Photo by Susan Bell, for A Girl Called Jack.

Ham, Pea & Mint Casserole, 30p.

Photo by Susan Bell, for A Girl Called Jack.

Photo by Susan Bell, for A Girl Called Jack.

This delicious ham casserole is adapted from a favourite old recipe of mine – where I would boil the ham joint whole to make a stock, before shredding it into the casserole. This faster version is no compromise, making a delicious hearty dinner in less than half the time. For an extra special twist, serve with crusty bread topped with melted cheese and green vegetables.
Serves 4-6 depending on age and appetites, at 30p each
500g cooking bacon, 85p (or ham joint or streaky bacon)
2 small onions or 1 whopping one (about 250g all in), 15p 1 tablespoon cooking oil, 2p 400ml chicken stock, 3p 100ml apple juice, 7p (or white wine if you prefer)
a handful of fresh parsley, 4p a handful of fresh mint, 4p 350g tinned potatoes (drained weight), 20p or other small white potatoes
160g tinned carrots (drained weight), 20p or 2 small fresh ones
150g frozen peas, 18p
Dice the ham or bacon and peel and chop the onions. Put into a frying pan with the oil and fry on a medium heat, turning to seal the meat on all sides. Leave to cook through for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, pour the stock and wine into a saucepan and put on to a simmer. Finely chop the parsley and mint, including the stalks, and add to the pan. Wash and dice the potatoes and carrots, leaving the skins on, (or drain if using tinned ones) and put into the saucepan. Cook until the vegetables are tender – around 15 minutes for small pieces of fresh veg or barely 5 minutes for tinned.
Once they’re done, remove about half the potatoes from the saucepan and place in a blender. Add just enough of the stock to cover, and blend until smooth. Tip back into the pan and stir through.
When the ham or bacon is cooked, toss everything in the frying pan into the saucepan along with the frozen peas. Stir and cook through for a few final minutes until the peas are tender, then serve.

Basics cooking bacon £1.15/670g. Basics onions 90p/1.5kg. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics chicken stock cubes 25p/10. Basics apple juice 70p/1l. Fresh parsley 80p/28g. Fresh mint 80p/28g. Basics tinned potatoes 20p/345g drained weight. Basics tinned carrots 20p/160g drained weight. Basics frozen peas £1.40/1.2kg.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @MsJackMonroe and find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

This recipe first appeared in my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, which is available to buy from many places but my favourite is Hive Stores, supporting your local independent book shops and delivering to your home. Check it out here: http://www.hive.co.uk/book/a-girl-called-jack-100-delicious-budget-recipes/18105011/

Sort-of-Paella, from A Girl Called Jack, photographed by Susan Bell.

Sort-of paella, 67p

Sort-of-Paella, from A Girl Called Jack, photographed by Susan Bell.

Sort-of-Paella, from A Girl Called Jack, photographed by Susan Bell.

The star of the show in this paella is the simple coloured rice, cooked al dente, accentuated with bright red tomatoes and little green peas. This recipe is delicious on its own, or can be used as a base. Feel free to add chopped peppers, seasonal vegetables, any meat or fish of your choice, a glass of white wine, a splash of sherry – whatever your budget or your cupboard will allow. But for me, nothing beats a fistful of tiny little prawns, half a cup of peas and a spoon to eat it with.

Traditional paella uses saffron strands to colour the rice, but I use bright yellow turmeric powder instead. This is a fraction of the cost and much more versatile, as it can be used in Saag Aloo, Spiced Potato Soup and many, many curry recipes besides. Traditional paella also uses a fat short-grain rice, but I use the ordinary long-grain store cupboard stuff because it’s what I have to hand. And a rice is a rice is a rice, as far as I’m concerned.

Serves 2 at 67p each*

2 tablespoons oil, 4p
1 onion (around 180g), 10p
2 cloves of garlic, 4p
500ml chicken or vegetable stock, 3p
a scant 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 3p
200g tinned chopped tomatoes, 18p
150g rice, 7p
1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs, 1p
70g fresh or frozen peas or green beans, cut into lengths, 8pea (couldn’t resist!)
100g fresh or frozen cooked prawns, 77p

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan or sauté pan. Peel and finely slice the onion, peel and finely chop or crush the garlic, and put both into the pan to soften for a few minutes on a medium heat. Take care not to brown them, as the slightly burnt taste will permeate through the whole dish.
Meanwhile bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a separate small saucepan and shake in the turmeric.
Add the chopped tomatoes and the rice to the frying pan with the onion and garlic and stir.
Chop the thyme, add to the pan and stir again briefly to combine. Pour a cup of the hot stock into the pan, then stir well to stop the rice from sticking.
When the stock has been absorbed by the rice, add another cup. Repeat until all the stock is used up, or the rice is soft. unlike risotto, you do not need to stir paella constantly, but a little stir every now and again is helpful to stop the rice from sticking to the pan.
When the rice is almost cooked, add the frozen peas or beans and the cooked prawns, stir and cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the prawns are warmed through.

Remove from the heat and leave to stand for a few minutes before serving, to allow the flavours to settle. Traditionally you’d drizzle a little extra oil over the top, to serve. And maybe a pinch of salt.

‘Sort-Of Paella’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe, available to buy from lots of lovely places but my fave is Hive, supporting local independent bookshops. The lovely photo is by Susan Bell.

I calculated the costs based on my most recent Sainsburys shop, but most other supermarkets and local shops sell rice and onions and stuff like that, at similar prices. If you find anything at a Super Bargainous Price, comment below and let us all know!

Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics onions 80p/1.5kg. Basics garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Basics chicken stock cubes 25p/10. Turmeric £1/42g. Basics chopped tomatoes 35p/400g. Basics rice 45p/1kg. Basics mixed dried herbs, 40p/14g. Basics frozen peas £1.40/1.2kg. Basics frozen prawns, £2.30/300g.

On Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe

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/

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Pumpkin, lentil and spinach daal

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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

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

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KERALAN AUBERGINE CURRY

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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

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Photography by Susan Bell: www.susanbellphotography.co.uk

MIXED BEAN GOULASH

 

Photography by Susan Bell: www.susanbellphotography.co.uk

Photography by Susan Bell: http://www.susanbellphotography.co.uk

I never tire of this quick, simple meal. Originally adapted from a beef goulash recipe, but tweaked and tampered with in the way that all recipes are, it has become a sweet and spicy staple in my household and doesn’t disappoint. I use cheap baked beans in place of haricot beans, as they are simply haricot or borlotti beans slathered in sauce – but usually for a third of the price of a tin of plain haricot or borlotti beans. Eat warm on toast, with rice, or stuffed in a pitta bread with lashings of cheese for lunch. Eat from the bowl, water it down and eat it as a soup, or eat it straight from the pan in the name of ‘testing’. Or, for a slightly Mexican twist, have it with tortillas, some grated cheese, sliced red onion and lettuce, with some lime or lemon to squeeze over.

Serves 4-6:

1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
1 x 400g tin of baked beans (or borlotti, canneloni, etc)
1 onion
1 fat clove of garlicf garlic
4 tablespoons of oil
3 teaspoons paprika
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon marmite or similar
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
1 teaspoon sugar

First, drain and rinse the beans. Empty the kidney beans and baked beans into a colander, and blast under cold water to get rid of the tinned taste and the sauce from the baked beans. When well rinsed, set to one side.

Peel and chop the onion and peel and finely slice the garlic. Place in a frying pan with the oil anf paprika, and cook on a low heat until the onion is softened. Add the chopped tomatoes, marmite, crumbled stock cube, sugar and half a tin of water (using one of the bean tins as a guide), and stir well. Simmer gently for 15 minutes until the sauce is thick and glossy.

Tip in the colander of rinsed beans, stir to mix well and heat through for 10 minutes. Serve, devour, have seconds, and enjpy!

Mixed bean goulash recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to order at The Hive, supporting your local independent book shops. Also available to buy from major retailers and supermarkets.

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

 

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GRANDADS STUFFED CABBAGE LEAVES

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This is my take on Greek dolmades. I first had stuffed vine leaves at my grandad’s guesthouse in Southend, and deeply regret not pilfering his recipe before he passed away. I wrap mine in cabbage leaves, which will no doubt have him swearing at me from beyond the grave, but these go down well in my house.

(Makes 20) at 30p each
1 large savoy cabbage, 80p
100g rice, 4p
1 tbsp oil, 3p
1 onion, very finely chopped, 9p
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped, 6p
400g minced meat (pork or lamb is best but turkey is good too), £4.50
1 tbsp parsley, chopped, 8p
1 tbsp mint, chopped, 8p
Pinch of cinnamon, 1p
140g tomato puree, 34p

Remove the leaves from the stalk of the cabbage and simmer them in a saucepan of boiling water for a few minutes.

When they’ve softened, remove with a slotted spoon and leave to dry on a clean tea towel or kitchen roll.

Bring the water back to the boil, add the rice and cook for 15 minutes, or until soft and fluffy.

In a separate pan, heat the oil on medium and add the onion, garlic and mince, until the onion has softened and mince has browned. Mix in the rice, parsley, mint, cinnamon and tomato puree and cook for another minute or two.

To make the stuffed leaves, place two teaspoons of the rice and mince mixture into the centre of a leaf, fold in the sides and roll up tightly. Eat them hot with yoghurt, mint and cucumber dip, or cold with a squeeze of lemon.

Jack’s tip
For a more substantial main dish, put the stuffed leaves seam-side down into a roasting tin or casserole dish, pour over a tin of chopped tomatoes or 400ml chicken stock with a few tablespoons of tomato puree stirred in, and bake in the oven at 180C/350F/gas mark four for half an hour.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

First published in The Guardian, Weds 26th Feb. Photography by Graeme Robertson for The Guardian.

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BOLOGNON

Faced with a leftover hunk of beef last night to stretch between two grown women with fairly healthy appetites, I started making bolognese, changed my mind and wanted bourgignon, and changed it back again halfway through. This is my first dinner cooked for Someone Very Special (who doesn’t like white chocolate, so Headrush Spaghetti was out, and who cooked for me the evening before, hence the leftover beef!)
Cue one mild flap about what to do and subsequent messing about with it at every stage. The result, however, is a chunky, obscenely rich, heady, bloody delicious big butch dinner that I’ve christened Bolognon, in honour of its roots. And god, it’s good. And she thought so too…😉

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Ingredients (served two adults, with a big bowl of leftovers):

2 onions (told you, I’m stretching this one out)
2 fat cloves of garlic, or three or four inferior ones
1 carrot
2 tbsp oil or a knob of butter
250g beef
150g bacon – smoked and streaky is good!
100ml milk
400g chopped tomatoes
200ml red wine,
4 tbsp tomato purée dissolved in 400ml chicken, beef or vegetable stock
2 tsp chopped woody herbs – I used a mix of thyme and rosemary
Huge handful of chopped parsley
2 tbsp double cream (or 1 rounded tbsp natural yoghurt with 2 tsp sugar)

Finely slice the onions and chop the garlic, and grate the carrot, and toss into a large sauté pan or heavy bottomed casserole dish with the oil or butter. Sauté on a low heat for a few minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, finely slice the beef and chop the bacon, and add to the pan. Turn up the heat to seal the meat, stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Pour in the milk and stir well – it will turn brown from the meat juices and softened onions – don’t panic! Pour over the tomatoes, purée, wine and stock, toss in the chopped herbs, and stir well. Crank the heat right up to bring to the boil.

Transfer either to a slow cooker on a low heat, a lidded casserole dish in the oven at 140C, or cover the sauté pan with foil/a plate/a lid on a very low heat. Cook for one hour for ‘soft enough’ beef – as I’m going all out to impress, I cooked mine for four, for meltingly soft beef and thick, rich sauce. (For a cheaper version, bring it to a furious boil, cover tightly, and remove from the heat. Leave to stand for an hour, bring to the boil again, and repeat. The covering will retain heat and continue to cook it, without needing a constant supply of gas or electricity.)

Stir through the cream or yoghurt-and-sugar before serving, and serve atop a heap of spaghetti for an attempt at an elegant dining experience, or with a chunky fat pasta to complement the big tender beef and thick, rich sauce…

Cheese optional. As we’re going for full on punchy knock-your-socks-off delicious here, I tossed chunks of it on by the handful, and a good grind of pepper to finish up.

Jack. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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CAULI, FENNEL & GARLIC SOUP

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This wholesome, earthy soup is packed with flavour from the sweet roasted onions and unmistakable taste of fennel.

(Serves 2) 49p a portion
400g cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen, 60p
1 potato, diced, 9p
1 onion, quartered, 9p
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled 6p
Scant teaspoon of fennel seeds, 5p
2 tbsp oil, 6p
500ml vegetable stock, 2p

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark six.

Put the cauliflower, potato and onion into a large roasting dish.

Bruise the garlic cloves by bashing with a rolling pin or wooden spoon, and add to the roasting dish.

Combine the fennel and oil, pour over the vegetables, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, peel the garlic cloves from their papery skins, and transfer to a blender, ensuring you scrape in the oil and fennel seeds.

Pour over stock to cover and blend until smooth.

Tip: The leftover soup makes a delicious pasta bake. Simply thin with a little water, milk or stock, pour over pasta with a fistful of strong cheese, and bake in the centre of the oven at 180C/350F/gas mark four for 20 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and the cheese is golden and crispy.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

First published in The Guardian, Weds 19th February. Photography by Graeme Robertson for The Guardian.

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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.

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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!

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CURRIED EGGS.

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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

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SMOKED MACKEREL KEDGEREE

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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

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MACKEREL AND SPINACH CHOWDER

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Ingredients (serves two generous portions):

1 tbsp oil
1 onion
1 tbsp flour
200ml milk
200ml water
50g frozen spinach
100g mackerel
200g sweetcorn
200g tinned potatoes

First, heat the oil in a pan. Dice or slice the onion, add with the flour, stir well and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes to soften.

Make up the milk if using milk powder, by adding two teaspoons to 200ml water – or use ‘normal’ milk if preferred. Add to the onions and stir in well to remove any lumps. Pour in the water.

Add the mackerel, broken into chunks, spinach, sweetcorn and diced potatoes. Crank the heat up to full power to bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the sauce is thick and creamy.

Enjoy!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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SPICED SPLIT PEA PASTA BAKE

This was my lunch for today – so simple that it’s barely a recipe but here we go!

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Basically, I cooked 100g of pasta, mixed it with half a portion of spiced split pea and lentil soup (http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/28/spiced-split-pea-and-yoghurt-soup/) left over from Tuesdays lunch, grated a smudge of cheese over the top and shoved it under the grill for five minutes to melt the cheese and crisp the edges of the pasta up.

Boom. Lunch. And a taste sensation, if I say so myself. Worth making the soup as a pasta sauce alone!!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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SPICED SPLIT PEA & YOGHURT SOUP

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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

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CHICKEN LIVER & LENTIL BOLOGNESE

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Tonight’s dinner came courtesy of some chicken liver at the back of the freezer, and some veg left over from a photoshoot yesterday. Idly flicking through my cookbook collection to find a new chicken liver idea, I came across a bolognese in Save With Jamie. Mine’s not identical – I’ve left out the bacon and mushrooms and chicken stock for a start, and replaced the balsamic vinegar with white wine vinegar, and added frozen spinach for some greens and to lift the flavour… And far more tomatoes than his recipe, because I like a good tomatoey ragu sauce. The result? I ate a good portion of this from the pan, and proclaimed it the best bolognese I’d ever eaten. Between me and Jamie, this is a job jobbed. Cheers.

Chicken liver and lentil bolognese, serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 carrot
1 onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1tbsp oil
200g chicken livers
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 red chilli
400g chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp vinegar – red wine or white wine
100g red lentils
100g frozen spinach
300g spaghetti

First slice the onion, carrot, chilli and garlic and add to a large sauté or frying pan with a tablespoon of oil, the vinegar, herbs and fennel. Rinse the livers and toss them in too. Fry everything together on a medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes until the veg starts to soften and the livers are sealed.

Carefully pop the veg and livers into a blender with the chopped tomatoes, and blend until fairly smooth.

Pour the contents of the blender back in the pan on a medium heat, and add 200ml water, and stir well.

Thoroughly rinse the lentils and add to the pan, add the spinach, and stir in. Add a further 200ml of water if the sauce starts to dry out. Stir occasionally to help the spinach defrost and wilt.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the spaghetti to cook, simmering for around 8 minutes or according to the packet instructions.

It should all come together around the same time; the lentils should be soft and swollen, the spinach wilted throughout the sauce, and the pasta nice and soft but not bloated and claggy. Drain the pasta, toss the sauce through, and top with a generous handful of cheese to serve.

I served two portions of this, and froze four more – your portion sizes might vary but it is very rich and filling!

Enjoy!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msjackmonroe

READER RECIPES: TOM’S CORNED BEEF BOLOGNESE

I just received the following email and I haven’t managed to test this as I’m in Tanzania right now, but the combination of corned beef and red wine and tomatoes makes it a winner in my book! Thanks Tom!🙂

“Hi Jack

My wife is a big fan of yours and told me to drop you a line and see if you want to add this simple recipe to your site

Very simple

Corned beef
Onion
Tin of tomato
Pepper
Garlic granules
Splash of left over red wine or Worcester sauce if you have it
Spaghetti Pasta

Simple spaghetti bolognaise that costs little and tastes great!

Hope you like🙂
Tom”

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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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

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FISH KORMA

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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

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CHICKPEA & CHORIZO BURGERS

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Chorizo is one of those ingredients that I buy rarely, but a little goes a long way. For a cheaper or vegetarian burger, you can omit it completely and just add the garlic and paprika for a similar smoky, spicy taste.

Ingredients (makes 4 generous burgers):

3 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped, or pinch of dried
1 carrot, grated
400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
100g chorizo, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 free range egg
2 slices of bread
1 tbsp flour

To serve:
1 pitta bread and handful of spinach.

Pour one tablespoon of oil into a medium sauté or frying pan on a low heat.

Add the chopped onion, crushed garlic, grated carrot, chopped chilli, paprika and chorizo and sauté all together on a low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to disturb.

Meanwhile, drain and rinse the chickpeas, and mash them thoroughly in a mixing bowl or saucepan until soft and pulpy. Soak the bread in water, squeeze out with your hands, and mash into the chickpeas. When the onions have slightly softened, tip the contents of the pan into the chickpea and bread mixture, add the egg, and mix well to evenly distribute.

Test the consistency with a wooden spoon – if it sticks to the spoon and holds together well, it’s good to go. If it does not hold its shape well (in my experience, not all chickpeas are created equal!) then add a heaped tablespoon of flour to thicken.

Pour the remaining two tablespoons of oil back into the original pan – which will be streaked with spicy chorizo juices – don’t waste them! Shaping the mixture into six balls with lightly floured hands, flatten each into the pan. Cook for around 7 minutes on each side on a medium heat, or until golden and crispy.

Serve in a pitta bread with salad – or with vegetables and rice for a more filling meal.

Tips: This burger mix also makes great falafels, which can be shallow fried or baked in the oven for a healthier alternative.

The burgers can be frozen, uncooked, by laying on a baking tray and freezing uncovered. When frozen, they can be transferred to a freezer bag. The process of ‘open freezing’ keeps them separate and easy to use one at a time, without all sticking together.

Leftover chorizo will keep for up to a month in the fridge. Try a few slices simmered in a pan of canned chopped tomatoes with a chopped onion for an easy but delicious pasta sauce.

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

READER RECIPES: LINDA’S CURRIED SOUP

I received this recipe from Linda this morning, and it sounds absolutely delicious. If you don’t have curry powder, a teaspoon of cumin would be a good substitute. It’s that time of year when curried soup is a most welcome thing! Thanks Linda!

Linda’s Curried Soup

1 tbsp cooking oil
1 onion
1 large parsnip
3 or 4 large carrots
1 green pepper
1.5 litres boiling water + 1 or 2 veggie stock cubes
1 tsp mild curry powder

Dice onion and sauté in oil till onion is soft but not browned.
Stir in curry powder and then all the rest of the veggies (small dice).
Add the stock and bring to the boil.
Simmer until the veggies are soft. This probably takes about half an hour, but I didn’t time it!
As the veggies are cut up into small dice the soup cooks quite quickly.
Blend with a stick blender and serve.

It is a tasty soup and a useful and thrifty way of using up those odd veggies. The first time I made it I used a wrinkly green pepper which would have been thrown out in many households but it made a good addition to the soup.

The soup has a good butternut squash colour and a lovely creamy consistency.
My husband loved the first batch and was delighted when he saw me making it again yesterday!”

If you have a favourite thrifty recipe you would like to see here, email it to jackmonroe@live.co.uk

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

Reader recipes: Andrew’s spicy lentil and tomato soup

I had this lovely email yesterday, with a delicious soup recipe that sounds perfect for winter lunches or light suppers… If I was making it with what was in the cupboard, i’d use a veg stock cube instead of bouillon and trusty chopped tomatoes, but only because I usually have them kicking around! Thanks Andrew for sharing, I hope you all enjoy this one.

Love your website and what you do for budget cooking and food poverty awareness. I made this the other day and it was lovely (and cheap):

Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup

One small onion
One leek
One small carrot
Tsp olive/sunflower oil
6 medium fresh tomatoes
1 tsp dried organo
Tablespoon tomato puree
Half tsp cayenne pepper
Tablespoon veg bouillon powder (low salt)
200g Red lentils

Method

Put tomatoes in boiling water.
Gently fry finely chopped onion, leek and grated carrot until soft but not brown.
Use water from tomatoes to make up veg stock, skin and chop toms.
Add toms, oregano, cayenne pepper and puree to pan and fry the mix until soft but not sticking to the pan (about 5 mins).
Mash down and bit with potato masher (you can blend if you like smooth soup, I don’t).
Add veg stock and bring to the boil.
Wash lentils until water is clear and then add to soup.
Cook gently until lentils are soft but still intact, add more water, seasoning as necessary.
Great with fresh homemade wholemeal bread.

Don’t know how much it costs but not much, tastes delicious and makes absolutely loads.

Love

Andrew

If you have a favourite frugal recipe you would like to share, please email it to jackmonroe@live.co.uk – thanks!

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

Reader recipes: Gill’s potatoes, tomatoes and cheese.

I had this email and recipe from Gill earlier this week, and it’s my kind of recipe – with no strict quantities or weighing or measuring! I have all of these ingredients at home so after what promises to be a busy day today, here’s what I’m having for my dinner…

Hi Jack, love your blog and your tips!

Here’s a great recipe, it’s cheap, filling, and everybody loves it!

You need (in whatever quantities will suit your needs)

Potatoes
Cheese
One tin of tomatoes (chopped, if cheaper, or chop own)
Onion
Salt & Pepper

Slice the potatoes and the onions thinly.
Layer in a lidded dish, interspersing with the cheese (can be grated, cheese that has gone a bit hard, even blue cheese works, so just whatever cheese you have, in whatever quantities you have).
Season each layer.
Half way through tip half of the tinned tomatoes in.
Continue layering and seasoning.
Finish with the rest of the tinned tomatoes.

Bake for a couple of hours or so on a medium (about 170/180) heat. Or can be microwaved if you are in a rush. This dish is very forgiving in terms of how you cook it.

Tasty enough to serve alone or have as an accompaniment to sausages, chicken thighs, etc.,

It’s a great standby ‘store cupboard’ dish!

Hope it’s useful!

Gill

If you have a favourite frugal recipe or tip to share, email it to jackmonroe@live.co.uk

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

Reader Recipes: Charlotte’s Borscht

I was sent this recipe by a lovely reader, Charlotte, so thought I would share it here. If you have a recipe you would like to share, email it to me on jackmonroe@live.co.uk

I am trying to be really thrifty at the moment as I’m on a postgraduate student living allowance which is being squeezed from every direction. I was making dinner last night and needed to use up some beetroot so I made a vague approximation of borscht, I don’t know if it’s the sort of thing you or your readers might like.

Ingredients:
Pack of four cooked (not pickled) beetroot, in small cubes
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Diced small onion
Vegetable stock cube in about 700mL water
Pinch of paprika
Tablespoon plain yogurt
Black pepper
Mixed herbs

I browned the onion and then added the beetroot and the juice from the packet. In next was the stock, the pepper and the herbs. I simmered this for about 10 minutes and then mashed the bits of beetroot with a potato masher. Normally I’d use a stick blender to get it really smooth but mine gave up a couple of months back. I then added the yogurt, followed by a pinch of paprika. I served this with cous cous but it would also go well with bread. This served four adults so I think this works out at about 50p a portion (I shop at Aldi).

All the very best, Charlotte.

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

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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