All posts tagged: winter food

Bread, Bean & Fennel Stew, 17p

The idea of putting bread in stew is one that dates back hundreds of years, to a medieval broth known as ‘caudle’. It is both a use-up for stale bread, or crusts cut off for fussy children, and adds both texture and thickness to a liquid broth. This soup is hearty, wholesome and delicious – made in a grey January fog for a group of hungry friends, and devoured with gusto. The ingredients are all fairly interchangeable; the beans can be any kind you fancy, even plain old baked beans will do. You can extend this with some diced chopped veg, or sweeten and substantiate the base with chopped onion and garlic, but I like it just as it is, simple and huggy. The fennel is just there for a touch of sweetness; if you don’t have any in, a teaspoon of sugar and some herbs will do the job just fine. To make this gluten free, simply replace the bread with gluten free bread of your choice. I make mine with kidney beans sometimes, …

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 …

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 …

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, …

Creamy Mustard Chicken & Winter Veg, £1.06

This hearty, saucy dish is delicious in the winter, served with root vegetables and rice or mashed potatoes, or in the summer, with green vegetables and tossed over pasta. Any mustard will do for this – I keep English in the fridge, but wholegrain or any other sort will work fine. Use this recipe as a base, and adapt as you wish. Serves 2-4 depending on appetite (eg serves 2 adults and 2 toddlers in my house, with rice on the side) 4 tablespoons oil (vegetable or sunflower will do), 8p 4 chicken thigh fillets, £3.60 for free range (personal choice, I know not everyone can afford it so there are cheaper options available, but I’m honest about what I use) 1 large onion (approx 150g), 9p 1 large carrot (approx 100g), 8p 1 teaspoon English mustard, 2p 500ml chicken or vegetable stock, 3p a handful of fresh parsley, 8p 1 tsp mixed dried herbs, 6p. 200ml natural yoghurt, 20p or double cream if you prefer Heat the oil in a medium-sized non-stick saucepan and …

Pasta Alla Genovese, 19p [A Girl Called Jack]

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!) <; 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) 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 …