Double Chocolate Guinness Birthday Brownies, 15p


Firstly, for the budget-conscious among you raising eyebrows at the use of a bottle of the authentic black stuff in a batch of brownies, fear not, for this recipe makes 24 of the little tinkers, and uses a little over half a can at that, so you could stretch to 40ish from a single can if you’ve a crowd to feed. If that doesn’t satisfy you, well, most supermarkets sell an own brand value range can of bitter at around £1 for 4x440ml cans, indeed, I recommend it for my sausage casserole recipe and a few others besides. But, tomorrow being both my birthday and St Patrick’s Day, for me, tonight, it’s got to be the real thing. I’m fussy about very little when it comes to ingredients in cooking, but Guinness makes my non-negotiable list, and I hope for that you, dear readers, will note my half Irish blood and birthday on St Paddy’s day and gently forgive me.

I first came across the idea of Guinness in cooking from the wonderful Nigella, in her book Kitchen, one of my go-to reads for comfort food and seductive words, to relax and unwind, to feel inspired, to find a moment of joy in food at the end of a long day. Her Guinness gingerbread with plums was the inspiration for my own Beery Berry Crumble in my first book, A Girl Called Jack, and both stand up to long cold days and a craving for a little comfort. Today, I mused aloud on Twitter that I was compiling my favourite Irish recipes for St Patrick’s Day, and several readers asked about a Guinness chocolate brownie. Intrigued, I experimented and explored, noted down several recipe variations including my own brownie recipe scrawled into an old black notebook, and here we are: double chocolate Guinness birthday brownies. I hope you love them as much as I do.

Makes 24 small fat rich brownies, at 15p each

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack Monroe. I’m on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe and on Facebook at

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

Leftover-Porridge Pancakes


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

You will need:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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

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

Makes around 10 fritters.

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

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

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

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

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

First published in The Guardian, October 2014.


Lots and lots of mini onion bhajis! (RECIPE)

Today, the children’s school were having a party in their classroom to celebrate Eid – and somewhere last week in a fit of madness, I’d enthusiastically offered to make something savoury for them to take in to share with their class, like samosas or something. That enthusiasm had wilted by half past seven this morning, as I realised I hadn’t done it, and there was no space in the morning uniform-teeth-breakfast flail to start mucking about stuffing tiny little triangles of filo pastry with whatever bits of veg were in the fridge. So. A quick root around in the bottom drawer yielded a world of onions, and a batch of little onion bhajis. These have no chilli in, as I was making them for a class of 4 and 5 year olds, but feel free to add one or two finely chopped red chillies for a bit of spice. I also used a mix of red and white onions, for extra sweetness. And Allegra tossed some cinnamon in at the eleventh hour, for even more sweetness. Most cooking exploits are a joint effort these days! Makes 30 mini bhajis:

100g gram flour
50g plain flour
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
A pinch of cinnamon
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
2 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter, melted
Juice of a lemon (or 3 tbsp bottled lemon juice)
2 tbsp mango chutney
3 large onions
Oil, for deep frying.

First weigh out your flour and tip into a large mixing bowl. (If you’re in a rush or don’t have scales, 1 rounded tbsp of flour is equal to around 15g, so you want about 7 rounded tbsp of gram flour and 4 rounded tbsp of plain.) Add the fennel, turmeric, cinnamon and cumin, grate in the ginger, and finely chop the garlic and add to the mix. Give it all a good stir to evenly distribute the spices so you don’t end up with one seriously interesting bhaji and 29 slightly boring ones…

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and pour into the middle, and squeeze in the lemon juice. Mix well, and add a splash of cold water to loosen the mixture until it resembles a thick batter – it should stick to your spoon but be loose enough to stir.

Peel and halve the onions, and slice very finely. Add them to the bowl with a couple of tablespoons of mango chutney and give it all a good stir, until the onions are coated in your spicy yellow batter. Take a teaspoon of it and dollop it into your palm – if you can form a loose ball with it, it’s good to go. If it’s too sloppy, add a tablespoon or two of flour, and if it’s too tight, add a small splash of water.

Fill a saucepan a third full with oil for frying, and place on a medium-high heat. When it starts to gently bubble (that’s little tiny bubbles sizzling to the surface, not great big rolling scary oil bubbles), drop a blob of batter in. If it sizzles and floats, turn the heat down a little so it doesn’t get carried a away, and you’re good to go. Dollop a teaspoon at a time into the oil, shaping with your hands if you want neat little rounds ones. Each mini bhaji takes around 4 minutes to cook, so keep an eye on them – when they’re golden brown and floating, lift them out with a slotted spoon and drain them on some kitchen paper or a clean tea towel. Repeat until all the batter is used up.

I let the oil cool on the back of the hob, then strained it through a mesh sieve, poured it into a bottle, and labelled it ‘Frying – Spicy!’ – I figured I could get another turn out of it. When I was writing my first cookbook I included this as a tip in one of my recipes, and was told by my publishers that for health and safety reasons they had to take it out. Obviously I’m not making any recommendations here about cooling and reusing oil, I’m just telling you what I did, wink wink. (And what most restaurants, fast food joints, and fish and chip shops that I’ve had the pleasure of working in do too. Honestly, the world has gone health and safety mad.)

Anyway. BHAJIS! Allow them to cool, then nosh on. Or send them into your children’s class in a Tupperware and wave them sadly goodbye…

Jack Monroe (with a starring role from Allegra McEvedy!)

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


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:

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:

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:


This recipe came about from a leftover aubergine rolling around in the fridge that desperately needed using up, and one of my storecupboard staples, a can of red kidney beans, was happily on hand to help. Regular readers will know I love a lightly spiced veggie and bean burger – and this one is no exception. I have mine with a good dollop of mango chutney, wedged in a pitta or a bun with a fistful of salad – delicious!

Ingredients (makes four chunky burgers)

4 tbsp oil
1 Aubergine
1 onion
1 red chilli or a pinch of dried
1 tsp cumin
400g canned kidney beans
A few sprigs of mint or coriander
1 tbsp flour

First, dice and sauté the aubergine on a medium heat in a tablespoon of oil, with the sliced onion, chilli and cumin.

Meanwhile, boil the kidney beans in a saucepan until very soft and starting to split, which usually takes around ten minutes at a simmer.

Drain the kidney beans and add to a mixing bowl with the onions, aubergines, chopped mint and spices, and mash well to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and mix together. (You may need extra flour depending on how ‘wet’ your aubergine was, the mixture should not fall off an overturned spoon).

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to bind the mixture together – this stops them turning to mush in the frying pan!

Shape into 4 balls using floured hands, and flatten into the frying or sauté pan with the remaining oil. Cook on a medium heat for 8 minutes on each side.

Serve with pitta breads, or in a roll, or with rice, or home made wedges – however you like!


Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:








Here’s the Rhubarb and Ginger Soda Bread recipe I made for my first ever FoodTube video…


300g flour
1 rounded tsp bicarbonate of soda
200ml milk (semi skimmed, soya, UHT, any milk will do)
Juice of half a lemon, or 2 tbsp bottled lemon juice
100g fresh rhubarb
1 tbsp sugar
Small piece of fresh ginger

First, pour the milk into a jug and squeeze in the lemon juice. Leave to stand for a few minutes to curdle. This replaces the buttermilk in traditional soda bread recipes, and can be done with any milk or milk substitute, and any citrus or acid, like vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and bicarb and briefly mix through. Thinly slice the rhubarb and add to the bowl with the sugar, and grate in the ginger. In the video, I use the edge of a teaspoon to remove the thin skin from the ginger, but if you think life is too short to peel ginger, you can leave it on – but it has a different, woody taste to the tang of peeled ginger. Use the edge of a spoon, or a vegetable peeler, to peel thin strips of ginger into the bowl.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients (a small rough hole in the middle) and pour in most of the curdled milk and lemon. Mix briefly with a wooden spoon, adding more liquid if you need to. It should be a slightly tacky, but malleable, dough. If you accidentally make it too sticky, just add an extra generous tablespoon or two of flour to bring it back.

Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knock it into a bread shape – you can pop it in a loaf tin if you have one, or knock it into a round and pop it straight in the oven.

Lightly dust your loaf tin (if using) and pop the bread in. Dust the top with extra flour and cut a crease down the middle of your dough – Irish folklore says that this is to let the fairies out, so respect your fairies and set them free. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes, until crusty, risen and golden and rustic looking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing.

Serving suggestion: The bit you don’t see on the video, is me layering it up with mackerel and honey for the production crew, who were initially suspicious, and then devoured the lot! But it’s also great plain, warm from the oven, toasted and spread with butter or crean cheese, and of course rhubarb and ginger are natural bedfellows for all sorts of delicious cheeses – try it with Brie, mature cheddar, or anything with a bit of bite…

And enjoy! Thanks to all the lovely feedback, I will be doing more videos with FoodTube in the future – so thankyou all so much for being so lovely and encouraging.

Jack xx




This wholesome, earthy soup is packed with flavour from the sweet roasted onions and unmistakable taste of fennel.

(Serves 2) 49p a portion
400g cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen, 60p
1 potato, diced, 9p
1 onion, quartered, 9p
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled 6p
Scant teaspoon of fennel seeds, 5p
2 tbsp oil, 6p
500ml vegetable stock, 2p

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark six.

Put the cauliflower, potato and onion into a large roasting dish.

Bruise the garlic cloves by bashing with a rolling pin or wooden spoon, and add to the roasting dish.

Combine the fennel and oil, pour over the vegetables, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, peel the garlic cloves from their papery skins, and transfer to a blender, ensuring you scrape in the oil and fennel seeds.

Pour over stock to cover and blend until smooth.

Tip: The leftover soup makes a delicious pasta bake. Simply thin with a little water, milk or stock, pour over pasta with a fistful of strong cheese, and bake in the centre of the oven at 180C/350F/gas mark four for 20 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and the cheese is golden and crispy.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

First published in The Guardian, Weds 19th February. Photography by Graeme Robertson for The Guardian.




Bramley apple soda bread (makes four generous portions):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe




Ingredients (serves two generous portions):

1 tbsp oil
1 onion
1 tbsp flour
200ml milk
200ml water
50g frozen spinach
100g mackerel
200g sweetcorn
200g tinned potatoes

First, heat the oil in a pan. Dice or slice the onion, add with the flour, stir well and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes to soften.

Make up the milk if using milk powder, by adding two teaspoons to 200ml water – or use ‘normal’ milk if preferred. Add to the onions and stir in well to remove any lumps. Pour in the water.

Add the mackerel, broken into chunks, spinach, sweetcorn and diced potatoes. Crank the heat up to full power to bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the sauce is thick and creamy.


Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


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


Ingredients (made 6 good sized pancakes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe



This is what I made with the turkey and chickpea mixture that was loitering at the back of my fridge; I had to use it up today, and really fancied meatballs, so here we are! I’ve kept them simple, and will serve them with spaghetti and a light tomato sauce, Lady And The Tramp style. Except there’s only one of me. I’ll leave it up to your good selves to smirk about whether I’m a lady or a tramp!


250g lean turkey mince

200g canned chickpeas

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp oil

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and put them in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until softened.

When the chickpeas are soft, remove from the heat and drain the water. Mash with a masher or fork until soft and pulpy. Tip the turkey mince and flour into the saucepan, and mix with the chickpeas until well combined.

Pop the pan into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill. This will make the mixture easier to shape into meatballs without it falling apart. If you don’t have half an hour but do have an egg, mix that in with an extra heaped tablespoon of flour to bind the mixture.

Flour your hands and prepare to get a bit sticky! Shape the meatballs with your hands by gently squeezing a small amount of the mixture together and rolling it in your palms to make a ball shape. You can have them as big or as small as you like; I err on the side of small ones to make sure they cook through properly, and of course that means I can make more! Repeat until all the mixture has been used up, popping them into a sauté or frying pan as you go.

Add the oil to the pan, and fry on a medium heat for 10 minutes, disturbing with a wooden spoon a few times to cook evenly and stop them from sticking.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe



And the dessert from the One Show! Here’s my twist on a festive dessert – because everybody loves a crumble, don’t they? I served mine with brandy butter and white chocolate ice cream, recipe for THAT to follow…

‘Mince pie’ crumble, serves 6:


100g flour
100g oats
100g butter
100g sugar
400g apples
200g mixed fruit and peel
200g tinned mandarins
2 tsp cinnamon

First dice the apples and add to a saucepan with the mixed peel and mandarins. Cover with water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes to soften slightly.

While the fruit is stewing, make the crumble topping! Mix flour, oats and sugar in a mixing bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave in a small heatproof dish for 30 seconds and stir into the dry mixture until well combined.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fruit to a baking dish, pressing down slightly to firm. Pour a little of the cooking water on top to half-fill the tray and keep the fruit moist without spoiling the topping. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top.

Top with the crumble topping, starting at the edges and working your way in to prevent a leaky crumble! Bake in the centre of the oven at 180C for 20 minutes or until piping hot and golden…


Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe



These simple mince pies use marmalade in place of orange juice and sugar, to bring the cost down, and meld the fruits together with a spicy sweetness. I’m curious about making traditional ‘mincemeat’ – so expect to see a blog post on that later on! But for now, here’s a mince pie recipe so simple that you won’t even notice you’re making your own pastry…


Ingredients: (made 6 generously sized ones, all depends how thin you roll your pastry and how big you want your mince pies!)

200g flour
100g butter (can be substituted for a mixture of half butter half lard, or any cooking ‘butter’ e.g. stork, margarine, etc)
5 tbsp cold water
2 tsp cinnamon
100g sultanas or mixed fruit with peel (or mix of both)
4 tbsp marmalade

First, make the filling – pop the fruit into a small saucepan with the marmalade, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and half-cover with water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer to stew away while you make the pastry.

To make the easy pastry, melt the butter in the microwave for 20 seconds to soften, and give it a quick stir. Tip it into the flour and add the other teaspoon of cinnamon, and mix together with a wooden spoon to form a breadcrumb mixture. Add 4 tablespoons of cold water and mix in to make your dough; it should hold together but not be sticky. If its a little dry, add an extra tablespoon of water, if it’s sticky, pat a handful of flour around it.

Flour your work surface and work the dough out onto it, kneading lightly for a minute or two to bring it all together. Break it in half, and roll one half out to around 3mm thick. Using a round or scalloped edge pastry cutter, cut the base-and-edges piece of your mince pie. Pop into the bottom of a lightly greased bun tin, pressing in lightly with a finger to shape it. Add a heaped teaspoon of fruit and another of the sticky liquid, and top with a cut out star shape.

Repeat until all of the pastry is used up. (Optional, glaze the top with a beaten egg – I don’t bother as I dust mine with icing sugar afterwards.) Bake in the centre of the oven at 180C for around 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

Allow to cool before eating!

The gorgeous plate in this photograph was hand made and lent to me by a friend and local potter Richard Baxter, who is based in Leigh on Sea, Essex. You can see more of his work at

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msjackmonroe




The last few Christmases have been a little all over the place for my little family; and this is the first year I feel able to establish my own small traditions, that will hopefully carry on over the next few years. The first thing that sprang to mind was tree biscuits – although I don’t have a tree to hang them on yet, so this was a trial run! I hope that in the years to come, I can mark the start of the season with Small Boy with a batch of these simply spiced biscuits.


Ingredients (made 24 assorted sizes)

300g flour (plain or self raising)

100g butter

100g sugar

2 free range eggs

1 tsp cinnamon



First, the butter – because I make these with my son, I melt it in the microwave for a minute to make it easier to stir in. Traditionally, you would rub it into the flour with your fingertips, but once I started melting my butter in the microwave, I’ve never looked back. So whatever method you choose, you need to combine the butter and flour to form a breadcrumb consistency.

Tip in the sugar and cinnamon, and beat in the eggs to combine to form a dough.

Flour your work surface and hands, tip the dough out, and work it briefly to shape.

Roll it out, I don’t own a rolling pin, so I use a clean, empty bottle – a wine bottle, old vinegar bottle, any glass bottle will do. Roll it out to around half a centimetre thick for optimum biscuit thickness. Honest.

Cut out using your cookie cutter, or if you’re feeling radical, a blunt knife to make whatever shaped biscuits you like. (Not one to promote brands too much, but I picked up most of my novelty cookie cutters from Poundland, the 99p store, and Ikea!) If you want to hang them on the tree, make a small hole using a skewer, or the tip of a sharp knife – the hole will need to be larger than you think, as it smooshes back together in the oven a little!

Lightly grease your baking sheet, and place your cookies on top, leaving a few millimetres around them in case they spread out and all stick together. Bake in the centre of a preheated oven for 12 minutes at 180C, remove, and allow to cool.

I dredged mine very lightly with icing sugar while warm, for an extra sweet kick. Thread string or ribbon through, and hang them on the tree…if you think they’ll last that long!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:





Chorizo is one of those ingredients that I buy rarely, but a little goes a long way. For a cheaper or vegetarian burger, you can omit it completely and just add the garlic and paprika for a similar smoky, spicy taste.

Ingredients (makes 4 generous burgers):

3 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped, or pinch of dried
1 carrot, grated
400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
100g chorizo, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 free range egg
2 slices of bread
1 tbsp flour

To serve:
1 pitta bread and handful of spinach.

Pour one tablespoon of oil into a medium sauté or frying pan on a low heat.

Add the chopped onion, crushed garlic, grated carrot, chopped chilli, paprika and chorizo and sauté all together on a low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to disturb.

Meanwhile, drain and rinse the chickpeas, and mash them thoroughly in a mixing bowl or saucepan until soft and pulpy. Soak the bread in water, squeeze out with your hands, and mash into the chickpeas. When the onions have slightly softened, tip the contents of the pan into the chickpea and bread mixture, add the egg, and mix well to evenly distribute.

Test the consistency with a wooden spoon – if it sticks to the spoon and holds together well, it’s good to go. If it does not hold its shape well (in my experience, not all chickpeas are created equal!) then add a heaped tablespoon of flour to thicken.

Pour the remaining two tablespoons of oil back into the original pan – which will be streaked with spicy chorizo juices – don’t waste them! Shaping the mixture into six balls with lightly floured hands, flatten each into the pan. Cook for around 7 minutes on each side on a medium heat, or until golden and crispy.

Serve in a pitta bread with salad – or with vegetables and rice for a more filling meal.

Tips: This burger mix also makes great falafels, which can be shallow fried or baked in the oven for a healthier alternative.

The burgers can be frozen, uncooked, by laying on a baking tray and freezing uncovered. When frozen, they can be transferred to a freezer bag. The process of ‘open freezing’ keeps them separate and easy to use one at a time, without all sticking together.

Leftover chorizo will keep for up to a month in the fridge. Try a few slices simmered in a pan of canned chopped tomatoes with a chopped onion for an easy but delicious pasta sauce.

Jack Monroe.
Twitter: @MsJackMonroe




Serves around 3, depending on age, appetite, and how much of a pancake fiend you are…


100g flour (SR for light fluffy pancakes, but plain is fine too)
100ml milk
1 egg
1 apple, very finely sliced
Handful of sultanas (50g approx)
2 tbsp oil

Finely slice the apple, I used a vegetable peeler, and pop to one side.

Add the flour to a mixing bowl.

Break in the egg, pour in the milk and mix together with a fork to form a smooth batter.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add a tablespoon of batter for a small pancake, or a scant ladle for a larger one. Press pieces of apple into the top. Cook on a medium heat for two minutes on each side, until golden.

Repeat until all of the batter is used up.

Serve in a heap with optional butter, lemon and sugar – but I think the apples and sultanas make them quite sweet enough!

I made my leftover apple slices into apple crisps for SB – i’ll blog the recipe shortly.


Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter @MsJackMonroe. Find me on Facebook at

A Girl Called Jack is available to order at Waterstones:




I MADE POP TARTS! Makes 6-8, mine are bigger and thicker than the originals, but still reckon on two per person😉. Obviously these aren’t an everyday breakfast, but they’re a ‘what the hell why not’ breakfast…

Ingredients (makes 6-8).

200g flour
100g butter
5 tbsp cold water
6 tbsp jam
6 tbsp icing sugar (60g approx)
Another tbsp water

First, make the pastry. Depending on how mobile you are/how well your hands and arms work, you can either melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave and mix it quickly into the flour to distribute evenly to form a breadcrumb mixture – but this will need to then go in the fridge for at least an hour to bring it back down to a workable temperature.

Or, cube the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips to form a fine breadcrumb consistency. This won’t need to be chilled as you haven’t heated the butter.

To make the pastry dough, add a tablespoon of water at a time and mix with a knife to combine until it just forms a dough. Flour your ledge and tip it out, halve it so you have a manageable amount to work with, and roll it out very thinly, about 2-3mm thin. I don’t have a rolling pin, so used my lemon juice bottle – as the song almost went, Any Bottle Will Do.

When the pastry is rolled out, cut into rectangles about 10cm x 15cm each. That’s a guess, by the way. Slightly bigger or slightly smaller is just fine too (in fact I want to make mini ones!!) Get as many rectangles as you can from your pastry, adding the cutoffs back to the rest of the pastry on the side.

Thinly spread jam on half of the rectangles, leaving a generous half inch space around the edges. Place a plain rectangle on top of a jammy one, and press together lightly. Trim the very edges with a sharp knife to neaten up.

Place very carefully on a pre-greased baking sheet. Repeat these steps until all of the pastry dough is used up.

Then bake in the centre of a preheated or fan oven at 180C for 12-15 minutes. Don’t worry if they feel slightly soft, they harden as they cool.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for half an hour.

Make up the icing by mixing icing sugar and water in a small bowl, and spread on top of the cooled pop tart. Add sprinkles, leave to set, and enjoy!

They can be eaten cold, or warmed gently in the oven, or popped in the toaster briefly to warm through.

They will keep in an air tight container for 3 days, or can be frozen and cooked in the oven on a low heat to defrost and warm through.

Of course, you can make these any flavour you like… Next up, a tablespoon of cocoa powder in the pastry, and peanut butter inside…🙂

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Ready Meal Revolution: Ready meal lasagne, 75p, vs home made free range pork lasagne, 69p.


So I’m home from a much-needed rest in Brighton and back in the kitchen with my sleeves rolled up…

One of the most popular dishes I’ve been asked to take on is the humble lasagne – and I’ve been putting it off, firstly, because I’ve Never Made Lasagne Before. Ever. But, i’ve eaten enough of it to know it’s made up of a meat ragu, a white sauce, and some layers of pasta – how hard could it be?

The ready meal version I based it on was made with beef, and cost 75p per 300g portion.

My lasagne was made with free range pork, and this recipe made 6 portions at just under 69p per portion. (If you use the equivalent ‘basic’ mince, it reduces the cost to 42p per portion.)

In the interests of fairness, both of these meals were cooked before photographing. I’m not sure you can tell with the white one…


1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp skimmed milk powder
200ml water
1/2 a mozzarella cheese ball
450g free range pork mince
1 onion
2 tsp mixed herbs
1 small tin double concentrated tomato purée
1 stock cube diluted in 150ml water
9 lasagne sheets

Some people like to cook the pasta sheets first to reduce the cooking time in the oven, I decided immediately that I am one of those people. Lasagne can be cooked from frozen if the pasta sheets are uncooked, but will take around 40 minutes to an hour in the oven from frozen. I decided to cook my pasta sheets first and finish them off in the oven at the end to crisp up, so put them in a large shallow pan of water to boil without sticking together. Lift out with a wooden spoon or one of those egg turner things that probably has a more technical name than that.

While the pasta cooks, make the ragu! Add the onions, mince and herbs to a medium saucepan and cook on a medium heat to brown the mince and soften the onions. (I didn’t add oil as it seeps out of the mince, but add a splash if you want.) When the mince is brown, not pink, add the tomato purée and stock, and bring to the boil. Boil for a few minutes to ensure the mince is cooked through, then transfer to a large bowl to stand, to develop the flavours.

Rinse and dry the saucepan, and make the white sauce by mixing the oil, flour and skimmed milk powder in a saucepan. Stir together on a low heat for a minute or two until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add a splash of water to make a paste. Stir well to eliminate any lumps, add a splash more water, and repeat until only half the water is left, stirring continuously to stop lumps from forming. Tear or cut the cheese into small pieces and add to the pan, and bring to the boil to melt in. Reduce back to a low heat and stir well.

Make the lasagne by layering ragu sauce in the bottom of each foil tray, or one large roasting/Pyrex style dish. Lay the pasta sheets on top (I used 3/4’of a pasta sheet per layer for the foil tins, if making a large lasagne then use half the available sheets). Spread a thin layer of the mozzarella sauce on top.

Add a second layer of ragu, then pasta, then a thick layer of the mozzarella sauce.

To eat immediately: blast in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 200C, or until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

To freeze: allow to cool completely and pop in the freezer. To cook from frozen, pop in the oven at 200C for 30 minutes.

Ingredients cost breakdown, all prices Sainsburys and Sainsburys Basics, correct at time of writing:
1 tbsp oil, 3p (£4/3l). 1 tbsp flour, 3p (65p/1.5kg). 2 tbsp skimmed milk powder, 5p (£1.01/400g). 200ml water. 1/2 a mozzarella cheese ball, 25p (50p each). 450g free range pork mince, £3 (2 for £6). 1 loose onion, 11p. 2 tsp mixed herbs, 3p (30p/jar). 1 small tin double concentrated tomato purée, 35p. 1 stock cube diluted in 150ml water, 2p (20p/10 cubes). 9 lasagne sheets, 25p (39p/14 sheets).

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:

Quick banana custard


I had two sad little bananas in the fruit bowl this evening and fancied a quick comforting dessert – so here we have it, banana custard!

Makes around 3/4s of a pint (served three):


2 bananas
300ml cold water
6 tsp dried skimmed milk
2 tbsp flour
2 egg yolks (the whites can be frozen until needed – don’t throw them away!)

Optional: 1 tbsp sugar (I didn’t use it and didn’t think it needed it, but I don’t have much of a sweet tooth)

Break the banana into chunks and combine it with the water and dried skimmed milk in a blender (if you want to use liquid milk, just use 300ml in place of the powdered milk and water). Blend for 30 seconds until smooth.

Pour the ‘banana milk’ into a saucepan on a medium heat for a few minutes, reducing to a low heat when it starts to simmer. Milk can boil very quickly – even milk with bananas in – so keep an eye on it!

Separate the egg yolk and white and add the yolk to a small bowl. Spoon the flour in (and sugar if using) and mix well with a fork to form a paste. Spoon a little of the warm banana milk into the egg and flour, mixing in well with a fork to stop the egg from cooking! Add a little more banana milk, and repeat until the bowl is almost full.

Pour the bowl into the saucepan of remaining banana milk, and stir well to combine. Simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes or until it has reached its desired consistency – I like mine really thick and comforting.

Eat from a bowl with a spoon, or pour over a favourite cake, or into tarts to chill…🙂

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msjackmonroe

It’s cheaper to make it: Jack’s Macaroni Cheese, 43p, versus supermarket ready meal, 75p.


So today I decided to set myself a new challenge, to cook a like-for-like replica of a supermarket ready meal, but cheaper. Harder than it looks, as the ready meals are made in bulk using low priced ingredients – and I have to buy those ingredients at ‘retail’ price, not ‘wholesale’.

I decided on a basic macaroni cheese meal, 75p for a 300g single-person portion.

The ready meal ingredients were pasta, water, milk, cheddar cheese, cornflour, oil, mustard, salt, white pepper – so I attempted to replicate it as closely as I could with what I had in the cupboards and fridge…

Ingredients (serves two):

160g penne pasta
40g dried skimmed milk
50g hard strong cheese
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Scant 1/8th tsp English mustard

First bring a pan of water to the boil and add the pasta. Reduce to a medium simmer and cook for around 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate small or medium sized saucepan, add the oil, flour and milk powder. Bring to a low heat and stir well with a wooden spoon – it will form a crumbly mixture like fresh breadcrumbs. (If using liquid milk instead of dried, add the flour and oil and mix together to form a thick paste, then add a splash of milk. Stir in to thin the paste and add another splash. Continue until all the milk is added and continue to the next stage.) If using the dried milk/flour/oil method, mix until it forms breadcrumbs, and measure out around 250ml water. Bring the heat up to medium. Add a splash of water to the mixture and stir in well to remove any lumps. Add the water gradually until the sauce has thinned – don’t worry if you seem to have a lot of water left, you will need it in a minute!

Grate the cheese into the sauce mixture, reserving a sprinkle if you want for the top.

Stir in the cheese and add the mustard. If the sauce starts to thicken too much (matter of personal taste to be honest!) then add extra splashes of water and stir in to thin.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and tip back into the saucepan. Pour the sauce over the top (or the pasta into the sauce pan if it is big enough) and stir to coat.

Either serve straight away, sprinkled with extra cheese, or allow to cool and keep in the fridge for two days or freezer for up to three months.

Some people like to bake their macaroni cheese for a few minutes before eating – I’m not too fussed but you can if you want to, it crisps the cheese on top and makes it a little more special…

I’ll be playing with this one tomorrow, adding extra ingredients to see what my 75p macaroni cheese would look like if I made one – but tit for tat, this isn’t bad! And in the interests of fairness, the supermarket one weighed 300g, and so did mine. (Well, mine was 310g, but I won’t gloat too much…)

So there you have it – it’s cheaper to make a ‘ready meal’ macaroni cheese dinner than to buy one from the shop – and is less than 10 minutes work. Not bad at all.

Now – what ‘ready meal’ should I tackle next? Maybe you have a favourite that you think wouldn’t be cheaper to cook from scratch? Go on, I love a challenge…

Ingredient costs (all Sainsburys or Sainsburys Basics):
160g pasta 12p (39p/500g). 40g dried skimmed milk 10p (£1.01/400g). 50g hard strong cheese 57p (£2.30/200g). 1 tbsp plain flour 2p 65p/1.5kg). 2 tbsp sunflower oil 5p (£4/3l). Scant 1/8th tsp English mustard >1p (25p/180g)

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:


Mandarin & Poppy Seed Loaf

I like to make this bread in the evening to wind down and de-stress. Kneading the dough for 10 minutes may sound like a long time but it’s very therapeutic to do at the end of the day, and those 10 minutes will go faster than you think! This recipe uses half the mandarin segments from a standard 300g (or thereabouts) sized tin. You can keep the remaining half of the fruit in an airtight container in the fridge to use another day.

Makes 1 small loaf
1⁄2 x 300g tin mandarin segments in juice and the juice from the whole tin 300g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast 1 tablespoon poppy seeds oil to grease the bowl and loaf tin optional: extra flour to top the loaf
Drain the mandarin segments and reserve the juice in a measuring cup. Chop the segments into 1cm pieces. (I put them in a mixing bowl and attack with kitchen scissors, rather than messing about slipping all over a work surface.) Add the flour, yeast and poppy seeds to the bowl and combine.
Add lukewarm water to the reserved mandarin juice to make up 160ml of liquid. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the mandarin water gradually, working the mixture in with a wooden spoon. Continue until you have a slightly sticky dough. Lightly flour your work surface, and tip the dough on to it. knead and stretch the dough for about 10 minutes.
Lightly oil the inside of the bowl, put the dough back into it, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size. This takes about half an hour, but the time varies depending on the temperature of the room, etc.
When the dough has risen, knock the air out by tipping it back on to a lightly floured work surface and gently shaping into a rugby ball shape. Lightly oil a 1lb loaf tin (approximately 17 x 7 x 6cm), then lovingly place your rugby ball of goodness into it, pop the tea towel back on top and leave for another half an hour. This process is called proving.
A little before the end of the proving time, put on the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 to preheat. Score the top of the loaf, sprinkle over some optional extra flour on the top for a rustic look and pop the tin into the preheated oven for 30 minutes. When it’s done the loaf should sound hollow on the bottom when tapped.
Remove the tin from the oven, tip out the loaf and allow to cool on a wire rack. Then slice and eat!

Tips: This loaf will keep for 3 days in an airtight container or for a month if frozen. I wrap mine in cling film once it has cooled and it’s still absolutely fresh and delicious the day after. Shape the dough into 12 small balls instead of one loaf and pop the balls into lightly oiled muffin tins to make scones. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, depending on the size of the muffin tins – around 12 to 15 minutes should be fine.

‘Mandarin and Poppy Seed Loaf’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to buy now.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Easy peasy garlic bread.

I’m so addicted to airy fairy easy peasy soda bread, I thought I would see how it translates into a quick and easy garlic bread to accompany the mountain of pasta-and-tomatoes I eat….. I’m pleased to say it works beautifully, with a quick spread of butter. Wrap well after cooling though, as it will stale quickly – but if it does, never fear, I’ll put a recipe up for that!


Ingredients, Serves 4

200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200ml semi skimmed milk
Juice of half a lemon
2 garlic cloves
Handful of parsley


Squeeze the juice of half a lemon, or 2 teaspoons bottled lemon juice, into the milk. Crush or finely chop the garlic and add to the milk and lemon. Stand to one side to allow it to sour for approximately five minutes.

Meanwhile, weigh the flour and add the bicarbonate of soda, chop the parsley and toss in, and mix through.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix, and pour most of the milk-and-lemon in. Mix well with a wooden spoon to form a sticky dough. Use your judgement, if it looks dry, add the remaining liquid – but it *should* be more like a thick batter than a dough. This is normal!

The trick to amazingly light soda bread is not to fiddle with it too much.

Pour it into a loaf tin, score it across the top in three places, and place in a 180C oven for 40 minutes. It should sound hollow on the bottom when tapped, and feel ridiculously light.

Break into chunks and serve warm with butter, or allow to cool completely and wrap in clingfilm to keep fresh.

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter @MsJackMonroe. Find me on Facebook at

A Girl Called Jack is available to order at Waterstones: or on Amazon:

Airy Fairy Easy Peasy Soda Bread


Think you can’t make bread? Or that you need a fancy pants bread maker to do so? RUBBISH. You have a natural, free bread maker in your palms and your knuckles – and this easy recipe with no proving or rising time is a great place to start.

A lot of soda bread recipes use whole meal flour, salt, and yoghurt – but true to my usual style, I’ve pared it back to the basics – but basic doesn’t mean disappointing. Gorgeous warm with red fruit jam, or butter, or dunked into hearty soups and stews. It goes without saying that this is one of my favourite and most tried-and-tested recipes, doesn’t it?

Ingredients, Serves 4:

200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200ml milk (soya or almond for vegans, cows milk if you’re not)
Juice of half a lemon


Squeeze the juice of half a lemon, or 2 teaspoons bottled lemon juice, into the milk. Stand to one side to allow it to sour.

Meanwhile, weigh the flour and add the bicarbonate of soda, and mix through.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix, and pour most of the milk-and-lemon in. Mix well with a wooden spoon to form a sticky dough. Use your judgement, if it looks dry, add the remaining liquid.

Tip onto a floured work surface and pat into a round shape, kneading ever so lightly. The trick to amazingly light soda bread is not to fiddle with it too much.

Pop it into a loaf tin, score it across the top in three places, and place in a 180C oven for 40 minutes. It should sound hollow on the bottom when tapped, and feel ridiculously light.

Break into chunks and serve warm with butter, or allow to cool completely and wrap in clingfilm to keep fresh.

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter @MsJackMonroe

Lemon Curd Sponge Puddings, 24p.

Lemon Curd Sponge Puddings, 95p for 4 or 24p each.

Luckily for me, as I shop very carefully, I have most of the ingredients for this in the cupboard at all times. Unluckily for my jeans, that means I’m never more than thirty-two minutes away from a cake…

This is a simple, classic, sticky treat, that Small Boy and myself enjoy every now and again. They also freeze well, so I make four – we have one each, and pop the remaining two in the freezer.

If you don’t have pudding tins, then a deep muffin tray will do the job just as well, but may make six smaller desserts instead.

Lemon Sponge Pudding. Jack Monroe, April 2013.

Lemon Sponge Pudding. Jack Monroe, April 2013.


100g self raising flour, 4p (65p/1.5kg)
70g butter, 34p (£1.20/250g)
2 eggs, 44p (£2.65/12 free range)
50g sugar, 5p (89p/kg)
Splash of lemon juice, 2p (60p/250ml)
8 heaped teaspoons of lemon curd, 6p (22p/411g)

How To:

1. Place the butter in a microwaveable dish and heat on the defrost setting for 30 seconds until soft. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the sugar and a few shakes of lemon, and mix together until well combined. Break the eggs in, and add the flour.

3. Mix well with a fork or wooden spoon to create a smooth, glossy batter.

4. Lightly grease each of your pudding tins with a little extra butter to stop the puddings from sticking to the sides – which will ruin a seriously good dessert!

5. Dollop a generous blob of lemon curd in the bottom of each pudding tin.

6. Divide the batter between each pudding tin, spooning it on top of the lemon curd until each tin is approx 2/3 full.

7. Cook in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes at 170C. They should be risen, light and golden, and should come away from the tin easily to serve.

8. Tip into a bowl to serve. Can be served with additional lemon curd, warmed through to make a sticky sauce – that’s how I eat mine!

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 spermarkets but most items widely available at similar prices.)