All posts tagged: heathy on a bootstrap

Red Wine & Mushroom Risotto, 34p [A Girl Called Jack]

When I need easy but comforting food, I always turn to a large bowl of warm, flavourful rice – and using red wine as a base works beautifully. In the winter, serve this risotto in a deep bowl with a spoon, whilst snuggling under a thick blanket. Or it can make a special meal for two served with some lovely crusty bread, if you’re so inclined. My Mum used to serve us a version of this as children, served with kievs or sausages, so when I feel nostalgic I have mine with a couple of (veggie) sausages on the side. The quantities are easily doubled – or more – to feed more hungry bellies. This recipe first appeared in A Girl Called Jack. Serves 2 from 34p each. This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any ingredients. All prices correct at the time of …

Double Chocolate Guinness Brownies, 12p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

Firstly, for the budget-conscious among you raising eyebrows at the use of a bottle of the authentic black stuff in a batch of brownies, fear not, for this recipe makes 24 of the little tinkers and uses a little over half a can at that, so you could stretch to 40ish from a single can if you’ve a crowd to feed. If that doesn’t satisfy you, well, most supermarkets sell an own-brand value range can of bitter at around £ 1 for 4 x 440ml cans. But I created this on the eve of both my birthday and St Patrick’s Day, so it had to be the real thing. I’m fussy about very little when it comes to ingredients in cooking, but Guinness makes my non-negotiable list, and I hope that you, dear readers, will note my half-Irish blood and birthday on St Paddy’s Day and gently forgive me. I first came across the idea of Guinness in cooking from the wonderful Nigella, in her book Kitchen, one of my go-to reads for comfort food …

Gramcake, 15p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

Some people say socca, some say farinata; I decided to christen my breakfast this morning ‘gramcake’ – a pancake made with gram flour and little else. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to crack into my bag of gram flour, seeing it ticks all of my culinary boxes – it’s high in protein, versatile, and I can bake with it! All of which make me very happy indeed. This simple recipe made for a very satisfying breakfast – you can amend the spices and flavours to whatever you like, as the base is slightly sweet and nutty, so will complement all manner of things. I opted for spice this morning, because chilli and cumin are great any time of day, and I’m more of a savoury than sweet girl myself. (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links and make a purchase.) Serves 1, easily …

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

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

Mushroom Mac ‘n’ Cheese, 42p [from ‘Veganish’]

This is one of my favourite comfort meals, quick to assemble, using ingredients that I generally have kicking about the house, and can just be slung in the oven and forgotten about, left to slowly pull itself together in a haze of blissful creamy soft salty rich glorious goodness. I’ve just polished off my second bowl of it, and frankly, it’s too good not to share with you all, so here it is. It’s easy to make it vegan – replace the hard strong cheese and mozzarella with Violife or something similar, and the milk with coconut or almond or soya milk, depending on what you prefer. It’s easy to throw together, and the reward of a deep bowl of melting goodness far outweighs the minimal effort involved in making it. I consider this an essential part of my repertoire these days, and barely a week goes by without it. It freezes beautifully, too, so do double the recipe and sling some of it to one side for a lazy day. Serves three people, or …

Whirlybuns, 11p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

These little weighty wistful whirls of whimsy came about entirely by accident. I was going to stay with friends in Manchester for the weekend, to all fling our small boys at one another for a raucous time, and I never like to accept hospitality empty handed. So, I set about making a hulking great fruit bread big enough to energise 3 grown men, 3 grown women, and 3 small and boisterous boys. I mixed it, kneaded it, left it to rise…and promptly forgot all about it until I was halfway across the country. Silly me. I came home to find it fermenting beautifully, tickling the top of the teatowel flung over the top of it. I gave it a ginger sniff, it smelled a lot like sourdough. Vaguely remembering a yoghurt based bread I had made a few years ago, I figured it would be fine, and whipped it into these whirlybuns. J and A, here’s what you coulda had… Sorry! Makes a dozen pleasingly enormous buns at 11p each 750g plain flour, 28p (55p/1.5kg/Basics) …

Spicy Rice & Doublebean Soup, 31p [Tin Can Cook]

This soup was a soup to shake me out of a funk longer than any I have recently known. I had a serious accident one Saturday night in April and hit my head backwards on a concrete floor at some speed. I ended up with whiplash and concussion, both of which limited my ability to sleep, work, and in the case of the latter, have so much as a thought in my head. For the first few days I rather enjoyed the peace and quiet of absolute mental vacancy as my brain shut itself down to heal, but I also temporarily lost my ability to create – the thundering hum of a thousand ideas that usually fly around at any given time, as I clutch at them wildly trying to capture one to expand on it. And they vanished, to be replaced with absolutely nothing at all. I lived off crisps and apathy for a week, and being miserable, until on the seventh day I felt like wandering into the kitchen. I threw this together …

Tinned Fishcakes, 17p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

A couple of years ago, I was later asked to do a stint on a BBC programme, Inside The Factory, on tinned food , and went for the day to a four-star hotel to play head chef to unsuspecting diners, who believed they were trying out the upmarket hotel’s new menu. This was their starter, and they all enthusiastically loved it, even when the ‘big reveal’ at the end proved that it had been made with value range tinned potatoes and a 40p tin of sardines. At the time of filming, these fishcakes worked out at 17p per head – prices change all the time, of course , but they remain a nifty, inexpensive, filling little number. And good enough for a roomful of self-styled food connoisseurs, too. (I’m currently trialling a partnership program with the budget supermarkets that I shop in for my recipes. If you click the links in the recipes I may earn a small commission, but don’t just click for the sake of it as they’re wise to that! As ever, …

Jack Monroe’s Student Essentials, for Under a Fiver

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

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

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

Courgette Lemon Pancakes, 24p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

This is much the same as my humble gramcake recipe, but a little more substantial. I often get readers asking me what they can do with a glut of courgettes, and being a polite girl, I’m inclined to give an answer of the culinary variety. Come the summer, it seems as though everyone I know has a courgette going begging, and if you don’t know anyone who grows them, they’re pretty cheap to buy. You can also get them frozen and sliced in some supermarkets, which can work out even cheaper than buying them fresh! Just defrost them and finely slice or dice them, to use in this recipe.   1 decent sized courgette or 300g frozen and defrosted, (£1/700g) Juice and zest of half a lemon or 1 tbsp lemon juice,  (60p/250ml) 125g gram flour (or self raising if you dont have it), 18p (£1.40/kg) 1 medium egg, 15p (89p/6 free range) A pinch of chilli or black pepper, <1p (85p/100g) A pinch of salt, <1p (25p/750g) 2 tbsp cooking oil, for frying, 3p (£1.20/1l)   …

How To Dry Mushrooms

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

Preserving Garlic, Three Ways

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

Lettuce, Pea & Lemon Risotto by Jack Monroe

Risotto with Peas, Lettuce & Lemon, 16p

The idea of putting cold lettuce leaves into a warm dish may seem an unusual one, but it is one of my new favourite things. The idea is definitely not a revolutionary one; gently wilted lettuce has topped slick hot burgers for a hundred years or thereabouts, so there must be something in it. I found a bag of lettuce for 10p at my local Tesco Express, and have been folding it into everything ever since, much to the chagrin of my bunnies, who usually get to nibble on the bargains, but what they don’t know shan’t hurt them. If the idea really makes you shudder, then use a hardier leaf for this recipe, like spinach, chard or cabbage, but I promise you, the fresh, still-slightly-crisp surprise of a lettuce leaf in a creamy-soft risotto is a truly delightful one. Serves 4 at 16p each 300g basic rice, 14p (45p/1kg, Smartprice at Asda) 1 tbsp oil or butter, 1p (97p/1l, Asda) 2 tbsp white wine, if you have it, 12p (£2.98/750ml Fre Chardonnay, Asda) 750ml …

Pickled Radishes, 24p

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