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/

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.

Red Wine And Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms are one of my staple products, being both cheaply available at supermarkets and greengrocers, and simple enough to grow at home. I’m a tactile cook, so I like to break them up with my hands instead of slicing them, but it doesn’t make a difference to the end result of the recipe. If you like this and you have red wine and mushrooms left over, try making the Earthy Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto…

Serves 2

200g mushrooms
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 300ml boiling water
50ml red wine
a handful of chopped thyme, plus extra to garnish

Gently clean any excess earth from the mushrooms with a clean tea towel, and break or slice them up. Peel and chop the onion and peel and crush the garlic. Put the mushrooms into a saucepan along with the stock, wine, thyme, onion and garlic.

Bring to the boil, then reduce down to a simmer for 20 minutes for all the flavours to meld. Remove from the heat and pulse in a blender.

Serve with extra chopped thyme to garnish.

Tips: Replace the red wine with white wine and add a tablespoon of natural yoghurt just before blending for a lighter, more traditional creamy mushroom soup. garnish with some grated strong hard cheese.

Mix any leftover soup with a carton or tin of chopped tomatoes and some cooked red or brown lentils for a hearty pasta sauce that can be frozen in portions, and defrosted for a quick and easy dinner.

‘Red Wine And Mushroom Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Leek, Savoy & Cheese Pasta, 43p

Well, Lent is over and save a few hiccups, accidental and weakness, I managed to add quite a lot to my vegan recipe repertoire over the past month and a half.

However, a week ago when I was clearing out my fridge, I came across a piece of smoked cheese i’d bought from the reduced counter at my local supermarket a long time ago. I’ve been in this game too long to throw it away, so I thought I would make something out of it.

The result, is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. This didn’t even make it to my dining table – I stood and scoffed it in the kitchen, and had to be very disciplined about the second portion, which is tomorrows lunch!

I have made vegan alterations below for my vegan readers, and those that don’t have teasing, tempting cheeses loitering in their fridges…

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Ingredients, Serves Two at 43p each*.

100g leeks, 25p (£2.50/kg loose)
2 Savoy cabbage leaves, 8p (80p/cabbage)
100g pasta, 8p (39p/500g)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves each)
1 onion, 5p (from a 1.25kg veg pack, £1)
Tablespoon of flour, 1p (65p/1.5kg)
15ml tablespoon of vegetable oil, 2p (£4.50/3l)
100ml soya milk, 6p (59p/1l, Unsweetened Soya Drink)
30g Smoked cheese, 23p (75p/100g)

1. Firstly, put the pasta water on to boil at the back of the stove.

2. Add a little oil to a saucepan. Finely chop the leek, peel and crush or finely chop the garlic, and finely chop the onion. Add to the pan on a low heat.

3. Cut the thick stems away from the middle of the cabbage, shred finely, and add to the pan.

4. When the vegetables have softened, tip into a bowl to one side and reserve.

5. Using the same saucepan, add a little extra oil, and the flour. Stir together quickly to make a paste.

6. Add a little soya milk (or ordinary milk, I used soya as I never have cows milk in the fridge these days) and stir constantly to make a smooth sauce. Use a wooden spoon or a fork to mix. Keep adding until you have a sauce of medium thickness.

7. Chop the smoked cheese into cubes; the rind is edible, so you can throw that in, or discard it if you wish. Add the vegetables back to the sauce and stir until the cheese has melted.

8. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the now-boiling water and cook for a few minutes until soft.

9. Drain the pasta, and serve with the sauce on top. Enjoy!

Variations:

To make it vegan, omit the smoked cheese. Instead, add the vegetables to the white sauce with a splash of lemon and a pinch of nutmeg, and allow to cook for longer on a lower heat to infuse the flavours together.

If you’re a carnivore, this would be delicious with some cubes of bacon cooked in with the vegetables at the beginning.

Also going to try to make a beetroot and balsamic dip/chutney/accompaniment for this at some point in the future…

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

Earthy Red Wine & Mushroom Risotto, 36p.

Earthy Red Wine & Mushroom Risotto, Serves One. 36p.

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Still needing easy but comforting food with this cold, I decided to go for carbs and wine and goodness… I’ve never known anyone else to use red wine as a risotto base before – that’s not to say its not been done, I’ve just not seen it – but this works beautifully. As far as comfort food goes, I had finished this, from a bowl on the sofa wrapped in a heavy blanket, before I had finished typing the recipe…

Ingredients:*

30ml Red Wine, 14p (Table Wine, £3.48/750ml)
50g Mushrooms, 12p (97p/400g)
50g rice, 2p (40p/1kg)
1/2 Vegetable Stock cube in 400ml water, 1p (10 for 15p)
Clove of Garlic, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves per bulb)
Tsp Mixed herbs, 1p (14p for a jar)
Tomato purée, 2p (49p/200g)
Splash of oil, 1p (Vegetable oil £4.50/3l)

How To:

1. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a small frying pan, the one I used was 20cm across but I was only cooking for me!

2. Peel and finely slice the garlic and add to the pan. Chop the mushrooms into small chunks and add to the pan. Shake the herbs over and allow to cook together for a few minutes.

3. Add the rice, and stir to coat in the oil. When the rice starts to turn translucent, add the wine and tomato purée, stirring constantly to prevent any of the rice sticking to the pan.

4. When the wine is almost all absorbed, start to add the stock, a ladle at a time. Stir in until almost all absorbed, and repeat until either the stock is gone or the rice is cooked.

Add some additional herbs to taste and serve with crusty bread if you wish.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Email: jack.monroe@nqe.com

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

Photography by Susan Bell.

Gigantes Plaki

Gigantes Plaki literally means ‘Really Big Beans’! I’m heading back to my Mediterranean roots with this simple but delicious dish. I can have it for dinner, then lunch the next day and pulse any leftovers into a soup. It makes me chuckle to see these spicy butterbeans retailing for almost £5 per pot in certain supermarkets, when they’re really just bigger, better baked beans. you can either soak dried beans overnight in cold water – which means they will need to be drained, rinsed and boiled vigorously for 10 minutes separately to the sauce in order to get rid of any toxins – or use a tin of ready-prepared butter beans, which is more expensive but more convenient. If cooking with dried butter beans, use only 150g. I like to serve this dish with rice and green beans as a vegetarian meal, or it is great with baked chicken or fish.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
a splash of oil
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
a splash of lemon juice
1⁄2 a bunch of fresh basil, plus extra to garnish
1 x 400g tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 vegetable stock cube
75g Greek cheese (such as feta), crumbled

Finely chop the onion and garlic and put into a large saucepan along with the oil and cinnamon. Cook on a low heat until the onion is softened, then add the chopped tomatoes and continue to simmer on a low heat for a few more minutes.

Chop all the basil stalks. Add the lemon juice, chopped basil stalks and half the basil leaves (leaving the other half aside for a garnish) and stir in, continuing to simmer.

Stir in the butter beans and crumble in the vegetable stock cube, with a little water if necessary. Stir well to dissolve.

Simmer all together on a low heat for approximately 20 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and serve garnished with the crumbled cheese and remaining basil leaves.

Tips: Gigantes Plaki can also be eaten cold as a mezze or snack, or mixed with leftover rice and stuffed into a pitta bread for next day’s lunch – it’s delicious cold and perfectly portable.

If you don’t have any basil, this is also very good made with parsley or mint…

You can make fab burgers from this mixture. Just strain off the tomato sauce, crush and add an extra clove of garlic and a pinch of dried chilli flakes, then gently mash the beans and shape into burgers with floured hands. Fry for a few minutes on each side.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Bubbles And Squeaks, 7p each.

Bubbles And Squeaks. Makes 10 bubble and squeak patties at 7p each, eat one or two or five, depending on how hungry you are. I was really hungry, so didn’t even get a picture of these. However I have half the mix left in the fridge for tonights dinner, so will fry it up and snap it later. In the meantime, here’s a recipe for ridiculously cheap food.
Ingredients:*
2 potatoes, 10p (5p each, from a 1.25kg vegetable pack, £1)
1 carrot, 5p (5p each, from a 1.25kg vegetable pack, £1)
1 onion, 5p (5p each, from a 1.25kg vegetable pack, £1)
¼ cabbage, 20p (Savoy Cabbage, 80p)
1 egg, 23p ( free range medium eggs, £1.40 for 6)
Tbsp flour, 2p (65p/1.5kg)
Tbsp lard, 4p (49p/250g)
Vegetable stock cube, 1p (10p for 10)

How To:
1. Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a medium sized saucepan.
2. Dice the potatoes and carrots (I don’t peel mine, but this is optional) and add to the stock. Simmer for 20 minutes or until they are soft. I find prodding a knife into the saucepan is a good indicator; if it slides through a chunk of potato smoothly, you’re good to go.
3. While the root veg is boiling, take a separate saucepan and add a little lard or oil to it. Some of you may balk at the thought of using lard – I was brought up cooking eggs and bread at my grandfathers guest houses along the seafront, and we used the stuff all the time. Feel free to use some sort of oil if you’d rather, but I find slicing off a chunk of lard is a much better indicator of fat content than a nice slosh of oil. To be blunt – I use less lard than oil simply because of how it looks! Anyway… Finely slice the onion and cabbage and add to the saucepan, and fry gently until the onion is soft, stirring occasionally to allow it all to cook.
4. When the root veg is cooked, drain it and tip back into the saucepan. Add the onions and cabbage and mash together thoroughly with a masher.
5. Add the egg and flour and stir.
6. This is an optional stage but keeps it together more successfully, however if you’re in a rush and willing to keep an eye on it, it’s not essential. I scoop the mash into a bowl and refrigerate it for an hour or two to allow it to set a little. As I said, optional, but I use this setting time to wash up the pans!
7. Heat some oil/lard/fat in a frying pan, and dollop a spoon of mashed veg mixture into it. Flatten slightly with the back of a fork or spatula, and cook on a medium heat until golden and crisp on one side (depends on your hob, but mine takes about 7 minutes). Turn over and cook the other side. You may need to do these in batches, but cook until all the mixture is used up.
Variations:
You might like to add cheese to the mix, if you like that sort of thing.
Also, you can use pretty much any vegetables you like in bubble and squeak. I likt to make a posh version with parsnip and red onion, when I have them both lying about. Sweet potato is also a good base, extra carrot will make it sweeter and peas will sneak extra veg into your kids. Play with it and see what you come up with.
Oh, and I had mine with a fried egg and some ketchup, but depending on your budget and preferences, you can have bubble and squeak with sausages, or roast chicken and veg, or on its own as a lunch or snack… Do what you like.

They keep cold for a few days to have with bacon and an egg as brunch, too. Or you could be a heathen, like me, and snack on them from the fridge.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

Photography by Susan Bell.

Chickpea, Carrot & Coriander Falafels

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

Makes 12ish falafels (4–6 per person)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

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

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

Vegetable Masala Curry, 30p.

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Proper Vegetable Masala Curry, 89p, serves 3-4 at less than 30p each.

This isn’t vegan. I tried but my pre-first-work-pay-packet budget just couldn’t stretch to £1.99 coconut milk versus 32p of natural yoghurt. I’ve failed my Lent experiment but I’m happy to hold my hands up and say ‘have a fabulous curry recipe’ while I feel a bit guilty about succumbing to yogurt. It was that or miss a couple of meals, and I’m sure nobody will hold it against me. Much.

Ingredients:*

1 onion, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 carrot, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 potato, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves per bulb)
1 carton chopped tomatoes, 35p
1/2 pot natural yoghurt, 32p (65p/500g)
1 vegetable stock cube, 1p (10p for 10)
Fistful of parsley and coriander, free
Shake of garam masala, 3p approx (£1.19/42g)

How To:

1. Peel and chop the onion, and peel and finely slice the garlic, and place in a large sauté pan on a low heat with a splash of oil.

2. Chop the potato, carrot and onion (I dice mine into half inch cubes) and add to the pot, stirring. Halve the chilli and rinse the seeds out (quicker than faffing about with a knife) and add in, so it can be lifted out whole at the end to prevent little mouths getting a hot surprise. You can slice it extremely finely if you want, but life’s too short.

3. Chop the herbs and throw in, with a liberal sprinkle of garam masala.

4. Add 200ml vegetable stock, the carton of chopped tomatoes and 250g of natural yoghurt, stir through, and leave to simmer on a low heat.

5. The trick with curry – good curry – is to allow it to cook slowly and gently in order that the flavours infuse and meld together in an amalgamation of spicy goodness. I let mine simmer gently for about forty minutes, checking and adding stock or water if it starts to dry out.

Serve with plain boiled rice at around 3p per person for 75g Sainsburys Basics.

Make it posh and variations:

1. You can substitute the yoghurt for coconut milk if your budget allows for it, for a sweeter, creamier taste, or if you’re a vegan.

2. Add fennel seeds and crushed cardamom pods for sweetness – I normally would but I don’t have any to hand and this weeks budget wouldn’t allow for an extra ‘spice’ in the spice rack. I try to buy one a week to build the collection up.

3. When cooking the boiled rice, add a shake of turmeric, half a vegetable stock cube, a star anise, some scraped-out cardamom pods and a handful of sultanas for a seriously special accompaniment. Again, I’m surveying my spice rack sadly, and might put one of them on next weeks shopping list!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

Carrot And Coriander Soup

Carrot and coriander soup is a classic fresh soup that crops up everywhere – from inside cardboard cartons in the supermarket to on smart restaurant menus. here’s my simple recipe for making your own. I often substitute the fresh potato and carrot for their tinned sisters, for an even easier version.

Serves 2

1 onion
4 carrots
1 potato
1 vegetable stock cube
a fistful of fresh coriander, chopped
a fistful of fresh parsley, chopped

Peel and chop the onion and place into a medium-sized sauce- pan. Wash and chop the carrot and potato (without peeling), and add to the pan. Pour in cold water to cover (approximately 500ml), crumble in the stock cube and bring to the boil.

Add the parsley and coriander. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are tender and yield easily when prodded with a fork.

Remove from the heat and blend in a food processor until smooth. Serve hot.

Tips: Add a scant 1⁄2 a teaspoon of ground cumin or turmeric for a spicy soup. use less water (only 300ml) to make a lovely carroty pasta sauce instead of a soup.

‘Carrot & Coriander Soup’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Earthy Mushroom Risotto, 27p

Earthy Mushroom Risotto, 54p for 2 portions at 27p each.

Risotto purists will be horrified at my use of bog standard rice while daring to still term this a risotto, but at 40p per kilo compared to £1.12 for 500g of arborio rice, I say I’d rather have six times as much of the stuff than be a snob about it. Plus I have a Small Boy in bed and a bag of Basics rice in the cupboard. So I’ll call this a risotto, and you guys can call me what you like.

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Ingredients:*

100g mushrooms, 24p (97p/400g)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves each)
1 onion, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
30ml white wine, 14p (£3.48/750ml, Table Wine)
Oil, 2 tbsp, 4p (£4.15/3l)
Fistful each thyme and parsley, free(window ledge)
100g rice, 4p (40p/1kg)
400ml vegetable stock, 1p (10p for 10 cubes)

How To:

1. Peel and chop the onion and finely slice the garlic. Add to a sauté pan with oil over a low heat.

2. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until the edges start to turn translucent.

3. Pour over the wine and a little stock, and stir in.

4. Chop the mushrooms into small pieces (I do mine a few millimetres thick, but half an inch wide, if that makes any sense!) Add to the pan and stir in.

5. Keep adding the stock a little at a time, stirring stirring stirring. People pretend that making risotto is hard, but as long as you keep it on a low heat, add stock when it starts to dry out, and stir it a lot, you’ll be fine!

6. Finely chop the herbs (I pop mine in a teacup and go at it with kitchen scissors) and add most of them to the pan. Keep some to one side to garnish.

7. When the rice is al dente (slightly crunchy but edible) or softer depending on personal preference, remove from the heat and spoon into bowls.

If you want a more substantial meal, serve with a big pile of green veg. Would also go really well with chunks of roasted root veg, eg sweet potato, parsnip, butternut squash.

Make It Posh variations:

If you aren’t a vegan, this would be delicious with a tablespoon of mascarpone stirred in before serving, or cream. Also could be lovely topped with Brie, if I wasn’t giving all that up.. Or goats cheese…

Feel free to make with arborio rice, add rosemary instead of thyme, grate some lemon rind in, use red onions or shallots instead of white onions – this is a base, play with it!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

Photography by Susan Bell.

LOVE SOUP

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

There are many different recipes entitled Love Soup – I’ve seen some rich chicken soup recipes, some with heady garlic and some deep red tomato ones. By chance, the ingredients for this were what I had kicking around in the fridge last Valentines Day, so this warming carrot, ginger and onion soup is mine. Nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like sweet roasted vegetables, blended into a home-made soft silky soup. Not in my book, anyway.

Serves 2 – of course!

3 tablespoons oil
zest and juice of half a lemon, or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
1 fat clove of garlic
1 small piece of fresh ginger (approximately 1cm) or 1 tsp ground ginger
a fistful of fresh coriander
a fistful of fresh parsley, plus extra to garnish
1 large onion
2 large carrots
1 potato
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube, dissolved in 500ml water

Preheat the oven to 180C.

First make the marinade for the vegetables. Measure the oil into a tea cup, jug or other small receptacle. Finely grate the lemon zest into the oil, peel and crush the garlic and grate the ginger, then add them too. Finely chop the herbs and add to the mixture. Squeeze the lemon juice in – as much of it as you can squish out – then stir together and set aside.

Peel the onion, chop into quarters and place in a roasting dish. Wash then chop the carrots into thick rounds and add to the roasting dish. Peel and dice the potato and add it too. Pour the marinade over the top and shake to coat the vegetables. Pop the roasting dish into the preheated oven for 40 minutes or so, shaking occasionally to loosen the vegetables an re-coat in the marinade.

When the carrots and potatoes are tender, remove the vegetables from the oven and tip into a blender. Dissolve the stock cube in 500ml boiling water and pour into the blender to cover the veg. Blend until smooth, and serve with a flourish of parsley and a smile.

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

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

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Beer & Sultana Bread

This recipe uses only part of a can or bottle of bitter, but don’t worry – pour the rest into a glass and pop it in the fridge to go flat, because you can make a Beery Berry Crumble out of that later. Waste not, want not! I use a cake tin to make this loaf in because I haven’t got any baking trays for some bizarre reason, but that works really well in keeping the lovely ’round’ shape. Serve the bread warm cut into chunks like a scone, with butter and plum, fig or a jam of your choice. Mmm!

Makes 1 small loaf

200g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
a small knob of fresh ginger, peeled, or a pinch of dried ginger
50g sultanas
160ml bitter, beer or ale

Weigh the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast. grate in the ginger, add the sultanas and mix through quickly with a fork or wooden spoon. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add a generous splash of bitter. Mix the liquid into the flour and keep adding the bitter little by little until it forms a sticky dough.

Tip the dough on to a well-floured work surface and knead and stretch for 10 minutes. Form it into a rounded lump shape then leave to rise for at least half an hour, uncovered.

knock the excess air out of the risen dough – but keeping the rounded shape – and place into a lightly greased cake tin, Victoria sandwich tin or on to a baking tray. Cover with cling film and leave the dough to rise in the tin for 1 to 2 hours until it’s doubled in size.

A little before the end of the rising time, put on the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 to preheat.

Uncover the dough. Score the top with two lines each way like you’re going to play noughts and crosses on it, and pop the tin into the middle of the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Take the bread out of the oven, turn out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Then cut into thick slices and devour with butter. I start eating mine as soon as it’s cool enough to touch!

Tips: The best way to peel ginger is by scraping away the skin with a teaspoon.

Add a heaped tablespoon of oats to the flour and yeast mixture, and sprinkle some more on top of the
dough before putting it in the oven.

Use finely chopped fresh plums or dried prunes instead of the sultanas.

‘Beer And Sultana Bread’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Photography by Susan Bell.

Mumma Jacks Best Ever Chilli

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

Serves 4

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

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

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

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

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

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

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

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

COURGETTE & MINT FRITTERS

Photography by Susan Bell: www.susanbellphotography.com

Photography by Susan Bell: http://www.susanbellphotography.com

The humble courgette – you either love it or you hate it! However, courgettes are cheap and abundant in the summer months, and extremely versatile. These fritters are great as a standalone snack with a home made raita dip, or served with sausages and ketchup.

Makes 4 chunky or 6 thin fritters:

1 large courgette
a fistful of fresh mint
a fistful of fresh coriander
a fistful of fresh parsley
1 egg, beaten
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons oil
50g natural yoghurt

Finely grate the courgette into a large mixing bowl. Chop the herbs and add around three-quarters to the courgette in the bowl, and set the rest aside for the yoghurt dip.

Mix the beaten egg into the courgette and the herbs with a fork. Add a tablespoon of flour and mix until it has formed a batter. You may need to add a little more flour to make the batter thicker than a pancake batter. Ideally it will stick to the prongs of your fork but come loose with a shake.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and dollop a level tablespoon of the batter in. Flatten with the back of a spoon and shape the edges quickly to form a rough circle. Repeat until you run out of space in the pan, with a small gap around each for ease of turning. You may have to cook them in batches! Fry on a low heat for a few minutes, until golden and crispy on the underside. Turn over with a spatula or fork and cook on the other side. Repeat until all the batter is used up.

Stir the remaining herbs into the natural yoghurt and serve with the fritters as a dip.

Tip: Add cheese to make these extra special – for the recipe above, 50g of cheddar or a Greek cheese would complement the flavours perfectly.

Courgette and mint fritters recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to order from The Hive to support your local independent book shops. Also available from major retailers and supermarkets.

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

Spiced Lentil Soup

This spiced lentil soup is comforting winter food – I keep tinned carrots, tomatoes and a bag of lentils on standby for those evenings when the Small Boy is already tucked up in bed and snoozing and there’s not much else in the fridge or kitchen cupboard. I’ve used red lentils here, but brown lentils or green ones are just as delicious. Take this recipe as a guide to start experimenting with.

Serves 4

1 onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 small red chilli or a pinch of the dried stuff
2 carrots or 300g tinned carrots (drained weight)
1 tablespoon oil (vegetable, sunflower or groundnut)
1 teaspoon ground cumin or cumin seeds
a handful of fresh coriander or parsley
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
200g dried red lentils, rinsed

Peel and slice the onion, peel and finely chop the garlic, finely slice the chilli and wash and slice the carrots. Put the oil into a medium heavy-based saucepan, add the vegetables plus the chilli and cumin, and cook on a low heat, stirring to soften. Chop the coriander or parsley and add to the pan.

When the onions have started to soften, pour over the chopped tomatoes and add the lentils. Add 1 litre of water (that’s four cups of water for every cup of lentils). Stir and turn the heat up to bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils have swollen.

Serve chunky or pulse in a blender until smooth.

Tips: Thicken leftover soup with extra cooked lentils to make a pasta sauce, or simply use less water in the first place. Toss with pasta and grate some cheese on top for added deliciousness.

For a richer-flavoured soup, add a glass of red or white wine and reduce the amount of water slightly.

‘Spiced Lentil Soup’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

Warm Spicy Daal by Jack Monroe

Warm Spicy Daal

There are many different recipes for daal, made with different types of split peas, lentils and even chickpeas, so here is a simple basic one to get you started. From here, feel free to customize to your own taste by adding plain yoghurt, coconut yoghurt or different herbs and spices. I like to eat mine from a deep bowl with a toasted pitta bread or two – or a naan bread if you can stretch to that.

Serves 3

100g dried red lentils
1 onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
a splash of oil
1 chicken stock cube, dissolved in 1 litre boiling water
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander, plus extra to serve

Rinse the lentils in cold water and drain. Place in a saucepan, cover with fresh water and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that rises with a spoon.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion into small pieces and place into a small frying pan with the cumin and oil. Fry gently for a few minutes to release the spice’s flavour and soften the onion. Then add to the saucepan containing the lentils along with the stock, chopped tomatoes and coriander.

Reduce to a low heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are swollen. Check towards the end of cooking and add a little more water if required.

Stir well, then serve garnished with more chopped coriander.

Tip: If you’ve got some, use coconut milk instead of the chopped tomatoes and substitute ground turmeric for the ground cumin for a rich, sweet, creamier tasting version.

‘Warm Spicy Daal’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

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MUSHROOM CHASSEUR

 

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This simple, delicious mushroom casserole is perfect easy comfort for cold evenings. Serve with a heap of fluffy mashed potatoes, or atop some plain rice, for a delicious dinner.

Serves 2:

1 onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
400g mushrooms
2 tablespoons oil
a fistful of fresh thyme or a shake of mixed dried herbs
100ml red wine
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube

Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Gently clean any excess earth from the mushrooms with a clean tea towel and break them up, or slice them.

Pour the oil into a medium frying or saute pan, and add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Pick the thyme leaves and scatter on top, and cook for 10 minutes on a low heat to soften the onions and garlic.

Pour in the wine, stir in the chopped tomatoes and crumble in the stock cube, and bring to a bubbling boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. (Alternatively, to use less energy when cooking, blast on a high heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning and sticking, then remove from the heat, cover and leave to stand for an hour – which will meld the flavours together and thicken the sauce without using so much gas or electricity. Simply heat through before serving.)

Mushroom chasseur recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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

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Chickpea & Tomato Best Brunch Loaf

This loaf is a favourite weekend recipe of mine, which is easily adapted to personal tastes and what you have in the cupboard. Sometimes I like to thoroughly mash the chickpeas for a smoother bread, and sometimes I chuck them in whole for a knobbly, crunchy texture. Delicious toasted or grilled with butter, or bacon, or an egg, or all three…

Makes 1 small loaf:

240g canned chickpeas (drained weight)
300g plain white flour, plus a little extra for kneading
a 7g sachet of fast acting dried yeast
a handful of chopped fresh rosemary
zest and juice of half a lemon, or a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice
1 large tomato, chopped into small chunks

Drain the chickpeas, thoroughly rinse them, and tip them into a large mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher to loosen the skins, and pick them off as the chickpeas separate (not an essential step but definitely worth it if you want a smooth bread – if you’re leaving the chickpeas whole then don’t worry about this!)

Add the flour, yeast, chopped rosemary, tomato, and finely grated lemon zest (if using), to the chickpeas, and stir together.

Squeeze the lemon juice into a measuring cup and add lukewarm water to make up to 160ml of liquid. Make a well in the middle of the chickpea and flour mixture, and pour in half of the liquid, mixing together. Gradually add as much of the remaining liquid as you need until a soft, sticky dough is formed – but firm enough to shape. If it’s too sticky-tacky, never fear, just add an extra shake of flour and work it in.

Lightly flour your work surface, then tip the dough out and knead and stretch it for 10 minutes. Pummel the dough, pound it, mush your knuckles into it – it’s like a stress ball but much more satisfying! Pop the dough back into your mixing bowl, cover with a clean tea towel or cling film and leave to rise for 2 hours. This sounds like a long time but the end result is a gorgeous light loaf with a proper crust around it.

Knock back the risen dough (a fancy term for tipping it onto a floured worksurface and quickly shaping it a bit) into a rugby ball shape, and pop it into a lightly greased loaf tin, then cover and leave to prove for half an hour. A little before the end of the proving time, put the oven on to 220C to preheat.

Place the tin into the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes until the bread is risen and golden. Remove the loaf from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

‘Chickpea and tomato best brunch loaf’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe, available to buy here.

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

Pasta Alla Genovese by Jack Monroe

Pasta Alla Genovese, 19p.

Pasta Alla Genovese: Serves 2 adults at 19p per portion (or in my case, 1 adult, 1 small boy, and 1 next day lunchtime snack portion!)

Pasta Alla Genovese by Jack Monroe<;

Ingredients:*

100g spaghetti (8p: 40p for 500g)
50g fine green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1cm pieces (7p: £1.40/kg, frozen)
200g potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks (8p: 15p for 540g can)
Handful of basil leaves (Free, growing on my window ledge!)
Handful of mint leaves (Free, also growing on my window ledge!)
Pinch of grated parmesan cheese to serve, 10g approx (9p, £2.30/200g)
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed (3p: 46p for 2 bulbs, average 8 cloves per bulb)
Splash of vegetable or sunflower oil, 20ml approx (3p: £1.69/1l)

1. Break the long spaghetti in half for ease of cooking, serving, and eating, especially if you are intending to feed your children with it. It’s personal preference, but I prefer that I can just throw my spaghetti in the pan and let it do its thing. Cover with water, bring to the boil, back down to a simmer, and allow to simmer for ten minutes.

2. While the spaghetti is cooking, take the frustrations of the day out on your basil and garlic. I have a lovely bright red pestle and mortar that was a gift from a friend, but if you don’t have one, finely chop the basil and mint and crush the garlic. I find the best way to do this is to pop it in a bowl andc go some with the kitchen scissors, if you haven’t got Gordon Ramsays chopping technique down pat. If you do have a pestle and mortar, add the basil and mint leaves and garlic, and pound away until well combined into a satisfying mush. Add the parmesan and four teaspoons (20ml) of oil. Set to one side.

3. Add the potatoes and green beans to the pan. Twiddle thumbs for five minutes, or have a glass of water, or half-heartedly tidy the kitchen. It’s only five minutes, for goodness sake. I usually just stand and watch, flick a dishcloth around, and fiddle with my pesto a bit. Add a splash of the pasta/potato cooking water to the pesto to make a runny sauce, and by now it will all be ready to drain.

4. Drain the pasta/potato/green beans, and toss back into the saucepan. Spoon the pesto over, work it through the pasta quickly with a fork to coat it, shake it all up a bit and serve. If you want to be seriously carb-happy with your dinner, a nice buttered crusty roll goes down a treat with this. Add some extra parmesan to the top if you like, some black pepper, and eat. Proper winter comfort food, all carb-happy and filling and delicious…

Variations:
If you have a little more money than me to spend in your weekly shop, you can separately fry pancetta pieces or crispy bacon, and toss in at the end with some spooned-in chunks of goats cheese in place of the parmesan. You know, if you have some rogue pancetta or bacon lying about that you don’t know what to do with, you could make this seriously special. With a smug sort of smile that it took you ten minutes at most…

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(All prices quoted are Sainsburys or Sainsburys Basics where available, correct at time of publication. Costs checked against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials ranges. Some variation between supermarkets but most items widely available at similar prices.)

Photography by Susan Bell

Moroccan Not-A-Tagine

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

Serves 4:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

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Tomato And Haricot Soup, 15p.

This simple staple started off as a tin of baked beans, thoroughly rinsed, plus a carton of chopped tomatoes – out of which I made a hearty, filling soup suitable for lunch or a light supper. I’ve jazzed it up a bit since then! And don’t be scared of rinsing baked beans, they are normally just haricot or borlotti or cannelloni beans slathered in ‘that’ bright orange tomato sauce, and the value range versions are much cheaper than their plain counterparts…

Serves 4

1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 carrot
500ml beef, chicken or vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin of cannelloni, haricot or borlotti beans (or rinsed baked beans)
a handful of fresh thyme or rosemary
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes

Peel and chop the onion, peel and finely chop the garlic, wash and chop the carrot. Put them all into a saucepan and cover with the stock.

Drain and rinse the tinned beans, then throw them into the pan.

Add the herbs and the chopped tomatoes, then simmer for 30 minutes until the veg are soft.

This soup can be served chunky – by tipping half into a blender, pulsing and mixing the purée back in with the chunky half in the pan – or smooth, by pulsing the lot in a blender.

Tips: For a lighter summer version, add a splash of lemon juice, use chicken stock in place of the beef and parsley instead of the woody herbs. use less stock for a thicker mixture, which once blended can be frozen in ice cube moulds and used as a delicious pasta sauce.

‘Tomato And Bean Soup’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

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