Sort-of-Paella, from A Girl Called Jack, photographed by Susan Bell.

Sort-of paella, 67p

Sort-of-Paella, from A Girl Called Jack, photographed by Susan Bell.

Sort-of-Paella, from A Girl Called Jack, photographed by Susan Bell.

The star of the show in this paella is the simple coloured rice, cooked al dente, accentuated with bright red tomatoes and little green peas. This recipe is delicious on its own, or can be used as a base. Feel free to add chopped peppers, seasonal vegetables, any meat or fish of your choice, a glass of white wine, a splash of sherry – whatever your budget or your cupboard will allow. But for me, nothing beats a fistful of tiny little prawns, half a cup of peas and a spoon to eat it with.

Traditional paella uses saffron strands to colour the rice, but I use bright yellow turmeric powder instead. This is a fraction of the cost and much more versatile, as it can be used in Saag Aloo, Spiced Potato Soup and many, many curry recipes besides. Traditional paella also uses a fat short-grain rice, but I use the ordinary long-grain store cupboard stuff because it’s what I have to hand. And a rice is a rice is a rice, as far as I’m concerned.

Serves 2 at 67p each*

2 tablespoons oil, 4p
1 onion (around 180g), 10p
2 cloves of garlic, 4p
500ml chicken or vegetable stock, 3p
a scant 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 3p
200g tinned chopped tomatoes, 18p
150g rice, 7p
1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs, 1p
70g fresh or frozen peas or green beans, cut into lengths, 8pea (couldn’t resist!)
100g fresh or frozen cooked prawns, 77p

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan or sauté pan. Peel and finely slice the onion, peel and finely chop or crush the garlic, and put both into the pan to soften for a few minutes on a medium heat. Take care not to brown them, as the slightly burnt taste will permeate through the whole dish.
Meanwhile bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a separate small saucepan and shake in the turmeric.
Add the chopped tomatoes and the rice to the frying pan with the onion and garlic and stir.
Chop the thyme, add to the pan and stir again briefly to combine. Pour a cup of the hot stock into the pan, then stir well to stop the rice from sticking.
When the stock has been absorbed by the rice, add another cup. Repeat until all the stock is used up, or the rice is soft. unlike risotto, you do not need to stir paella constantly, but a little stir every now and again is helpful to stop the rice from sticking to the pan.
When the rice is almost cooked, add the frozen peas or beans and the cooked prawns, stir and cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the prawns are warmed through.

Remove from the heat and leave to stand for a few minutes before serving, to allow the flavours to settle. Traditionally you’d drizzle a little extra oil over the top, to serve. And maybe a pinch of salt.

‘Sort-Of Paella’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe, available to buy from lots of lovely places but my fave is Hive, supporting local independent bookshops. The lovely photo is by Susan Bell.

I calculated the costs based on my most recent Sainsburys shop, but most other supermarkets and local shops sell rice and onions and stuff like that, at similar prices. If you find anything at a Super Bargainous Price, comment below and let us all know!

Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics onions 80p/1.5kg. Basics garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Basics chicken stock cubes 25p/10. Turmeric £1/42g. Basics chopped tomatoes 35p/400g. Basics rice 45p/1kg. Basics mixed dried herbs, 40p/14g. Basics frozen peas £1.40/1.2kg. Basics frozen prawns, £2.30/300g.

On Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe

Here greeny greeny greeny greeny things... And kids, if you're reading this in years to come, I told you I was smarter than you...

Raw broccoli and courgette pesto, 17p (NUT-FREE) (VEGAN)

Here greeny greeny greeny greeny things... And kids, if you're reading this in years to come, I told you I was smarter than you...

Here greeny greeny greeny greeny things… And kids, if you’re reading this in years to come, I told you I was smarter than you…

So, the two delightful four year olds in residency have both announced recently that they ‘don’t want school dinners any more’ ‘because they make us eat lots of VEGETABLES.’ News to me, this one, as they have both been fairly consistently good Vegetable Eaters throughout their childhood – albeit *different vegetables*, which means we have a list stuck to the front of the fridge to remind us that one of them will happily nosh on peppers but not peas, and the other one likes carrots and broccoli and ‘sometimes’ cauliflower. One thing they are both very sold on, however, is broccoli. And pesto.

So, I opened my fridge this evening to mull over the tired scrappy bits in the vegetable drawer, and found exactly 67g of drying, wilting -broccoli. (I’ve rounded it up to a round 100g in the recipe, as I don’t expect anybody to weigh out 67g of anything!) The sneaky mum in me decided to ‘extend’ it into something I could pass off as ‘broccoli pesto’ – and here we are. And kids, if you’re reading this in a few years time, I told you I was smarter than you.

It’s only raw by virtue of laziness – there was a small someone-treading-on-my-broken-toe incident over the weekend and thus my recovery has been unceremoniously flung back to what feels like square one. Today I have mostly been working from my duvet. You can steam or saute or boil and cool the component parts if you like, but, licking the bowl as I type this is testament to the fact that you just don’t have to. I proffered a spoonful to my small boy, told him it was ‘broccoli sauce’, and he demolished it. Win all round.

Makes enough for six bellies at 17p each* – I split mine into three pots of ‘kids plus a snack for me’.

100g broccoli, stems and all, 14p
250g courgette, 50p
50g spinach, fresh or frozen and defrosted (up to you whether to refreeze it if using defrosted spinach, I’ve been doing it for years with veg and never caught vegetable lurgies, but health and safety scaremongerers abound…), 7p
100g bread, stale or otherwise, 13p (or 7p for two white pittas) – to give it that nutty texture that’s so great about pesto, without any actual nuts
100ml oil (I used sunflower), 13p
30ml lemon juice – the bottled variety is fine, 6p

The adults might like to add a clove or two of garlic and a pinch of salt, and non-vegans might want to lob in a load of hard strong grated cheese, but it’s perfectly delicious the way it is…

Finely shop your broccoli and courgette, and roughly chop your spinach. Tear up your bread, and put the whole lot in the blender – pulse until it resembles a pesto. The wetness of the courgette should help it along, but if your blender is struggling, add the oil and lemon juice, and if it’s still struggling, a small slosh of water. The breadcrumbs will soak the liquid up anyway.

Divide into jars or containers and store one in the fridge and one in the freezer for a cheat dinner for a later date. Serve over hot pasta, and enjoy.

If you’re seriously suspicious about your kids eating ‘raw’ veg, then you can tip this into a pan and cook it off for a few minutes before tipping it over their pasta – but I find a good grating of cheese goes a long way in getting kids to eat anything (vegan cheese for vegans, obviously, and not so much for everyone else).

And enjoy! You can play with the vegetables, and veg proportions – I just include enough broccoli to pass mine off as ‘broccoli sauce’ – and the Smalls are none the wiser. Hoorah for a penchant for pesto, in my household at least…

* Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I currently shop, but things like courgettes and broccoli are widely sold in many other places for similar prices. If you happen to find them ludicrously cheaper, please comment below as I’m sure my readers would love to know where the bargains are. Prices are also subject to change but are correct at the time of blogging. I worked them out like this:

Loose broccoli £1.35/kg. Frozen broccoli £1.40/kg but more florets than stems, so use what you prefer. Loose courgettes 20p/100g – am very cross that the Basic courgettes appear to have vanished as they were once a staple on my very low budget and I based a lot of my early recipes around them! I digress. Frozen spinach £1.40/kg. Giraffe bread £1/800g loaf. Basics pitta breads 22p/6. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Bottled lemon juice 50p/250ml.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter ( and Instagram ( if you like, and find me on Facebook at

…and if you enjoy my recipes, you might like one of my books – I like to direct people to the Hive, as they deliver to your local independent book store, or your house. They’re available in other places too, but I think the Hive is just great:

Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup...

Pappa al Pomodoro (Italian Bread Crusts And Tomato Soup), 32p – VEGAN

Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup...

Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup…

I love a good tomato soup, and quite often with the humble tomato, simplicity is key. So imagine my delight, yesterday evening, idly leafing through the iconic River Café Cookbook (Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers), and finding a recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro. I’d never heard of it, but fell in love instantly – garlic, salt, herbs, tomatoes and a little bread. Of course, the original calls for fresh tomatoes in late summer, and ‘open-textured white bread made with olive oil, such as Pugliese’, given that The River Café is famous for tremendously good Italian cooking (and was home to a fledgling Jamie Oliver, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro and many many other great chefs of our time). Alas, although my other half (also a River Café chef in her youth) is fond of the odd Pugliese, I’m not about to go and buy a loaf to tear up and fling into soup, nor recommend that you do on a budget cooking blog. I decided to see if I could make my own version, from my basics.

Firstly, who has a toddler or fussy teenager or even adult in their household that doesn’t eat their crusts? I used to battle with my four year old boy in the morning about the crusts on his toast, until I gave up – if he doesn’t like them, he doesn’t like them, and giving his toast a quick trim is easier than ten minutes of parrying – me insisting that he eats them, him nibbling and giving me looks out of the corner of his eye and grimacing and whining, oh it’s just not worth it, is it? So now I trim them off, and fling them in a bag in the freezer. I blitz them into breadcrumbs when I need a small amount of them, rather than waste a whole loaf of bread, but today I dug some of them out for this soup. Bread crust and tinned tomato soup, given a fancy Italian name. Stay with me, it’s utterly delicious…

A selection of bread crusts recently rejected by the Small Boy, now cunningly smuggled into soup. Hooray for toddler fussiness after all...

A selection of bread crusts recently rejected by the Small Boy, now cunningly smuggled into soup. Hooray for toddler fussiness after all…

Serves 2 at 32p each

2 fat cloves of garlic, 4p
a pinch of salt, <1p
4 tbsp oil, vegetable or sunflower, 8p (The River Café Cookbook uses olive oil, but it’s gone the way of the pugliese in this recipe, i.e. NOT HERE)
400g carton of tomatoes, 35p
1 stalk (2g inc stalk) fresh rosemary, 8p or 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
60g bread, crusts are best but any bread will do (approx 2 slices medium cut bread), 7p

First finely slice your garlic and add to a saucepan with the salt. Pour over the oil and turn the heat on very very gently – I do garlic then heat, because quite often I’m doing a gazillion things at once in my kitchen, and the oil gets too hot because I decide to quickly wash something up and the garlic goes in and burns and I have to start the whole thing again. It just needs a gentle soften here, so garlic, salt, oil, gentle heat. Burnt garlic stinks. In all kinds of ways.

After a minute, pour over the chopped tomatoes and add 250ml water and the herbs, and bring to the boil. Stir well, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, until the soup thickens and concentrates. It might seem like a lot of water, but trust me, it needs it, and it’s going to have even more in a minute…

After 15 minutes, tear up your bread and fling it in. Add another 250ml water (if you’re sceptical, add it a little at a time, but the bread sucks a lot of water up as it swells from bland boring crusts to soft and soggy pieces of deliciousness). Bring it to the boil again, then cover it to retain as much heat as possible (a lid, a plate, some tin foil) and turn the heat off. Leave it to stand for as long as you can bear it – I managed half an hour before I dived back in, but it’s one of those that improves the longer it stands around doing its thing, hanging out on the hob, developing its flavours…

Warm through to serve. Depending on your tomatoes, it might be a little sharp (although it shouldn’t be after all that cooking and hanging around, but not all tomatoes are created equal. If that’s the case, just stir in a teaspoon of sugar as it warms through to adjust it). After me – nom nom nom nom nom nom nom…

*Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I did my shopping this week, but things like carrots and onions are widely sold in many other places for similar prices. If you happen to find them ludicrously cheaper, please comment below as I’m sure my readers would love to know where the bargains are. Prices are also subject to change but are correct at the time of blogging. I worked them out like this:

Basics garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Basics table salt 25p/750g. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics tomatoes 35p/400g. Fresh rosemary 80p/20g. Mixed dried herbs 35p/14g. Giraffe bread £1/800g.

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

…and if you enjoy my recipes, you might like one of my books – I like to direct people to the Hive, as they deliver to your local independent book store, or your house. They’re available in other places too, but I think the Hive is just great:

Photography by Susan Bell.

Carrot, cumin & kidney bean burgers, 10p (VEGAN)

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

This burger is where the media storm began, and dubbed ‘the 9p burger’ because of the low cost of the ingredients used to make it, it’s one of my most popular recipes. A can of value range red kidney beans is a cheap but excellent source of protein and I built a lot of my early cooking around it, and they became a firm staple in my household. I triple the recipe to make a batch of them, and freeze them in patties to whip out at a moment’s notice and fry on a low heat. I’ve updated the price list on this recipe to reflect the sad rise in the cost of basic and budget ingredients over the last two years, they’re not 9p burgers any more, but they are still incredibly cheap. I like mine best in a pitta bread (22p for 6) and a dollop of mango chutney or mayo…

Makes 4 generous burgers at 15p each or 6 good sized ones at 10p each*:

1 x 400g tin of kidney beans, 30p
1 smallish onion (150g approx), peeled and finely chopped, 9p
1 large carrot (150g approx), grated, 8p
1 teaspoon (1.5g) ground cumin, 4p
a stem (1g) of fresh coriander, finely chopped (optional, replace with parsley if you don’t like coriander), 3p
1 tbsp veg or sunflower oil, plus 2 tablespoons to fry the burgers, 6p
1 heaped teaspoon flour, plus another to shape the burgers, 1p

Drain the kidney beans and rinse in cold water to wash away the ‘tinned’ taste. Put into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes to really soften.

Put the onion, carrot, cumin and coriander into a medium saute or frying pan. Add the splash of oil and cook on a low heat to soften. When the kidney beans have softened, drain well and add to the carrots and onion. Remove from the heat and mash together until you have a smoothish puree, like a mashed potato consistency. Stir in the flour to stiffen.

Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan on a medium heat. With floured hands, take a quarter of the burger mixture and roll it into a ball. Make three more balls with the remaining mixture. Place one in the oil and flatten gently with a fork to make the burger shape. Depending on the size of your pan, you may be able to cook all the burgers at once or need to do them in batches – unless you’re freezing some of the uncooked patties. Cook for a few minutes on one side, before turning. The burgers need to be handled with care as they can be quite fragile before they’re done! When cooked and slightly crisp on both sides, remove from the pan and serve.

Tip: Make the burger mixture in advance and pop into the fridge for a few hours – it firms up nicely and is less fragile when cooking. It will keep, covered, for 2 days so can be made well in advance.

*Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I currently shop, but things like carrots and onions are widely sold in many other places for similar prices. If you happen to find them ludicrously cheaper, please comment below as I’m sure my readers would love to know where the bargains are. Prices are also subject to change but are correct at the time of blogging. I worked them out like this:

Basics kidney beans 30p/400g. Basics bag of onions 95p/1.5kg. Basics bag of carrots 85p/1.5kg. Ground cumin £1/42g. Fresh coriander 80p/28g. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics plain flour 55p/1.5kg. Correct on 31 Jan 2015.

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

…and if you like this, you might like one of my books, available to order over at Hive, who will ship it to your local independent book store, or your house! Check it out here:

A soup that's like a great big comforting hug... Yes please.

Roasted carrot, chickpea and garlic soup, 26p (VEGAN)

A soup that's like a great big comforting hug... Yes please.

A soup that’s like a great big comforting hug… Yes please.

I woke up this morning craving a carrot soup – it’s all rock and roll round here these days. I’m a bit snuffly around the edges at the moment, sore throat and generally feeling a bit sorry for myself, and still limping around tragically on a still-broken left foot. This may be the most self-pitying recipe introduction to date. But basically, I fancied something warm, and sweet, and comforting, and easy to do. Something I could fling in the oven and forget about, and get something good inside. Carrot led to roast carrot, and garlic, and some chickpeas for protein and good measure – and the result is a subtly spiced, hearty, sweet and delicious soup. It’s like the soup equivalent of a cuddle, this one. And suitable for all my lovely vegan readers, too. Hurrah.

Serves 4 at 26p each:

300g carrots (approx 3 medium ones), 17p
240g tinned chickpeas (that’s the drained and rinsed weight of a 400g can), 60p
4 fat cloves of garlic, 7p
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or sunflower), 4p
150g onion (one small one or half a large one), 9p
1/2 tsp cumin (1.3g), 3p
a pinch of dried chilli flakes, 2p
800ml weak vegetable stock (1/2 stock cube will do), 1p

First heat your oven to 180C. Wash your carrots and slice thickly, and toss into a roasting tin. Drain and thoroughly rinse your chickpeas and add to the tin, with the whole garlic cloves. Pour over the oil and give it all a shuffley-shake to lightly coat it, and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and finely slice your onion, and set to one side. When your first 20 minutes is up, remove the roasting tin from the oven, scatter the onion over, and the cumin and chilli, and give it all another shake. Cook for a further 20 minutes, until it looks like this:

Yummy roasty goodness. And yes I leave the tops on my carrots - waste not want not!

Yummy roasty goodness. And yes I leave the tops on my carrots – waste not want not!

Remove the garlic cloves from the roasting tin, and tip the rest of the contents into a blender – keeping some chickpeas aside to garnish if you like that sort of thing. Squeeze in the soft garlic (don’t put the skins in the blender, they end up like tiny bits of wet tissue that stick to the roof of your mouth. We learn from our errors, round here, and pass the wisdom on – though in my defence that was many years ago…). Add the stock and blend until smooth.

Remove from the blender and warm through, garnishing with reserved chickpeas to serve.

*Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I currently shop, but things like carrots and onions are widely sold in many other places for similar prices. If you happen to find them ludicrously cheaper, please comment below as I’m sure my readers would love to know where the bargains are. Prices are also subject to change but are correct at the time of blogging. I worked them out like this:
Basics carrots 85p/1.5kg. 400g tin of chickpeas 60p. Basics garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics onions 95p/1.5kg. Ground cumin £1/42g. Dried crushed chilli flakes £1/32g. Basics vegetable stock cubes 25p/10 cubes.

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

…and if you like this, you might like one of my books, available to order over at Hive, who will ship it to your local independent book store, or your house! Check it out here:


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


Pumpkin and bacon carbonara, for Rob (and everyone else)

“My pumpkin dream always has smoked streaky bacon and Swiss cheese in it…” my friend Rob mused aloud as he carved our family pumpkin at the kitchen table on Friday morning. “Like, in a sandwich… Or pasta…”
“Or carbonara?” I offered.
“Oh carbonara… Pumpkin carbonara…”
We sat there silently, grinning, two food-obsessives salivating at the thought of rich egg yolks, cream, sweet soft pumpkin, crispy bacon and cheese ensconcing hot slippery pasta… And so, this pumpkin carbonara was born…

Serves 2:

4 fat cloves of garlic
100g streaky bacon
1 sprig of rosemary
20g butter
100ml white wine (or Martini would be achingly delicious in this, I just didn’t have any… Still fantasising about what it would have tasted like though!!)
160g spaghetti
4 egg yolks
100g pumpkin purée
100ml cream
a fistful of spinach
50g hard, strong cheese, to serve
a generous grinding of black pepper

Peel and finely chop the garlic and lob into a pan with a knob of butter on a low, barely-there heat to soften and sweeten. (Or peel them and leave them whole for a soft, garlicky treat, if you like that sort of thing…) Chop the bacon and toss in, and strip the rosemary leaves from the stalk, finely chop them (large woody bits of Rosemary between your teeth are fairly unpleasant) and toss those in too. Give it all a good stir, and cook gently for 10 minutes to soften the garlic and crisp the bacon.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the spaghetti and cook according to the packet instructions, usually for 8–10 minutes. And get your shit together, the next bit happens quickly!

Pour the wine over the garlic-bacon-rosemary and crank the heat up to medium/high. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolks, pumpkin purée and cream until well combined. Add half a ladle (or a few tablespoons) of the hot pasta water to the egg-pumpkin-cream and mix well. Remove the garlic-bacon-rosemary pan from the heat and slowly add the sauce, stirring well to stop it from splitting. Return the pan to a low heat to cook the egg yolks through – don’t worry if your sauce looks thin, it will thicken as it cooks.

To serve, toss the cooked spaghetti in the creamy sauce, and drop in a handful or two of (optional) spinach. Grate over a generous amount of hard, strong cheese (or something Swiss, if you want to follow Rob’s prescription to the letter) – mature cheddar, Parmesan, or my old favourite, Sainsburys Basics Hard Strong Cheese, an imitation Parmesan that packs a strong salty punch, and a good grind of black pepper, and enjoy…

TIP: If the sauce does split with enthusiastic heating, all is not lost! Put it to one side, and make a quick roux with a knob of butter and 1 rounded teaspoon of flour in a pan over a low heat. Add a splash of water or milk and mix to make a rough paste. Add a splash of the carbonara sauce, stir until smooth, and repeat until all of the sauce is incorporated. Rescued!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:


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


Photography by Susan Bell

Peach and chickpea curry

This is my favourite curry, my go-to, easy but perfect comfort food. I sometimes make it with turkey, so feel free to chuck a fistful of it in with the onions if you fancy it. Serve it with plain boiled rice.

Serves 2 for dinner, with leftovers for a light lunch.

250g canned chickpeas (drained weight)
1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
1 chilli
a splash of oil
1 rounded tsp cumin (ground or seeds)
1 x 400g tin of peaches (or apricots or mandarins)
1 x 400f carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 stock cube, veg or chicken

First drain your chickpeas and rinse them vigorously to get rid of the stagnant water that they’ll have been sitting in. Pop them in some fresh water in a saucepan and boil rapidly for 10 minutes to soften (and get rid of any toxins…there’s differing beliefs about toxins in canned pulses and I’m of the ‘a good boil won’t hurt them’ school of thought…)

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and chop the chilli. Pour a little oil into a medium, heavy bottomed pan, and add the onion, garlic and chilli, then the cumin, and cook gently on a low heat for a few minutes to soften the onion. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up – burned onions will permeate your whole curry, whereas sweating them will add a delicious sweetness.

Drain the peaches, reserving the juice, and chop into small pieces. Add to the onion mixture in the pan, along with the reserved juice. By this time, the chickpeas should have finished boiling, so remove them from the heat and drain them, and tip them into the peaches-and-onion pan.

Pour the chopped tomatoes in, add the coriander, and crumble over the stock cube, then stir everything together. Reduce the heat to a low setting, and cook gently for 30 minutes. You may need to add a cup of water to the sauce if it starts to get a bit thick. Stir well, and serve.

‘Peach and chickpea curry’ 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




One of my favourite restaurants in Southend specialises in Keralan cuisine – and when I couldn’t afford it but really wanted a rich, spicy curry, I decided to make my own version. Aubergines are comparitively expensive to buy individually, so look out for the bags of three or four, and eat them all week!

Serves 2:

2 aubergines
a pinch of salt
1 onion
a fat clove of garlic
2 tablespoons oil
1 red chilli or a pinch of the dried stuff
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tsp cumin (ground or seeds)
1/4 tsp English mustard
zest and juice of half a lemon, or a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice
1 x 400g carton of chopped tomatoes
a fistful of coriander, to serve

Cut the stems from the ends of the aubergines, and pierce the skin all over with a sharp knife or a fork. Pop into a mixing bowl or saucepan, and cover with cold water and a pinch of salt to draw out the natural bitter flavour. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and toss into a medium pan with the oil. Sweat the onions on a very low heat, stirring to ensure they don’t burn or stick. Finely chop the chilli and add to the pan, or pinch in your dried flakes. Add the turmeric, cumin and mustard, and stir to cook the spices a little.

Remove the aubergines from the water, cut into chunks and add to the pan. Stir in well to coat with the now-spicy oil, add the lemon juice and zest (if using), and turn the heat up to medium to brown the edges of the aubergine. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes, until the aubergines are tender.

Finely shred the coriander and scatter on top to serve.


Keralan aubergine curry from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to buy from The Hive, supporting your local independent book shop. Photography by Susan Bell for A Girl Called Jack.


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:







Broad beans can be bought frozen for around £1.50 for a 750g bag – much cheaper than their fresh counterparts, and no prising them from fiddly little pods either – although I do love thumbing the velvety lining of fresh pods to pop them out… Whether you choose fresh or frozen beans, this salad uses a lot of storecupboard basic ingredients, like lemon, garlic, herbs and cheese. It takes just minutes to knock together, and I think it tastes like summer’s coming…

140g broad beans
40g hard strong cheese
50g leaves – I used rocket on special offer, but try spinach, watercress, pea shoots, lambs lettuce, anything fresh and crunchy will do
a fat clove of garlic
1 tbsp oil
Juice of half a lemon
A fistful of mint
Salt and pepper

First bring a pan of water to the boil. Drop in the frozen broad beans for two to three minutes to defrost and slightly soften. Drain them and tip into a bowl, and grate the lemon zest over the top.

Roughly chop and crush the garlic clove, using the flat blade of a chunky sharp knife if you have one, or the back of a spoon and some elbow grease if you haven’t. Scoop the smashed up garlic into a jar, squeeze out the lemon juice, add the oil, screw the lid on, and shake well to make the dressing.

Toss the beans with the salad and whole mint leaves, dress, season with salt and pepper, and top with hard strong cheese to serve.

Tip: For a more substantial salad, and for you omnivores out there, top with crispy bacon to serve.

First published in The Guardian, May 2014. Photograph by Graeme Robertson for The Guardian.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Photography by Susan Bell:



Photography by Susan Bell:

Photography by Susan Bell:

I never tire of this quick, simple meal. Originally adapted from a beef goulash recipe, but tweaked and tampered with in the way that all recipes are, it has become a sweet and spicy staple in my household and doesn’t disappoint. I use cheap baked beans in place of haricot beans, as they are simply haricot or borlotti beans slathered in sauce – but usually for a third of the price of a tin of plain haricot or borlotti beans. Eat warm on toast, with rice, or stuffed in a pitta bread with lashings of cheese for lunch. Eat from the bowl, water it down and eat it as a soup, or eat it straight from the pan in the name of ‘testing’. Or, for a slightly Mexican twist, have it with tortillas, some grated cheese, sliced red onion and lettuce, with some lime or lemon to squeeze over.

Serves 4-6:

1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
1 x 400g tin of baked beans (or borlotti, canneloni, etc)
1 onion
1 fat clove of garlicf garlic
4 tablespoons of oil
3 teaspoons paprika
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon marmite or similar
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
1 teaspoon sugar

First, drain and rinse the beans. Empty the kidney beans and baked beans into a colander, and blast under cold water to get rid of the tinned taste and the sauce from the baked beans. When well rinsed, set to one side.

Peel and chop the onion and peel and finely slice the garlic. Place in a frying pan with the oil anf paprika, and cook on a low heat until the onion is softened. Add the chopped tomatoes, marmite, crumbled stock cube, sugar and half a tin of water (using one of the bean tins as a guide), and stir well. Simmer gently for 15 minutes until the sauce is thick and glossy.

Tip in the colander of rinsed beans, stir to mix well and heat through for 10 minutes. Serve, devour, have seconds, and enjpy!

Mixed bean goulash recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to order at The Hive, supporting your local independent book shops. Also available to buy from major retailers and supermarkets.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:





On a recent trip to Tanzania, I came across dagaa in almost every household I visited. We’d often eat tiny fish with stewed greens, home-ground peanut butter and ugali (soft maize), served in small bowls, with our fingers. Here is my British take on it…

(Serves 2) 48p a portion
150g rice, 6p
2 tbsp oil, 6p
200g sprats, 40p
1 tbsp lime juice, 3p
1 tsp fresh grated ginger, 5p
½ tsp salt, 1p
100g spinach or spring greens, 15p
1 tbsp peanut butter, 10p
1 fresh chilli, chopped, 9p

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the rice and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until cooked.

Warm the oil in a shallow frying pan on a high heat, add the sprats and squeeze over the lime juice.

Add the ginger, season, and fry until the fish begin to crisp around the edges (no more than 10 minutes).

When the fish are almost done, blanch the greens in boiling water for a minute, put them in a bowl, stir in the peanut butter and sprinkle the chilli on top.

Serve with the fish and plain rice.

Tip: I had many versions of these fish in Tanzania. Each household cooks them slightly differently, so don’t be afraid to experiment. For example, you can coat the sprats with flour, seasoned with salt and dried chilli, before frying.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

First published in The Guardian, Weds 5th March. Photograph by Graeme Robertson for The Guardian.




This is my take on Greek dolmades. I first had stuffed vine leaves at my grandad’s guesthouse in Southend, and deeply regret not pilfering his recipe before he passed away. I wrap mine in cabbage leaves, which will no doubt have him swearing at me from beyond the grave, but these go down well in my house.

(Makes 20) at 30p each
1 large savoy cabbage, 80p
100g rice, 4p
1 tbsp oil, 3p
1 onion, very finely chopped, 9p
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped, 6p
400g minced meat (pork or lamb is best but turkey is good too), £4.50
1 tbsp parsley, chopped, 8p
1 tbsp mint, chopped, 8p
Pinch of cinnamon, 1p
140g tomato puree, 34p

Remove the leaves from the stalk of the cabbage and simmer them in a saucepan of boiling water for a few minutes.

When they’ve softened, remove with a slotted spoon and leave to dry on a clean tea towel or kitchen roll.

Bring the water back to the boil, add the rice and cook for 15 minutes, or until soft and fluffy.

In a separate pan, heat the oil on medium and add the onion, garlic and mince, until the onion has softened and mince has browned. Mix in the rice, parsley, mint, cinnamon and tomato puree and cook for another minute or two.

To make the stuffed leaves, place two teaspoons of the rice and mince mixture into the centre of a leaf, fold in the sides and roll up tightly. Eat them hot with yoghurt, mint and cucumber dip, or cold with a squeeze of lemon.

Jack’s tip
For a more substantial main dish, put the stuffed leaves seam-side down into a roasting tin or casserole dish, pour over a tin of chopped tomatoes or 400ml chicken stock with a few tablespoons of tomato puree stirred in, and bake in the oven at 180C/350F/gas mark four for half an hour.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

First published in The Guardian, Weds 26th Feb. Photography by Graeme Robertson for The Guardian.



Faced with a leftover hunk of beef last night to stretch between two grown women with fairly healthy appetites, I started making bolognese, changed my mind and wanted bourgignon, and changed it back again halfway through. This is my first dinner cooked for Someone Very Special (who doesn’t like white chocolate, so Headrush Spaghetti was out, and who cooked for me the evening before, hence the leftover beef!)
Cue one mild flap about what to do and subsequent messing about with it at every stage. The result, however, is a chunky, obscenely rich, heady, bloody delicious big butch dinner that I’ve christened Bolognon, in honour of its roots. And god, it’s good. And she thought so too…😉


Ingredients (served two adults, with a big bowl of leftovers):

2 onions (told you, I’m stretching this one out)
2 fat cloves of garlic, or three or four inferior ones
1 carrot
2 tbsp oil or a knob of butter
250g beef
150g bacon – smoked and streaky is good!
100ml milk
400g chopped tomatoes
200ml red wine,
4 tbsp tomato purée dissolved in 400ml chicken, beef or vegetable stock
2 tsp chopped woody herbs – I used a mix of thyme and rosemary
Huge handful of chopped parsley
2 tbsp double cream (or 1 rounded tbsp natural yoghurt with 2 tsp sugar)

Finely slice the onions and chop the garlic, and grate the carrot, and toss into a large sauté pan or heavy bottomed casserole dish with the oil or butter. Sauté on a low heat for a few minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, finely slice the beef and chop the bacon, and add to the pan. Turn up the heat to seal the meat, stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Pour in the milk and stir well – it will turn brown from the meat juices and softened onions – don’t panic! Pour over the tomatoes, purée, wine and stock, toss in the chopped herbs, and stir well. Crank the heat right up to bring to the boil.

Transfer either to a slow cooker on a low heat, a lidded casserole dish in the oven at 140C, or cover the sauté pan with foil/a plate/a lid on a very low heat. Cook for one hour for ‘soft enough’ beef – as I’m going all out to impress, I cooked mine for four, for meltingly soft beef and thick, rich sauce. (For a cheaper version, bring it to a furious boil, cover tightly, and remove from the heat. Leave to stand for an hour, bring to the boil again, and repeat. The covering will retain heat and continue to cook it, without needing a constant supply of gas or electricity.)

Stir through the cream or yoghurt-and-sugar before serving, and serve atop a heap of spaghetti for an attempt at an elegant dining experience, or with a chunky fat pasta to complement the big tender beef and thick, rich sauce…

Cheese optional. As we’re going for full on punchy knock-your-socks-off delicious here, I tossed chunks of it on by the handful, and a good grind of pepper to finish up.

Jack. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe




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.



It’s just a matter of days until my book launch on the 27th, so I’ve decided to blog one of my favourites from the book, featured in last weekend’s edition of the Observer Food Monthly magazine…

First up, Chocolate, Chilli And Black Bean Soup.

Photography by Susan Bell.

I knocked up this soup last winter. It combines onions and garlic for detoxifying goodness with chillies to fire you up, tomatoes and carrots for essential vitamin C, beans for protein and chocolate because it’s a solution to almost everything.

(Serves 2)
100g dried black beans
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
small red chilli 1 or a pinch of chilli flakes
A shake of paprika
A generous shake of ground cumin
A splash of oil
1 carrot
30ml red wine
400g chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
dark chocolate (3 squares, approx 20g)
fresh parsley to garnish

Put your beans in to soak the night before, or early in the morning if you’re going to be cooking that evening. Place them in a bowl, cover with fresh cold water and then some, and cover the bowl with clingfilm. Leave for a minimum of 8 hours to soak.

When soaked, drain and thoroughly rinse your beans. Put them into a saucepan with fresh water and bring to the boil for approximately 10 minutes, then turn down to a simmer.

Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion and garlic, and chop the chilli (reserving a couple of slices for a garnish), then put them all into a saucepan along with the paprika and cumin. Add the oil and cook over a low heat until the onions and garlic soften.

Wash and chop the carrot, and add to the saucepan. Pour the red wine and tomatoes in, and stir through. Crumble in the stock cube, then add the dark chocolate and 400ml boiling water. Drain the beans and tip into the pan. Stir and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrot is tender.

If you like, pulse the soup in a blender until smooth. Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of fresh parsley and a slice of red chilli in each bowl.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

A Girl Called Jack is available to order from The Hive, a website that finds your local independent book store. Also available on The Hive as an e-book!




I’ve had a hankering for Curried eggs for the past couple of days, I’m not sure why… So tonight, I knocked this one together. Rich and simple, cheap and easy, this is set to become a Major favourite in my household…

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

4 free range eggs
1 onion
1 tbsp oil
1 fresh red chilli or pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin
400g chopped tomatoes
100g frozen or fresh spinach
100g natural or Greek yoghurt

First, pop a pan of water on to the boil for the eggs, and carefully drop them in. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 8 minutes to hard boil them. We’ll come back to those in a minute.

In a separate pan, add the oil and spices, and dice or slice the onion according to preference. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes to soften the onions.

Carefully remove the eggs from the pan when they are done, and set to one side. Add the rice to the ‘egg water’ – saves you boiling another pot!

Pour the chopped tomatoes over the now-spicy onions, and add the frozen spinach. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer while the rice cooks. (To save energy, you can turn the heat off and cover with foil, a lid or a large plate – the curry sauce will carry on cooking itself but will need a quick blast of heat again before serving.)

Peel and halve the eggs and add to the sauce with the yoghurt, stir in, heat through, and serve with rice. Mango chutney is a great addition to this dish too – I just don’t have any in the fridge. Booooo.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msjackmonroe




This kedgeree was another recipe idea suggested by my readers based in my food shop – and it was an absolute hit – Thankyou everyone who suggested it! The mackerel can be replaced with any smoked or strong fish, and the spices can be swapped out for garam masala or curry powder, whatever you have to hand. The onions lend a soft sweetness, the rice fills you up, and the little chunks of egg and mackerel are groan-inducingly gorgeous. Try it. I hereby proclaim this one of my favourite ever recipes.

Ingredients (served two with green beans on the side)

1 tbsp oil
1 onion
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
150g rice
1 egg – with hindsight I’d use two, but I’m rationing them this week!
150g smoked mackerel
50g frozen spinach

Finely slice the onion and add to a medium sauté or non stick saucepan with the oil. Cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat to soften.

Add the rice and water to cover, and stir. Cook for 15 minutes, until the rice is soft and swollen.

Meanwhile, boil a separate small saucepan of water, and pop the egg in. Simmer for 5 minutes to hard boil, then remove and allow to cool.

Flake the mackerel with a fork, peeling back the skin from the fillet – (my friend Klein says they’re delicious fried and eaten like crisps, but I’ve never found out for myself, as my cat sits at my feet giving me begging eyes whenever there’s a scrap of fish to be had!) – and add to the pan with the spinach. Slice the egg in half with a sharp knife and scoop out in chunks, and scatter over the finished dish.

Serve with fresh parsley or coriander to garnish, if you have it. I didn’t – so used the spinach. A green leaf is a green leaf as far as I’m concerned!

As usual, all prices based on Sainsburys and Sainsburys Basics and correct at time of blogging. This recipe based on my food shop as detailed on Monday, here… (

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




Tonight’s dinner came courtesy of some chicken liver at the back of the freezer, and some veg left over from a photoshoot yesterday. Idly flicking through my cookbook collection to find a new chicken liver idea, I came across a bolognese in Save With Jamie. Mine’s not identical – I’ve left out the bacon and mushrooms and chicken stock for a start, and replaced the balsamic vinegar with white wine vinegar, and added frozen spinach for some greens and to lift the flavour… And far more tomatoes than his recipe, because I like a good tomatoey ragu sauce. The result? I ate a good portion of this from the pan, and proclaimed it the best bolognese I’d ever eaten. Between me and Jamie, this is a job jobbed. Cheers.

Chicken liver and lentil bolognese, serves 4.


1 carrot
1 onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1tbsp oil
200g chicken livers
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 red chilli
400g chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp vinegar – red wine or white wine
100g red lentils
100g frozen spinach
300g spaghetti

First slice the onion, carrot, chilli and garlic and add to a large sauté or frying pan with a tablespoon of oil, the vinegar, herbs and fennel. Rinse the livers and toss them in too. Fry everything together on a medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes until the veg starts to soften and the livers are sealed.

Carefully pop the veg and livers into a blender with the chopped tomatoes, and blend until fairly smooth.

Pour the contents of the blender back in the pan on a medium heat, and add 200ml water, and stir well.

Thoroughly rinse the lentils and add to the pan, add the spinach, and stir in. Add a further 200ml of water if the sauce starts to dry out. Stir occasionally to help the spinach defrost and wilt.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the spaghetti to cook, simmering for around 8 minutes or according to the packet instructions.

It should all come together around the same time; the lentils should be soft and swollen, the spinach wilted throughout the sauce, and the pasta nice and soft but not bloated and claggy. Drain the pasta, toss the sauce through, and top with a generous handful of cheese to serve.

I served two portions of this, and froze four more – your portion sizes might vary but it is very rich and filling!


Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msjackmonroe



So, I have a MASS of parsnips left over from cooking for The One Show last week (or the week before), and they’re starting to go a bit wrinkly in the way that vegetables do when you buy them in bulk for cheapness and end up despairing at what on earth to do with all of them… So, I picked up my copy of Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook, one of my bibles for inspiration for miscellaneous fridge remnants. Under ‘P’ for those pesky Parsnips was a smoked haddock and parsnip fish cake… Quick root around the fridge yielded half a packet of kippers (dated the 20th of December, quick sniff, seem fine)… But sorry Sarah – I didn’t really want fish cakes. I wanted to shove everything in a pot and not have to think too hard about it. So, risotto. This risotto. This heavenly, lightly spiced, smoky sweet risotto, inspired by a fish cake. Bliss.

Serves 2:

1 onion
1 tbsp oil
150g long grain rice
1 vegetable stock cube
2 large parsnips,
100g kipper fillets (or more if you have them),
100g green beans
1tsp of cumin
1/2tsp turmeric (not absolutely essential)
1tbsp of lemon juice
Parsley or coriander to serve

I wanted my parsnips almost roasted, so cut them into fine chips and threw them in the pan with the oil on a high heat to cook for 10 minutes.

When the edges of the parsnips are golden, reduce the heat to medium. Dice the onion and add to the pan and stir to soften for 5 minutes.

Add the rice and toast for half a minute, then pour over most of the stock. I’m feeling lazy, i’m not going with the pour-a-bit-stir-a-bit method tonight. All in. Slosh. Stir.

Add the kipper fillets, turmeric and cumin and stir in. Stir occasionally to disturb the rice and stop it from sticking.

When the rice is al dente and the liquid thick and soupy, add the green beans. Stir through to cook, and flake the kipper fillet with your wooden spoon.

Serve with a shake of lemon and a handful of parsley or coriander.


Jack. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Have yourself a cheaper little Christmas: My £2.25 Christmas dinner on the One Show!

I haven’t had a minute to blog every single one of the recipes, but I knew people would be curious about the individual costings for the Christmas dinner that I cooked for The One Show (Friday 19th December) so I’ve given them below.


I cooked a roast chicken in place of the turkey, as it fits in the oven and I won’t be eating it for a week afterwards! Mine was a free range one, and I used half of it to serve the four taste testers, so I’ve said it serves 8. It was a pretty big chicken!

Portions are based on what I cooked on the day – and all diners went home ‘stuffed’ in their own words! I cooked for 4 that you’ll see on camera, and plated up dinner for me and the boy to have when all the fuss died down and everyone went home…

As usual, all prices based on Sainsburys and Sainsburys Basics, all meat is free range, and all correct at time of going to blog/film/telly/etc…

The Christmas dinner main course was chicken roasted in mandarin juice and cranberry, with roast potatoes, sweet glazed parsnips, roasted carrots, sprouts with bacon, BIG pigs in blankets, and home made gravy…

I’ve blogged the recipes for the starters and desserts that I cooked – and I’ll do this one in full when I’ve dispensed with my banging migraine (day four) as it’s a bit…multitasking… But for now, here’s the cost breakdown for the curious…

Basted bird, £9.71 or £1.21 per head if serving 8:
Large free range chicken £9.63
1 tbsp cranberry sauce, 4p
Mandarin juice from tin, free ( using mandarins in dessert – costed there)

Veg, £1.23 or 20p each if serving 6:
1kg potatoes, 48p.
500g Carrots, 30p.
350g parsnips, 45p.


Sprouts with bacon, 66p or 11p per head if serving 6:
400g frozen Sprouts, 40p
2 rashers of free range streaky bacon, 36p


Pigs in blankets (makes 6): 66p each
6 rashers of free range streaky bacon, £1.07
6 free range sausages, £2.89


Gravy: 14p, 2p per head
1 chicken stock cube, 2p
1 tbsp flour, 3p
Shake of mixed dried herbs, 3p
Drained juices from the roasted chicken, including mandarin and cranberry, free

Oil for chicken and veg: 150ml (10tbsp), 20p

Ingredients by total weight and price:
Potatoes £1.19/2.5kg. Carrots 89p/1.5kg. Parsnips 90p/700g. Frozen brussels sprouts £1/kg. Colmans cranberry sauce £1/265g. Free range streaky bacon £2.50/14 slices. Free range sausages £2.89/6. 10 chicken stock cubes, 20p. 1.5kg flour 65p. Sunflower oil £4/3l, or 2p per 15ml.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msJackMonroe




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