All posts filed under: Entertaining

Pangrattato Al Pomodoro, 31p [VEGAN]

Firstly, a confession. This recipe is a twist on an Italian classic, Pappa al Pomodoro, which is essentially a bread-crust and tomato soup, with olive oil, salt and pepper, and sometimes garlic and basil or rosemary, depending on whose recipe you consider to be sacred. This version eschews the traditional, using dried stuffing crumbs to replace the bread and herbs. But Stuffing Crumb And Tomato Puree Soup didn’t seem like a particularly appetising recipe name, so I translated it into Italian as a nod to the original. Serves 1, from 31p, (This post contains affiliate links – I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any products.) First peel and finely slice your onion, and set to one side for a moment. Measure the oil into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, preferably a non-stick one, and warm it for a moment on a medium heat before adding the onion. Season with a little black pepper, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until starting to soften. Quarter your tomatoes and add those too – when …

Cream Of Mushroom Soup, 48p [VEGAN]

I love mushroom soup and have made many of them over the years, but think this one is my best so far. If you don’t have celery to hand, or don’t like it, you can use extra onion. Mushrooms soup traditionally has a splash of wine in it, but I try not to keep it in the house at the moment – if you wanted to add some and it’s the kind of thing you have kicking about, do feel free, but I think it’s perfectly luxurious and delicious without. This cream is a delicate golden colour – or it was when I made it – which is a relief from the minky greys of mushroom soups gone by! I use full fat coconut milk here as you get more bang for your buck, but if you only have the reduced fat version available, double the quantity and reduce the water accordingly. Serves two, from 48p each, (This post contains affiliate links – I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase …

Vegan Rainbow Dhansak, 31p

Authentic dhansak recipes that I’ve found sometimes include tamarind sauce or fresh tamarind, which I didn’t have to hand, so I replicated the slightly sour note with a dash of lemon juice instead. I am aware that I am extremely lucky to have found this particular bag of stir fry veg so cheaply, but I am often asked by readers what to do with them that isn’t a stir fry, so when I swagged this one from the markdown chiller today I thought it an ideal opportunity to address this particular conundrum. If you don’t have a similar bargain to hand, you can make similar by adding roughly equal amounts of red and green cabbage, thinly sliced or thickly grated carrot, and some sweetcorn. Or use whatever veg you have to hand, of course. If serving between four, this recipe contains four of your five a day. It keeps in the fridge forum to three days, or in the freezer for three months. Reheat to piping hot before serving – it is not advised to …

Cheesy Tuna, Courgette & Mushroom Gratin, 65p

This recipe is a riff on the Courgette, Tomato and Brie Gratin from A Girl Called Jack, with some extra veg and protein added, and mushrooms for Vitamin D as the darker evenings draw in. You can use pretty much any veg you like in this; I toyed with a wrinkly red pepper in the fridge and fingered half a leek before deciding I could use them elsewhere and plumping for this particular combination. If you’d prefer a veggie version, simply swap the can of tuna for a can of beans or chickpeas to keep the heartiness and protein intact.   Serves 4, from 65p each. Prices correct at time of publication. Other supermarkets offer similarly competitive pricing – this is just my closest right now. (This post contains affiliate links – I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any products.) 140g onion, 12p (80p/1kg, Growers Selection at Asda) 140g carrot, 14p (30p/500g, Growers Selection at Asda) 125g mushrooms, 25p (49p/250g, Farm Stores at Asda) 1 medium courgette – …

Sticky Lemon Pudding, 30p

I couldn’t decide between making myself a sticky toffee pudding, classic in its stodgy saccharine comfort blanket, or a lemon drizzle, zesty and bright with its promise of sunny afternoons…so I took to the trusty barometer of reason, Twitter, to ask for help. The poll came back as a 52/48 split, and we all know how contentious those are, so in order to try to satisfy both sides of the pudding referendum, I mashed the two options together. The sticky warm component structure of toffee pudding, with the flavour profile of a rich lemon drizzle cake. I wasn’t sure it would work (but was willing to give it as many goes as was necessary for the name of, uh, research), but to my delight, it came out perfectly first time. [I made mine in a 135mm wide x 55mm deep x 165mm long mess tin, as after six cookbooks and eight years my solitary loaf tin has finally given up on me, and the mess tin holds a third less than a standard loaf tin …

Zero-Waste Banana Peel Ketchup, 43p

I first came across banana chilli ketchup while staying in a self catering apartment in Edinburgh. It takes a certain amount of planning to buy exactly enough food to sustain two adults for three days, wasting nothing, when your nearby shopping options are the Harvey Nichols food hall (ineffectual, expensive, but fun to walk around gasping at and making furtive notes at all the fancy pastas), or a Sainsbury’s Local, where fruit and veg are sold in large packets and nothing by the handful. I found a banana habanero chutney in Harvey Nicks by Mr Vikki’s, a small Cumbrian company, and we wolfed our way through two jars of it in a weekend. I knew that as soon as I got home and into my own kitchen, I would be knocking up my own version. And I have done it many times since, each batch slightly different to the last, and each disappearing into the homes of various friends who are absolutely obsessed with it. It’s an ideal accompaniment to a curry, or grilled cheese, …

Tomato, Bread & Butter Pasta, 24p

This pasta sauce started off as a pappa al pomodoro, but quickly veered towards a tomato butter sauce as I craved comfort on an increasingly blue day. I don’t know about you, but lockdown is playing havoc with my already unreliable emotional weather vane, clattering it all over the place, and I am learning to take things hour by hour, meal by meal, and take pleasure in moments of simple comfort in this strange new world of unknowns. I am grateful that all members of my household are healthy and well, and that we are able to do most of our day jobs under lockdown, even with the challenges that presents, and that my young son seems to have adapted well to the changes. He Facetimes and Zoom calls his friends and family every day, keeps a diary of his thoughts, feelings and experiences, does some educational work each day, and seems to be faring the best of all of us. Anyway, back to the pasta sauce. I have a recipe for a three ingredient …

Tinned Pear Cake, 36p [Tin Can Cook]

This soft, sweet, rich and heavy cake was written for Tin Can Cook, as I sat surveying tins of fruit and wondering how to plump up my pudding chapter. My eyes roved greedily over the tinned peaches, pears and cherries, looking for inspiration, and there it was. Fat, fulsome pears swimming sodden in their own slippery, succulent syrup – what a treat! I could barely wait as I sat typing up the recipe, my home rich with the scent of freshly baked goods, impatiently picking at the slice I promised myself as a reward for committing it to paper. I love this, and it’s all the better for using tinned pears; I hope you love it too. If you do happen to have ripe pears needing using up, first quarter them and carefully scoop out the seeds with the point of a small sharp knife. Cut away the very tip of the stalk and the woody star shape at the base, taking care to remove as little of the flesh as possible in the process. …

Cherry & White Chocolate Bake, 21p

I made this adaptation of my original – and very popular – Peach Traybake from A Girl Called Jack, last weekend for Mrs J’s local cycling club. She reported back that it had all vanished within minutes; the most popular of the three cakes at the tea stop by far. I was very chuffed – although I had also made the other two as well! Recipes for those to follow later – for now, please enjoy this utter delight. I used defrosted frozen cherries as they come ready pitted and are cheaper than fresh ones (I long for the careless frivolity of being able to spend both time and money hurling fresh cherries into cakes!) but tinned cherries and glace cherries work just as well. I’ll also be posting a vegan edition later down the line using applesauce in place of the eggs; I just want to test it first as this is a particularly moist cake so I’ve a feeling it won’t be a straight simple swap and that the other ingredients may need …

Beet Wellington, £1.34 [from ‘Veganish’]

This is one of my more difficult recipes, but I approach it in stages, treating the duxelles as a separate recipe on its own and making it in advance to lessen the workload a little. I can promise you that the end result is completely worth it – a vegan ‘special occasion’ dinner for Sunday roasts, festive feasts, date nights, or any other occasion where you really want to push the boat out. I have made many a vegetarian wellington, ranging from whole flat portobello mushrooms wrapped in spinach, to a black bean and chestnut version, but my favourite by far is this beet wellington, and not just for its nomenclature. It requires a little care in the assembly process, but then so does a standard fillet beef wellington, and this keeps as close to the original as possible with the inclusion of a mushroom duxelles and a crepe layer. The duxelles provides a distinctive depth of flavour, and the crepe layer, although it may seem overly fancy, acts as a barrier between the vegetables …

Peanut Butter Ice Cream, 43p

Caster sugar is generally more expensive than standard granulated sugar (currently £1.19 for 1kg compared to 69p for granulated at the supermarket) – but a few years ago I worked out that I could make my own substitute for it. All you need is a small powerful blender, and a bag of regular sugar, and you can blitz it up to a finely ground sugar suitable for making ice creams and floaty-light cakes with. Admittedly the blender is an initial investment, but I use mine every day for making soups from scrappy leftovers, hummus from cans of chickpeas, light and creamy batters for pancakes and yorkshire puddings – so it’s well worth digging into your pocket for in the long term, if you can. This recipe is from A Year In 120 Recipes, my 2014 book of seasonal, thrifty recipes, available here. Serves 6 from 43p each. Prices from Tesco, correct at time of writing. This recipe is not sponsored, however I make make a small fee if you click a link and make a …

Diet-Coke Chicken, 54p [A Girl Called Jack]

You don’t have to use Diet Coke to make the barbecue sauce for this recipe; if you don’t mind the sugar, ordinary full-fat will do instead. And of course, I have priced mine as supermarket own brand saccharine sticky cola, because that’s my jam. Serve with rice, chips, a buttered bun, or slaw – however you like. (For vegan and vegetarian readers, this recipe was first published in A Girl Called Jack in 2014. The same sauce works brilliantly with a large flat mushroom, and when I have got around to uploading my back catalogue, I will do that recipe too! For now, just scroll past and mutter rude things about me, if you must.) Serves 2 from 54p each (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any ingredients.) 2 tbsp oil, 3p (97p/1l, Asda) 4 chicken thighs or drums, 73p (£2.20/12 drumsticks, Asda) …

Biscoff Ice Cream, 42p [from ‘Veganish’]

Of all of the hundreds, if not thousands, of dishes I have made for Small Boy and Mrs J, both of them instantly declared this to be ‘the best’ of all of them. And that’s quite some compliment indeed. Mrs J despises coconut, detects it in absolutely anything I try to smuggle it in, but the Biscoff was a sufficient disguise for it here, so if you aren’t a huge coconut fan, bear that in mind and perhaps give it a go. I have piled this into a KnickerBiscoff Glory, sandwiched it between Biscoff biscuits for the ultimate warm weather snack on the fly, and eaten it straight from the blender. I hope you love it as much as we do. Other, inferior, biscuits are also available. Also, for the sake of precision, I weighed a Biscoff biscuit and it’s 6.5g, which means this recipe uses 23 of them. Happy to help!  Serves 6 from 42p each (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see …

Creamy Mustard Chicken With Root Veg, 48p [A Girl Called Jack]

This creamy mustard chicken recipe is adapted from A Girl Called Jack and contains four of your five a day! If you’re veggie, replace the chicken with butter beans for a similar protein hit, and if you’re vegan, use your favourite plant-based milk in place of the usual stuff. Serves 4 from 48p each. Prices calculated at major supermarkets and correct at the time of writing. This post is not sponsored though I may make a small amount if you click the links and make a purchase. 600g chicken thighs or drums, 95p (£1.58/kg, frozen at Tesco) 2 tbsp cooking oil, 3p (£1/1l, Asda) 500ml chicken stock, 3p (39p/12 stock cubes, Asda) 200g carrots, 10p (50p/1kg, Sainsburys) 200g onion, 10p (50p/1kg, Sainsburys) 250g swede, 26p (30p a jar, Smartprice at Asda) 1 tsp mixed dried herbs, 3p 200g long grain rice, to serve, 9p (45p/1kg, Sainsburys) 2 tbsp plain flour, 5p (45p/1.5kg, Stockwell at Tesco) 2 more tbsp cooking oil, 6p (£1/1l, Asda) 1 tsp mustard, 1p (35p a jar, Sainsburys) 125ml milk, 6p (52p/1l, …

Carrot, Ginger and Cannelini Soup, 23p [VG]

I’m in a real soup phase at the moment, throwing whatever veg I have to hand in the fridge into my slow cooker and adding some flavours and pulses to thicken it up and give it some oomph – handy t keep it sitting on the side throughout the day to feed myself, Caroline, Small Boy when he comes home from school, Mrs J after work, and anyone else who strolls through the door. This was a Monday afternoon delight, a use-up for the stray carrots that were lolling around in the vegetable drawer to kickstart the week with a hefty dollop of vitamin C and some fire in our bellies. SUBSTITUTIONS: CANNELINI BEANS: You can swap the beans for any beans, pulses or lentils that you prefer or have to hand; butter beans can go a little floury when cooked for any considerable length of time, but any others should be fine. LEMONGRASS: If you don’t have lemongrass paste to hand – and I only do because it was substituted for garlic paste in …