All posts filed under: Entertaining

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 …

St Clement’s Chicken [A Year In 120 Recipes]

I named this one St Clements chicken after the old nursery rhyme, ‘Oranges and lemons, sang the bells of St Clements…’ Although I use mandarins in mine, a mere technicality… Serves 4, (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.) 1 x whole chicken Zest of 1 lemon 1 x 200g tin of mandarins 75g butter (softened) 2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs a fistful of flat-leaf parsley First, preheat your oven to 190C. Then weigh your whole chicken to calculate the cooking time. You need to cook it for 20 minutes per 450g, plus an extra 20 minutes at the end. For example, a 1.4kg bird will need just over an hour and 20 minutes in the oven. Grate the lemon zest into the bowl and combine it with the drained mandarins, using a fork to break up the …

Spiced Vegan Banana Bread, 11p

I almost had the audacity to call this recipe ‘Christmas-spiced Banana Bread’ as I am currently testing some new recipes for a December project (more on that below) but I didn’t think I could cope with the outrage of the Internet if I dared use the C-word halfway through September. So instead, euphemistically, this is an Autumn-spiced banana bread, warming, comforting, and pull-your-jumper-around-you warming delicious bliss. Based on the vegan banana bread recipe from A Girl Called Jack, but better. For best results you will need a small powerful blender to grind the spices into the sugar; I have used this one for years and absolutely swear by it as a blender, smoothie maker, curry paste machine and spice grinder, so it’s worth a look. And a third of the price of it’s hifalutin equivalent… Serves 6 very generously at 11p 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 …

White Chocolate Tea Bread, 9p [A Girl Called Jack]

This came about because I LOVE chocolate-chip brioche – so I decided to try to make some chocolate-chip bread as a replacement. Unfortunately, though, the chocolate chips all melted into the dough as I added warm water and I ended up with this Chocolate Tea Bread instead – but it was still delicious! Then I experimented with tea and white chocolate and stumbled on something heavenly. Bliss! Makes 1 small loaf to serve 6 people from 9p 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 and make a purchase. All prices correct at the time of printing and are subject to change. 275g self-raising flour, plus extra to knead the dough, 8p (45p/1.5kg) 7g fast-acting dried yeast, 7p (£1/100g) 50g sugar, 3p (69p/kg) 100g white chocolate, 30p 25g butter or baking block, plus extra to grease the loaf tin, 6p 150ml boiling water with a tea …

No-Tomato Sausage Casserole, 47p

Early on Sunday morning, I was taken to hospital in an ambulance following my fifth unexplained episode of anaphylaxis in recent months. I was kept in for a couple of days, and discharged with adrenaline pens, steroids, a referral to an allergy clinic, and a very long list of foods to avoid until the trigger has been identified. I read the list in my hospital bed at 3am on a noisy ward, absolutely incandescent with frustration, and frightened and bewildered about yet another twist in the rollercoaster that my life seems to be. ‘I’m a food writer’ I wailed at the gentle doctor at the foot of my bed some hours earlier. ‘I’ve literally just written a book about canned tomatoes and fish, and now I need to give them up?’ He nodded, sympathetic, but apologetically firm. I lay awake most of the night, sulking and petulant, wondering how the hell I was going to do my job from here. A few days later, I’m sitting at my desk, writing a list of the foods …

Perfect Yorkshire Puddings, 8p [A Year In 120 Recipes]

The trick to making perfect Yorkshire puddings is to get the fat really hot before you spoon in the batter. Then, once they’re in, resist the urge to open the oven door or you risk ending up with flaccid puds, and that’s just a tragedy.   Makes 6 in muffin tins or 1 large tin to divide between you! From 8p 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. 2 tablespoons oil, 3p (£1.10/1l) 125g flour, 4p (45p/1.5kg) a pinch of salt (27p/750g) 1⁄2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs (optional), 2p 2 eggs, 30p (89p/6 free range) 150ml milk, 8p (55p/1l)   First preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Drop a little oil into the bottom of each muffin tin, or the whole lot into a large tin, and stick …

Brie & Bacon Risotto, 26p [A Girl Called Jack]

While testing recipes for my book this week, it was inevitable that I would start to put leftover ingredients together to come up with accidental dishes. This speedy and satisfying late lunch was born of some scraps of cooking bacon left over from Spring Piggy, and some sad looking Brie from the Courgette and Brie gratin. I have been criticised in the past by online commenters for using ‘posh cheese’ on a limited budget, but at £1.09 for 200g, a rich flavour, and creamy versatility, I find a hunk of Brie far more satisfying for my stomach and my wallet than plain old cheddar any day. Besides – I can’t get £1.09 of cheddar from my local supermarket anyway… (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.) (Serves 2 at 26p/portion. Prices Sainsburys Basics, July 2013) 100g cooking bacon, 16p (£1.09/670g) 1/2 an …

Marmite, Peanut Butter & Honey Popcorn, 11p [Good Food For Bad Days]

This came about by accident; I couldn’t decide between peanut butter and marmite popcorn, or peanut butter and honey, so on a whim I decided to amalgamate all three. And good lord, I have no regrets about it at all. The tang of marmite, earthiness of the peanut butter and the sweet stickiness of the honey are a triumvirate of absolute bliss – Caroline and I polished off the bowl faster than I could say ‘How many should this serve? Four? Oh. Us.’ To make this vegan, replace the honey with golden syrup, or other thick liquid sweetener of your choice. Serves four. Allegedly. From 11p per portion. (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.) 80g corn kernels, 16p (£1/500g) 2 tbsp/32g peanut butter, 7p (70p/340g) 2 tbsp/42g honey, 12p (£1.24/425g) 1 tbsp butter or light cooking oil, 2p (£1.09/1l) 1 tsp/5g marmite, 5p (£2.70/250g) – cheaper …

Chocolate Ice Cream Cake, 5p

Ice cream is my catch-all cheer-up indulgence, eaten by the pint in front of light comedic television, or crime scene dramas, depending on my mood. One Saturday evening, alone, on the turn of Autumn, I found myself partway down a tub of chocolate ice cream, wondering if I could use it as a substitute for the majority of ingredients in a traditional cake recipe. Ice cream is, after all, made from eggs, fat (the milk and/or cream) and sugar, all key building blocks in a standard sponge. I pottered to the kitchen with it in hand, and set it on the worktop to melt – an act of extraordinary willpower, if I may congratulate myself briefly for it, as I have been known to eat two tubs back to back and make generous inroads into a third. A little maths and some crossed fingers later, and I was tucking into an atrociously light chocolate loaf cake, made with just two ingredients and a dash of incredulity. I later learned that I was not the first …