All posts filed under: Entertaining

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 …

Pinwheel Biscuits, 9p each [A Year In 120 Recipes]

A few years ago, the Guardian asked me to write a recipe feature on a Christmas dinner inspired by Finnish traditions. I was a new food writer, and a little green around the edges, and I attempted it with gusto. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most authentic or brilliant of my recipe collections, and if I’d been asked again today I would have gently pointed them in the direction of a Finnish food writer, instead of trying to do it myself. However, I did learn to make these adorable pinwheel biscuits in the process, and although the liver and sultana casserole effort made headlines for all the wrong reasons, this recipe has stayed in my Christmas favourites. Makes 10, (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 and make a purchase.) 100g sultanas or prunes or 50g of each, 20p (99p/500g) 2 tablespoons marmalade or honey, …

Four Ingredient Christmas Cake, 16p [Jack Monroe’s Advent Recipes]

Christmas for me is a disparate and disorganised affair – zipping between various peoples houses, delivering a Small Boy to all the relatives that want to pinch his cheeks and ruffle his hair, like an exasperated sugar-high parcel. Popping in on parents and grandparents, gathering waifs and strays at mine for my almost-annual ‘Make Christmas A Bit Less Shit’ gathering, and in all of that hullaballoo, well, I forgot to make a cake this year. I think I’m the only person that likes it, anyway. So this time last year, I dug out some old recipes of mine, from days yonder when buying three kinds of nuts and obscure dried fruits was de rigeur, and gawped at the sheer length of the ingredient lists. I set myself a challenge to make a Christmas-ish cake with fewer than nine ingredients. That was pretty easy, so I tried for eight. You can see where this is going! I ended up here; to be honest, the five ingredient cake was my favourite, but I can’t resist the simplicity …

Sneaky Sprouts, 15p [A Year In 120 Recipes]

Brussels sprouts: you either love them or you hate them, but if your only experience of them is as a bland yet sulfurous accompaniment to your Christmas dinner, you should definitely give these a go. Sliced and pan-fried with cabbage and butter: this is how I smuggled them into my Small Boy when he was younger, and now he requests it as a side dish to a Sunday roast. Serves 4 as a side dish from 15p 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. All prices correct at the time of printing and are subject to change. 200g Brussels sprouts, 38p (95p/500g) 30g butter or a splash of oil, 2p (£1.10/1l) 1 onion, 5p (54p/1kg) 4 fat cloves of garlic, 8p (69p/4 bulbs) ½ savoy cabbage or a handful of greens, 6p (62p/500g) salt and pepper, <1p a grating of nutmeg …

Creamy Chestnut Risotto, 82p [Jack Monroe’s Advent Recipes]

Chestnuts may seem like a bit of a la-di-dah ingredient, but if you can wait until after the Christmas season, you can often find them reduced in supermarkets and their outlet stores as they try to shift their stock to make way for the next seasonal celebration. My best bargain was found by my friend Caroline, who came to see me one morning with half a dozen packets of Merchant Gourmet chestnuts reduced from £2 down to 20p a packet – which would be unfair of me to price them as such in this recipe, but does make it a lot cheaper! This stands up well as a dish in its own right, but also makes a comforting creamy side for sausages and greens, if you want to stretch it out a little further.   (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.) To make it vegan, replace …

Ginger and Chestnut Pudding, 64p [Jack Monroe’s Advent Recipes]

My household is going to be very busy over Christmas this year – with various family and extended family members coming to stay, and dozens more popping in over the season, which I am hugely looking forward to, because feeding people is one of the things I love to do the most. But Christmas Pudding is a divisive dessert; and when I asked my guests how they feel about it, reactions ranged from mildly unenthusiastic, to downright disgust. ‘You’ve never had my Christmas pudding’, I attempted to say, but nobody wanted to hear it. It was Stir-Up Sunday, and I was puddingless. And as much as I fancy my chances at eating an entire basin of dense, treacley pudding myself, it’s probably not the best idea. So I took my standard, trusty Christmas pudding recipe, and I tweaked it and fiddled with it until I ended up with this. Mrs J is allergic to almonds, so I used chestnuts instead. I didn’t want the heady boozy tang of the usual brandy, so I replaced it …

Vegan Nut Roast, 42p

I have made over a hundred variations on this nut roast since meeting Mrs J, who, along with my mother in law, is a lifelong vegetarian. This festive version is one of our favourites – and I make enough to share with the carnivores at our table, because everyone invariably wants a bit! (I’m typing this on my phone on the way out of the BBC Woman’s Hour studios where I realised in a panic that I had just banged on for 15 minutes about my nut roast but hadn’t published the sodding recipe anywhere, so please forgive any spelling errors or whatnot). Serves 8 from 42p each 200g mixed shelled nuts, 70p (70p/200g, Asda) 180g vacuum packed chestnuts, £2.25 1 tbsp oil (£1/1l, Asda) A pinch of salt, <1p 1 large onion, finely chopped, 9p (60p/1kg, Farm Stores at Asda) 4 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped, 6p (50p/3 bulbs, Asda) 6 tbsp sage and onion stuffing mix, 15p (38p/170g, Asda) 4 tbsp cranberry sauce or marmalade, 5p (27p/454g, Smartprice at Asda) 100ml apple or …

Mulled Rich Fruit Tea, 31p [Jack Monroe’s Advent Recipes]

I have tried many times to recreate a decent mulled ‘wine’ that is alcohol-free – because despite what legend may otherwise tell you, boiling alcohol doesn’t eliminate it completely, it just reduces it – and by how much is so comprehensively variable that I dare not even try to tackle it. Mulling alcohol-free red wine would seem like the obvious choice, but I’m yet to find one that stands up to the challenge. If you know of a good, jammy Shiraz in the alcohol-free section, do let me know! Until then, this experiment with my slow cooker has proved to be the favourite; the deep smoke from the slow-brewed Lapsang and the dark, juicy fruit flavours combine with the traditional mulling spices to make a hot, rich, grown-up drink, without the headache. Some of the ingredients may seem a little odd – so let me explain. The ginger and sultanas are to replace the traditional ginger wine that forms the base of mulled wine. Ginger wine is made from raisins and ginger, so I simply …