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Peanut Butter Granola, 11p (VEGAN)

I first made this for myself as I love peanut butter in the mornings, but not having a toaster, popping bread under the grill inevitably goes wrong when you have a three year old to get washed and socked and shoed in the mornings – so I cobbled this together and bunged it in a big jar. Perfect with hot milk, or cold, or even pop it in the microwave for a minute for a warm, soft, stodgy, comforting start to your day.

There are endless variations to this too, just add a good oil, like coconut, in place of the peanut butter to hold your oats together (oo-er) and the possibilities are endless. I recommend dark chocolate with toasted or ground almonds if the purse stretches. Dark chocolate and marmalade is similar to a famous round chocolate orange in a bright blue box, and for breakfast, such fun! Golden syrup can be replaced with treacle, sugar, or any sweetening agent of your choice. If you feel like erring on the side of virtuous, chop a banana into it.

Makes 8 portions at 11p each. Costs worked out at Sainsburys, as it’s my nearest supermarket, and similar products are available at most leading supermarkets for competitive prices.

30ml oil, 3p (£3/3l, Sainsburys own brand)

4 tbsp/65g peanut butter, 33p (£3/600g Sun Pat crunchy – I use SP as it doesn’t contain palm oil, cheaper brands are available.)

4 tbsp/100g golden syrup, 18p (£1.25/680g Sainsburys own brand)

300g rolled porridge oats, 36p (£1.20/kg, Sainsburys own brand)

 

First, preheat the oven to 180C.

Melt the peanut butter and golden syrup together with the oil – either in a medium saucepan on a low heat for a minute or two, or in the microwave on full power for 30 seconds – and stir to combine.

Add the oats and mix well to coat then in the oil-peanut-syrup mixture.

Lightly grease a baking tray and tip the granola onto it, gently flattening down with the back of a spoon to spread approximately 1cm thick. Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool, before transferring to an airtight container to store. It will keep for around 2 months.

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

First published in the Guardian, 8th Jan 2014, and G2 magazine, 9th Jan 2014: For the original article, click here.

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/

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Double Chocolate Guinness Birthday Brownies, 15p

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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 4x440ml cans, indeed, I recommend it for my sausage casserole recipe and a few others besides. But, tomorrow being both my birthday and St Patrick’s Day, for me, tonight, it’s got 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 for 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 and seductive words, to relax and unwind, to feel inspired, to find a moment of joy in food at the end of a long day. Her Guinness gingerbread with plums was the inspiration for my own Beery Berry Crumble in my first book, A Girl Called Jack, and both stand up to long cold days and a craving for a little comfort. Today, I mused aloud on Twitter that I was compiling my favourite Irish recipes for St Patrick’s Day, and several readers asked about a Guinness chocolate brownie. Intrigued, I experimented and explored, noted down several recipe variations including my own brownie recipe scrawled into an old black notebook, and here we are: double chocolate Guinness birthday brownies. I hope you love them as much as I do.

Makes 24 small fat rich brownies, at 15p each

250ml Guinness (or other stout, if your budget doesn’t stretch), 71p
200g dark chocolate, 70p
100g milk chocolate, 70p
200g butter, 72p
300g sugar, 27p
3 eggs, 43p
150g flour, 6p
a pinch of salt, <1p

First heat your oven to 180C, and line a small roasting tray with baking paper. If baking paper isn’t the kind of thing you have lying around, give it a good grease with sunflower/vegetable oil to stop your brownies from sticking.

Pour the Guinness into a small saucepan and turn onto a low-medium heat. Perch a mixing bowl on the top – this will act as a bain marie to simultaneously melt the butter and chocolate, and reduce the Guinness. Break up the dark chocolate only, and dice the butter, and pop into the bowl for around 8 minutes to melt, stirring occasionally. Don’t be tempted to crank the heat up, I did and my Guinness bubbled up and made a ghastly sticky mess all over my hob. Patience, it will all work out.

Meanwhile, beat together your eggs and sugar with the pinch of salt until well combined. Gradually add the flour, a quarter at a time, and beat it all in before adding the next batch. You can sift it for a smoother consistency, but a thorough beating with a wooden spoon will do the job just as well, with one less thing to wash up.

When the chocolate and butter are melted and combined, gradually beat those into the mixture. Don’t be tempted to splosh it all in at once, as searing hot chocolate and cold eggs has a lot of potential to go quite wrong… There’s a reason why you don’t generally see ‘chocolate scrambled eggs’ on restaurant menus!

When the melted chocolate and butter are combined with the eggs, flour and sugar, it’s time to add the booze. It should have reduced by half (i.e. there should be 125ml there now, instead of 250ml, as half of it should have evaporated). If it hasn’t, you can either carry on reducing it for a moment now it doesn’t have a bowl of chocolate balancing on top, or just use 125ml of whatever quantity you have left – I can’t imagine it will make a frightfully noticeable difference. Pour a little into the brownie mixture, mix well, and repeat until consistent.

Pour the whole lot into your tray – it will be VERY runny. I had my doubts, slopping it in, that I was going to make anything that remotely resembled a brownie, so if you are pouring brownie soup into your tray with more than a touch of scepticism, you’re doing it exactly right. Break up your milk chocolate and poke it into the brownie soup at random intervals, and put the whole thing on the middle tray of the oven. Close the door, and don’t open it for 40 minutes, no matter how great it smells or how curious you are.

40 minutes later, turn the oven off and remove the brownies, and leave them in a safe place to cool for AT LEAST AN HOUR before slicing them. They carry on cooking while they’re resting, and this is vital. If you’re anything like me you can hover over them watching the top crack and inhaling their brilliant cakey boozy chocolately aroma BUT DON’T TOUCH THEM. If I can do it, so can you.

Then, cut into 24 pieces and demolish one of the corners, just to, you know, check. Leave to cool completely, and pop into an airtight bag or container and store for a few days. If they last that long. Someone’s eaten a third of mine already.

Recipe costs based on current Sainsburys prices as it’s where I shop – correct at the time of blogging and subject to change. Guinness £5/4x440ml cans. Basics dark chocolate 35p/100g. Basics milk chocolate 35p/100g. Basics unsalted butter 90p/250g. Fairtrade granulated sugar 90p/1kg. Mixed weight free range eggs 85p/6. Basics plain flour 55p/1.5kg. Basics table salt 25p/750g.

Jack Monroe. I’m on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

That's not a broken corner, it's a nibbled one... :)
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

Here greeny greeny greeny greeny things... And kids, if you're reading this in years to come, I told you I was smarter than you...

Raw broccoli and courgette pesto, 17p (NUT-FREE) (VEGAN)

Here greeny greeny greeny greeny things... And kids, if you're reading this in years to come, I told you I was smarter than you...

Here greeny greeny greeny greeny things… And kids, if you’re reading this in years to come, I told you I was smarter than you…

So, the two delightful four year olds in residency have both announced recently that they ‘don’t want school dinners any more’ ‘because they make us eat lots of VEGETABLES.’ News to me, this one, as they have both been fairly consistently good Vegetable Eaters throughout their childhood – albeit *different vegetables*, which means we have a list stuck to the front of the fridge to remind us that one of them will happily nosh on peppers but not peas, and the other one likes carrots and broccoli and ‘sometimes’ cauliflower. One thing they are both very sold on, however, is broccoli. And pesto.

So, I opened my fridge this evening to mull over the tired scrappy bits in the vegetable drawer, and found exactly 67g of drying, wilting -broccoli. (I’ve rounded it up to a round 100g in the recipe, as I don’t expect anybody to weigh out 67g of anything!) The sneaky mum in me decided to ‘extend’ it into something I could pass off as ‘broccoli pesto’ – and here we are. And kids, if you’re reading this in a few years time, I told you I was smarter than you.

It’s only raw by virtue of laziness – there was a small someone-treading-on-my-broken-toe incident over the weekend and thus my recovery has been unceremoniously flung back to what feels like square one. Today I have mostly been working from my duvet. You can steam or saute or boil and cool the component parts if you like, but, licking the bowl as I type this is testament to the fact that you just don’t have to. I proffered a spoonful to my small boy, told him it was ‘broccoli sauce’, and he demolished it. Win all round.

Makes enough for six bellies at 17p each* – I split mine into three pots of ‘kids plus a snack for me’.

100g broccoli, stems and all, 14p
250g courgette, 50p
50g spinach, fresh or frozen and defrosted (up to you whether to refreeze it if using defrosted spinach, I’ve been doing it for years with veg and never caught vegetable lurgies, but health and safety scaremongerers abound…), 7p
100g bread, stale or otherwise, 13p (or 7p for two white pittas) – to give it that nutty texture that’s so great about pesto, without any actual nuts
100ml oil (I used sunflower), 13p
30ml lemon juice – the bottled variety is fine, 6p

The adults might like to add a clove or two of garlic and a pinch of salt, and non-vegans might want to lob in a load of hard strong grated cheese, but it’s perfectly delicious the way it is…

Finely shop your broccoli and courgette, and roughly chop your spinach. Tear up your bread, and put the whole lot in the blender – pulse until it resembles a pesto. The wetness of the courgette should help it along, but if your blender is struggling, add the oil and lemon juice, and if it’s still struggling, a small slosh of water. The breadcrumbs will soak the liquid up anyway.

Divide into jars or containers and store one in the fridge and one in the freezer for a cheat dinner for a later date. Serve over hot pasta, and enjoy.

If you’re seriously suspicious about your kids eating ‘raw’ veg, then you can tip this into a pan and cook it off for a few minutes before tipping it over their pasta – but I find a good grating of cheese goes a long way in getting kids to eat anything (vegan cheese for vegans, obviously, and not so much for everyone else).

And enjoy! You can play with the vegetables, and veg proportions – I just include enough broccoli to pass mine off as ‘broccoli sauce’ – and the Smalls are none the wiser. Hoorah for a penchant for pesto, in my household at least…

* Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I currently shop, but things like courgettes and broccoli 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:

Loose broccoli £1.35/kg. Frozen broccoli £1.40/kg but more florets than stems, so use what you prefer. Loose courgettes 20p/100g – am very cross that the Basic courgettes appear to have vanished as they were once a staple on my very low budget and I based a lot of my early recipes around them! I digress. Frozen spinach £1.40/kg. Giraffe bread £1/800g loaf. Basics pitta breads 22p/6. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Bottled lemon juice 50p/250ml.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/msjackmonroe) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/msjackmonroe) if you like, and find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

…and if you enjoy my recipes, you might like one of my books – I like to direct people to the Hive, as they deliver to your local independent book store, or your house. They’re available in other places too, but I think the Hive is just great: http://www.hive.co.uk/by/jack-monroe/21868634/

Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup...

Pappa al Pomodoro (Italian Bread Crusts And Tomato Soup), 32p – VEGAN

Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup...

Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup…

I love a good tomato soup, and quite often with the humble tomato, simplicity is key. So imagine my delight, yesterday evening, idly leafing through the iconic River Café Cookbook (Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers), and finding a recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro. I’d never heard of it, but fell in love instantly – garlic, salt, herbs, tomatoes and a little bread. Of course, the original calls for fresh tomatoes in late summer, and ‘open-textured white bread made with olive oil, such as Pugliese’, given that The River Café is famous for tremendously good Italian cooking (and was home to a fledgling Jamie Oliver, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro and many many other great chefs of our time). Alas, although my other half (also a River Café chef in her youth) is fond of the odd Pugliese, I’m not about to go and buy a loaf to tear up and fling into soup, nor recommend that you do on a budget cooking blog. I decided to see if I could make my own version, from my basics.

Firstly, who has a toddler or fussy teenager or even adult in their household that doesn’t eat their crusts? I used to battle with my four year old boy in the morning about the crusts on his toast, until I gave up – if he doesn’t like them, he doesn’t like them, and giving his toast a quick trim is easier than ten minutes of parrying – me insisting that he eats them, him nibbling and giving me looks out of the corner of his eye and grimacing and whining, oh it’s just not worth it, is it? So now I trim them off, and fling them in a bag in the freezer. I blitz them into breadcrumbs when I need a small amount of them, rather than waste a whole loaf of bread, but today I dug some of them out for this soup. Bread crust and tinned tomato soup, given a fancy Italian name. Stay with me, it’s utterly delicious…

A selection of bread crusts recently rejected by the Small Boy, now cunningly smuggled into soup. Hooray for toddler fussiness after all...

A selection of bread crusts recently rejected by the Small Boy, now cunningly smuggled into soup. Hooray for toddler fussiness after all…

Serves 2 at 32p each

2 fat cloves of garlic, 4p
a pinch of salt, <1p
4 tbsp oil, vegetable or sunflower, 8p (The River Café Cookbook uses olive oil, but it’s gone the way of the pugliese in this recipe, i.e. NOT HERE)
400g carton of tomatoes, 35p
1 stalk (2g inc stalk) fresh rosemary, 8p or 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
60g bread, crusts are best but any bread will do (approx 2 slices medium cut bread), 7p

First finely slice your garlic and add to a saucepan with the salt. Pour over the oil and turn the heat on very very gently – I do garlic then heat, because quite often I’m doing a gazillion things at once in my kitchen, and the oil gets too hot because I decide to quickly wash something up and the garlic goes in and burns and I have to start the whole thing again. It just needs a gentle soften here, so garlic, salt, oil, gentle heat. Burnt garlic stinks. In all kinds of ways.

After a minute, pour over the chopped tomatoes and add 250ml water and the herbs, and bring to the boil. Stir well, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, until the soup thickens and concentrates. It might seem like a lot of water, but trust me, it needs it, and it’s going to have even more in a minute…

After 15 minutes, tear up your bread and fling it in. Add another 250ml water (if you’re sceptical, add it a little at a time, but the bread sucks a lot of water up as it swells from bland boring crusts to soft and soggy pieces of deliciousness). Bring it to the boil again, then cover it to retain as much heat as possible (a lid, a plate, some tin foil) and turn the heat off. Leave it to stand for as long as you can bear it – I managed half an hour before I dived back in, but it’s one of those that improves the longer it stands around doing its thing, hanging out on the hob, developing its flavours…

Warm through to serve. Depending on your tomatoes, it might be a little sharp (although it shouldn’t be after all that cooking and hanging around, but not all tomatoes are created equal. If that’s the case, just stir in a teaspoon of sugar as it warms through to adjust it). After me – nom nom nom nom nom nom nom…

*Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I did my shopping this week, 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 garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Basics table salt 25p/750g. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics tomatoes 35p/400g. Fresh rosemary 80p/20g. Mixed dried herbs 35p/14g. Giraffe bread £1/800g.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/msjackmonroe) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/msjackmonroe) and find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

…and if you enjoy my recipes, you might like one of my books – I like to direct people to the Hive, as they deliver to your local independent book store, or your house. They’re available in other places too, but I think the Hive is just great: http://www.hive.co.uk/by/jack-monroe/21868634/

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/

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

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This morning I woke up, walked out of the bedroom, skidded down the stairs, and crashed my foot into the wall with the full force of my rapidly-descending body slamming behind it. I spent the rest of the morning in Charing Cross A&E, where despite looking extremely light on staff, I was seen relatively quickly, by a doctor who used to be a psychiatrist and before that lived in the Phillipines (we had a great food chat!) I had my wonky-looking foot X-Rayed by a very kind radiographer, the doctor set it and strapped it up, and I cleared a good deal of my work diary for the immediate future. Walking with a stick on bruises and fractures and sprains is not really conducive to prancing about in a kitchen testing recipes, well, not as early as Monday, anyway.

BUT, I made a New Years resolution to cook or make something new every day – so apologies that today’s may be fairly low level, but I can’t stand unaided right now and I’ve sprained my right shoulder, so chopping and slicing and dicing is temporarily beyond me…

However, it’s something I’ve been meaning to get to grips with for a while, so simple it may be, but it’s also delicious, and comforting. Ladies, gentlemen and non-binary readers, I bring to you an oh so simple chilli hot chocolate…

Serves two (you’ll probably want both!)

500ml milk (can be made with 4 rounded tbsp skimmed milk powder and 500ml water, 14p* – for a vegan version this is absolutely delicious with almond milk!)
50g dark chocolate (or more if you like), 17p*
1/8 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes, 1p
1 teaspoon sugar, optional.

Grab a bowl and a small saucepan – the right sizes so the bowl can rest on top of the pan without falling in or touching the bottom. Now put a few inches of water in the pan, but the water mustn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Sounds more complicated than it is, I promise. The cooking term for this (for the uninitiated) is a ‘Bain Marie’, and a lot of cookbooks dictate that water touching the bowl will burn the chocolate and make it taste bitter. I love a bit of theory, me. Are you all set? Then we’ll begin.

Heat your water on a medium heat and break the chocolate into squares. Pop it in the bowl, with the chilli, and stir gently to melt it.

When the chocolate is melted and glossy and delicious looking, add a splash of milk to thin it out, stirring well. Add a splash more, stir, splash, stir, until all your milk is incorporated. Sounds like a faff, but I found out the hard way that just slinging it all in a pan and cranking it up impatiently leads to a mug of warm milk with chocolatey lumps floating in it, which just isn’t nice. Unless you like that sort of thing.

Anyway, when it’s a nice thin liquid consistency, remove the bowl and pan from the heat. Tip out any remaining water from the pan, place a sieve or tea strainer over it, and pour the hot chocolate through it to catch the chilli. Pop it back on the heat, crank it up to medium to heat through, and then ladle into mugs and enjoy.

Simple. Comforting. Warming. Bliss.

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @MsJackMonroe

*Prices based on Sainsburys Basics where available and Sainsburys own brand. Skimmed milk powder £1.15/400g. Dark chocolate 35p/100g. Dried crushed chilli flakes £1/32g. Subject to change, as these things do, and similar items available at other supermarkets for similar prices.

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Leftover-Porridge Pancakes

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I never seem to get the porridge quantities quite right in the mornings, and have recently embarked on a series of experiments with teacups and measuring cups, trying to work out the exact amount of oats and water and milk needed to make two small bowls of porridge for two small children – but no matter how carefully calculated, there’s always, always some leftover. I’ve now given up, and instead incorporate the leftover porridge into the next day’s panful – but this morning, something more exciting happened… (And credit where it’s due, these were my wonderful Mrs’ idea, an out-loud musing of ‘I wonder if we could make pancakes out of the leftover porridge…’ and subsequent breakfast glee at realising that yes, we can…)

You will need:

Leftover porridge (I make mine with oats and water – don’t tell the children – with a splash of milk at the end – for the vegans among you a little almond milk or soy would be delicious…)
A little flour for dusting
A little oil to cook them

Allow your leftover porridge to cool, and pop into a bowl, cover with clingfilm, and store in the fridge overnight. It will set, thick and gelatinous, and ready to be turned into delicious pancake patties the next morning…

Remove from the fridge, lightly flour your worktop and hands, and break a chunk off the porridge-lump. Flatten with your fingertips to press it together – don’t try to roll it out as it will just cling to your rolling pin! I cut mine into rounds with a cookie cutter, but that’s because I like the pictures to look nice – it’s not essential!

Lightly flour each side to stop them sticking to your pan. Heat a little oil in a frying pan until hot hot, then add the patties. Cook for a few minutes on each side, turning the heat down to medium so they don’t burn. Cook until golden and crispy around the edges, and serve.

Delicious with bacon, or honey, or brown sauce and sausages, or dipped in ketchup, or with an egg on top, or any other way you can think of.

And – hoorah – I now have a solution to the leftover porridge problem, and a very very exciting one at that.

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

This week’s Guardian recipe: Black pudding hangover hash…

There’s a thing that happens when your better half runs a pork restaurant – you start to incorporate all things piggy into all meals of the day in the same way that you used to use onions, or garlic, with gay abandon and without question. It starts with lardo on toast, bacon sandwiches for lunch, porchetta for dinner, bacon in ice cream (you’ll have to pop down to Blackfoot for it if you’re curious), and emergency sausages in the meat drawer for the kids, the pasta, the ribollita, the essential top-up of the ‘Vitamin P’. The meat drawer that might as well be called the pork drawer, because it sees nary a sniff of anything else. And then – once you have a reputation as a pig obsessive – people shower you with porcine presents: where they might have once bought flowers, or a card, you get a packet of sausages or a fennel rub instead. A particularly memorable piggy gift recently was from my German friend Lea, who left London a few weeks ago with a trail of Blutwurst in her wake. Soft, dense, meaty and delicious, Blutwurst is black pudding for black pudding obsessives – and so the morning after her boozy leaving lunch-into-dinner the night before, this happened. Hangover food at its finest, with no more foggy-headed incompetency required than to grate some stuff, blearily mash it together, and dollop it into a frying pan. Bliss. And oink.

Makes around 10 fritters.

400g carrots
200g potatoes
1 large onion of any colour
a fistful of parsley
1 large free range egg
4 tbsp flour
400g black pudding

Line a colander with kitchen paper or a clean non-fluffy tea towel, and grate in the potatoes and carrots – potatoes first, as they tend to be wetter, so the weight of the carrots will bear down on them and squish the excess water out.

Finely dice your onion and tip into a large mixing bowl with the carrots and potatoes. Roughly chop the parsley and toss it in. Stir in the flour and egg, and the black pudding, then cover and chill for at least half an hour – this helps the mixture bind together and stops it all falling into a mush in the pan.

When it’s chilled and firmed up a bit, heat a little oil in a frying pan, dollop a few tablespoons of the mixture in, flatten it slightly and fry on a medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side. I served mine with a couple of soft-boiled eggs and some lightly fried bread…

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

First published in The Guardian, October 2014.

Photography by Susan Bell

White Chocolate Tea Bread

This came about because I LOVE chocolate chip brioche – so I decided to try to make some chocolate chip bread as a replacement. Unfortunately, though, the chocolate chips all melted into the dough as I added my usual boiling water and I ended up with this Chocolate Tea Bread instead – but it was still delicious! I eat mine in chunks, warm with spread and a cuppa. I’ll make true chocolate chip brioche another day, but this is no apology – I’ve stumbled on something heavenly. Bliss!

Makes 1 small loaf

275g self-raising flour (or 275g plain flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder or bicarbonate of soda), plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
50g sugar
200g white chocolate
25g butter, plus extra to grease the loaf tin
150ml boiling water with a tea bag steeped in it and allowed to cool (Trust me on this one!)

Measure the flour, yeast and sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Break the chocolate into chunks. It’s up to you how you do this; I put mine into a freezer bag and bash it with the flat end of a rolling pin, or you could use a wood mallet in a similar set- up, or chop the chocolate on a work surface with a big sharp knife if you’re cheffy and adept at that sort of thing. Tip the chocolate chunks into the bowl with the flour, yeast and sugar.

Add the butter to the bowl and pour in the black tea, then stir together with a wooden spoon until well combined and the mixture has turned into a pliable, soft, sticky dough.

Tip out the dough on to a generously floured work surface and knead for a good 10 minutes. I always notice when I’ve got oil or butter in a bread dough because it has a beautiful silken texture and eminent pliability. If you’ve made bread before, you’ll notice the difference.

When kneaded, pat the dough into a rugby ball shape, cover and leave on the side for 20 minutes to rise.

Once the dough has risen, transfer it into a lightly greased 1lb loaf tin (approximately 17 x 7 x 6cm) to prove. Cover with oiled cling film or a tea towel and leave in a warm place for a further half an hour. A little before the end of the proving time, put on the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 to preheat.

When the dough has risen again, put the tin into the preheated oven for 40 minutes to bake, and wait for the smell of chocolate and bread to permeate your house. If the top of the loaf starts to brown before it’s done, remove from the oven, cover the tin with tin foil and pop it back in for the remainder of the baking time.

Remove the tin from the oven, allow the loaf to cool on a wire rack and turn out ready to slice and eat.

Tip: To make a proper buttery- type chocolate brioche bread, fold in the chocolate chunks when kneading the dough instead of earlier on.

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

‘White Chocolate Tea Bread’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Sunshine Bread (Carrot, Pineapple & Sultana Loaf)

The quantity given for the tin of pineapple chunks is approximate. Some tins are 200g, some are 227g, so don’t worry about weighing and measuring – just throw about half the tin in! you can put the remaining pineapple chunks from the tin into an airtight container with just enough juice to cover and pop into the fridge to snack on or use in another recipe. For a portable breakfast for me and Small Boy, or as a snack to keep in my drawer to chipmunk away on in the busyness of my day, I like to make individual buns – see the tip below.

Makes 1 small loaf:

350g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
1 carrot
30g sultanas
1⁄2 x 200g tin of pineapple chunks and the juice from the whole tin
oil or butter, to grease the loaf tin

Weigh the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast.

Finely grate in the carrot and add the sultanas. Mix everything together then make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.

Strain the pineapple pieces over a measuring cup or bowl, reserving the juice to use in a minute. Tip the pineapple chunks into the centre of the dry mixture. Add boiling water to the pineapple juice to make it up to 160ml. Pour into the well in the centre of the ingredients on top of the pineapple chunks, and combine everything together to make a soft, sticky dough.

Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly. As you knead it, the pineapple pieces may break down and make the dough wetter. If this happens, sprinkle some extra flour over the dough and knead it in. Leave to rise on the work surface for approximately 15 minutes.

Transfer the risen dough into a greased 1 lb loaf tin (approximately 17 x 7 x 6cm), cover with cling film and leave to prove (the second rising process) for half an hour. A little before the end of the proving time, put on the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 to preheat.

Pop the loaf tin into the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until the bread is risen and crusty on top. It should feel light when you lift it from the oven and sound hollow when you tap the bottom. This is quite a moist bread, so can be left to cook a little longer if you prefer.

Allow to cool slightly, then tip out from the loaf tin. Slice, butter and eat.

Tips: Sunshine bread is best eaten freshly cooked and warm, but if there is any left over for the next day simply lightly toast it to enjoy.

This recipe can also be made into Sunshine Buns, by shaping the dough into approximately 8 individual rounds or cutting into scone shapes with a large cookie cutter and putting into greased muffin tins. Reduce the baking time to around 18 minutes.

‘Sunshine Bread’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Photography by Susan Bell.

Penny Pizzas

I make penny pizzas as way of using up leftovers such as Mamma Jack’s Best Ever Chilli or Lentil Bolognese – but they are just as good topped with a dollop of tomato purée and some grated cheese. Or they are a good way to use up sliced mushy tomatoes that have passed their best and the dry ends of cheese. I have collected novelty cookie cutters over the years, so Small Boy often asks for ‘duckie pizza’ or ‘lorry pizza’ – resulting in a frantic delve through my kitchen to find the right one.

Makes 14 mini-pizzas (using an 8cm cookie cutter)

250g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
optional: a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon oil, plus extra to oil the baking tray
200ml warm water
3 tablespoons tomato purée
optional: a sprinkle of dried mixed herbs

Topping ideas: mozzarella cheese, any grated cheese, chopped onion, ham and pineapple, ham and sweetcorn, leftover Bolognese sauce or leftover chilli . . . The possibilities are endless!

Measure the flour and yeast into a large mixing bowl and add the salt, if using. Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the oil and most of the water, and stir together with a spoon to make a soft, sticky dough. Add more water if required.

Tip the dough on to a floured work surface, lightly knead for a few minutes and shape into a round. Pop it back into the mixing bowl, cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave for an hour to rise, or until doubled in size.

When the dough has risen, tip out on to the floured work surface and roll out with a rolling pin. I make mine less than 0.5cm thick but it’s up to you. Bear in mind when rolling out the dough that the bases will double in thickness when cooked.

Cut out dough circles or shapes using your choice of cutter, transferring these mini pizza bases on to a lightly oiled baking tray as you go. (You may need to do them in batches!)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Top each dough pizza base with a thin spread of tomato purée, the dried herbs, if using, and your topping of choice. Pop the baking tray into the oven for 10 minutes, until the mini pizzas are slightly crisp around the edges. Larger pizzas may need longer cooking time.

Tips: The penny pizzas will keep in the fridge, covered, for 2 to 3 days, making them ideal for little lunches. Allow to cool completely and freeze any leftovers. They will keep for 3 months in the freezer, and can be reheated in a low oven.

To make a large pizza traybake, roll out the dough into a rectangle the size of your baking tray instead of cutting into individual mini pizzas.

For quicker pizzas, halve a pitta bread, spread with tomato purée and top with a topping of your choice. Cook for 10 minutes at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 for a speedy snack.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

‘Penny Pizzas’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Photography by Susan Bell

Courgette, Sultana & Lemon Bread

Courgettes give off quite a bit of liquid when you grate them but don’t worry about draining it off in this recipe because the courgettey water will help to flavour the bread and add moisture. when you will be adding water to a recipe later anyway, it doesn’t make sense to fanny about taking liquid out only to put it back in again, and I like simple solutions. I often start preparing my bread last thing at night so I can take the frustrations of the day out on it as I knead, which gives the additional bonus of being able to leave the dough overnight to rise for extra light and fluffy bread. This bread is delicious sliced and toasted with butter (or whatever spread you have) and marmalade, or simply eaten warm by the handful.

Makes 1 small loaf

1 small courgette
300g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
50g sultanas
zest and juice of 1⁄2 a lemon or 1 tablespoon bottle lemon juice

Grate the courgette finely into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and yeast to the courgette, and then tip in the sultanas. Combine everything with a wooden spoon, making sure the courgette doesn’t all just clump together.

Pour the lemon juice into a measuring cup, grate in the zest and add recently boiled water to make it up to 150ml of liquid (less than usual for this amount of flour because of the wetness of the courgette). Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture and pour in most of the lemon-water. Mix to form a sticky dough, adding the rest of the liquid if required.

Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Leave the dough to rise for half an hour, with a tea towel over the top to keep the heat from the water in.

When the dough has risen, knock the air out of it, and pop into a lightly oiled or silicone 1lb loaf tin (approximately 17 x 7 x 6cm). Cover with cling film and leave to rise again (this is called proving) for at least another half an hour or. A little before the end of the proving time, put on the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 to preheat.

Score the top of the dough lightly. Put the tin in the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes; the loaf should be golden and crisp on top, feel lightweight and sound hollow on the bottom when tapped. Take out of the oven, remove the loaf from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack, then slice and devour.

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

‘Courgette, Sultana & Lemon Bread’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe, available to buy now.

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

Photography by Susan Bell.

Courgette, Tomato & Brie Gratin

This dish was born of a sad-looking courgette in my fridge, half of a very large onion that was starting to dry out, and some bits and pieces from my cupboard. The rice makes this filling and comforting, and the cheese, tomato and slightly crisp courgettes have me reaching for a second portion even when I am pleasantly full. If you have always been a bit disdainful about courgettes, this simple supper might just change your mind… You can double the recipe quantities to serve 4 people, in which case, use a roasting tin rather than individual ovenproof dishes.

Serves 2:

1 onion
150g rice (I use standard long grain but wholemeal is really good in this)
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 200ml boiling water
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
a few sprigs of fresh basil
a few sprigs of fresh parsley
1 large courgette
50g Brie cheese or to taste (I admit to using much more than that at times…)
a drizzle of oil, plus a little extra to grease the ovenproof dishes

First, preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

Peel and dice the onion and toss into a medium pan with the rice. Pour the stock in a little at a time on a low heat, stirring frequently until each addition is absorbed, and then adding the next. You may need to add more or less liquid until the rice is just cooked, but water to top up will be just fine if you run out of stock.

Add the chopped tomatoes, tear over the fresh basil and parsley leaves, and stir through. Remove the pan from the heat.

Finely slice the courgette into approx 1mm slices and dice the Brie into small pieces.

Spoon the rice-and-tomato-and-onion mixture into two small greased ovenproof dishes, ramekins or bowls. Scatter the Brie on top. Then lay the courgette slices over the cheese so that they overlap, and brush or drizzle with a little oil.

Cook in the oven for 15 minutes until lightly toasted on top. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and serve.

TIPS: If, like me, you are a big cheese fiend, add grated Parmesan or another hard strong cheese on top of the courgette before popping it in the oven.

‘Courgette, tomato and Brie gratin’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

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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DAGAA

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On a recent trip to Tanzania, I came across dagaa in almost every household I visited. We’d often eat tiny fish with stewed greens, home-ground peanut butter and ugali (soft maize), served in small bowls, with our fingers. Here is my British take on it…

(Serves 2) 48p a portion
150g rice, 6p
2 tbsp oil, 6p
200g sprats, 40p
1 tbsp lime juice, 3p
1 tsp fresh grated ginger, 5p
½ tsp salt, 1p
100g spinach or spring greens, 15p
1 tbsp peanut butter, 10p
1 fresh chilli, chopped, 9p

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the rice and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until cooked.

Warm the oil in a shallow frying pan on a high heat, add the sprats and squeeze over the lime juice.

Add the ginger, season, and fry until the fish begin to crisp around the edges (no more than 10 minutes).

When the fish are almost done, blanch the greens in boiling water for a minute, put them in a bowl, stir in the peanut butter and sprinkle the chilli on top.

Serve with the fish and plain rice.

Tip: I had many versions of these fish in Tanzania. Each household cooks them slightly differently, so don’t be afraid to experiment. For example, you can coat the sprats with flour, seasoned with salt and dried chilli, before frying.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

First published in The Guardian, Weds 5th March. Photograph by Graeme Robertson for The Guardian.

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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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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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BRAMLEY APPLE SODA BREAD.

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Bramley apple soda bread (makes four generous portions):

200g flour (any will do – plain, self raising, rye, whole meal…)
1 rounded tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp lemon juice
200ml milk
1 large Bramley apple (or other variety, but they do work incredibly well here!)

First, measure out the milk and add the lemon juice, and leave to stand while you do the rest.

Measure the flour into a mixing bowl, add the bicarbonate of soda, and quickly mix through.

Finely dice or grate your apple – I leave the skin on mine for extra goodness, and it adds a nice crunch to the bread. Peel it if you like, but you’ll be missing out on a treat! Mix the finely diced apple into the flour.

Pour in the soured lemony milk, and stir well. Lightly grease or flour the inside of a loaf tin, and pour the mixture in. It should have a batter consistency, not a dough.

Bake in the centre of the oven at 180C for 40 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning out of the tin.

I served mine warm with chunks of Brie, an absolute taste sensation that felt both like a delicious treat, but wholesome and good at the same time.

Enjoy!

***VEGANS*** This soda bread recipe will work just as well with non-dairy milk. Almond or hazelnut milk would be a delicious nutty alternative, and soya milk works well too.

****MILK**** I used 2 heaped teaspoons of milk powder in 200ml cold water to make up the milk for this recipe. As a rule, use 1 heaped teaspoon per 100ml water to replace fresh milk. I can never tell the difference in cooking, but I can definitely tell the difference in my wallet!

***MAKE IT YOURS*** Customise it with whatever flour you like – rye flour makes a heavy, flavourful loaf. Whole meal flour lends a wholesome, earthy texture complemented by the sweetness of the bakes apples. Gluten free flours work just as well, but you may need a little extra liquid for moisture. Once you’ve chosen your flour, why stop at apples? Berry soda bread would be a delicious treat, as would bananas, sultanas, fresh herbs… Be brave!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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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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TOASTED PITTA AND SARDINE BRUNCH.

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This speedy little breakfast was utterly delectable this morning – eliciting appreciative ‘mmm’ noises to myself and raising a eyebrow at the cat, who was very interested in my sardines. Sorry moggy, but these were mine all mine. Try at your peril – I fear breakfast will never be the same again.

Ingredients (serves 1, adjust as required).

1 pitta bread
1 egg
1 or 2 sardines

Pour a little oil from the sardine tin into a frying pan on a medium heat to fry the egg. Slice the sardine lengthways and carefully lift out any visible bones before breaking into chunks and adding to the frying pan, skin side down.

Pop the pitta bread in the toaster, oven or under the grill for a few minutes. When it’s lightly toasted, serve with the crispy little chunks of fish and runny egg liked on top.

If you have any greenery kicking about, spinach, parsley, that sort of thing, serve it on the side as an optional extra. A grilled tomato or some lightly fried onion wouldn’t go amiss either, but I had it as described and it was delicious. Light and quick enough for breakfast, but potentially addictive – I found myself musing that I could happily start every weekend with a toasted pitta, crispy fried fish and a warm gooey egg…

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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MANDARIN BREAKFAST BIRCHER

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Ingredients: (makes one portion)

40g rolled oats
100g natural yoghurt
100ml milk (10g milk powder and 100ml water)
100g broken mandarin segments

Mix the oats, yoghurt and milk together in a small bowl, and chill in the fridge overnight to soften the oats.

In the morning, serve with the mandarins on top, and enjoy! A drizzle of honey, if you have it, would be a delicious addition to this one…

Prices based on Sainsburys and Sainsburys Basics products where available and correct at time of going to print.

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

BANANA PANCAKES

What do you make for breakfast when you have bananas, eggs, milk and flour? Banana pancakes of course!

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Ingredients (made 6 good sized pancakes.

100g flour
100ml milk
1 egg
1 banana, or 2 if you want to go wild
2 tbsp oil

Handful of sultanas – I’d normally add these but I don’t have any😦

Finely slice the bananas and – depending on their ripeness – either mash them with a fork or chop chop chop them into pieces. Add to a large mixing bowl.

Add the flour, and a teaspoon of bicarbonate or baking powder if using plain flour.

Add the egg and milk (and sultanas if you have them, sulk…) and mix together with a fork to form a smooth batter.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add a tablespoon of batter. Cook on a medium heat for a minute or two on each side. Repeat until all of the batter is used up.

Serve in a heap with optional lemon, sugar, honey, warmed peanut butter – the choice is yours!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe