All posts tagged: winter

Come-To-Bed Parmigiana, 74p [from ‘Veganish’]

Almost three years ago now, I turned up to work late, sleepless, an incoherent babbling wreck chewed up by an 18 month landmark court trial and with bright copper dye fading from my wiry, tousled mania of hair. I left my walking stick in the lobby, and limped in to work…to find a hand thrust towards me in a polite gesture of welcome, a smile, a curt hello. She introduced herself. I apologised seven times for my lateness and my pulled-from-a-car-wreck appearance. She was firm and professional, and she smiled at me again. And I felt that self-same car wreck collide with my solar plexus and toss me down a rabbit hole of giddy head spinning highs and that soaring, almost nauseatingly disorienting feeling of time stopping and slowing and turning on its head. I stumbled away, a new crush ablaze across my cheeks and in every tip of my fingers, burning coiled springs in the soles of my feet, a song whispering in the cold, grey, slumbering chamber of my strange little heart. And …

Perfect Roast Potatoes, 14p [from ‘Veganish’]

Perfect roast potatoes are simply one of life’s greatest pleasures – one of the soft and easy comforts that transports me straight back to a wicker chair in my elderly (and now devastatingly dearly departed) Aunty Helens conservatory in her house in Plymouth, where I spent the summers of my childhood being chased around the garden by a large and furious goose called Charlie. Aunty Helen – as any great Greek Cypriot woman is intuitively inclined to – would feed us from the moment we awoke beneath hand-crocheted heavy blankets, until the moment we crawled satiated and delighted back beneath the same. It was at Aunty Helens that I learned about the birds and the bees, aged 9, leafing open-mouthed through More! magazine’s ‘Position Of The Fortnight’ from a pile of women’s magazines carefully concealed beneath a Readers Digest in the downstairs bathroom. And it was at Aunty Helens that the first seeds of a love of cookery were planted, standing in her galley kitchen that was filled with light, peeling so many spuds we …

Peach & Chickpea Curry, 61p [A Girl Called Jack]

This is my favourite curry, my go-to, easy but perfect comfort food. I used to make it with a cheap turkey leg, but any protein source will do – so feel free to chuck a fistful of whatever you fancy in with the onions if you want to bulk it out or extend it. Recipe from A Girl Called Jack. Serves 2 from 61p 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 if you make a purchase.) 400g canned chickpeas, 40p 1 onion, 5p (54p/1kg) 2 fat cloves of garlic, 4p (17p/bulb) 1 chilli or a pinch of dried chilli flakes, <1p (80p/100g) a splash of oil, 2p (£1.10/1l) 1 tsp cumin (ground or seeds), 2p (£1.15/100g) 1 x 400g tin of peaches (or apricots or mandarins), 33p (33p/411g) 1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes, 30p a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped …

Ultimate Lasagne, 35p [from ‘Veganish’]

This beautiful lasagne barely needs an introduction, as when I posted it on my Instagram, it received rapturous demands for the recipe. Good things come to those who wait, and here it is. Making lasagne from scratch is always a bit of a fanny, so I have deliberately made this recipe enormous so you can freeze it in portions for a quick ready meal, to make all of the work involved worthwhile by rewarding yourself with days where you won’t have to cook. Simply portion it into foil containers with those cardboard lids (around 8 for £1 from most supermarkets and factory outlet type stores, and reusable dozens of times if you wash them carefully) and pop into the freezer for a lazy day. For those of you who don’t have wine kicking about the place or don’t want to slosh it into your dinner, simply add stock or extra tomatoes in place of it. I have opted not to put cheese on mine, but you can if you want – for my vegan readers, …

Simple Tomato & Bean Soup, 20p [A Girl Called Jack]

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 cannelini beans slathered in ‘that’ bright orange tomato sauce, and the value range versions are much cheaper than their plain counterparts. In case you’re interested, this recipe cost 15p per portion in 2012, and is up to 19p per portion 6 years later. Not the worst price rise I’ve seen when rewriting my older recipes, but still a little annoying.) (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 at 20p each 1 medium onion, 7p (59p/1kg, Farm Stores at Asda) 2 …

Red Wine & Mushroom Risotto, 34p [A Girl Called Jack]

When I need easy but comforting food, I always turn to a large bowl of warm, flavourful rice – and using red wine as a base works beautifully. In the winter, serve this risotto in a deep bowl with a spoon, whilst snuggling under a thick blanket. Or it can make a special meal for two served with some lovely crusty bread, if you’re so inclined. My Mum used to serve us a version of this as children, served with kievs or sausages, so when I feel nostalgic I have mine with a couple of (veggie) sausages on the side. The quantities are easily doubled – or more – to feed more hungry bellies. This recipe first appeared in A Girl Called Jack. Serves 2 from 34p 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 or purchase any ingredients. All prices correct at the time of …

Mushroom Mac ‘n’ Cheese, 42p [from ‘Veganish’]

This is one of my favourite comfort meals, quick to assemble, using ingredients that I generally have kicking about the house, and can just be slung in the oven and forgotten about, left to slowly pull itself together in a haze of blissful creamy soft salty rich glorious goodness. I’ve just polished off my second bowl of it, and frankly, it’s too good not to share with you all, so here it is. It’s easy to make it vegan – replace the hard strong cheese and mozzarella with Violife or something similar, and the milk with coconut or almond or soya milk, depending on what you prefer. It’s easy to throw together, and the reward of a deep bowl of melting goodness far outweighs the minimal effort involved in making it. I consider this an essential part of my repertoire these days, and barely a week goes by without it. It freezes beautifully, too, so do double the recipe and sling some of it to one side for a lazy day. Serves three people, or …

Spicy Rice & Doublebean Soup, 31p [Tin Can Cook]

This soup was a soup to shake me out of a funk longer than any I have recently known. I had a serious accident one Saturday night in April and hit my head backwards on a concrete floor at some speed. I ended up with whiplash and concussion, both of which limited my ability to sleep, work, and in the case of the latter, have so much as a thought in my head. For the first few days I rather enjoyed the peace and quiet of absolute mental vacancy as my brain shut itself down to heal, but I also temporarily lost my ability to create – the thundering hum of a thousand ideas that usually fly around at any given time, as I clutch at them wildly trying to capture one to expand on it. And they vanished, to be replaced with absolutely nothing at all. I lived off crisps and apathy for a week, and being miserable, until on the seventh day I felt like wandering into the kitchen. I threw this together …

Mac n Swede, 19p

The humble swede is a much misunderstood vegetable, and one I can truly empathise with. Misshapen, lumpy, outwardly tough, slightly bitter and difficult to get under the skin of, but once you get inside, it’s soft, delicate, sweet and surprisingly versatile. Asda have them for 20p each at the moment, and as the author of an ultra low budget cookery website, it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up really getting to know the inscrutable rutabega once and for all. The cheese in this recipe can be substituted for any vegan cheese of your choice – I didn’t have any to hand, and am not going to pretend otherwise. (I made myself a separate cheese-free portion but my 8 year old would not have touched it without the cheesy element, and parenting is challenging enough at times without fighting over liquidised root vegetables). Can be made gluten free by using GF pasta of your choice. Serves 4 at 19p each 1 large swede, 20p (20p each, Asda) 2 tbsp cooking oil, 3p (98p/1l, Asda) …

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. 

Spinach, Lentil & Lemon Soup, 34p [Cook For Syria]

This easy, comforting spinach and lentil soup was inspired by a recipe in Saha, by Greg and Lucy Malouf. I made it a few times as a quick late-night supper, before I lost the notebook with the details in one of my many house moves. For a long while, as a single mum on benefits, I all but lived out of a pile of boxes as I ran from rent arrears to damp and mould to a single mattress on a floor in a shared house, and a lot of pieces of paper – and nerve endings – got lost along the way. Here’s what I remember of it, in happier times these days, with a few blanks filled in. Homely, comforting and filling, it can also be made with tinned lentils and frozen spinach for the ultimate easy, inexpensive lunch or dinner. (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 …

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, …