Photo by Susan Bell, for A Girl Called Jack.

Ham, Pea & Mint Casserole, 30p.

Photo by Susan Bell, for A Girl Called Jack.

Photo by Susan Bell, for A Girl Called Jack.

This delicious ham casserole is adapted from a favourite old recipe of mine – where I would boil the ham joint whole to make a stock, before shredding it into the casserole. This faster version is no compromise, making a delicious hearty dinner in less than half the time. For an extra special twist, serve with crusty bread topped with melted cheese and green vegetables.
Serves 4-6 depending on age and appetites, at 30p each
500g cooking bacon, 85p (or ham joint or streaky bacon)
2 small onions or 1 whopping one (about 250g all in), 15p 1 tablespoon cooking oil, 2p 400ml chicken stock, 3p 100ml apple juice, 7p (or white wine if you prefer)
a handful of fresh parsley, 4p a handful of fresh mint, 4p 350g tinned potatoes (drained weight), 20p or other small white potatoes
160g tinned carrots (drained weight), 20p or 2 small fresh ones
150g frozen peas, 18p
Dice the ham or bacon and peel and chop the onions. Put into a frying pan with the oil and fry on a medium heat, turning to seal the meat on all sides. Leave to cook through for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, pour the stock and wine into a saucepan and put on to a simmer. Finely chop the parsley and mint, including the stalks, and add to the pan. Wash and dice the potatoes and carrots, leaving the skins on, (or drain if using tinned ones) and put into the saucepan. Cook until the vegetables are tender – around 15 minutes for small pieces of fresh veg or barely 5 minutes for tinned.
Once they’re done, remove about half the potatoes from the saucepan and place in a blender. Add just enough of the stock to cover, and blend until smooth. Tip back into the pan and stir through.
When the ham or bacon is cooked, toss everything in the frying pan into the saucepan along with the frozen peas. Stir and cook through for a few final minutes until the peas are tender, then serve.

Basics cooking bacon £1.15/670g. Basics onions 90p/1.5kg. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics chicken stock cubes 25p/10. Basics apple juice 70p/1l. Fresh parsley 80p/28g. Fresh mint 80p/28g. Basics tinned potatoes 20p/345g drained weight. Basics tinned carrots 20p/160g drained weight. Basics frozen peas £1.40/1.2kg.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @MsJackMonroe and find me on Facebook at

This recipe first appeared in my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, which is available to buy from many places but my favourite is Hive Stores, supporting your local independent book shops and delivering to your home. Check it out here:

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:

Reader Recipes: Charlotte’s Borscht

I was sent this recipe by a lovely reader, Charlotte, so thought I would share it here. If you have a recipe you would like to share, email it to me on

I am trying to be really thrifty at the moment as I’m on a postgraduate student living allowance which is being squeezed from every direction. I was making dinner last night and needed to use up some beetroot so I made a vague approximation of borscht, I don’t know if it’s the sort of thing you or your readers might like.

Pack of four cooked (not pickled) beetroot, in small cubes
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Diced small onion
Vegetable stock cube in about 700mL water
Pinch of paprika
Tablespoon plain yogurt
Black pepper
Mixed herbs

I browned the onion and then added the beetroot and the juice from the packet. In next was the stock, the pepper and the herbs. I simmered this for about 10 minutes and then mashed the bits of beetroot with a potato masher. Normally I’d use a stick blender to get it really smooth but mine gave up a couple of months back. I then added the yogurt, followed by a pinch of paprika. I served this with cous cous but it would also go well with bread. This served four adults so I think this works out at about 50p a portion (I shop at Aldi).

All the very best, Charlotte.

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:

Hints and tips: Tins, and making the most of your herb garden.


Tins! When you cook with as many tins as I do, it seems a shame to throw them away, even if your local council has a pretty decent recycling system for them.

So, I’ve been washing up and saving my tins lately, rather than rinsing them and putting them in the Red Bin, and today decided to spend a little while tending to my herb garden with them…

People often ask me how my herb plants survive so long; first, I take them out of the little pots that they have been growing in at the supermarket or garden centre – the roots will be tied up in knots all the way to the edges of the pot. Working over a large mixing bowl, I gently thumb the excess soil from the root ball into the bowl, shaking gently to loosen it.

When a good deal of earth is in the mixing bowl, I break the herb plant in two, gently separating the top where possible, but depending how long it’s been living in its little pot, the root may need to be torn apart with a little force.😦

I then take two small tins (a bean tin, or mandarin segments tin, tend to be the kind I use as they’re quite skinny) – turn it upside down, and stab three holes in it with a skewer. If this seems a bit dangerous or you can’t manage it, use a tin opener and latch it onto the side, turn very slightly, and make three holes like that.

Turn the tins the right way up, and pop half of the herb plant into each. Add the excess soil from the mixing bowl and press down lightly.

Put the small tin inside a clean, slightly larger tin (a potato tin is a simply perfect fit), water the herbs, and hey presto. Your herbs will have room to breathe and grow better, you have two plants instead of one, and they won’t leak all over your window ledge. Hoorah.

If I come up with any more ingenious uses for tins, I’ll keep you posted! (Apart from the obvious spoons-next-to-the-kettle and desk tidy…)

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:

Roasted beetroot, red wine and Brie risotto,

As featured on Great British Chefs: Jack Monroe’s budget friendly Beetroot, Brie and Red Wine Risotto.


In some supermarkets, ready cooked and prepared beetroot is cheaper than buying it in bunches, not to mention quicker to cook! I’ve used the pre-packed variety in my recipe, but feel free to use fresh beetroot if you prefer, but it will need at least an extra 10 minutes in the oven. This recipe uses some of my staple ingredients that I always have to hand: chicken stock, garlic, and long grain rice – yes, long grain rice in risotto. It’s how my mother makes it!

Ingredients (serves four):

2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp oil
300g rice
500ml chicken stock
250g beetroot
3 tbsp red wine
2 tsp mixed herbs
50g Brie

First, preheat your oven to 200C, and pop the kettle on to boil.

Next, prepare the beetroot. If you are using fresh beetroot, peel it, rinse it, and dice into 1cm chunks. If you are using pre-packed cooked beetroot, simply rinse it and dice it. Place it in a roasting dish, toss in 1tbsp oil and the mixed herbs, and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges start to slightly char.

While the beetroot is roasting, prepare the risotto. Finely chop the garlic, and add to a large frying or sauté pan with the other tablespoon of oil. Sauté on a very low heat, until the garlic starts to soften.

Tip in the rice and stir to lightly coat in oil. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the ends of the rice are translucent. Add the wine and stir well.

While the wine is absorbing, make up the stock. Crumble the stock cube into 500ml of boiling water, and stir well to dissolve. Add a generous splash of stock to the pan, and stir well to disturb the rice and prevent it from sticking. When the stock is absorbed, add another splash. Continue until there is around a quarter of the stock left.

Remove the beetroot from the oven and mash well with a fork or masher. Tip the mashed beetroot and any oil, juices and herbs from the pan into the risotto and stir well.

Continue to add the stock until the rice is al dente and the risotto is slightly soupy. Crumble the Brie on top and fold in before serving to melt slightly.

Serve with green salad as a light lunch, or crusty bread and green vegetables for a hearty warming dinner.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Ingredient costs: all Sainsburys, correct at date of publication. 2 cloves of garlic, 5p (50p/2 bulbs, avg 10 cloves each). 2 tbsp oil, 5p (£4.50/3l). 300g rice, 12p (40p/1kg). 1 chicken stock cube, 2p (20p/10). 250g cooked beetroot, 80p (80p/250g). 2 tsp mixed Italian herbs, 6p (30p/42g). 45ml red wine, 21p (£3.50/75cl). 50g French mild Brie, 27p (£1.09/200g). Total: £1.58/4 servings.

Red Wine And Mushroom Soup

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

Serves 2

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

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

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

Serve with extra chopped thyme to garnish.

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

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

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

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Photography by Susan Bell.

Chickpea, Carrot & Coriander Falafels

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

Makes 12ish falafels (4–6 per person)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

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

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

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.)

Carrot And Coriander Soup

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

Serves 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Really Tomatoey Basilly Soup

This is so simple that I feel cheeky calling it a recipe, but it’s one for all those folks that say to me, ‘Oh I’d love to make soup but I don’t know where to start.’ well, start here and see where it takes you. There’s even some chopping of vegetables involved, so brace yourselves. Tinned soup contains among other things modified maize starch, whey powder, ascorbic acid and other things I’m not entirely sure what they are – so make my own and get something good inside you.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 large carrot
1 potato
1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 400ml boiling water
1 x 400g carton or tin chopped tomatoes
a generous handful of fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil

Peel and slice the onion, and wash and chop the carrot and potato into small pieces. (I make mine 0.5cm thick or less so they cook faster and blend more easily. I also leave the skins on for all the extra goodness.)

Put all the vegetables into a saucepan and pour in the stock to cover. Tip the chopped tomatoes over the top, add the basil and bring to an enthusiastic boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to its own souper-duper devices for approximately 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Test by poking a fork into one of them – if it goes through easily, then they’re done.

Blend in a food processor until smooth, and serve hot.
Tip: This will keep in the fridge for about 3 days – but use your discretion, I keep my fridge extra cold so food lasts longer. Cool and freeze in an airtight container for approximately 3 months.

‘Really Tomatoey Basilly Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:


Garlic, Herb & Lemon Bread

If you want to be really traditional and a little bit messy, you can get stuck in and use your hands to mix together the ingredients and form the dough. you need a good swirling motion, but I’ve made a lot of bread and never quite got this right. It’s good for the homespun warm feeling, not so great for trying to get out the little remnants of dough from under your fingernails and in the creases of your knuckles afterwards!

Makes 1 small loaf

250g plain white flour, plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
2 fat cloves of garlic
2 handfuls of fresh parsley
zest and juice of 1 lemon or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra to grease the bowl and loaf tin

Put the flour and yeast into a large mixing bowl. Peel the garlic cloves and finely chop or crush. Finely chop the parsley into a small bowl or tea cup using kitchen scissors. grate the lemon zest. Add the garlic, parsley and lemon zest to the flour and yeast with a flourish and stir to mix.

Measure the lemon juice into a measuring cup and add the oil. Pour in lukewarm water to make up to 180ml. Make a well in the centre of the flour/yeast/herb mixture and add the liquid gradually, working the mixture in with a wooden or silicone spoon, or your hands.

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 varies depending on the temperature of the room.

When the dough is risen, knock the air out of it by tipping back on to a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape into a round and pop into a lightly oiled or silicone 1lb loaf tin (approximately 17 x 7 x 6cm). Cover with cling film or a clean plastic bag over the top like a tent and leave for 30 minutes to prove. 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 with a sharp knife and pop it into the preheated oven for 30 minutes to bake.

The loaf should sound hollow on the bottom when tapped. Remove from the oven, tip out of the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack. Then slice the loaf and eat!

Tips: If doubling the quantities to make a 2lb loaf, the timing will be slightly different. After the first 15 minutes turn the oven down to 170°C/325°F/gas 3 and allow to cook for another 30 minutes.

Will keep for 3 days in an airtight container, or 1 month if frozen.

‘Garlic, Herb & Lemon Bread’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

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: