Skip to content

Choux pastry hearts

I first made choux pastry last summer, in the kitchen at Blackfoot, in Exmouth Market, ad hoc and accidentally. I did a few shifts to fill in some gaps in the rota and learn some new skills in a restaurant environment, rather than pottering around at home, and it was quite the baptism of fire. Recipes were scant lists of […]

Read More →

Penne Pappa al Pomodoro (VEGAN), 21p

After yesterday’s culinary adventure with old bread crusts and tinned tomatoes (which turned out to be one of the nicest, bowl-lickingly-good things ever), I spooned the leftover portion of soup into a jar and stored it in the fridge, intending to make a soupy lunch out of it today. I opened the fridge about 12 o clock to find the […]

Read More →

Pappa al Pomodoro, 32p [VG/V/DF]

I love a good tomato soup, and quite often with the humble tomato, simplicity is key. So imagine my delight, yesterday evening, idly leafing through the iconic River Café Cookbook (Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers), and finding a recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro. I’d never heard of it, but fell in love instantly – garlic, salt, herbs, tomatoes and a […]

Read More →

Take 53 vegan recipes…

The eagle eyed among you may have noticed that the last few days have seen a veritable flurry of vegan recipes from yours truly. I don’t have any big announcements to make about changes to my diet, I just thought I’d give a lot of love to my vegan readers old and new (who graciously ignore the occasional sausages and […]

Read More →

Quick update re foot, crabbiness and recipes!

HELLO and welcome back, dear readers. It’s been a whole ten days since I foolishly skidded down the stairs at silly o clock in the morning and found my toes sticking out at odd angles and my sorry ass in the waiting room at Charing Cross A&E, and what a long and frustrating ten days it’s been. I haven’t strictly been taking life as easily as instructed, not being the type who can sit still for ten minutes let alone loaf around in bed with my foot in the air. I did a day of filming for a campaign that comes out tomorrow, wobbling around with a walking stick between takes, was kindly invited to the Telegraph’s ‘Out At Work Top 50 LGBT Executives’ thingy at the House Of Commons (and bailed after 20 minutes, unable to stand and smile simultaneously and sure nobody wanted me grimacing and whimpering in the corner all night like a proper party pooper) and did a much-longer-than-usual food shoot for the Guardian – thankyou Linda, who was kind and understanding and didn’t rush me as I shuffled around the kitchen grumbling to myself. And through all of that, my family have been kind and understanding and generous and very very caring, from the toddlers ‘finding’ my stick for me to help me walk around the house, to endless cups of tea in my bed-work-nest, to them all leaving me alone to wallow in frustration […]

Read More →

Dear boring pitiable trolls, stop telling me to ‘get a job’.

Over the last few days I’ve been inundated with tweets, comments and emails from anonymous accounts, all with the same thinly veiled message. Here’s a couple of the charmers… Bizarre that this should all start up again, I thought, especially on Twitter, where my profile clearly states: …So if someone has gone to the trouble of looking me up on Twitter (or Instagram or any other social media) to send targeted, deliberate and frankly unimaginative abuse, how could they fail to notice that I HAVE A JOB. So, once and for all I thought I’d scribble a brief but handy rebuttal to the anonymous abusers, to save me the bother of replying repeatedly to their piteous attempt at venom and spite: I have a job. I have a few, actually, which I a bonus, because for a long time I didn’t have one at all, and that was fairly crummy. Curious? I’m an AUTHOR – two books out there in the big wide world already for purchase, and two more in my head and in the creating stages. To shed a little light on the matter, books don’t write themselves, and neither do recipes. Recipes need to be dreamed up or researched, then cooked and tested a few times, rewritten, and put into a pile. That pile is eventually shuffled into chapters, any chapters that are a bit light on material need more recipes put in, so more dreaming, researching, […]

Read More →

Chilli hot chocolate, 16p, and a broken foot, priceless.

This morning I woke up, walked out of the bedroom, skidded down the stairs, and crashed my foot into the wall with the full force of my rapidly-descending body slamming behind it. I spent the rest of the morning in Charing Cross A&E, where despite looking extremely light on staff, I was seen relatively quickly, by a doctor who used to be a psychiatrist and before that lived in the Phillipines (we had a great food chat!) I had my wonky-looking foot X-Rayed by a very kind radiographer, the doctor set it and strapped it up, and I cleared a good deal of my work diary for the immediate future. Walking with a stick on bruises and fractures and sprains is not really conducive to prancing about in a kitchen testing recipes, well, not as early as Monday, anyway. BUT, I made a New Years resolution to cook or make something new every day – so apologies that today’s may be fairly low level, but I can’t stand unaided right now and I’ve sprained my right shoulder, so chopping and slicing and dicing is temporarily beyond me… However, it’s something I’ve been meaning to get to grips with for a while, so simple it may be, but it’s also delicious, and comforting. Ladies, gentlemen and non-binary readers, I bring to you an oh so simple chilli hot chocolate… Serves two (you’ll probably want both!) 500ml milk (can be made with […]

Read More →

Something-like-Diane Sauce (or ‘Sauce Diane’)

One of my New Years resolutions this year was to cook something new EVERY SINGLE DAY. For quite a few reasons, although I must confess I made a lot of my resolutions in the alcohol-soaked bliss of a New Years Eve in the Lake District with my lady love, some of them seem wiser than others now. But this one came about with the accidental receiving of no less than five diaries this year for Christmas, possibly a subtle hint from my nearest and dearest that I need to be ever so slightly more organised than I am… Stuck for a use for five, I decided to use one as a recipe diary over the year, and thus arrived at my ‘cooking something new every day’. And so, day nine, and I find myself dreaming of Diane. You know, that mustardy, tangy loveliness that sits on pub menus in the ‘sauce’ section? I, er, love it so much I have it with chips, and lovingly dunk every one in, catching a wafer-thin slice of sautéed mushroom on the end of my deep fried potato if I was lucky. Sitting in a pub in Penrith, I added it to my mental list of ‘things I must learn to cook this year’. And here we are. I adapted my recipe from the BBC Good Food website, altering it slightly due to a mild error on my part and a lack of lemons, […]

Read More →

Perfect Yorkshire Puddings

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 flaccid puds. Nobody loves a flaccid pud. Makes 6 in muffin tins or 1 large tin 2 tablespoons oil, sunflower or groundnut 125g flour a pinch of salt 1⁄2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs (optional) 2 eggs 150ml milk Preheat the 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 them straight into the oven to heat. Tip the flour into a mixing bowl or jug (I mix my batter in a jug to make pouring it into the muffin tins or single tin easier). Add the salt and herbs, if using, and stir briefly to distribute. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients – admittedly a bit more difficult in a jug than in a bowl but not insurmountable. Break in the eggs, pour in half of the milk and beat to form a smooth batter. Gradually beat in the rest of the milk. Check your muffin tins or the large tin: the fat should be smoking hot. Pour or spoon in the batter until each muffin tin is around a third full, or tip the whole lot into a large tin, then return to the […]

Read More →

Sneaky Sprouts

Brussels sprouts: you either love them or you hate them, but if your only experience of them is as an accompaniment to your Christmas dinner, you should definitely give these a go. Sliced and pan-fried with cabbage and butter: this is how I smuggle them into the toddlers . . . Serves 4 as a side dish 200g Brussels sprouts, fresh or frozen and defrosted 30g butter or a splash of oil 1 onion 4 fat cloves of garlic, or 6 smaller ones 1⁄2 savoy cabbage salt and pepper a grating of nutmeg (optional) 50ml cream (optional) Slice or quarter the sprouts, discarding any tough outer leaves. Heat the butter or oil in a frying pan, toss in the sprouts and cook over a low heat. Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic, then add to the pan and stir well. Cook for 10 minutes to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally. Slice the cabbage, discarding any tough outer leaves and stalk, and add to the pan. Season well, and stir in. Turn up the heat and cook for a further few minutes until the edges of the sprouts are slightly golden. If you’ve opted for nutmeg and cream, add them now, and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Serve hot. From ‘A Year In 120 Recipes’ by Jack Monroe, available to order here from the Hive, a fab little website supporting independent book shops: http://www.hive.co.uk/search/Jack+Monroe/mediatype/all/ Follow me on […]

Read More →

The longer we argue, the longer the queues at the foodbank get…

My column in Society Guardian, Monday 8th December 2014. “Poor people don’t know how to cook”, Baroness Anne Jenkin said at the launch of the Feeding Britain report yesterday, and suddenly it was as though ten months of evidence gathering, and 160 pages of written report, hadn’t happened, cast aside to be summed up in seven words. Welcome to the new politics, where every character counts, and every statement met with an equal and polarising one. Instead of discussing and debating the 77 recommendations in the report on Monday evening, as a former food bank user who had given oral evidence to the committee myself in July, I found myself on regional and national radio and television, being asked about Baroness Jenkin instead. And herein one of the big problems with politics today lies: instead of discussing the issues at hand, the baying mobs on all sides are waiting in the wings for someone to say something imperfect, and they pounce, hurling insults and escalating debate into personal attacks and rudeness, and nobody is talking about hungry people or how to feed them any more. Instead it’s all ‘those big bad Tories’ fault, or ‘the Church shouldn’t be commenting at all because they have a bit of gold kicking about’, or it ‘started under Labour…’ The longer we all stand on opposing sides shouting over each other, the longer the queues around the foodbanks get, and the longer the benefit […]

Read More →

Leftover-Porridge Pancakes

I never seem to get the porridge quantities quite right in the mornings, and have recently embarked on a series of experiments with teacups and measuring cups, trying to work out the exact amount of oats and water and milk needed to make two small bowls of porridge for two small children – but no matter how carefully calculated, there’s […]

Read More →

Lardy Buns, 16p.

I had my first lardy cake this summer, picked up from a surprisingly baked-goods-laden petrol station on the way home from Kent, and subsequently slept all the way home in the passenger seat off the back of a few mouthfuls of fat-laden, soft sweet carbohydrates. I set about researching how to make my own; half a block of lard still […]

Read More →

Britain Isn’t Eating.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to collaborate on a film project with the Guardian, Royal Court theatre, playwright Laura Wade (who wrote ‘Posh’, recently released as the film ‘The Riot Club’, about the notorious Bullingdon Club) and director Carrie Cracknell, on a microplay film project based around current affairs. I was asked to be part of the food […]

Read More →

My shopping essentials (and how I calculate recipe costs)

I’m often asked how I cost my recipes – so thought that it would make sense to list the products I buy in one place, as a handy storecupboard or shopping guide. Obviously this os tailored to my household, our budget, what we buy and use – we are two adults and two children after all! But I hope it helps as a rough idea as to where those 6p carrots and individual cloves of garlic come from… I also thought it would help to track prices – as when I started writing this blog, stock cubes were 10p for 10, and this morning as I type this, they are 25p for 10 – so the prices on my recipes date quickly, but are correct at the time of going to print. All prices are Sainsburys own brand or Basic range where available, unless otherwise stated, and this list will be updated with every new budget, costed recipe I add. I’ll go back through the archives and compile it from older recipes too, and update their prices where necessary, but that is weeks of work – over 200 recipes to edit and recalculate – so bear with me! Here’s what I buy and in what quantities, to try to get the most out of my shopping: Fruit and vegetables: Onions, 1.5kg bag (average 15 onions): 95p (Nov 14) Garlic, 2 bulbs (average 10 cloves per bulb): 35p (Nov 14) Carrots, […]

Read More →

Minestrone Soup, 19p [VG/V/DF]

I often receive letters and emails from friends, family and readers asking for ideas for cheap lunches. Aside from the ubiquitous cheese sandwich or home made scone-muffin-type-thing and an apple, banana or pear, one of my favourite staple lunches for this time of year is A Good Hearty Soup. And nothing says hearty soup quite like one packed with pasta and beans and chunky vegetables! I’ve been making minestrone soup for so long, I’m amazed it didn’t make it into either of my books – but I guess I’d never taken the time to write the recipe down and think about it too much. It’s one of my staples for a leftover half can of beans or chopped tomatoes, a scraggy little carrot or half an onion in the bottom of the veg drawer, tired greens, and those little broken bits of pasta in the bottom of the bag, or odds and sods of pasta that aren’t quite enough to do anything with. I keep all the last few bits of pasta, and the broken bits, in a large jar, smashed to smithereens – perfect for tossing into soups like this one. Why buy specialty tiny pasta, when you can make your own?! Makes six mug-sized portions or four generous bowlfuls: 1 onion, 6p 2 fat cloves of garlic, 4p 1 carrot, 6p 1 tbsp oil (sunflower or vegetable), 3p 400g tin or carton of chopped tomatoes, 40p 600ml stock […]

Read More →

Pumpkin and bacon carbonara, for Rob (and everyone else)

“My pumpkin dream always has smoked streaky bacon and Swiss cheese in it…” my friend Rob mused aloud as he carved our family pumpkin at the kitchen table on Friday morning. “Like, in a sandwich… Or pasta…” “Or carbonara?” I offered. “Oh carbonara… Pumpkin carbonara…” We sat there silently, grinning, two food-obsessives salivating at the thought of rich egg yolks, […]

Read More →

Punkin’ Aioli

Last week at the restaurant, I spent what felt like most of a shift rescuing split things – joking on Twitter that I felt like a Relate counsellor for aioli and custard… And to be honest, I was very excited by the whole thing, because although I’ve made a hundred custards in my little life so far, I’d never ever […]

Read More →