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:

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:




The first of my recipes from my charity curry night to make it onto the blog (it’s probably fair to say that it’s been a very busy week) – I half invented this, half recalled a vague korma recipe from the depths of my overcrowded brain, so it’s not really traditional, but I like to surprise myself. And surprised I most certainly was, this was the undisputed hit of the evening!

Ingredients, serves 4-6:

2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 small red chilli, or pinch of dried chilli
1 tbsp oil
2tsp cumin
2tsp turmeric
200g creamed coconut
1 mug of water
100g sultanas
420g white fish fillets
500ml low fat natural yoghurt
Handful of coriander

Peel and finely slice the garlic, and chop the onions. Add to a large saucepan or sauté pan with the oil, finely chopped chilli, cumin and turmeric. Sweat on a very low heat for 10 minutes until the onions are softened.

Add the block of creamed coconut , sultanas and a mug of water, and turn the heat up. Melt the coconut into the pan, stirring to dissolve it and absorb the spices. Add an extra half a mug of water if you feel it needs it – your mugs and my mugs might be different sizes!

Finally when the coconut is melted, add the fish and cook through for five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir the yoghurt through to serve to prevent it from splitting. Garnish with coriander to serve.

Tip: adjust the spices according to taste. I like this mild, sweet and creamy, but it could take an extra teaspoon of cumin and another chilli for a kick.

Pad it out of make it cheaper by adding diced new potatoes and/or a couple of handfuls of frozen green beans.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Vegetable Masala Curry, 30p.


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.


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.)

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.



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.)

Red Lentil Bolognese

This meat-free Bolognese sauce is perfect over a bowl of pasta and topped with a handful of grated cheese. Allow 70 to 100g of dried pasta per person. I like to eat mine with some garlic bread as well, to mop up any leftover sauce.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 carrot
1 tablespoon oil
a fistful of fresh thyme
a fistful of fresh parsley
1 vegetable stock cube
50ml red wine
1 x 400g carton or tin of c hopped tomatoes
100g dried brown or red lentils, rinsed
optional: 2 tablespoons tomato purée or tomato ketchup, to thicken the sauce
grated strong hard cheese, to serve

Peel and slice the onion, peel and crush the garlic, and put both into a large sauté or non-stick frying pan. Wash the carrot then grate into the pan and add the oil. Put on a low heat and fry gently, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.

Chop the herbs – I place mine in a tea cup and cut into them with kitchen scissors – then add to the carrot, onion and garlic in the pan.

When the onions are softened, crumble in the stock cube and add the wine, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée or ketchup, if using, and lentils. Stir in and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are al dente (I like them to have a bit of a bite). You may need to add a small teacup of water if the sauce looks too dry, but use your judgement.

Once the lentils are done, it’s ready to serve. As with any Bolognese, this is delicious topped with a grating of strong hard cheese.

Tips: You can use up any spare Bolognese mixture as a topping for Penny Pizzas. This is also good cold or reheated, stuffed in a pitta or wrap with some grated cheese for next day’s lunch.

‘Lentil Bolognese’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Spring Piggy, 33p

Spring Piggy, serves 4 for £1.34, or 34p each.

This is an adaptation of a Nigella Lawson recipe for spring chicken, which was adapted in turn from a traditional rabbit recipe. That’s the thing about food, we all fiddle with it and tweak and make it posher or make it cheaper and add our own twists as we see fit. I didn’t have any chicken, but I did still have a generous hunk of that £1.09/670g bacon going begging, and a slightly pathetic half a savoy cabbage, so here’s what I did…



300g bacon, 48p (£1.09/670g)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves each)
1 onion, 5p (part of a 20pc mixed vegetable pack, £1)
1 carrot, 5p (part of a 20pc mixed vegetable pack, £1)
100ml white wine, 46p (Table Wine, £3.48/750ml)
1 chicken stock cube, 1p (10p for 10)
2 tbsp natural yoghurt, 7p (65p/500ml)
1 tsp English mustard, 2p (46p per jar)
Fistful each of thyme and parsley, growing on my window ledge
1/8 savoy cabbage, 10p (80p each)
50g green beans, 7p (£1.40/kg, frozen)

How To:

1. Dice the bacon, and peel and chop the onion and finely slice the garlic. Add all to a large sauté pan with an optional splash of oil (I dry cook mine on a low heat, as enough fat usually comes out of the bacon, but you need to keep an eye on it and stir it frequently to disturb the onions and garlic and stop them from sticking).

2. Add the wine and chopped thyme and parsley, stir through and leave simmering on a low heat.

3. Chop the carrot (again, I don’t peel my veg, a quick but vociferous rinse usually does the trick, there’s so much goodness just under the skins of vegetables that it’s a shame to waste them). Add the chopped carrot to the pot.

4. Add 500ml of hot chicken stock, and stir in the mustard. Cover and leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 mins, checking and stirring as you see fit.

5. Finely chop the savoy cabbage, and five mins before serving, add to the pot with the green beans. Stir the yoghurt through to make the sauce slightly creamy, this is optional but delicious.

6. Serve with mash or rice or bread. Also delicious tossed through spaghetti – in fact this works with most carbs!

Make It Posh variations:

It’s hard to improve on this, but use any baby root veg you have to hand. Sweet potato, baby turnips, swede, black salsify and parsnips all work well along with or instead of the carrot.

Add extra yoghurt or if you’re feeling flush, creme fraiche or cream work beautifully too. (I use yoghurt as its one of my food shop staples, instead of buying an alternative)

Add diced chicken the same time as the bacon, or chicken thighs on the bone a la Nigella – remember to seal on both sides before adding the wine and stock!

Will keep in the fridge for a few days, or freezer for about three months. If freezing, add a little extra stock or water to the sauce to allow it to coat the bacon and veg – this helps it to freeze better.

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.)


Oh My God Dinner, 28p

Oh My God Dinner (or, ‘I Was Going To Make Pasta Alla Genovese And Then I Remembered That Sodding Courgette Rolling Around In My Fridge…’) 55p for 2 portions, or just under 28p each.



70g bacon, 11p (£1.09/670g)
1 chilli (free, grows on my window ledge)
80g spaghetti, 6p (39p/500g)
Fistful each parsley, mint, basil (free, grows on my window ledge)
10ml lemon juice, 2p (60p/250ml)
50g green beans, 7p (£1.40/kg, frozen)
20g Brie, 11p (£1.09/200g)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs with average 8 cloves each)
1/2 courgette, 15p (£1.80/kg, 6 in my bag)

How To:

1. Chop the bacon into small pieces and add to the sauté pan with the lemon juice (10ml is 2 teaspoons), diced courgette and chopped chilli. Cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally to turn.

2. In the meantime, break the spaghetti in half and add to a pan of boiling water with the green beans. Leave to boil according to packet instructions, usually 7-10 minutes.

3. Add the herbs to a teacup, bowl or other small receptacle and chop finely with kitchen scissors. Crush the garlic in and stir.

4. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and tip into the sauté pan with the bacon and courgettes in. Stir the herbs and garlic through, and add chunks of diced Brie. Remove from heat and toss together, the Brie will melt slightly to form an almost-sauce.

Makes enough for two but, er, I ate this all myself….

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.

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:


Photography by Susan Bell:

Photography by Susan Bell:

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:

Jack Monroe. Echo/Gazette 31st Jan 2013. Photograph by AL UNDERWOOD.

Jack Monroe, ‘Chef For Less’: Echo & Gazette 31st Jan

After a day spent cooking for the Telegraph, I sit down to relax with my local rag and…


“I have a tiny kitchen and a tiny budget, and a tiny boys mouth to feed on a daily basis. I grow herbs on my window sill (currently coriander, rosemary, parsley, thyme and mint, wedged in rusty loaf tins) where they topple off when I turn the tap on in my sink to do the washing up.

I spent a year unemployed from 2011-2012, and with a budget of around £10 per week for food for myself and Small Boy.

As phrases like ‘double dip recession’ ‘austerity’ and ‘fiscal cliff’ graced the news headlines and hit the wallets of the nations, I moved from shopping online and having swanky organic fruit and vegetables delivered in a recyclable cardboard box, to living out of the orange and white livery of the Basics range at my local supermarket.

The ardent foodie in me was utterly miserable. Cheap processed ready meals and a lack of fruit and vegetables led to poor sleep patterns, a constantly hungry child, and for the first time in my life, my skin broke out in big angry spots. Something bad was going in, and nothing good was coming out of it.

I decided to dust off my gingham apron and cook meals from scratch, as cheaply as I possibly could. I cut down on meat and dairy products, out of necessity, and fell in love with home cooked food again.

The results were, and continue to be, surprising. I have found that my £10 a week budget extends to home baked breads for breakfast, thick wholesome protein-packed soups, winter warming casseroles and curries and stews, home made burgers and piles of fruit and vegetables.

Small Boy and I are healthier, happier, still a bit soft around the edges, with three meals a day and a supply of bread and snacks as and when we want them. Cooking for one and a half people used to feel pointless and laborious; now it’s quick, delightful, with minimal preparation and washing up. All my recipes listed can be made easily for one hungry person, or one person and a child, or in multiples thereof.

Being a single parent means I don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen, so most of my recipes are quick and simple. There’s no tarting about, no fancy expensive ingredients, but still, when I call my friends and invite them over for dinner, I manage to fill a table and they manage to clear their plates with compliments and smiles and disbelief that I do it so cheaply. In January 2013, my Pasta Alla Genovese cost just 19 pence per portion to make, when a leading restaurant would charge £15 for the same.”

(Accompanied by recipes for Pasta Alla Genovese at 19p per portion, and Tomato And Haricot Bean Soup at 15p per portion. Also pictured is my Mandarin And Poppy Seed Loaf at 38p per loaf.)

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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:

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<;


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…

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:

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

Carrot, Cumin & Kidney Bean Soup

This recipe came about after seeing the tins of soup in the supermarket and thinking, ‘I can do better than that.’ So rather than stocking up on thin tomato soup (with suspiciously few tomatoes) I thought I’d treat myself to some cheap, versatile, protein-packed spicy goodness instead. The quantities here make four generous portions.

Serves 4:

1 onion
2 tbsp oil
1 heaped tbsp cumin, seeds or ground
300g carrots
1 stock cube, dissolved in 500ml boiling water
1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans

Peel and chop the onion and pop into a medium sized saucepan with the oil and cumin. Wash and chop the carrots and add to the pan. Cook on a low heat for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften.

Pour the stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 20 minutes or so until the carrots are tender.

Drain and rinse the kidney beans well, add to the pan and heat through. Tip everything into the blender and pulse until smooth.

Tips: Add a few tablespoons of natural yoghurt after blending for a creamy taste.

You can add a handful of cooked red lentils to the leftover blended soup to make a thick, spicy pasta sauce. Alternatively, to make a thicker soup, add rinsed lentils along with the chopped carrots and cook in the stock.

Pretty much the same ingredients are used for the carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers, so why not buy in bulk and make them both in the same week, or even at the same time!

Carrot, cumin and kidney bean soup recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to order from The Hive, supporting your local independent book shops. Also available to buy at most major bookshops and supermarkets.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: