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Baby Dutch Babies With Fruit Cocktail, from 35p

Fancy getting a little bit fruity? Whether spoiling a special someone, or simply showing yourself some love, you won’t regret whipping up this quick, gorgeous, and deliciously luxurious treat for breakfast, brunch, or even dessert. I topped mine with caramelised pears, canned peaches, and fruit cocktail in the testing phases, and fruit cocktail just about pipped the others to the post, but mostly because of that cheeky little cherry on top. Let me know what you would have on yours in the comments below, or by commenting on Facebook or Instagram! And if you make it, I always love to see your photos on social media – tag me with #jackmonroe on Instagram or @bootstrapcook on Twitter – it’s nice to be nice! <3

AD : This post is part of a long-term commercial collaboration between me and Del Monte Europe. Other links in this post may be affiliate links and may earn a small commission on purchases made. This does not affect the integrity of the recommendation, as I truly only recommend products I use myself rigorously and genuinely love with unfettered enthusiasm. Or you know, actually wrote myself, like the books. 🙂 

It’s helpful to have:

Either a muffin tin , or yorkshire pudding tin, or a 20cm round cake tin or thereabouts, or a 20cm approx cast iron or otherwise ovenproof nonstick shallow pan. I made mine in a yorkshire pudding tin, which is a very useful thing to have, but if you don’t have one, any of the above will do just fine.

Ingredients:  (I am working on a vegan version of these too, watch this space, but for where I’m at with substitutions so far, see below the recipe!)

Makes four, from 35p each

2 eggs, 26p  (79p/6 free range eggs, Asda)

2 tbsp finely ground sugar, <1p (65p/1kg, Asda)

150ml semi skimmed or whole milk, 8p (51p/l, Asda)

100g plain flour, 3p (45p/1.5kg, Asda)

A pinch of of nutmeg or cinnamon, <1p (84p/42g, Asda)

4 tsp light cooking oil, 2p (£1.09/1l, Asda)

415g can of fruit cocktail in juice, £1 (£1, Del Monte at Asda)

First drain your fruit cocktail, reserving the juice from the can, and set it to one side. I like to pop mine in the fridge in a fridge-safe container or bowl; the contrast between the cold juicy fruit and the hot fluffy base is a particularly enjoyable thing – although you may disagree, of course, in which case you’re welcome to just leave it on the side until needed.

Make your batter – on lazy days or sore-joints days I simply fling the eggs, sugar, milk, flour and nutmeg into my small bullet blender – and whizz it to a super smooth consistency, but you can crack the eggs into a bowl, beat together with the sugar, and slowly add the milk and flour instead for the same end result. And the nutmeg, for good measure.

Pop your batter in the fridge to chill out for a while; around half an hour is fine. The theory here is similar to that of yorkshire puddings – and the best and lightest of those happen when cold cold batter meets hot hot oil, a process I once described to my son as ‘it kind of jumps out of its skin’ and well, that’s certainly made it memorable in our house!

While the batter chills out, make your syrup by pouring the juice into a small saucepan and bringing it to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. I usually get around 150ml-175ml of juice out of a can of fruit cocktail if I’m patient with the draining, letting it sit in a sieve atop a jug or mixing bowl for a good while, but however much you end up with, you want to reduce it by around half. It will thicken up by itself, but if you want a particularly thick and sticky syrup, you can add another 2 tbsp of sugar to the mix to help it along. Remember it will thicken as it cools, and more importantly, remember not to taste it from the pan! The roof of my mouth still hasn’t forgiven me for that absent-minded moment last week, so don’t make the same mistake!

When the juice has reduced down to a syrup (that always tastes pleasantly melon-y to me!) remove it from the heat and transfer to a jug or mug to cool. Then get some washing up liquid and hot water in that pan fast and clean it, because once the syrup starts to set on the bottom of the pan it’s an absolute blighter to get back off again.

When your batter is chilled, turn your oven on to 200C and ensure there is a shelf set in the middle of it. Divide your oil evenly between your yorkshire pudding trays, if using them, or pour it into your cake tin. Place the tin – not the batter, not yet – into the oven for 5-6 minutes to get it super hot. Remove it carefully with a thick oven glove (or several clean dry teatowels folded over to create a thick barrier between your hand and the hot tin). Pour the batter in and immediately return it to the oven for 14 minutes. Do not be tempted to open the door until those 14 minutes are up!

When ready, carefully remove from the tin (or tray) and top with your homemade syrup and the fruit. Serve immediately, dredged with extra sugar if you really can’t help yourself. (My perpetually sore tooth should not endorse this message, but I don’t think my dentist follows my blog. And if she does, I’ll know about it next time I see her!)

Leftover dutch babies can be frozen, plain, and defrosted overnight in the fridge and refreshed in a hot oven for a few minutes to serve. Leftover fruit and syrup can be transferred to the fridge in an airtight bag or container and should be enjoyed within three days.

SUBS AND ALTERNATIVES:

VEGAN: I’m still working on a failsafe vegan version of these, as I know I have a large number of vegan readers and I want to make as many of my recipes available to as many people as possible. I’m working on using the yorkshire pudding base from Veganish but it’s not quite right for this recipe, and usual vegan subs, like banana, applesauce, and flaxseed ‘egg’ isn’t giving great results either. As soon as I’ve nailed it down, I’ll share it! 

DAIRYFREE: I have tested this recipe with a number of non-dairy milks and can confirm it works well with rice milk, cashew milk and oat milk. I don’t use almond milk as a member of my household has a severe almond allergy, so can’t vouch for that, and soya milk works but I found it needed a tablespoon of light cooking oil in the mix with it, whereas none of the others seemed to.

GLUTENFREE: Still looking for the elusive best gluten free flour blend for light batters and bakes – if you know of one, or ratios for combining any that are almond-free, do please let me know as I’d love to make more of my recipes more accessible to my GF readers too. The easiest way to let me know is to comment below, or on my Facebook page.

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Jack Monroe’s 3 Course, Zero-Waste Christmas Dinner from £4.34

All prices quoted are per person or portion, and based on generously feeding four adults, with leftovers! The full shopping list is given at the bottom of the post, which was accurate at the time of publication but may be subject to change.

Prawn Cocktail, from £1.15

Roast Potatoes, from 12p

Mandarin-Glazed Carrots & Parsnips, from 19p

Cranberry, Cashew & Veg-Peel Stuffing Roast, from 27p

Yorkshire Puddings, from 11p

Free Range Roast Chicken, from £1.26

Big Pigs In Kingsize Blankets, from 39p

Christmas Odds-And-Sods Gravy, from 11p

Sneaky Sprouts, from 29p

Mincemeat Pudding, from 37p

Get the full shopping list HERE.

A version of this menu was originally devised and developed for The St Giles Trust Pantry, registered charity number 801355. You can support their vital work by texting PANTRY to 70460 to donate £5.

If you like this, you may like my books, and if you purchase them through this neat affiliate link you support me as the author AND support local bookshops too.

Peach & Chickpea Curry, 61p [A Girl Called Jack]

This is my favourite curry, my go-to, easy but perfect comfort food. I used to make it with a cheap turkey leg, but any protein source will do – so feel free to chuck a fistful of whatever you fancy in with the onions if you want to bulk it out or extend it. Recipe from A Girl Called Jack.

Serves 2 from 61p 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 if you make a purchase.)

400g canned chickpeas, 40p

1 onion, 5p (54p/1kg)

2 fat cloves of garlic, 4p (17p/bulb)

1 chilli or a pinch of dried chilli flakes, <1p (80p/100g)

a splash of oil, 2p (£1.10/1l)

1 tsp cumin (ground or seeds), 2p (£1.15/100g)

1 x 400g tin of peaches (or apricots or mandarins), 33p (33p/411g)

1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes, 30p

a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped (optional)

1 stock cube, 5p (49p for 10)

First drain your chickpeas and rinse them vigorously. Pop them in some fresh water in a saucepan and boil rapidly for 10 minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and chop the chilli. Pour a little oil into a medium, heavy bottomed pan, and add the onion, garlic and chilli, then the cumin, and cook gently on a low heat for a few minutes to soften the onion. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up – burned onions will permeate your whole curry, whereas sweating them will add a delicious sweetness.

Drain the peaches, reserving the juice, and chop into small pieces. Add to the onion mixture in the pan, along with the reserved juice. By this time, the chickpeas should have finished boiling, so remove them from the heat and drain them, and tip them into the peaches-and-onion pan.

Pour the chopped tomatoes in, add the coriander, and crumble over the stock cube, then stir everything together. Reduce the heat to a low setting, and cook gently for 30 minutes. You may need to add a cup of water to the sauce if it starts to get a bit thick. Stir well, and serve.

 

Will keep in the fridge, cooled and stored in an airtight container, for three days, or in the freezer for three months. Reheat to piping hot to serve.

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Peach & Chickpea Curry by Jack Monroe

Peach & Chickpea Curry by Jack Monroe

Spicy Jackfruit Patties With Pineapple Hats, 74p [VEGAN]

This recipe is in partnership with Del Monte and is the vegan counterpart to the Upside Down Pineapple Chicken featured in the May issue of Delicious Magazine (which is available from supermarkets, convenience stores and newsagents from the end of April).

Serves 4 from 74p each. All prices calculated at Asda and correct at time of publication.

1 medium onion, 10p (70p/1kg, Growers Selection)

2 cloves of garlic, 4p (69p/3 bulbs, Growers Selection)

10g of fresh ginger, 4p (37p/100g, loose)

1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs, 3p (59p/12g)

1 tbsp light coloured vinegar, <1p (29p/568ml, distilled malt vinegar)

a pinch of hot chilli powder, <1p (84p/44g)

1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 5p (54p/150ml)

1 tbsp light cooking oil, 2p (£1.09/1litre)

2 tbsp (28g) tomato puree, 5p (35p/200g)

a good grind or pinch of black pepper, <1p (£1.10/100g, TRS)

2 tsp sugar, <1p (65p/1kg)

1 small can of pineapple slices in juice, 80p (80p/220g, Del Monte)

1 can of jackfruit, £1.44 (£1.44/400g, Summer Pride)

150g mushrooms, 32p (54p/250g, Farm Stores)

2 tbsp cooking oil, 3p (£1.09/1litre)

First make your marinade and sauce. Peel and dice your onion, and peel and roughly chop your garlic, and slice your ginger. Pop it all into the small cup of a bullet blender or food processor, and add the herbs, vinegar, chilli, soy sauce, pepper, cooking oil, tomato puree, and sugar or other sweetener to taste. Blitz with the pineapple juice from the can to a smooth liquid – you may need to add a splash of water, depending on how large your onion is. Give it a stir to check for lumps, and when satisfied that it is completely smooth, set it to one side for a moment.

Now drain your jackfruit very well, by tipping it into a large sieve or very fine-holed colander over the sink. With very clean hands, pick it up and squeeze it firmly between your palms to really extract all of the extraneous brine, then drop it back into the sieve and separate it with your fingers. Repeat this stage a few times until the jackfruit is fairly dry and separates easily between your fingers. Transfer it to a large mixing bowl, and set to one side.

Grate your mushrooms using the large holes on a box grater, or pulse them briefly in a bullet blender. Or if you’d rather, you can slice them finely with a large, heavy, sharp knife, then mince to smithereens. However you achieve the end result of teeny tiny bits of mushroom, add it to the jackfruit, and mix well to combine.

Add 4-6 tbsp of the marinade to the jackfruit and mushroom mixture, and stir well. Pop it in the fridge for an hour or two to let the jackfruit absorb it – this is why we drain all the brine out of it, so that it’s thirsty for all these delicious flavours!

Meanwhile, pour the remaining marinade into a saucepan and pop it on a medium heat to reduce and thicken – this should take around 20 minutes, but it depends on so many variables, like the power of your hob, the type and size of saucepan you have, how large your onion was – so just keep an eye on it, and it’ll be ready when it’s the thickness of really posh ketchup. Or if you scoop up a spoonful of it and turn it upside down, it should pause for a moment before dropping off. Think of that moment (I may be giving my age away here) where Wile E Coyote hurtles off a cliff edge after Road Runner, and there’s that comedic beat before he glances down, panics, and plummets to whatever misery awaits him below, and that’s sort of what you’re after. Then remove it from the heat and let it cool while your jackfruit and mushrooms luxuriate in their flavour bath.

When the jackfruit and mushrooms have absorbed most of the marinade and plumped back up again, return it to the sieve and gently press out any excess liquid. Form the mixture into four evenly sized balls, and set to one side.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large nonstick frying pan, and add the patties, spaced well apart. Flatten them gently with a spatula or very gently with a masher, pushing them back together if the edges crack a little. Add four pineapple rings to the pan. Fry everything on a medium heat for a few minutes on each side, until browned. Warm the sauce through, and serve each patty with a generous ladle of sauce, and a pineapple ring on top. Finish with plenty of black pepper, and serve.

5 Surprisingly Gorgeous Things You Can Make From An Old Tin Can [#JacksHacks]

This ambient bath lantern was made in a matter of minutes, with a thin cross head screwdriver, a hammer, and a lick of spray paint. I didn’t paint the inside because open flames and paint aren’t the best of bedfellows. It gave out a surprising amount of soft, flickering light and made me feel as though there was a small starry sky in my bath last night. Which is nice. I’m going to make another with a silver-lined tin instead of a white one, for a better reflection, but as a first go at it, I really love this. Be careful handing it once lit – the rim of the can gets HOT.

This is a double walled planter – I didn’t have any real plants small enough for it to photograph last night and as you can see from the pic, it was dark so I wasn’t about to go forking about in the garden with a head torch on, looking for a particularly pretty weed to uproot either! The thinner, inside can has approximately 15 holes punched in the bottom with a very thin cross-head screwdriver and a hammer. The external one has no holes, so it will catch any excess water. I’ve put a few small stones in the bottom between the two to allow for a little drainage, and they were spray painted with chalkboard paint, which is a godsend for so many little things! The internal one was originally a can of sliced peaches, and the external one once housed pineapple chunks. If and when they start to rust from water and oxygen exposure, I’ll simply clean them out, strip the paint off, pop them in the recycling, and start again.

A hanging cutlery drainer, made with duck egg blue gloss spray paint, a small screwdriver, a hammer, and a piece of string. I punched several holes in the bottom, painted it twice, varnished it with spray varnish to seal it but that’s just because I’m finicky, and wrapped the string around the top to make a handle. It also works sitting on the draining board, but I have a thing about keeping my surfaces as clear as possible, and every little thing popped up in the air or on the wall instead of the space where I chop and cook and assemble and write and roam, is a little win in my book. This can was once a can of prunes, now it’s a useful and rather beautiful kitchen implement. Hurrah!

Hanging plant pot. I’m gonna level with you, this was frustrating to get the string right, and I ended up securing it to the bottom with a blob of blu-tack. Looks pretty though, and small hanging planters are very much the rage right now if Instagram is anything to go by. Or maybe that’s just a revealing insight into who I follow. People who like plants tend to be good people though, right?

My fave of the bunch – a Tin Can Alley style garden game. I’m impatiently waiting to get through more cans now so I can make loads of these, so me and Small Boy can lob tennis balls at them in the garden and knock them over. As you can see from the top can, I tested the fun levels myself yesterday! I won’t disclose how many attempts it took to actually hit the can with the ball though! These cans once housed pear halves and fruit cocktail. Now they’re sitting in my shed, waiting for some buddies to join them so we can have a jolly good time. In the slightly Beano-esque image this conjures up, I think I may even persuade Small Boy to let me use his catapult. Reports to follow!

Now, I actually ended up making a LOT more than these six things yesterday, which is why I ran out of cans for the Tin Can Alley, so I’ll be sharing some more ideas with you soon! I’d also love to hear your frugal and fun ideas for recycling, up cycling, and reusing tin cans, glass jars, bottles, ring pulls, plastic bottles, the plastic trays that some little salad veg and fruits come in, egg boxes, and more. Drop me a comment below or ping it over as a comment on Facebook or Instagram – and I’ll be back with a recipe very soon!

These cans were gifted by Del Monte Europe (with their contents) and repurposed and recycled by me, Jack Monroe. Links in the article above may be affiliate links which may earn a small commission on purchases made by recommendation. All images, text and IP are the copyright of Jack Monroe.

Linda McCartney Tomato & Basil Meatballs With Orzo-Or-Rice [VEGAN]

This super simple, tomatoey dish is really versatile – you can make it with orzo or rice, and it uses some of my favourite flavours from my Greek Cypriot heritage. Oregano, rosemary, cinnamon and nutmeg complement the delicious moreishness of Linda McCartney Vegetarian Tomato And Basil Meatballs. This is a really easy store cupboard recipe that’s comforting, filling, and full of goodness – and thanks to the ease of just popping these meatballs out of the freezer, it can be thrown together with barely any time or effort at all. One of my new faves – I hope you love it too!

This recipe was created in partnership with Linda McCartney Foods.

Makes four generous portions

1 large onion

4-6 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp mixed dried herbs, or any of the following: oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram

a generous pinch of nutmeg

a generous pinch of cinnamon

400g chopped tomatoes

400g passata, or another can of tomatoes

1 tbsp sugar or your preferred alternative

100g green or black olives

1 tbsp lemon juice, fresh or bottled

salt and pepper

280g orzo pasta or white long grain rice

290g packet of Linda McCartney’s Ridiculously Tasty Tomato & Basil Meatballs

First peel and finely dice your onion, and peel and finely mince your garlic. Warm a little oil in a large nonstick pan and add the onion on a low heat. Cook, stirring, for around 10 minutes until they start to soften.

Add your herbs, and the nutmeg and cinnamon, then pour in your tomatoes and passata. Add your sugar, and halve your olives and add those too. Add your lemon juice, and season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a brief boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes to thicken and develop the flavours.

Add your orzo or rice to the pot, along with 1 250ml cup of water. Stir well, and cook for 10-12 minutes if using orzo, 20 minutes if using rice. You may need to add more water, don’t overdo it as you can always put more in but it’s harder to take it out!

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a separate frying pan and cook your Linda McCartney Meatballs from frozen on a medium-high heat for around 15 minutes. You can also bake them in the oven at 180C in a roasting dish or baking tray for 10-12 minutes, shaking gently or turning over halfway through to cook evenly.

Combine the meatballs with the tomatoey orzo or rice, and serve.

As an optional extra, you can add finely chopped greens – kale, spring greens, chard or spinach all work well, and a little vegan cheese to finish.

Allow leftovers to cool completely then transfer to an airtight bag or container. It will keep in the fridge for 2 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. Reheat to piping hot throughout to serve.

Linda McCartney Sausage, Greens & Pulses Curry

This recipe is a paid collaboration between me and Linda McCartney Foods for Veganuary 2021. It will be updated with costings shortly – it’s been an extraordinarily busy week!

Serves 4

2 tbsp cooking oil,

1 large onion,

4 fat cloves of garlic or 6 dinky ones,

A thumb sized piece of ginger,

1 tbsp ground cumin,

1 tsp turmeric,

1 tbsp garam masala

A pinch of chilli flakes

400g canned tomatoes

400g full fat coconut milk

400g canned kidney beans (chickpeas also work well here!)

Scant 1/2 tsp English mustard

6 Linda McCartney sausages

Spinach or kale or spring greens

First peel your onion and quarter it, then cut each quarter segment in half. If you have onion-averse household members, feel free to chop it much smaller to sneak past them, but I like it nice and chunky to complement the pieces of sausage in the dish. Peel the garlic cloves and quarter them lengthways. Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan, and add the onions and garlic. Grate in the ginger, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the spices – the cumin, turmeric, garam masala and chilli flakes – and stir in to coat the onions evenly. You can throw in any extra veg you want to use up here! Cook on a low-medium heat for around 8 minutes, stirring intermittently to keep it all moving so it doesn’t stick and burn.

Drain and thoroughly rinse your chickpeas, and add to the pan. Pour over the canned tomatoes, and the coconut milk, add your mustard, and stir well. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

While the curry sauce cooks, fry your sausages. I found they worked best in a griddle pan on a high heat with a splash of oil straight from frozen, but they can also be cooked under the grill, or in the oven, if you prefer. I did test this recipe by cooking the sausages with the onions at the start and piling everything else on top, and it also worked just fine, but while perfectly tasty, it’s not as good-looking as the satisfying char from a griddle pan – so if you don’t mind your dinner not winning any style awards, you can just sling them in the pot at the start and be done with it.

Season to taste with a little salt and pepper, and fold the spinach through to wilt before serving.

Vegan Pastitsio, 77p

This recipe has been produced in partnership with Linda McCartney foods for Veganuary.

Pastitsio is a food that reminds me of my childhood; snaffled from piled-high buffet plates at various relatives’ houses following Greek Orthodox church services, usually a christening or a funeral. My aunties would usually make them; huge trays of something that was a cross between a lasagne and a macaroni cheese. Usually stuffed with ground meat and several kinds of cheese, it was a challenge to make one that was vegan but still authentic enough to not get myself excommunicated from my family! But here it is – and it’s an instant classic in my household already. Using Linda McCartney’s Vegemince, it’s super simple to make – and can be enjoyed straight from the fridge, so make a large batch and give yourself a few days off cooking. Who said Veganuary meant missing out?

Ingredients – serves 6 generously from 77p each. All prices quoted are based on Asda groceries and correct at time of writing.

For the bechemal:
50g flour, 2p (45p/1.5kg)
60ml cooking oil, 7p (olive is traditional, but I use sunflower), (£1.09/1l)
1 tbsp or 11g nutritional yeast, 28p (£3.15/125g) – not essential
Scant 1/2 tsp mustard, any kind, <1p (37p/180g)
400ml cashew milk or unsweetened soya milk, 22p (55p/1l unsweetened UHT soya milk)
100g vegan mozarella, 70p (£1.40/200g)

For the mince:
1 onion, 8p (60p/1kg)
2 large stalks of celery, 10p (50p/bunch)
1 medium carrot, 5p (44p/1kg)
4 fat cloves of garlic or 6 dinky ones, 12p (69p/3 bulbs)
2 tsp oil, 1p (£1.09/1l)
1/2 tsp cinnamon, <1p (75p/100g)
1 tsp mixed dried herbs, 1p (30p/18g)
A pinch of powdered clove or 2 whole cloves, 3p (88p/31g) – not essential
500g Linda McCartney Vegemince, £2.25 (£2.25/500g)
175ml red wine or strong black tea, 1p (39p/40 teabags)
125ml strong mushroom or vegetable stock or weak vegan gravy, 3p (39p/12 stock cubes)
500g passata, 33p (33p/500g)
1 tsp vinegar, 1p (29p/568ml)
1 tbsp sugar, 1p (65p/1kg)

Plus 300g tubular pasta – traditionally it’s bucatini but I used penne, and macaroni is also fine, 27p (45p/500g)

First peel and very finely chop your onion, and finely slice your celery. Grate your carrot, including the peels and the top, using the large holes on a box grater. Heat 2tbsp of oil on your largest hob ring in a very large nonstick pan, and add the veg. Turn the heat down to low – the large hob will still give off a generous amount of firepower – and add your cinnamon, herbs and clove. Season generously with salt and pepper, and cook gently for around 10 minutes, keeping them moving every now and then so they don’t stick and burn.

Add your mince, from frozen, and stir through the veg. Pour over your wine (or tea), passata, and stock. Stir in the vinegar and sugar. Bring to the boil, briefly, then reduce to a simmer, uncovered, for around 20 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, make your bechemal. If you have a small bullet blender, this step is super easy. Just weigh the flour into the largest cup, and add the oil, mustard, sliced vegan mozzarella, nutritional yeast, a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper, and two-thirds of the cashew milk. Blend for 60 seconds, or until smooth. It will look a little thin, but don’t worry, it thickens up when warmed, just like in the traditional method. Transfer it into a saucepan, on a low heat on your smallest hob ring, and stir intermittently to keep it smooth, adding the remaining cashew milk a little at a time. When it has thickened sufficiently that it thickly coats the back of your wooden spoon, remove from the heat. It will continue to firm up – don’t be alarmed by this – but if it starts to set, loosen it with a little of the boiling pasta water from the next step.

Bring a large, wide pan of generously salted water to the boil, and add your pasta. Slightly undercook it, so it is al dente, as it will continue to cook in the oven. Around 6-7 minutes is fine for most dried pastas, but check the packet instructions and simply knock 1-2 minutes off the cooking time. When the pasta goes into the pot, turn your oven on to 180C and lightly grease your dish.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pan. Add a ladle of the bechemal and shake through gently to lightly coat the pasta.

Transfer half of the pasta to the bottom of the dish. If you want to be fastidious about it, you can try to make sure the pasta is all aligned neatly so when it is cut through it looks spectacularly neat and really quite awesome, but Greek and Cypriot cooking is more of a practical skill than a beauty pageant, so you can just pop it in however you like.

Stir a ladle of bechemal into the mince and sauce, then spread it evenly over the pasta. Layer the remaining pasta on top, then pour over the remaining bechemal. You can top this with extra cheese if you like, but it’s not essential.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, then remove and allow to cool to room temperature before enjoying. Can be stored in the fridge for three days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Delicious enjoyed fridge-cold, room temperature (as is traditional), or piping hot.

If you like this you might like my books! You can support a network of independent bookshops – and me! – by using my affiliate link here: https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/JackMonroe

Mincemeat Pudding, from 37p

Serves at least 4 very generously, from 37p. For the full shopping list, see here.

300g white bread, 14p (36p/800g, HW Nevill at Tesco)

300ml whole milk, 26p (50p/568ml or 1pt, Asda) OR the combined strained juices from the canned mandarins and canned grapefruit from the Stuffing Roast and Prawn Cocktail, if making this as part of the Christmas menu

50g baking spread, 11p (55p/250g, Best For Baking spread, Asda)

300g mincemeat, 84p (£1.15/411g, Asda)

1 egg, 13p (75p/6 medium free range eggs, Asda)

400g can of custard, 50p (Tesco or Asda) – optional

First dice your bread, tear it up, or blast it in a food processor. They all give a similar result, with the food processor edging it for a slightly more even texture but not enough to justify yet more washing up, in my humble opinion. But do whatever feels right to you, with whatever you have at your disposal. Place into a large mixing bowl that will easily hold twice its volume, and set aside for a moment.

In a second, smaller mixing bowl, or jug, measure in the milk. Melt the spread and beat in quickly. Mix in the mincemeat – it won’t look particularly pretty at this stage, but it all works itself out in a moment. Add the egg and beat in briskly with a fork, until the wet ingredients are well combined.

Pour the wet ingredients over the bread, and mix well. Leave to stand and absorb for 15 minutes.

Lightly grease a loaf tin, 20cm cake tin (round or square), or individual pudding tins. Transfer the pudding mixture to the tin, or divide equally if using pudding tins.

Place in the centre of the oven at 190C, covering with a little foil to prevent it from overly browning. You can remove this 10 minutes before the end if you like a crispy top and edge to your pudding. Bake for 50 minutes, checking with a knife to the centre, cocktail stick or skewer. It should be moist and dense but not underdone. If it clings to your implement, return it to the very bottom shelf of the oven for a further 10-15 minutes.

Serve with custard, or whatever suits.

This can be made up to three days in advance and warmed through in the microwave or oven to serve as required.

A version of this menu was originally devised and developed for The St Giles Trust Pantry, registered charity number 801355. You can support their vital work by texting PANTRY to 70460 to donate £5.

If you like this, you may like my books, and if you purchase them through this neat affiliate link you support me as the author AND support local bookshops too.

Cranberry, Mandarin & Cashew Nut Stuffing Roast, from 27p

[*This post recommends Del Monte products because I genuinely really love them, and also because we are currently working together in a long term commercial partnership. I never recommend anything that I don’t genuinely use and love, but in the interests of transparency, that’s why they’re namechecked here!]

Serves 8 adults, from 27p each. For the full shopping list, click here.

2 onions, 12p (60p/1kg, Growers Selection at Asda)

200g fresh bread, 9p (36p/800g, HW Nevill at Tesco)

PLUS washed clean peels from parsnips, carrots and potatoes, chopped up very finely

125g cashew nuts, soaked in two changes of cold water for 1hr minimum each to remove excess salt, 75p, (75p/125g, Smartprice at Asda)

1 can of mandarins, £1 (Del Monte* at Asda or Tesco)

2 tbsp or 35g cranberry sauce, 9p (49p/200g, Tesco)

1 tsp mixed dried herbs, 3p (30p/18g, Asda)

40g baking spread, melted, 9p (55p/250g Best For Baking Spread at Asda)

20g lard, melted, 3p (39p/250g, Stockwell at Tesco) – if making for vegan or veggie friends replace with 20ml cooking oil or 20g solid coconut oil, as preferred

Salt and pepper, <1p

First peel your onions and top and tail them, then cover with generously salted water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Simmer for around 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, blitz your bread into crumbs in a food processor or chop into 1cm dice with a bread knife or sharp heavy knife. Blitz your veg peels in the processor, or chop up very small with a sharp heavy knife.

Drain and dry the nuts, either toasting in a dry frying pan for a minute, or shake onto a clean tea towel, place another on top, and roll them under your palms for a minute to absorb the excess water.

Remove the onions from the water – if you want to be extra frugal you can keep the water and use it to make your gravy with if you’ve not made it already, or boil it down to a manageable amount and pop it in a jar in the fridge as a starter for your leftovers soup tomorrow!

Drain your mandarins and reserve the juice or syrup in a jug, bowl or any other receptacle – you can use this as the liquid component in your mincemeat pudding, to glaze your chicken or turkey, to add a sweet undertone to your gravy, or to caramelise your carrots and parsnips.

Chop the onion finely and add to the mixing bowl with the bread, veg and nuts. Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl; the drained mandarins, cranberry sauce, herbs, and melted baking spread. Add these to the middle of the dry ingredients and mix really well – it should be stiff but not impossible; if it’s a bit dry or crumbly, add a dash of the reserved mandarin juice. If it’s slightly sloppy, add some more bread.

Lightly grease a loaf tin and transfer your mixture into it, pressing it down and into the corners firmly. 

Bake in the centre of the oven at 190C for 50 minutes – it may be made in advance and reheated, or chilled uncooked and put in the oven an hour before the main meal is due to be served. It will keep in the fridge cooked for 2 days, uncooked for 2 days, and leftovers can be frozen for up to six months.

A version of this menu was originally devised and developed for The St Giles Trust Pantry, registered charity number 801355. You can support their vital work by texting PANTRY to 70460 to donate £5.

If you like this, you may like my books, and if you purchase them through this neat affiliate link you support me as the author AND support local bookshops too.

Yorkshire Puddings, from 11p

This recipe makes eight small Yorkshire puddings in regular sized muffin tins or four large Yorkshire puddings in Yorkshire pudding tins.

2 tablespoons or 25g of lard, 4p (39p/250g, Stockwells at Tesco)

125 g plain flour, 4p (45p/1.5kg, Stockwells at Tesco)

A pinch of salt, <1p

Half a teaspoon of mixed dried herbs, 1p (30p/18g, Asda)

2 medium eggs, 25p (75p for 6 medium free range eggs, Asda)

150 ml of whole milk, 13p (50p/568ml or 1pt whole milk, Asda)

First turn your oven on to 190°C.

Drop a little lard into the bottom of each muffin tin, and pop the tin into the oven to heat.

Weigh your flour into a jug, this makes pouring out the batter far easier. Add the salt and herbs and stir briefly to distribute.

Crack in the eggs and pour over half of the milk, and beat in the remaining milk.

Check your muffin tin, the fat should be very hot! Remove it carefully but quickly from the oven. Pour the batter in, divided evenly between the tins. Return quickly to the oven. Close the door and do not open it for 15 minutes. You need to be very strict about this else your Yorkshire puddings are at risk of collapse. 

After 15 minutes have passed, open the oven a fraction and take a peek – they should be light and fluffy and enormous! Serve them pretty quickly.

A version of this menu was originally devised and developed for The St Giles Trust Pantry, registered charity number 801355. You can support their vital work by texting PANTRY to 70460 to donate £5.

If you like this, you may like my books, and if you purchase them through this neat affiliate link you support me as the author AND support local bookshops too.

Big Pigs In Kingsize Blankets, 39p

Serves at least 4, but that’s allowing for three full sized sausages each, and even I admit that may be a little excessive. Maybe. For the full shopping list, see here.

12 sausages, £1.20 (Woodside Farms at Tesco)

200g cooking bacon, rashers only, 30p (75p/500g, Woodside Farms at Tesco)

1 tbsp cranberry sauce, 4p (49p/200g, Tesco)

First separate your cooking bacon out into ‘rashers, chunks and scraps’. You want the rashers for this, but some of the more substantial scraps will do as well. The chunks work well in stews and casseroles, and the scraps in pasta sauces and in with your sprouts.

Brush each sausage with a little cranberry sauce – this helps the bacon stick to it and stops runaway blankets, and also imparts a note of sweetness that’s delightfully pleasant and unexpected.

Wrap a rasher (or substantial scrap or two) around each sausage, and place snugly in a small roasting dish, side by side. If you pack them in tightly, they are less likely to unravel, so you can get away with using scrappier pieces of bacon here.

Cook in the centre of the oven at 190C for 50 minutes – to save space, I stuff mine around the outside of the chicken or turkey, which means all the sausage, bacon and meat juices pool in the bottom of the one dish, ready to be poured either into the gravy, or into a jar in the fridge for a starter for a rich stock or soup base.

A version of this menu was originally devised and developed for The St Giles Trust Pantry, registered charity number 801355. You can support their vital work by texting PANTRY to 70460 to donate £5.

If you like this, you may like my books, and if you purchase them through this neat affiliate link you support me as the author AND support local bookshops too.

Prawn Cocktail With Caramelised Grapefruit, £1.15

[*This post recommends Del Monte products because I genuinely really love them, and because we are currently working together in a long term commercial partnership. I never recommend anything that I don’t genuinely use and love, but in the interests of transparency, that’s why they’re namechecked here!]

To serve 4, generously. For the full shopping list, see here.

200g small prawns, £2 (Smartprice at Asda, frozen)

90ml/6tbsp seafood sauce, 36p (£1/250ml, Tesco)

salt and pepper, <1p

1 can of grapefruit, £1.10 (Del Monte*)

130g shredded iceberg lettuce, 35p (Growers Selection at Asda)

200g cherry tomatoes, 48p (Nightingale Farms at Tesco)

half a cucumber, 32p (Growers Selection at Asda)

First defrost your prawns overnight in the fridge – best to do this in the sealed bag they came in to catch the excess liquid that comes out as they defrost. If you forget, and we all do, you can leave them in a bowl of cold water, covered, at room temperature on Christmas morning, but squeeze one between finger and thumb to make sure it is fully defrosted an hour or so before assembling to serve.

Drain your prawns well and gently squeeze them out, and transfer to a small bowl. Mix with the seafood sauce and a little salt and pepper, and set to one side.

Drain your grapefruit juice, reserving the juice. You can use this to glaze your carrots and parsnips, or as the liquid component in your mincemeat pudding, or add to festive fizz if that’s your thing, or lemonade if its not.

Heat a frying pan on a high heat on your largest hob ring – you don’t need to add any fat as the grapefruit is super juicy, but if you want to, a splash of oil or a little of any solid fat will do. Carefully place the grapefruit in, spacing it apart so you have room to turn it over, and turn the heat down to medium so it doesn’t run riot.

Fry your grapefruit segments for two minutes on one side, and then around a minute and a half on the other, until it starts to char slightly and caramelise. It may take a little longer or be a little quicker depending on your hob and pan – it’s almost impossible to be exact about these things as everyones home kitchens and personal tastes are so variable, so just keep a close eye on it. When done, remove from the heat to cool.

Either finely dice your cucumber, or shave it into thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler or julienne peeler. You can also grate it with the large holes on a box grate if you like, but this tends to produce a ‘wetter’ end result, so transfer it onto a couple of sheets of kitchen roll or a clean flat tea towel and gently squeeze it out to remove any excess liquid if you do it this way.

Quarter your cherry tomatoes, or if you’re super fastidious (like me, sometimes) you can cut them into eighths. I quite understand if you don’t want to- there’s more than enough to be getting on with – but I find it bizarrely meditative.

Divide your shredded lettuce between four bowls or glasses. Add your cucumber, then your tomatoes. Dollop in your prawns in seafood sauce, and finish with the cooled griddled grapefruit. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.

If you have it in stock, you may wish to adorn with a little chilli flakes, chilli sauce, or tabasco. Lemon isn’t needed here, as the grapefruit provides the sharp citrus kick, but a little heat is always a tantalising finish. If you don’t keep these to hand, a little extra pepper will do the same job.

A version of this menu was originally devised and developed for The St Giles Trust Pantry, registered charity number 801355. You can support their vital work by texting PANTRY to 70460 to donate £5.

If you like this, you may like my books, and if you purchase them through this neat affiliate link you support me as the author AND support local bookshops too.

Parsnips & Carrots In Mandarin Glaze, from 19p

Serves 4, generously, from 19p each. See the full shopping list here.

500g parsnips, 40p (40p/500g, Perfectly Imperfect at Tesco)

700g carrots, 28p (41p/1kg at Tesco)

a little lard or cooking oil, 2p (see shopping list)

a pinch of mixed dried herbs, 2p (30p/18g, Asda)

a pinch of salt, <1p

a little black pepper, <1p

juice from the canned mandarins, optional (see shopping list)

First peel your parsnips and carrots, and set the peels to one side in a mixing bowl with a little cold water and a dash of lemon or vinegar to keep them from browning – you’ll be using these in your stuffing roast later!

Pop the carrots and parsnips in a large saucepan, and salt generously. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes.

Drain – reserving the water to reduce for your gravy later – and transfer to a roasting tin. Add the juice from the mandarin can, if using, and lard or oil. Season with salt and pepper, and a pinch of mixed dried herbs.

Bake in the centre of the oven at 190C for 45ish minutes – with a jiggle halfway through to evenly caramelise and re-baste in the fat and citrus juices.

Once finished, they will keep in the bottom of the oven for up to 45 minutes, or can be removed and returned for 10-15 minutes to warm through to serve.

A version of this menu was originally devised and developed for The St Giles Trust Pantry, registered charity number 801355. You can support their vital work by texting PANTRY to 70460 to donate £5.

If you like this, you may like my books, and if you purchase them through this neat affiliate link you support me as the author AND support local bookshops too.

Odds And Sods Gravy, from 11p

To serve 4, from 11p each. For the full shopping list, see here.

3 chicken or vegetable stock cubes, 10p (39p/12, Asda)

2 large onions, 12p (60p/1kg, Growers Selection at Asda)

2 tbsp or 35g cranberry sauce, 9p (49p/200g, Tesco)

2 tbsp or 30g flour, 1p (45p/1.5kg, Stockwell at Tesco)

3 tbsp or 40g soft spread, 9p (55p/250g, Best For Baking at Asda)

a pinch of mixed dried herbs (30p/18g at Asda)

This may be controversial but it really does work, and it’s super easy, so trust me, even if it feels a bit wrong!

First peel your onions, quarter them, and pop them in a small powerful blender, along with all the other ingredients and 300ml cold water. Blend until completely smooth.

Pour into a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook slowly and gently for around 40 minutes, stirring every now and then. If you have a small slow cooker this is perfect to put in on Christmas Eve on Low and wake up Christmas morning to the smell of gravy wafting through the house! Thin to your desired consistency with extra water – the water from cooking the roast potatoes is ideal as it’s starchy and warm and salty, and this way it doesn’t go to waste!

You can let this cool and microwave it when you need it, or heat it through on the hob to serve, but it does thicken as it cools so if you plan to do that, make it a bit thinner than you’d like to serve it. I have an alcohol-free house but if you have some cheap red or white wine or even cider kicking about, a splash or two in this gravy would be delicious!

You can also add the fat that seeps out from cooking your pigs in blankets, and the juices from your chicken or turkey roast, to really give it a rich and succulent flavour. If you’re planning to do this, maybe dial the soft buttery spread down a bit – else you might not have room for pudding!

A version of this menu was originally devised and developed for The St Giles Trust Pantry, registered charity number 801355. You can support their vital work by texting PANTRY to 70460 to donate £5.

If you like this, you may like my books, and if you purchase them through this neat affiliate link you support me as the author AND support local bookshops too.

Jack Monroe’s £4.34 3-Course, Zero-Waste Christmas Dinner: THE SHOPPING LIST

All prices quoted are from Asda and Tesco, correct as of December 2020

[*This post recommends Del Monte products because I genuinely really love them, and because we are currently working together in a long term commercial partnership. I never recommend anything that I don’t genuinely use and love, but in the interests of transparency, that’s why they’re namechecked here!]

Asda free range chicken, £5.04 avg 1.55kg

2kg white potatoes, £0.79, Farm Stores at Asda

250g lard, £0.39, Stockwells at Tesco

22 slice white loaf, 36p, HW Nevill’s at Tesco

Roasted and salted cashew nuts, £0.75/125g, Smartprice at Asda

12 x chicken or vegetable stock cubes, 39p, Asda own brand

500g Brussels sprouts, 93p, Redmere Farms at Tesco

12 sausages, £1.20, Woodside Farms at Tesco

500g cooking bacon, 75p, Woodside Farms at Tesco

1kg brown onions, 60p, Growers Selection at Asda

1kg carrots, 41p, Tesco

500g parsnips, 40p, Perfectly Imperfect at Tesco

1 can of mandarin segments, £1, Del Monte* at Asda

200g small frozen prawns, £2, Smartprice at Asda

130g shredded iceberg lettuce, £0.35, Growers Selection at Asda

250g cherry tomatoes, 48p, Nightingale Farms at Tesco

Half a cucumber, £0.32, Growers Selection at Asda

250ml seafood sauce, £1, Tesco

200g cranberry sauce, 49p, Tesco

411g mincemeat, £1.15, Asda own brand

1.5kg plain flour, 45p, Stockwell & Co at Tesco

250g Best For Baking Cake Spread, 55p, Asda own brand

Tin of custard, 50p, Asda own brand

6 medium free range eggs, 75p, Asda own brand

1 pint (568ml) whole milk, 50p, Asda own brand

Mixed dried herbs, 30p for 18g, Asda

Grapefruit, £1.10, Asda

A version of this menu was originally devised and developed for The St Giles Trust Pantry, registered charity number 801355. You can support their vital work by texting PANTRY to 70460 to donate £5.

If you like this, you may like my books, and if you purchase them through this neat affiliate link you support me as the author AND support local bookshops too.