins, until the top is crisp and golden, and you can see the tomato sauce bubbling. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes, garnish with some more basil, and enjoy!


Baked Camembert (Vegetarian)

1 bunch of red grapes

1 whole camembert (make sure it’s one in a wooden box)

1 tsp chilli flakes

Salt and pepper

Baguette or loaf of ciabatta, sliced

100g butter, melted

4 cloves garlic, crushed or diced


Serves 2-4


  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃.
  2. Take the cheese out of any plastic and put it back in its wooden container (with the lid off) on a lined baking sheet. Score the top of the camembert with a knife. Sprinkle on the chilli flakes and a grind of pepper.
  3. Scatter a few small bunches of grapes on the tray around the cheese and pour a light dash of olive oil over them. Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Combine the garlic and melted butter in a small bowl, then brush it over the slices of bread (you can do this with a fork). Lay the slices of bread on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. The cheese should be oozy, the grapes warm and soft, and the garlic bread golden brown. Dip the garlic bread slices in your cheese for a decadent dinner – perfect for sharing!


Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

112g vegan butter or margarine

100g granulated sugar

100g brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

125g plain flour

56g unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp plant-based milk

100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped into small chunks


Makes 16 cookies


  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the two types of sugar (an electric whisk is best for this). Add the vanilla and mix it in.
  3. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon until crumbly.
  4. Add the milk to turn it into a thick dough.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chunks. The dough should feel thick but still sticky enough to roll into balls.
  6. Roll the dough into 16 small balls and place evenly spaced on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving enough room for them to spread.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool and firm up slightly before digging in!
I'm a BA French and Italian student, currently on a year abroad in Turin and Paris.
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