All posts filed under: Handy Hints

Make-Me-Better Mug, 15p [A Year In 120 Recipes]

Scratchy throat, simultaneous blocked and runny nose, muggy head, general air of malaise? Yeah, that happens a lot round here, courtesy of having a rubbish immune system, awful working hours and an 8 year old. In a bid to banish the heavy-cold feeling, I knock up a large jug of this stuff – and, by golly, it works a treat every time. If you have an office job, take it to work in a Thermos flask or similar, and sip it at your desk to banish the blues. Or take the day off, curl up with a book and snooze, sip, snooze, sip … Makes a 1 litre jug from 15p. 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. 1 litre water 1 lemon or 2 tbsp lemon juice, 6p …

Perfect Roast Potatoes, 14p [from ‘Veganish’]

Perfect roast potatoes are simply one of life’s greatest pleasures – one of the soft and easy comforts that transports me straight back to a wicker chair in my elderly (and now devastatingly dearly departed) Aunty Helens conservatory in her house in Plymouth, where I spent the summers of my childhood being chased around the garden by a large and furious goose called Charlie. Aunty Helen – as any great Greek Cypriot woman is intuitively inclined to – would feed us from the moment we awoke beneath hand-crocheted heavy blankets, until the moment we crawled satiated and delighted back beneath the same. It was at Aunty Helens that I learned about the birds and the bees, aged 9, leafing open-mouthed through More! magazine’s ‘Position Of The Fortnight’ from a pile of women’s magazines carefully concealed beneath a Readers Digest in the downstairs bathroom. And it was at Aunty Helens that the first seeds of a love of cookery were planted, standing in her galley kitchen that was filled with light, peeling so many spuds we …

Orange-Peel Salt

This, like so many of my recipes, came about from a pondering in the kitchen this morning. I had just finished telling Mrs J that I was thinking of blogging more, properly, again, because I miss writing for pleasure rather than writing for deadlines – two books in a year is quite an effort! She agreed with me that wittering about my day to someone other than the cat ought to be a healthy pursuit, and so I pottered back downstairs into the kitchen feeling pleased with myself. Then I made this orange juice, and just as I was about to scoop the peel up in my hands and pop it in the compost bin, A Thought occured to me. What if I didn’t throw it away, and instead gave it a whole new lease of life? I vaguely recalled buying a tiny pot of yuzu peel at Borough Market once, probably for the price of my firstborn and a limb, and set about trying to make something similar. Yuzu is a fruit that I …

Self Love Stew, 38p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

This recipe first appeared on my Instagram account (for readers clutching this book [Cooking on a Bootstrap] in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Instagram is a photograph-sharing network where people mostly show off their dinner and houses that are much larger and cleaner than mine). It was a rough night, in the middle of a tough week, embedded in a hellish year, and I wasn’t cooking. Overwhelmed by life and sadness, I hadn’t been in my kitchen for days. I needed comfort, and nourishment, and I forced myself to the stove. This revelation may come as something of a surprise, but even I can’t cook sometimes. This did the trick – and you can use a handful of frozen veg in place of chopping anything, if you like. (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 2-4 from 38p each oil, for frying, 3p …

5 Ingredient Salted Caramel Chocolate Mocha Yule Log, 38p

This is a fairly cheeky little recipe, mostly because it involves very little work at all – and looks and tastes far more impressive than it should do, considering the sum of its parts. I should confess I didn’t make the Yule log in the centre; I bought one from Asda on a whim and made it better. I’m a busy person, and also, I’ve never successfully managed to roll a Swiss roll up without smashing the whole thing to bits with my clod-handed impatience, so I wasn’t going to take the risk. The good thing is, Asda Swiss rolls (and other premade brands are available, I just live near Asda) are alright; the right side of soft, generous with the buttercream swirl, and left out on the counter all night by accident, they stay pretty moist and squishy. Sometimes, just sometimes, you can treat yourself to cheating. Because who cares for blood and tears and martyrdom with fondant sugar, when it tastes this good? (If you object to Flakes, use milk or dark chocolate …

Hot Nurse, 20p [Good Food For Bad Days]

This recipe is known as Hot Nurse in my household for its ability to flush out a blocked up nose, soothe a sore throat, chase away a hangover and revitalise my tired head. It is a real kick in the cookies; so those of you who choose the mild curries in restaurants may want to halve the ginger and curry powder quantities. For the rest of you, ladle it into a mug and take your medicine! I keep a supply of it in the freezer in microwave-proof containers, for emergencies, and will be sipping it all through the winter to keep snuffles and grumbles at bay. (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 four, or one poorly person all through the day, from 20p each. (This post is not sponsored; I may earn a small commission if you click the links …

Jack Monroe’s Student Essentials, for Under a Fiver

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but, as a cookbook author who specialises in cheap and cheerful, easy recipes, these are the staples that I try to have in my cupboard at all times. Many a good meal starts with a can of chopped tomatoes, and many a bad one is rescued with a dash of bottled lemon juice and a smattering of salt and pepper. (I’m currently trialling a partnership program with the budget supermarkets that I shop in for my recipes. If you click the links in the recipes I may earn a small commission, but don’t just click for the sake of it as they’re wise to that! As ever, I don’t promote anything I don’t genuinely use and love myself, but if you do online shopping at either of the Big Two, you might want to check out my recommendations) A tin of tomatoes: Starting at 29p for 400g, or 30p for 500g of passatta, a tin of tomatoes is a storecupboard staple. You can use it as the …

Stop Throwing Food Away! Your Guide To #ZeroWasteWeek and Better Budgeting (Part 1)

Every week, the UK throws away tonnes of food – the Guardian reports that the average family throws out twenty four meals a week. Twenty four meals! Now I know some of my readers definitely *aren’t* in that statistic, but we do all sometimes find a rogue bag of salad in the fridge, bread going slightly stale around the edges, yoghurt turning sour, so here are my handy hints and favourite ways to use them up, to help reduce food waste, and your food bills, even just a little bit. Salad. Salad is one of the most wasted foods out there, because it seems to start going bad as soon as you get the bag open and let some air into it. One day it’s a bag of fresh crispy goodness, the next, a sodden mush. But don’t throw it away! Smash it up into a Salad Bag Pesto, or toss it through pasta with a little cheese, or make it into bubble and squeak, or an omelette or frittata, use it in a curry …

How To Dry Mushrooms

Before your mushrooms go slimy in the back of the fridge, dry them out to store them. Dried mushrooms are marketed as a gourmet ingredient when, really, they’re very simple to make. I keep my eyes peeled for mushrooms on special offer, or in the reduced chiller at the supermarket, and stock up on them to dry out at home. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Clean any dirt from your mushrooms with a dry tea towel or dish cloth, with paper towel or – as I do – use a clean soft toothbrush. Slice or chop the mushrooms as desired. Chopping them into smallish pieces means that they will dry quicker, but slices look nice – it’s up to you. Lay the prepared mushrooms on a baking tray and put into the preheated oven for 45 minutes, turning halfway through. Alternatively, if you don’t want to use the oven, cover the baking tray with a clean tea towel and leave it on the side in the kitchen for 2 days (away from any curious …

Preserving Garlic, Three Ways

Garlic is often cheaper to buy in bulk packs than as individual bulbs – so every now and again I buy a bag or two containing 10 bulbs and spend an hour preserving them. There are three main methods I like to use: freezing, making garlic paste and preserving in vinegar. You can also dry the cloves in a warm oven and grind them into a powder, but I only do this if baking something else at the same time. Freezing: Break open the garlic bulb to remove the cloves, and for each clove chop off the ends and peel away the papery skin. You can freeze the garlic cloves whole if you want to use them whole, but I finely chop mine and freeze the chopped garlic spread out thinly (for ease of breaking off a chunk when it’s frozen). You can just pop the frozen chopped garlic straight into the dish when cooking. Garlic paste must be stored frozen, as home-made garlic paste can cause botulism (due to the low acidity of the …

Pickled Radishes, 24p

I love a pickle. Always have, since being a very little girl filching the tiny silver skin onions from my dad’s piccalilli, to piling my Sunday dinner plate with pickled beetroots and cabbage, to learning to make my own from various small bits of vegetable rolling around the fridge. This summer, I have fallen hard for the humble radish; I usually grow my own but haven’t got around to it yet, so have been picking them up from various nearby shops and supermarkets for a song. The tops make a beautiful peppery pesto, which I have used to top a pizza in the past with excellent results. The little blushing radishes themselves can be folded through a risotto, to pep up a salad, eaten alone with a smudge of salty oil, or, as I discovered to my great delight late yesterday evening, pickled in a flash and left to gently ferment. These glorious pink wafers of crispy tangy gorgeousness are now sitting in my fridge door, where I shall have to be patient with them …

Top 5 Tips For Eating Healthily On A Budget (and the limitations)

On Sunday, after the Government announced new measures to attempt to tackle the correlation between poverty and obesity, I found myself suddenly on the end of literally dozens of enquiries from journalists and reporters, asking me for a response to the news. I couldn’t get around to all of them; but wrote this for BBC News on the hidden complexities of attempting a one-size-fits-all strategy, and my top five tips for eating well on a low budget. There are many complex reasons why cooking and eating healthily on a low budget can present a challenge for people, and unless you have lived that life, some of them can be unimaginable. Some people have complex dietary needs, such as coeliac disease, IBS, lupus, or other illnesses that lead to digestive complications. Autoimmune diseases do not discriminate by salary; people who live in poverty do have to contend with them too. In other circumstances, people may lack cooking facilities, in houses of multiple occupancy, student halls, domestic abuse and homelessness shelters. They may have shoddy landlords renting …

Use-Me-For-Anything Tomato Sauce, 13p [A Girl Called Jack]

This tomato sauce is exactly what its name says – a wonderfully versatile sauce for all occasions. I make a large batch and freeze it in small jars or ice cube trays to use as the base for pasta sauces, soups, stews, or anything that could do with a bit of pepping up. It stands alone as a pretty decent pasta sauce, too. This recipe first appeared in my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, in 2012, but I have updated it slightly here to reflect the rise in basic food costs, eliminating the red wine vinegar and tomato puree for a simpler splat of tomato ketchup – which does the same job, but far more cheaply. Every day is a school day round here. Makes approximately 6 generous portions at 13p 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.) 2 tbsp …

Soffritto, 19p

For the last few months, I have been spying little jars of soffritto paste in the specialty foods aisles of various supermarkets. Snuggled next to such exoticisms as ancho chillies, dried porcini mushrooms, and other things that it is ‘nice to have but not essential’ (although Waitrose now feature artichoke hearts in their Essentials range, for the love of God!). I picked a jar up out of curiosity, as I like to imitate fancy ingredients myself, cheaply, on this here blog, to make them more accessible. I turned it over, bracing myself for the hard-to-find ingredients contained within, steeling my nerves for the inevitable reverse-engineering process to follow…and snorted with laughter. This jar of soothingly yellow paste contained such far-flung ingredients as celery, carrots and onion, with a dash of salt and pepper. I snapped a quick photo of the label, and went back to the vegetable aisle, picking up 3kg of carrots and onions and a bag of celery for less than the puny jar of paste would have cost. Such is often the …

Don’t Throw That Away! An A-Z of leftovers, tired veg, etc and what to do with them.

This piece started after an article in the Independent about the top 10 foods that we apparently throw away in the UK. I took to Twitter to ask people what usually ended up in their bin, and then spent a whole day and night answering hundreds of queries – some of them came up a lot, like bread and mushrooms, and some were rather more surprising, like ‘half a jar of caviar’ (not a problem I can say I have ever had, but I am here to help, and inverse snobbery is as ghastly as the original kind so please, resist the urge.) I have compiled them all here as an A-Z, and will keep this list going, and add to it regularly, as a handy reference point – so keep checking back! And add your own tips at the bottom, our ‘hive mind’ is a much better thing than my admittedly limited experience!! Also remember you can always use the search bar on the blog to find recipe ideas too, for that stray carrot, …