All posts tagged: spices

Red Lentil & Mandarin Curry, 26p [Tin Can Cook]

The first time I stayed at my girlfriends house, all she had in the cupboard was Diet Coke, tinned mandarins and a sticky patch of something ominous that was possibly once soy sauce. Her hob hadn’t worked in over 2 years, and she stubbornly warned me not to try to change her. Undeterred, over the course of the last 10 months, I subtly snuck in the odd ingredient to make microwaveable meals from, a couple of spices to pep up salad dressings, and a jar of ginger-garlic paste ‘just in case’. Turmeric and black pepper made it over the threshold as a cold remedy, and a tin of tomatoes for an emergency gazpacho that never materialised. I frequently joke with her that she keeps me grounded and my recipes where they are meant to be, conjured from dust and thin air and a couple of tins of nothing. Last week, alone while she was out on a jolly, and armed with a YouTube video, a dogbone wrench, a phillips screwdriver and a mission, I fixed …

Pumble, 20p

This cheeky little number is a cross between a pie and a crumble, a hot sweet pile of stewed fruits beneath a crumbly puff pastry topping. I admit to approaching my pies with borderline religious fervour; that is, in order to qualify as a pie, it must have a base and walls and a lid. This does not meet my high pie standards, but it is undeniably adorable in itself, and so the Pumble was born. You can use any kind of fruit here – I have made both an apple and a banoffee version – and am dreaming of a zesty tinned peach and mandarin version with a smattering of lime juice, too. The Pumble is a simple first recipe for children, too, who may be curious about helping in the kitchen. Serves 4-6 from 20p each. Prices at Asda and checked online at time of writing. 500g pears (tinned or fresh), 70p (70p/500g mixed size, Farm Stores at Asda) 2 tbsp sugar, 1p (64p/1kg, Silver Spoon at Asda) 1/2 tsp cinnamon or mixed …

Carrot, Cumin & Kidney Bean Soup, 18p [A Girl Called Jack]

. I wanted to write another recipe, but I felt sullied, trite, misappropriated, and used. So instead I am going to rewrite my recipes from 2012 – that many of you will not have seen buried beneath the beautiful new ones – and re-cost them to demonstrate the soar in prices in the Basics range over the last 6 years, and how it is always the poorest who shoulder the burden of economic inequality. 

Caramel Banana Cake, 16p [A Year In 120 Recipes]

This cake is a cheap but luxurious twist on my original banana bread, slightly more moist and gooey than the first iteration, with a home made sticky syrup sauce to drizzle over the top, ideally warm from a jug. I have made this as a loaf cake and also as a round, Victoria sponge type cake, split in the middle with a buttercream style icing and extra syrup sandwiching it together. It can be as simple or as showstopper as you want it to be. If you keep frozen berries kicking about, scatter a few on top of the cake mixture as it goes into the oven; as it cooks, they will gently sink to suspend in the finished delicacy; if you stir them in, there is a risk they will all sink and give you a soggy bottom. If this happens, I generally allow the cake to cook completely before removing from the tin, level off the risen top so it is completely flat (a bread knife is best) and carefully turn it over …

Use-Me-For-Anything Tomato Sauce, 13p [A Girl Called Jack]

This tomato sauce is exactly what its name says – a wonderfully versatile sauce for all occasions. I make a large batch and freeze it in small jars or ice cube trays to use as the base for pasta sauces, soups, stews, or anything that could do with a bit of pepping up. It stands alone as a pretty decent pasta sauce, too. This recipe first appeared in my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, in 2012, but I have updated it slightly here to reflect the rise in basic food costs, eliminating the red wine vinegar and tomato puree for a simpler splat of tomato ketchup – which does the same job, but far more cheaply. Every day is a school day round here. Makes approximately 6 generous portions at 13p each (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links and make a purchase.) 2 tbsp …

Red Mushroom Curry, 40p

This hot spicy little number is a favourite in my household for dealing with the dreaded cold and flu, or when feeling a little run down. The combination of garlic, ginger, chilli, tomatoes and a kick of citrus is a feisty relief for the symptoms of even the most grim winter germs. I make a double batch of the paste and pop it in the freezer for future use. Of course, you can use a jar of shop-bought curry paste too, if you are feeling really rough; I’ve been there and I absolutely sympathise. I blitz mine in a blender to get the paste super smooth, but it’s not essential, you can just throw it all in a pan for a similar effect, just with a little extra texture, which is fine. Serves 2-4 from 40p each 1 large onion, 9p (90p/1.5kg, Sainsburys Basics) 4 cloves of garlic, 6p (35p/2 bulbs of garlic, Sainsburys Basics) A small piece of ginger, 3p (30p/100g loose ginger, Sainsburys) ¼ tsp red chilli flakes, 1p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC …

Applesauce Pancakes, 17p [from ‘Veganish’]

Pancakes became something of a tradition in my household when Small Boy started school; our lazy days of laconic love-ins giving way to 6am alarm calls, nervous breakdowns in the morning about where the blinking hell the latest school jumper could possibly be, finding every left shoe in the house and not a single right one. Weekend breakfasts became a snapshot of togetherness, long lazy breakfasts rolling into lunches, often eaten in bed, with newspapers for me and a comic book for him. Saturdays are pancake days, and no two weeks are the same – and this is one of our favourites. Serves 4 at 17p each 270g plain or self raising flour, 12p (65p/1.5kg, Basics flour) 4 tbsp sugar (80p/1kg, Fairtrade white sugar) 2 tsp baking powder,4p (90p/160g) 4 tbsp apple sauce,20p (60p/jar) A pinch of salt, <1p (45p/750g basics table salt) ½ tsp cinnamon or mixed spice (80p/100g, KTC or Natco brand) 2 tbsp oil, 3p (£3/3l sunflower or vegetable oil) 260ml soya milk or equivalent, 23p (almond, coconut and oat milk all …

Vegan Moussaka, 31p [from ‘Veganish’]

As the granddaughter of a Cypriot immigrant, I know my claim to have made the ‘ultimate’ moussaka is indeed a bold one. My grandfather would laugh in my face at the very notion of this vegan offering being considered anything close to the original, but, being a former chef himself (he once had a restaurant called the BellaPais in Southend, before moving on to greasy spoon fry-ups at his humble guest house), his laughter would surely dissipate into an appreciative growl once he got this past his guffaws. I have long feared making moussaka, worrying it would not pass muster with my Greek bones, but tonight, I think I have cracked it. Gone are the eggs that would normally bolster the white sauce, replaced instead with unctuous cashew milk and a smattering of mustard for richness. The lamb becomes lentils, a sort of poundshop reverse Jesus trick, and the whole thing luxuriates, dense yet sloppy, earthy yet bright, wholesome yet decadent, and 31p per portion. (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the …

Black Bean & Peanut Stew, 26p

The original version of this dish contained chicken, so I have substituted it with black beans here. It makes for a more filling meal, and a cheaper one, too, as beans and pulses are generally far cheaper than meat and pulses. Dried beans work out even cheaper, but they require a degree of organisation to remember to soak them the evening before, or even to know what you will be eating in advance. I have never managed to be quite so organised, so it would be disingenuous of me to urge you all to do so, but if you are a meal-planning person, bear in mind that dried pulses are a lot cheaper than the convenience of popping open a tin of pre-cooked ones. If you find black beans difficult to get hold of or not to your taste, you can use kidney beans, green lentils, or really, any bean will do. The cooking time given here is a minimum, not an absolute, as with any pulse-based stew, it will simply improve the longer it …

Caribbean Style Chilli, 28p

Winter is coming, the time of year where perpetual colds and snuffles are imminent, the nights draw in darker, and I start to crave a little bit of heat and spice. Usually I spend my winters making long slow curries, but, ambling around the Caribbean section of a supermarket I don’t usually manage to get to, I started to rifle through the unusual (to me) goods on offer, and muse about what to do with them. I enjoy a new culinary adventure, and I picked up a few tins of gungo peas, callalloo (a little like spinach), ackee. I wrote down ‘cornmeal porridge’, threw a large bag of rosecoco beans into my basket, and made notes in the little back-pocket notebook I am rarely without. I went home and tweeted about my haul, and Twitter followers with a lifetime of experience in cooking with these ingredients kindly sent me recipes and ideas. A new adventure is beginning, and I am super excited to explore it. This chilli was my first foray, not dissimilar from my …

Slow Rich Lentil Ragu, 29p (slow cooker)

Cooking anything for 12 hours when on the most stringent of budgets sounds like an eye-popping luxury, but fear not bootstrap fans, there’s only as many hours actual cooking as you want to stretch to, and done in a slow cooker it costs less than keeping a lightbulb on. For the last few years readers have been asking me to venture into slow cooker recipes, and mine is this nifty little £12 number from Wilko (no I’m not on commission, unfortunately!). At 1.5l it just holds enough for a main meal for two hungry people or four smaller appetites. I have had mine for around 4 years and it is still going strong, so it is well worth the investment if you can afford it, for what you will save in energy costs, time, effort and headspace alone. It is no big secret that I am not always in the greatest of health, mental or physical, and on low spoons days I need something that delivers the maximum nutrition on the minimum of effort; I’m …

Tomatoey Baba Ghanoush, 30p [A Girl Called Jack]

Baba Ghanoush is a popular Middle Eastern dish, often served as a dip with flatbreads or pitta. I sometimes add cooked chickpeas to mine for a simple, flavoursome supper, or toss it through pasta with fresh mint for an easy lunch. I highly recommend cooking the aubergines over an open flame for a deep, smoky intensity – I hold mine over a medium gas hob with a pair of barbecue tongs and my sleeves rolled up – although charring under the grill is nearly as good. For the accompanying toasted pittas, slice pitta breads through the middle then cut into triangles, brush with a little oil and pop under the grill for 4 to 5 minutes until crispy. This recipe first appeared in my cookbook, A Girl Called Jack. (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links and make a purchase.) Serves 4 as a snack at …

Brown Bread Ice Cream, 24p

I first discovered brown bread ice-cream in an old copy of Mrs Beeton’s Everyday Cookery, and as an avid maker of simple ice-cream and brown bread, decided to combine my two recipes. You don’t need an ice-cream maker for this one, I don’t own one. If you have an electric whisk or cake mixer, it will come in handy, but you can make this without – you just need a little patience and a firm hand. Makes around 8 portions at 24p each. Prices based on Sainsburys, Basics where available, and correct at time of writing. 100g wholemeal or brown bread, 5p (40p/800g loaf, Basics) 200ml milk, 9p (44p/litre) 3 egg yolks, 56p (£2.30/12 eggs, free range) 100g sugar, 8p (80p/kg, Fairtrade) 300ml double cream, £1 (£1/300ml) A fistful of sultanas, 10p (£1/400g, Basics) For the topping: 2 tsp breadcrumbs 1 tsp sugar, <1p (80p/1kg, Fairtrade) Few pinches ground cinnamon, <1p (80p/100g, Natco) Soak your bread in a little milk and stand to one side for an hour or so. Separate your eggs – I …

Tofu Shashlik, 51p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

I ordered a rare takeaway last week, having spent 2 days gutting and cleaning my school-holidays-ravaged house from top to bottom, exhausted, and unwilling to mess up my kitchen having spent 17 hours in a pair of marigolds and mostly on my knees. They had a fairly decent range for us herbivores, but I found myself hankering after a shashlik. Shashlik is usually skewered meat cooked in spices before being blasted in a tandoori oven, and having neither a tandoori nor any inclination to nibble on a duck or a lamb, I started to ponder how I could make a reasonably authentic veggie version. Mushrooms were out, aubergine would probably be okay but not quite what I wanted, and then I landed on the reduced tofu in Tesco. Bingo. The tofu shashlik was born. I posted it on Twitter and hundreds of you asked for the recipe, so here it is. As usual, prices are based on Sainsbury’s Basics, but other supermarkets offer similar products at competitive prices. If you know of any real bargains, …

Beetburgers, 18p

I love the general enthusiasm that Veganuary generates across my social media (an annual challenge to try vegan for January), and this year with 40,000 people signing up and support from Stella McCartney and other fabulous animal lovers, the buzz created has been gorgeously warm and supportive. I am busy finishing my book at the moment – and thank you all for your patience as my health has taken a serious tumble this year, I promise it will be worth it when it is in your hands – but can’t help but pad it out with extra recipes, like tonights beetburgers. Not to be confused with the Beetballs from last year, these pack a serious protein punch, and are simple to make. I always wear a rubber glove to handle beetroots, to prevent Lady Macbeth hands, but also as I run my hands through my hair in exasperation five hundred times a day, it stops me accidentally dyeing chunks of it pink in the process… This recipe makes 8 decent sized burgers (we scoffed two before I …