Photography by Susan Bell.

Carrot, cumin & kidney bean burgers, 10p (VEGAN)

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

This burger is where the media storm began, and dubbed ‘the 9p burger’ because of the low cost of the ingredients used to make it, it’s one of my most popular recipes. A can of value range red kidney beans is a cheap but excellent source of protein and I built a lot of my early cooking around it, and they became a firm staple in my household. I triple the recipe to make a batch of them, and freeze them in patties to whip out at a moment’s notice and fry on a low heat. I’ve updated the price list on this recipe to reflect the sad rise in the cost of basic and budget ingredients over the last two years, they’re not 9p burgers any more, but they are still incredibly cheap. I like mine best in a pitta bread (22p for 6) and a dollop of mango chutney or mayo…

Makes 4 generous burgers at 15p each or 6 good sized ones at 10p each*:

1 x 400g tin of kidney beans, 30p
1 smallish onion (150g approx), peeled and finely chopped, 9p
1 large carrot (150g approx), grated, 8p
1 teaspoon (1.5g) ground cumin, 4p
a stem (1g) of fresh coriander, finely chopped (optional, replace with parsley if you don’t like coriander), 3p
1 tbsp veg or sunflower oil, plus 2 tablespoons to fry the burgers, 6p
1 heaped teaspoon flour, plus another to shape the burgers, 1p

Drain the kidney beans and rinse in cold water to wash away the ‘tinned’ taste. Put into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes to really soften.

Put the onion, carrot, cumin and coriander into a medium saute or frying pan. Add the splash of oil and cook on a low heat to soften. When the kidney beans have softened, drain well and add to the carrots and onion. Remove from the heat and mash together until you have a smoothish puree, like a mashed potato consistency. Stir in the flour to stiffen.

Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan on a medium heat. With floured hands, take a quarter of the burger mixture and roll it into a ball. Make three more balls with the remaining mixture. Place one in the oil and flatten gently with a fork to make the burger shape. Depending on the size of your pan, you may be able to cook all the burgers at once or need to do them in batches – unless you’re freezing some of the uncooked patties. Cook for a few minutes on one side, before turning. The burgers need to be handled with care as they can be quite fragile before they’re done! When cooked and slightly crisp on both sides, remove from the pan and serve.

Tip: Make the burger mixture in advance and pop into the fridge for a few hours – it firms up nicely and is less fragile when cooking. It will keep, covered, for 2 days so can be made well in advance.

*Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I currently shop, but things like carrots and onions are widely sold in many other places for similar prices. If you happen to find them ludicrously cheaper, please comment below as I’m sure my readers would love to know where the bargains are. Prices are also subject to change but are correct at the time of blogging. I worked them out like this:

Basics kidney beans 30p/400g. Basics bag of onions 95p/1.5kg. Basics bag of carrots 85p/1.5kg. Ground cumin £1/42g. Fresh coriander 80p/28g. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics plain flour 55p/1.5kg. Correct on 31 Jan 2015.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe

…and if you like this, you might like one of my books, available to order over at Hive, who will ship it to your local independent book store, or your house! Check it out here: http://www.hive.co.uk/search/Jack+monroe/mediatype/all/

A soup that's like a great big comforting hug... Yes please.

Roasted carrot, chickpea and garlic soup, 26p (VEGAN)

A soup that's like a great big comforting hug... Yes please.

A soup that’s like a great big comforting hug… Yes please.

I woke up this morning craving a carrot soup – it’s all rock and roll round here these days. I’m a bit snuffly around the edges at the moment, sore throat and generally feeling a bit sorry for myself, and still limping around tragically on a still-broken left foot. This may be the most self-pitying recipe introduction to date. But basically, I fancied something warm, and sweet, and comforting, and easy to do. Something I could fling in the oven and forget about, and get something good inside. Carrot led to roast carrot, and garlic, and some chickpeas for protein and good measure – and the result is a subtly spiced, hearty, sweet and delicious soup. It’s like the soup equivalent of a cuddle, this one. And suitable for all my lovely vegan readers, too. Hurrah.

Serves 4 at 26p each:

300g carrots (approx 3 medium ones), 17p
240g tinned chickpeas (that’s the drained and rinsed weight of a 400g can), 60p
4 fat cloves of garlic, 7p
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or sunflower), 4p
150g onion (one small one or half a large one), 9p
1/2 tsp cumin (1.3g), 3p
a pinch of dried chilli flakes, 2p
800ml weak vegetable stock (1/2 stock cube will do), 1p

First heat your oven to 180C. Wash your carrots and slice thickly, and toss into a roasting tin. Drain and thoroughly rinse your chickpeas and add to the tin, with the whole garlic cloves. Pour over the oil and give it all a shuffley-shake to lightly coat it, and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and finely slice your onion, and set to one side. When your first 20 minutes is up, remove the roasting tin from the oven, scatter the onion over, and the cumin and chilli, and give it all another shake. Cook for a further 20 minutes, until it looks like this:

Yummy roasty goodness. And yes I leave the tops on my carrots - waste not want not!

Yummy roasty goodness. And yes I leave the tops on my carrots – waste not want not!

Remove the garlic cloves from the roasting tin, and tip the rest of the contents into a blender – keeping some chickpeas aside to garnish if you like that sort of thing. Squeeze in the soft garlic (don’t put the skins in the blender, they end up like tiny bits of wet tissue that stick to the roof of your mouth. We learn from our errors, round here, and pass the wisdom on – though in my defence that was many years ago…). Add the stock and blend until smooth.

Remove from the blender and warm through, garnishing with reserved chickpeas to serve.

*Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I currently shop, but things like carrots and onions are widely sold in many other places for similar prices. If you happen to find them ludicrously cheaper, please comment below as I’m sure my readers would love to know where the bargains are. Prices are also subject to change but are correct at the time of blogging. I worked them out like this:
Basics carrots 85p/1.5kg. 400g tin of chickpeas 60p. Basics garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics onions 95p/1.5kg. Ground cumin £1/42g. Dried crushed chilli flakes £1/32g. Basics vegetable stock cubes 25p/10 cubes.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe

…and if you like this, you might like one of my books, available to order over at Hive, who will ship it to your local independent book store, or your house! Check it out here: http://www.hive.co.uk/search/Jack+monroe/mediatype/all/

IMG_3985-0.JPG

Pumpkin, lentil and spinach daal

IMG_3985.JPG

Serves around 4, depending on appetite.

150g dried red lentils
4 fat cloves of garlic
1 large white or red onion
1 tsp cumin (seeds or ground)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 red chilli (the general rule is the smaller they are, the hotter they are) or pinch of the dried stuff
A grating of fresh ginger or pinch of dried
1 tbsp oil
100g pumpkin purée
100ml coconut milk or natural yoghurt
100g spinach (fresh or frozen)
Zest and juice of a lemon

First rinse your red lentils thoroughly under cold running water, and set to one side.

Peel and finely chop your garlic, and peel and finely slice the onion, and toss them into a saucepan or frying pan – ideally with a non stick bottom, but if you don’t have one don’t worry, just use a little extra oil and be very vigilant about stirring it so it doesn’t all stick! Add the cumin, turmeric, finely chopped chilli and grated ginger, then stir in the oil and turn on the heat, low and slow to soften the garlic and onions and so as not to burn the spices.

When the onions have softened (and turned a brilliant yellow colour from the turmeric), add the rinsed red lentils, water, pumpkin purée and the lemon juice, and bring the heat up to medium for 8-10 minutes to soften the lentils. You may need to add more water, depending on how ‘wet’ your purée is.

When the lentils are soft and swollen, add your coconut milk or yoghurt to sweeten and add a soft creamy texture. If you’re using coconut milk, you can add it while the daal is still on the heat. If you’ve opted for yoghurt, remove the daal from the heat and add it slowly, a tablespoon at a time, stirring to stop it from splitting.

Tear up the spinach and stir through to wilt before serving, and garnish with the lemon zest.

And enjoy! I like mine with fluffy rice on the side, and leftovers in a sandwich or pitta bread the next day…

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

IMG_3312.JPG

Lots and lots of mini onion bhajis! (RECIPE)

Today, the children’s school were having a party in their classroom to celebrate Eid – and somewhere last week in a fit of madness, I’d enthusiastically offered to make something savoury for them to take in to share with their class, like samosas or something. That enthusiasm had wilted by half past seven this morning, as I realised I hadn’t done it, and there was no space in the morning uniform-teeth-breakfast flail to start mucking about stuffing tiny little triangles of filo pastry with whatever bits of veg were in the fridge. So. A quick root around in the bottom drawer yielded a world of onions, and a batch of little onion bhajis. These have no chilli in, as I was making them for a class of 4 and 5 year olds, but feel free to add one or two finely chopped red chillies for a bit of spice. I also used a mix of red and white onions, for extra sweetness. And Allegra tossed some cinnamon in at the eleventh hour, for even more sweetness. Most cooking exploits are a joint effort these days! Makes 30 mini bhajis:

100g gram flour
50g plain flour
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
A pinch of cinnamon
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
2 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter, melted
Juice of a lemon (or 3 tbsp bottled lemon juice)
2 tbsp mango chutney
3 large onions
Oil, for deep frying.

First weigh out your flour and tip into a large mixing bowl. (If you’re in a rush or don’t have scales, 1 rounded tbsp of flour is equal to around 15g, so you want about 7 rounded tbsp of gram flour and 4 rounded tbsp of plain.) Add the fennel, turmeric, cinnamon and cumin, grate in the ginger, and finely chop the garlic and add to the mix. Give it all a good stir to evenly distribute the spices so you don’t end up with one seriously interesting bhaji and 29 slightly boring ones…

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and pour into the middle, and squeeze in the lemon juice. Mix well, and add a splash of cold water to loosen the mixture until it resembles a thick batter – it should stick to your spoon but be loose enough to stir.

Peel and halve the onions, and slice very finely. Add them to the bowl with a couple of tablespoons of mango chutney and give it all a good stir, until the onions are coated in your spicy yellow batter. Take a teaspoon of it and dollop it into your palm – if you can form a loose ball with it, it’s good to go. If it’s too sloppy, add a tablespoon or two of flour, and if it’s too tight, add a small splash of water.

Fill a saucepan a third full with oil for frying, and place on a medium-high heat. When it starts to gently bubble (that’s little tiny bubbles sizzling to the surface, not great big rolling scary oil bubbles), drop a blob of batter in. If it sizzles and floats, turn the heat down a little so it doesn’t get carried a away, and you’re good to go. Dollop a teaspoon at a time into the oil, shaping with your hands if you want neat little rounds ones. Each mini bhaji takes around 4 minutes to cook, so keep an eye on them – when they’re golden brown and floating, lift them out with a slotted spoon and drain them on some kitchen paper or a clean tea towel. Repeat until all the batter is used up.

I let the oil cool on the back of the hob, then strained it through a mesh sieve, poured it into a bottle, and labelled it ‘Frying – Spicy!’ – I figured I could get another turn out of it. When I was writing my first cookbook I included this as a tip in one of my recipes, and was told by my publishers that for health and safety reasons they had to take it out. Obviously I’m not making any recommendations here about cooling and reusing oil, I’m just telling you what I did, wink wink. (And what most restaurants, fast food joints, and fish and chip shops that I’ve had the pleasure of working in do too. Honestly, the world has gone health and safety mad.)

Anyway. BHAJIS! Allow them to cool, then nosh on. Or send them into your children’s class in a Tupperware and wave them sadly goodbye…

Jack Monroe (with a starring role from Allegra McEvedy!)

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

IMG_3308.JPG

Photography by Susan Bell

Peach and chickpea curry

This is my favourite curry, my go-to, easy but perfect comfort food. I sometimes make it with turkey, so feel free to chuck a fistful of it in with the onions if you fancy it. Serve it with plain boiled rice.

Serves 2 for dinner, with leftovers for a light lunch.

250g canned chickpeas (drained weight)
1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
1 chilli
a splash of oil
1 rounded tsp cumin (ground or seeds)
1 x 400g tin of peaches (or apricots or mandarins)
1 x 400f carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 stock cube, veg or chicken

First drain your chickpeas and rinse them vigorously to get rid of the stagnant water that they’ll have been sitting in. Pop them in some fresh water in a saucepan and boil rapidly for 10 minutes to soften (and get rid of any toxins…there’s differing beliefs about toxins in canned pulses and I’m of the ‘a good boil won’t hurt them’ school of thought…)

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.

‘Peach and chickpea curry’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to buy here.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

20140530-145934.jpg

KERALAN AUBERGINE CURRY

20140530-143237.jpg

One of my favourite restaurants in Southend specialises in Keralan cuisine – and when I couldn’t afford it but really wanted a rich, spicy curry, I decided to make my own version. Aubergines are comparitively expensive to buy individually, so look out for the bags of three or four, and eat them all week!

Serves 2:

2 aubergines
a pinch of salt
1 onion
a fat clove of garlic
2 tablespoons oil
1 red chilli or a pinch of the dried stuff
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tsp cumin (ground or seeds)
1/4 tsp English mustard
zest and juice of half a lemon, or a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice
1 x 400g carton of chopped tomatoes
a fistful of coriander, to serve

Cut the stems from the ends of the aubergines, and pierce the skin all over with a sharp knife or a fork. Pop into a mixing bowl or saucepan, and cover with cold water and a pinch of salt to draw out the natural bitter flavour. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and toss into a medium pan with the oil. Sweat the onions on a very low heat, stirring to ensure they don’t burn or stick. Finely chop the chilli and add to the pan, or pinch in your dried flakes. Add the turmeric, cumin and mustard, and stir to cook the spices a little.

Remove the aubergines from the water, cut into chunks and add to the pan. Stir in well to coat with the now-spicy oil, add the lemon juice and zest (if using), and turn the heat up to medium to brown the edges of the aubergine. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes, until the aubergines are tender.

Finely shred the coriander and scatter on top to serve.

 

Keralan aubergine curry from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to buy from The Hive, supporting your local independent book shop. Photography by Susan Bell for A Girl Called Jack.

 

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe   Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

AUBERGINE & KIDNEY BEAN BURGERS

 
This recipe came about from a leftover aubergine rolling around in the fridge that desperately needed using up, and one of my storecupboard staples, a can of red kidney beans, was happily on hand to help. Regular readers will know I love a lightly spiced veggie and bean burger – and this one is no exception. I have mine with a good dollop of mango chutney, wedged in a pitta or a bun with a fistful of salad – delicious!

Ingredients (makes four chunky burgers)

4 tbsp oil
1 Aubergine
1 onion
1 red chilli or a pinch of dried
1 tsp cumin
400g canned kidney beans
A few sprigs of mint or coriander
1 tbsp flour

First, dice and sauté the aubergine on a medium heat in a tablespoon of oil, with the sliced onion, chilli and cumin.

Meanwhile, boil the kidney beans in a saucepan until very soft and starting to split, which usually takes around ten minutes at a simmer.

Drain the kidney beans and add to a mixing bowl with the onions, aubergines, chopped mint and spices, and mash well to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and mix together. (You may need extra flour depending on how ‘wet’ your aubergine was, the mixture should not fall off an overturned spoon).

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to bind the mixture together – this stops them turning to mush in the frying pan!

Shape into 4 balls using floured hands, and flatten into the frying or sauté pan with the remaining oil. Cook on a medium heat for 8 minutes on each side.

Serve with pitta breads, or in a roll, or with rice, or home made wedges – however you like!

 

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

20131009-191653.jpg

 

20140218-211417.jpg

CHOCOLATE, CHILLI & BLACK BEAN SOUP

It’s just a matter of days until my book launch on the 27th, so I’ve decided to blog one of my favourites from the book, featured in last weekend’s edition of the Observer Food Monthly magazine…

First up, Chocolate, Chilli And Black Bean Soup.

20140218-211417.jpg
Photography by Susan Bell.

I knocked up this soup last winter. It combines onions and garlic for detoxifying goodness with chillies to fire you up, tomatoes and carrots for essential vitamin C, beans for protein and chocolate because it’s a solution to almost everything.

(Serves 2)
100g dried black beans
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
small red chilli 1 or a pinch of chilli flakes
A shake of paprika
A generous shake of ground cumin
A splash of oil
1 carrot
30ml red wine
400g chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
dark chocolate (3 squares, approx 20g)
fresh parsley to garnish

Put your beans in to soak the night before, or early in the morning if you’re going to be cooking that evening. Place them in a bowl, cover with fresh cold water and then some, and cover the bowl with clingfilm. Leave for a minimum of 8 hours to soak.

When soaked, drain and thoroughly rinse your beans. Put them into a saucepan with fresh water and bring to the boil for approximately 10 minutes, then turn down to a simmer.

Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion and garlic, and chop the chilli (reserving a couple of slices for a garnish), then put them all into a saucepan along with the paprika and cumin. Add the oil and cook over a low heat until the onions and garlic soften.

Wash and chop the carrot, and add to the saucepan. Pour the red wine and tomatoes in, and stir through. Crumble in the stock cube, then add the dark chocolate and 400ml boiling water. Drain the beans and tip into the pan. Stir and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrot is tender.

If you like, pulse the soup in a blender until smooth. Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of fresh parsley and a slice of red chilli in each bowl.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

A Girl Called Jack is available to order from The Hive, a website that finds your local independent book store. Also available on The Hive as an e-book!

20140205-193616.jpg

CURRIED EGGS.

20140205-193616.jpg

I’ve had a hankering for Curried eggs for the past couple of days, I’m not sure why… So tonight, I knocked this one together. Rich and simple, cheap and easy, this is set to become a Major favourite in my household…

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

4 free range eggs
1 onion
1 tbsp oil
1 fresh red chilli or pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin
400g chopped tomatoes
100g frozen or fresh spinach
100g natural or Greek yoghurt

First, pop a pan of water on to the boil for the eggs, and carefully drop them in. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 8 minutes to hard boil them. We’ll come back to those in a minute.

In a separate pan, add the oil and spices, and dice or slice the onion according to preference. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes to soften the onions.

Carefully remove the eggs from the pan when they are done, and set to one side. Add the rice to the ‘egg water’ – saves you boiling another pot!

Pour the chopped tomatoes over the now-spicy onions, and add the frozen spinach. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer while the rice cooks. (To save energy, you can turn the heat off and cover with foil, a lid or a large plate – the curry sauce will carry on cooking itself but will need a quick blast of heat again before serving.)

Peel and halve the eggs and add to the sauce with the yoghurt, stir in, heat through, and serve with rice. Mango chutney is a great addition to this dish too – I just don’t have any in the fridge. Booooo.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msjackmonroe

20140131-183931.jpg

SMOKED MACKEREL KEDGEREE

20140131-183931.jpg

This kedgeree was another recipe idea suggested by my readers based in my food shop – and it was an absolute hit – Thankyou everyone who suggested it! The mackerel can be replaced with any smoked or strong fish, and the spices can be swapped out for garam masala or curry powder, whatever you have to hand. The onions lend a soft sweetness, the rice fills you up, and the little chunks of egg and mackerel are groan-inducingly gorgeous. Try it. I hereby proclaim this one of my favourite ever recipes.

Ingredients (served two with green beans on the side)

1 tbsp oil
1 onion
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
150g rice
1 egg – with hindsight I’d use two, but I’m rationing them this week!
150g smoked mackerel
50g frozen spinach

Finely slice the onion and add to a medium sauté or non stick saucepan with the oil. Cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat to soften.

Add the rice and water to cover, and stir. Cook for 15 minutes, until the rice is soft and swollen.

Meanwhile, boil a separate small saucepan of water, and pop the egg in. Simmer for 5 minutes to hard boil, then remove and allow to cool.

Flake the mackerel with a fork, peeling back the skin from the fillet – (my friend Klein says they’re delicious fried and eaten like crisps, but I’ve never found out for myself, as my cat sits at my feet giving me begging eyes whenever there’s a scrap of fish to be had!) – and add to the pan with the spinach. Slice the egg in half with a sharp knife and scoop out in chunks, and scatter over the finished dish.

Serve with fresh parsley or coriander to garnish, if you have it. I didn’t – so used the spinach. A green leaf is a green leaf as far as I’m concerned!

As usual, all prices based on Sainsburys and Sainsburys Basics and correct at time of blogging. This recipe based on my food shop as detailed on Monday, here… (http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/27/turning-the-tables-heres-my-food-what-should-i-make-this-week/)

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

20140128-164356.jpg

SPICED SPLIT PEA & YOGHURT SOUP

20140128-164356.jpg

This recipe came about after I bought a bag of yellow split peas on a whim to make a daal, and never quite got around to it. Fishing them out of the back of the storecupboard this week, I was determined to finally put them to use, so I asked my blog readers what they thought I should make out of them. Several people enthusiastically suggested soup – so with a little trial and error and a lot of surreptitious tasting along the way, here’s what I ended up with. Thick, creamy, comforting and delicious – I’ll never be at a loss what to do with a bag of split peas again.

INGREDIENTS (MAKES 4 PORTIONS)

100g dried yellow split peas

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 carrots

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp each cumin and turmeric, or 2 tsp garam masala

100g yoghurt

Handful of parsley or coriander

First, pop the dried yellow split peas into a bowl and cover with water. Cover with clingfilm or a plate, and leave to soak for at least eight hours, or overnight.

Then, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and slice the carrots. Pop into a medium sized saucepan with the oil and spices, and saute on a medium heat for five minutes to soften.

Drain and thoroughly rinse the peas, and tip into the pan. Cover with water and stir well. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the peas and carrots are soft.

Pour the mixture into a blender, tip the yoghurt in, and pulse until almost smooth. I like to leave mine a bit rough and chunky for a great texture, but it’s up to you.

Serve hot, with bread to dunk in, and torn parsley or coriander to garnish.

**VEGANS** Replace the yoghurt with soy yoghurt, or almond or rice milk for a real treat.

**MAKE IT GO FURTHER** Freeze leftovers in small portions to use as a spicy, chunky pasta sauce, or the base for a curry for leftover chicken. Just defrost in a saute pan with a little water, stir in the chicken and any green veg you have to hand, and you have a pretty instant curry. It works just as well without the chicken, too. I’m thinking green beans, broccoli, peas – a colourful, healthy, sensationally quick dinner.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

20131228-205049.jpg

KIPPER & PARSNIP RISOTTO

So, I have a MASS of parsnips left over from cooking for The One Show last week (or the week before), and they’re starting to go a bit wrinkly in the way that vegetables do when you buy them in bulk for cheapness and end up despairing at what on earth to do with all of them… So, I picked up my copy of Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook, one of my bibles for inspiration for miscellaneous fridge remnants. Under ‘P’ for those pesky Parsnips was a smoked haddock and parsnip fish cake… Quick root around the fridge yielded half a packet of kippers (dated the 20th of December, quick sniff, seem fine)… But sorry Sarah – I didn’t really want fish cakes. I wanted to shove everything in a pot and not have to think too hard about it. So, risotto. This risotto. This heavenly, lightly spiced, smoky sweet risotto, inspired by a fish cake. Bliss.

Serves 2:

1 onion
1 tbsp oil
150g long grain rice
1 vegetable stock cube
2 large parsnips,
100g kipper fillets (or more if you have them),
100g green beans
1tsp of cumin
1/2tsp turmeric (not absolutely essential)
1tbsp of lemon juice
Parsley or coriander to serve

I wanted my parsnips almost roasted, so cut them into fine chips and threw them in the pan with the oil on a high heat to cook for 10 minutes.

When the edges of the parsnips are golden, reduce the heat to medium. Dice the onion and add to the pan and stir to soften for 5 minutes.

Add the rice and toast for half a minute, then pour over most of the stock. I’m feeling lazy, i’m not going with the pour-a-bit-stir-a-bit method tonight. All in. Slosh. Stir.

Add the kipper fillets, turmeric and cumin and stir in. Stir occasionally to disturb the rice and stop it from sticking.

When the rice is al dente and the liquid thick and soupy, add the green beans. Stir through to cook, and flake the kipper fillet with your wooden spoon.

Serve with a shake of lemon and a handful of parsley or coriander.

Enjoy!

Jack. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

20131205-215904.jpg

FISH KORMA

20131205-215904.jpg

The first of my recipes from my charity curry night to make it onto the blog (it’s probably fair to say that it’s been a very busy week) – I half invented this, half recalled a vague korma recipe from the depths of my overcrowded brain, so it’s not really traditional, but I like to surprise myself. And surprised I most certainly was, this was the undisputed hit of the evening!

Ingredients, serves 4-6:

2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 small red chilli, or pinch of dried chilli
1 tbsp oil
2tsp cumin
2tsp turmeric
200g creamed coconut
1 mug of water
100g sultanas
420g white fish fillets
500ml low fat natural yoghurt
Handful of coriander

Peel and finely slice the garlic, and chop the onions. Add to a large saucepan or sauté pan with the oil, finely chopped chilli, cumin and turmeric. Sweat on a very low heat for 10 minutes until the onions are softened.

Add the block of creamed coconut , sultanas and a mug of water, and turn the heat up. Melt the coconut into the pan, stirring to dissolve it and absorb the spices. Add an extra half a mug of water if you feel it needs it – your mugs and my mugs might be different sizes!

Finally when the coconut is melted, add the fish and cook through for five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir the yoghurt through to serve to prevent it from splitting. Garnish with coriander to serve.

Tip: adjust the spices according to taste. I like this mild, sweet and creamy, but it could take an extra teaspoon of cumin and another chilli for a kick.

Pad it out of make it cheaper by adding diced new potatoes and/or a couple of handfuls of frozen green beans.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Banana, chickpea and tea curry (trust me on this one, it’s amazing.)

20131102-231153.jpg

This is my take on a banana curry I had in the Isle of Wight after the literary festival. It’s not a traditional Kashmir curry, as I used what I had in the cupboard, but it is utterly delicious. The tea is the twist, but trust me, it works, lending a slightly smoky, sweet flavour. I love tea, I must use it in more recipes…

(I’ll cost this up tomorrow – I’m knackered!)

Ingredients (serves 4, if served with rice):

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red or green chilli, finely chopped, or generous pinch of dried
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
400g canned chickpeas
200g canned mandarins (peaches or apricots would work too)
300ml strong tea
2 bananas
200ml natural yoghurt
Handful of coriander, or mint, or parsley, chopped

First, add the onion, chilli and garlic to a sauté pan or frying pan. Drizzle the oil over, add the cinnamon and cumin, and sauté gently on a medium heat to soften the onions for 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the kettle and brew the cuppa! (And make one for yourself while you’re there!)

When the onions are softened, drain and thoroughly rinse the chickpeas, and tip into the pan. Slice the bananas and add to the pan. Pour the mandarins over, add the tea (without the teabag) and most of the herbs, and turn the heat up high. Boil vigorously for a few minutes, then reduce to a medium simmer. Simmer for around 20 minutes, until the chickpeas have slightly thickened the sauce. ***To save energy, you can turn the heat off completely here, cover the dish with foil or a lid, and leave it to cool. The retained heat will continue to cook it gently, amalgamating the flavours beautifully.***

Stir the natural yoghurt through before serving, and top with the remaining herbs.

I had mine with rice and a basic pitta bread, with extra natural yoghurt on top.

And I loved the dimension the tea gave this so much, I’m going to try it in other curries in place of the stock. At 27p for 80 Teabags, versus 20p for 10 stock cubes, it’s a saving!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Lentil and spinach Daal, 66p.

20131003-085459.jpg

So, if you’ve made the Beetroot, Feta and Lentil salad that I kicked off my Guardian recipe column with – or you have some lentils and spinach still kicking about, here’s a recipe for a quick warming winter dinner. It’s easy and filling – I love mine with pitta breads dunked in…

Ingredients (serves two):

1 onion
1 red chilli or pinch of dried flakes
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp cumin or turmeric, or a tsp each if you have them
100g red split lentils
1 chicken stock cube
200ml water
200ml natural yoghurt
130g spinach
1 tbsp lemon juice

First, peel and finely slice the onion, and finely chop the chilli, and add to a large frying pan or sauté pan with the spices and crumbled stock cube. Cook on a gentle heat for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened.

Thoroughly rinse the lentils and add to the pan, turn the heat up to medium, and stir through. Toast for a few minutes, before adding half the water (100ml). Stir in quickly – it will absorb quite fast.

Chop the spinach and add to the pan (if using frozen spinach just put it straight in, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it starts to cook). Add the remaining water and stir through, until the spinach is wilted and the lentils are swollen.

Stir the yoghurt in and serve with fresh herbs – coriander or parsley or mint work well if you have them to hand – and a shake of lemon juice.

Leftovers can be thinned with a little stock to make a delicious soup, or tossed through pasta. Keep in the fridge for 2 days or freeze in an ice cube tray for easy portions.

Ingredient cost breakdown (calculated at Sainsburys but similar prices available at other supermarkets): 1 loose onion 11p. Bird eye chillies 75p for 10 (8p each). Vegetable or sunflower oil £4.50/3l (3p/tbsp). 42g cumin £1 (10p for 2 tsp). 500g split red lentils £1.09 (22p for 100g). 10 Basics stock cubes 20p (2p each). 500ml natural yoghurt 45p (18p for 200ml). 260g spinach £1 (50p for 130g). 250ml lemon juice 60p (4p/tbsp). 6 Pitta breads 22p (4p each). Total cost of ingredients used: £1.32.

To use up remaining ingredients, or if you have something in your cupboard to use up, search using the search bar below!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Simple Spiced Potato Soup

This is one of my go-to recipes, a whatever-happens-to-be-in-the-cupboard special. I sometimes add a chopped chilli to the onion, and some coriander from my window ledge herb box, but I have given the basic recipe below – feel free to customize it as you wish. when it comes to my lunch, I can be an impatient oik so I tend to chop the tinned potatoes into small cubes. It makes no difference to the final product, just means that they cook quicker. I like to serve this soup with pitta bread.

Serves 2

1 onion
a splash of oil
a few generous pinches of ground cumin or turmeric (whichever you have available)
1 x 500g tin of potatoes (approximate drained weight)
1 chicken stock cube, dissolved in 200ml boiling water
150ml natural yoghurt

Peel and chop the onion and put into a saucepan with the oil and cumin. Cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes to soften the onions into a spicy sweetness.

Drain the tinned potatoes, cut into small cubes and tip into the saucepan. Pour in the stock and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft.

Tip everything into a blender along with the yoghurt and blitz until smooth and creamy. Add more water if necessary – I find different tins of potatoes come up differently.

Serve and enjoy!

Tips: I sometimes like to add spinach to this soup and a tiny dab of mustard, to make it a bit more exciting. If there are any Spiced Spinach Potatoes left over (see Saag Aloo recipe), this is a brilliant use for them. Just add in place of the tinned potatoes.

‘Simple Spiced Potato Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell

Mexican Chocolate, Chilli & Black Bean Soup

I knocked up this soup when I had a piteous cold last winter. It combines onions and garlic for detoxifying goodness with chillies to fire me up, tomatoes and carrots for essential vitamin C, beans for protein and chocolate because it’s a solution to almost everything. Plus dark chocolate and red wine are good for you, don’t you know? But putting all the science to one side, this is delicious, filling and surprising – so even if you don’t have a cold, make this soup!

Serves 2

100g dried black beans
1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
1 small red chilli or a pinch of chilli flakes
a generous shake of paprika
a generous shake of ground cumin
a splash of oil
1 carrot
30ml red wine
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
3 squares dark chocolate (approximately 20g)
fresh parsley, to garnish

Put your beans in to soak the night before, or early in the morning if you’re going to be cooking that evening. Place them in a bowl, cover with fresh cold water and then some, and cover the bowl with cling film. Leave for a minimum of 8 hours to soak.

When soaked, drain and thoroughly rinse your beans. Put them into a saucepan with fresh water and bring to the boil for approximately 10 minutes, then turn down to a simmer.

Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion and garlic, and chop the chilli (reserving a couple of slices for a garnish), then put them all into a saucepan along with the paprika and cumin. Add the oil and cook over a low heat until the onions and garlic soften.

Wash and chop the carrot, and add to the saucepan. Pour the red wine and tomatoes in, and stir through. Crumble in the stock cube, then add the dark chocolate and 400ml boiling water. Drain the beans and tip into the pan. Stir and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrot is tender.

If you like, pulse the soup in a blender until smooth. (I prefer to leave mine just slightly chunky, but if pulsed thoroughly, this makes a deliciously silky texture.) Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of fresh parsley and a slice of red chilli in each bowl.

Tips: Grill pitta breads with cheese inside – until it melts –and serve these dunked in the soup for a seriously tasty treat!

Swirl cream, natural yoghurt or crème fraîche on top before serving.

This recipe uses almost identical ingredients to Mumma Jack’s Best Ever Chilli, so why not make them together?

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

‘Mexican Chocolate, Chilli And Black Bean Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell.

Chickpea, Carrot & Coriander Falafels

This recipe uses tinned chickpeas, but can also use dried chickpeas if you have them available. Dried chickpeas work out cheaper but will need to be soaked in cold water for at least 8 hours before starting the recipe, and then need to be cooked (put in a pan, cover with water and boil vigorously for at least 10 minutes before draining and using). If you have dried chickpeas, use half the quantity of tinned, i.e. 200g. I like to serve the falafels accompanied by couscous made up with vegetable or chicken stock, lemon juice and coriander, and with green beans or another green vegetable.

Makes 12ish falafels (4–6 per person)

1 onion
1 carrot
a generous shake of ground cumin
1 tablespoon oil, plus 2 tablespoons to fry the falafel
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed thoroughly
a handful of chopped parsley
a handful of chopped coriander
1 tablespoon flour, plus extra to shape the falafel

Peel and finely chop the onion and wash and grate the carrot.

Put in a frying pan, add the cumin and fry together in the 1 tablespoon of oil over a low heat for a few minutes until softened.

Tip the cooked onion and carrot into a large mixing bowl along with the chickpeas, add the chopped parsley and coriander and stir in the flour. Mash it all together with a potato masher or fork until the chickpeas have broken down into a mush. The oil from the carrots and onion will help combine the chickpeas together, but you may need to add up to 2 tablespoons of water so the mixture can be shaped.

Flour your hands and mould the mixture into about 12 golf ball shapes. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the sauté pan and fry the balls until golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside – this will take about 10 minutes.

Tip: Instead of making falafels, shape the mixture into 4 burger patties and fry on each side. These are delicious with mango chutney or ketchup.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

‘Chickpea, Carrot And Coriander Falafels’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell.

Mumma Jacks Best Ever Chilli

This chilli is adapted from a beef chilli recipe by Gordon Ramsay. I simply left out the beef and halved the wine to make it cheaper – plus, of course, Mr Ramsay doesn’t use a tin of cheap baked beans in his version! I’ve tweaked and fiddled with it so much over the years that now it’s not Gordon’s chilli, it’s Mumma Jack’s.

Serves 4

1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
1 x 400g tin of baked beans in tomato sauce or plain haricot beans
1 onion
1 small chilli, chopped
a shake of paprika
a shake of ground cumin
a splash of oil
75ml red table wine
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
3 squares dark chocolate

Tip both tins of beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly. If you are using baked beans in tomato sauce, make sure to rinse it all off. Pop the beans into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then reduce to a gentle simmer.

Peel and dice the onion and put into a large sauté pan along with the chopped chilli, paprika and cumin. Add the oil and cook on a low heat until the onion softens into a spicy sweetness. Pour in the wine, add the chopped tomatoes and crumble in the stock cube, then simmer all together on a low heat.

When the beans have softened, drain and tip into the sauce. Add the chocolate and stir until the beans are mixed through and the chocolate is melted.

Tips: This chilli will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days if allowed to cool and stored in an airtight container. Delicious eaten cold stuffed in pitta breads or wraps for next day’s lunch.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

‘Mumma Jack’s Best Ever Chilli’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell

Moroccan Not-A-Tagine

This tagine uses my three staple spices – turmeric, cumin and paprika – to deliver a gorgeous sweet and spicy dinner. I made it for Xanthe Clay from the Daily Telegraph when she visited for an article called ‘My 49p Lunch With A Girl Called Jack’. In her words: ‘the food is very fine, and it’s also healthy’ – so what are you waiting for? I like to serve mine with couscous and rice, and green vegetables.

Serves 4:

1 large onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
a splash of oil
zest and juice of half a lemon, or 1 tbsp bottled lemon juice
1 heaped tsp turmeric
1 heaped tsp cumin (ground or seeds)
1 heaped tsp paprika
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
a fistful of fresh mint, chopped
a fistful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 large potatoes or 40g tinned potatoes (drained weight)
50g prunes
1 stock cube, dissolved in 500ml boiling water

Peel and dice the onion, peel and finely chop the garlic and chop the chilli, and place in a medium sized heavy-bottomed pan with the oil, lemon zest, turmeric, cumin and paprika. Cook gently over a low heat for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened. Then add the lemon juice, chopped tomatoes, sugar, mint and coriander, and stir everything together.

Chop the potatoes and carrots and add to the pan, along with the prunes. Pour in enough stock to cover – usually around 500ml. Leave the pan simmering, covered, on the hob for 30 minutes, checking it every now and again to ensure it is not drying out. Give it a quick stir while you’re there too, to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

You’ll know it’s ready when the vegetables are tender (but not falling apart in a mush!) and the sauce has thickened.

‘Not A Tagine’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe, available to buy here.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

Carrot, Cumin & Kidney Bean Soup

This recipe came about after seeing the tins of soup in the supermarket and thinking, ‘I can do better than that.’ So rather than stocking up on thin tomato soup (with suspiciously few tomatoes) I thought I’d treat myself to some cheap, versatile, protein-packed spicy goodness instead. The quantities here make four generous portions.

Serves 4:

1 onion
2 tbsp oil
1 heaped tbsp cumin, seeds or ground
300g carrots
1 stock cube, dissolved in 500ml boiling water
1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans

Peel and chop the onion and pop into a medium sized saucepan with the oil and cumin. Wash and chop the carrots and add to the pan. Cook on a low heat for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften.

Pour the stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 20 minutes or so until the carrots are tender.

Drain and rinse the kidney beans well, add to the pan and heat through. Tip everything into the blender and pulse until smooth.

Tips: Add a few tablespoons of natural yoghurt after blending for a creamy taste.

You can add a handful of cooked red lentils to the leftover blended soup to make a thick, spicy pasta sauce. Alternatively, to make a thicker soup, add rinsed lentils along with the chopped carrots and cook in the stock.

Pretty much the same ingredients are used for the carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers, so why not buy in bulk and make them both in the same week, or even at the same time!

Carrot, cumin and kidney bean soup recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to order from The Hive, supporting your local independent book shops. Also available to buy at most major bookshops and supermarkets.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack