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:


Double Chocolate Guinness Birthday Brownies, 15p


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

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

Makes 24 small fat rich brownies, at 15p each

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:

Chilli hot chocolate, 16p, and a broken foot, priceless.


This morning I woke up, walked out of the bedroom, skidded down the stairs, and crashed my foot into the wall with the full force of my rapidly-descending body slamming behind it. I spent the rest of the morning in Charing Cross A&E, where despite looking extremely light on staff, I was seen relatively quickly, by a doctor who used to be a psychiatrist and before that lived in the Phillipines (we had a great food chat!) I had my wonky-looking foot X-Rayed by a very kind radiographer, the doctor set it and strapped it up, and I cleared a good deal of my work diary for the immediate future. Walking with a stick on bruises and fractures and sprains is not really conducive to prancing about in a kitchen testing recipes, well, not as early as Monday, anyway.

BUT, I made a New Years resolution to cook or make something new every day – so apologies that today’s may be fairly low level, but I can’t stand unaided right now and I’ve sprained my right shoulder, so chopping and slicing and dicing is temporarily beyond me…

However, it’s something I’ve been meaning to get to grips with for a while, so simple it may be, but it’s also delicious, and comforting. Ladies, gentlemen and non-binary readers, I bring to you an oh so simple chilli hot chocolate…

Serves two (you’ll probably want both!)

500ml milk (can be made with 4 rounded tbsp skimmed milk powder and 500ml water, 14p* – for a vegan version this is absolutely delicious with almond milk!)
50g dark chocolate (or more if you like), 17p*
1/8 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes, 1p
1 teaspoon sugar, optional.

Grab a bowl and a small saucepan – the right sizes so the bowl can rest on top of the pan without falling in or touching the bottom. Now put a few inches of water in the pan, but the water mustn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Sounds more complicated than it is, I promise. The cooking term for this (for the uninitiated) is a ‘Bain Marie’, and a lot of cookbooks dictate that water touching the bowl will burn the chocolate and make it taste bitter. I love a bit of theory, me. Are you all set? Then we’ll begin.

Heat your water on a medium heat and break the chocolate into squares. Pop it in the bowl, with the chilli, and stir gently to melt it.

When the chocolate is melted and glossy and delicious looking, add a splash of milk to thin it out, stirring well. Add a splash more, stir, splash, stir, until all your milk is incorporated. Sounds like a faff, but I found out the hard way that just slinging it all in a pan and cranking it up impatiently leads to a mug of warm milk with chocolatey lumps floating in it, which just isn’t nice. Unless you like that sort of thing.

Anyway, when it’s a nice thin liquid consistency, remove the bowl and pan from the heat. Tip out any remaining water from the pan, place a sieve or tea strainer over it, and pour the hot chocolate through it to catch the chilli. Pop it back on the heat, crank it up to medium to heat through, and then ladle into mugs and enjoy.

Simple. Comforting. Warming. Bliss.

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @MsJackMonroe

*Prices based on Sainsburys Basics where available and Sainsburys own brand. Skimmed milk powder £1.15/400g. Dark chocolate 35p/100g. Dried crushed chilli flakes £1/32g. Subject to change, as these things do, and similar items available at other supermarkets for similar prices.


Leftover-Porridge Pancakes


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

You will need:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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

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

Makes around 10 fritters.

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

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

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

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

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

First published in The Guardian, October 2014.

Photography by Susan Bell

White Chocolate Tea Bread

This came about because I LOVE chocolate chip brioche – so I decided to try to make some chocolate chip bread as a replacement. Unfortunately, though, the chocolate chips all melted into the dough as I added my usual boiling water and I ended up with this Chocolate Tea Bread instead – but it was still delicious! I eat mine in chunks, warm with spread and a cuppa. I’ll make true chocolate chip brioche another day, but this is no apology – I’ve stumbled on something heavenly. Bliss!

Makes 1 small loaf

275g self-raising flour (or 275g plain flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder or bicarbonate of soda), plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
50g sugar
200g white chocolate
25g butter, plus extra to grease the loaf tin
150ml boiling water with a tea bag steeped in it and allowed to cool (Trust me on this one!)

Measure the flour, yeast and sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Break the chocolate into chunks. It’s up to you how you do this; I put mine into a freezer bag and bash it with the flat end of a rolling pin, or you could use a wood mallet in a similar set- up, or chop the chocolate on a work surface with a big sharp knife if you’re cheffy and adept at that sort of thing. Tip the chocolate chunks into the bowl with the flour, yeast and sugar.

Add the butter to the bowl and pour in the black tea, then stir together with a wooden spoon until well combined and the mixture has turned into a pliable, soft, sticky dough.

Tip out the dough on to a generously floured work surface and knead for a good 10 minutes. I always notice when I’ve got oil or butter in a bread dough because it has a beautiful silken texture and eminent pliability. If you’ve made bread before, you’ll notice the difference.

When kneaded, pat the dough into a rugby ball shape, cover and leave on the side for 20 minutes to rise.

Once the dough has risen, transfer it into a lightly greased 1lb loaf tin (approximately 17 x 7 x 6cm) to prove. Cover with oiled cling film or a tea towel and leave in a warm place for a further half an hour. A little before the end of the proving time, put on the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 to preheat.

When the dough has risen again, put the tin into the preheated oven for 40 minutes to bake, and wait for the smell of chocolate and bread to permeate your house. If the top of the loaf starts to brown before it’s done, remove from the oven, cover the tin with tin foil and pop it back in for the remainder of the baking time.

Remove the tin from the oven, allow the loaf to cool on a wire rack and turn out ready to slice and eat.

Tip: To make a proper buttery- type chocolate brioche bread, fold in the chocolate chunks when kneading the dough instead of earlier on.

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

‘White Chocolate Tea Bread’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Sunshine Bread (Carrot, Pineapple & Sultana Loaf)

The quantity given for the tin of pineapple chunks is approximate. Some tins are 200g, some are 227g, so don’t worry about weighing and measuring – just throw about half the tin in! you can put the remaining pineapple chunks from the tin into an airtight container with just enough juice to cover and pop into the fridge to snack on or use in another recipe. For a portable breakfast for me and Small Boy, or as a snack to keep in my drawer to chipmunk away on in the busyness of my day, I like to make individual buns – see the tip below.

Makes 1 small loaf:

350g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
1 carrot
30g sultanas
1⁄2 x 200g tin of pineapple chunks and the juice from the whole tin
oil or butter, to grease the loaf tin

Weigh the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast.

Finely grate in the carrot and add the sultanas. Mix everything together then make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.

Strain the pineapple pieces over a measuring cup or bowl, reserving the juice to use in a minute. Tip the pineapple chunks into the centre of the dry mixture. Add boiling water to the pineapple juice to make it up to 160ml. Pour into the well in the centre of the ingredients on top of the pineapple chunks, and combine everything together to make a soft, sticky dough.

Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly. As you knead it, the pineapple pieces may break down and make the dough wetter. If this happens, sprinkle some extra flour over the dough and knead it in. Leave to rise on the work surface for approximately 15 minutes.

Transfer the risen dough into a greased 1 lb loaf tin (approximately 17 x 7 x 6cm), cover with cling film and leave to prove (the second rising process) for half an hour. A little before the end of the proving time, put on the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 to preheat.

Pop the loaf tin into the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until the bread is risen and crusty on top. It should feel light when you lift it from the oven and sound hollow when you tap the bottom. This is quite a moist bread, so can be left to cook a little longer if you prefer.

Allow to cool slightly, then tip out from the loaf tin. Slice, butter and eat.

Tips: Sunshine bread is best eaten freshly cooked and warm, but if there is any left over for the next day simply lightly toast it to enjoy.

This recipe can also be made into Sunshine Buns, by shaping the dough into approximately 8 individual rounds or cutting into scone shapes with a large cookie cutter and putting into greased muffin tins. Reduce the baking time to around 18 minutes.

‘Sunshine Bread’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Photography by Susan Bell.

Penny Pizzas

I make penny pizzas as way of using up leftovers such as Mamma Jack’s Best Ever Chilli or Lentil Bolognese – but they are just as good topped with a dollop of tomato purée and some grated cheese. Or they are a good way to use up sliced mushy tomatoes that have passed their best and the dry ends of cheese. I have collected novelty cookie cutters over the years, so Small Boy often asks for ‘duckie pizza’ or ‘lorry pizza’ – resulting in a frantic delve through my kitchen to find the right one.

Makes 14 mini-pizzas (using an 8cm cookie cutter)

250g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
optional: a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon oil, plus extra to oil the baking tray
200ml warm water
3 tablespoons tomato purée
optional: a sprinkle of dried mixed herbs

Topping ideas: mozzarella cheese, any grated cheese, chopped onion, ham and pineapple, ham and sweetcorn, leftover Bolognese sauce or leftover chilli . . . The possibilities are endless!

Measure the flour and yeast into a large mixing bowl and add the salt, if using. Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the oil and most of the water, and stir together with a spoon to make a soft, sticky dough. Add more water if required.

Tip the dough on to a floured work surface, lightly knead for a few minutes and shape into a round. Pop it back into the mixing bowl, cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave for an hour to rise, or until doubled in size.

When the dough has risen, tip out on to the floured work surface and roll out with a rolling pin. I make mine less than 0.5cm thick but it’s up to you. Bear in mind when rolling out the dough that the bases will double in thickness when cooked.

Cut out dough circles or shapes using your choice of cutter, transferring these mini pizza bases on to a lightly oiled baking tray as you go. (You may need to do them in batches!)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Top each dough pizza base with a thin spread of tomato purée, the dried herbs, if using, and your topping of choice. Pop the baking tray into the oven for 10 minutes, until the mini pizzas are slightly crisp around the edges. Larger pizzas may need longer cooking time.

Tips: The penny pizzas will keep in the fridge, covered, for 2 to 3 days, making them ideal for little lunches. Allow to cool completely and freeze any leftovers. They will keep for 3 months in the freezer, and can be reheated in a low oven.

To make a large pizza traybake, roll out the dough into a rectangle the size of your baking tray instead of cutting into individual mini pizzas.

For quicker pizzas, halve a pitta bread, spread with tomato purée and top with a topping of your choice. Cook for 10 minutes at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 for a speedy snack.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

‘Penny Pizzas’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Photography by Susan Bell

Courgette, Sultana & Lemon Bread

Courgettes give off quite a bit of liquid when you grate them but don’t worry about draining it off in this recipe because the courgettey water will help to flavour the bread and add moisture. when you will be adding water to a recipe later anyway, it doesn’t make sense to fanny about taking liquid out only to put it back in again, and I like simple solutions. I often start preparing my bread last thing at night so I can take the frustrations of the day out on it as I knead, which gives the additional bonus of being able to leave the dough overnight to rise for extra light and fluffy bread. This bread is delicious sliced and toasted with butter (or whatever spread you have) and marmalade, or simply eaten warm by the handful.

Makes 1 small loaf

1 small courgette
300g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
50g sultanas
zest and juice of 1⁄2 a lemon or 1 tablespoon bottle lemon juice

Grate the courgette finely into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and yeast to the courgette, and then tip in the sultanas. Combine everything with a wooden spoon, making sure the courgette doesn’t all just clump together.

Pour the lemon juice into a measuring cup, grate in the zest and add recently boiled water to make it up to 150ml of liquid (less than usual for this amount of flour because of the wetness of the courgette). Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture and pour in most of the lemon-water. Mix to form a sticky dough, adding the rest of the liquid if required.

Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Leave the dough to rise for half an hour, with a tea towel over the top to keep the heat from the water in.

When the dough has risen, knock the air out of it, and pop into a lightly oiled or silicone 1lb loaf tin (approximately 17 x 7 x 6cm). Cover with cling film and leave to rise again (this is called proving) for at least another half an hour or. A little before the end of the proving time, put on the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 to preheat.

Score the top of the dough lightly. Put the tin in the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes; the loaf should be golden and crisp on top, feel lightweight and sound hollow on the bottom when tapped. Take out of the oven, remove the loaf from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack, then slice and devour.

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

‘Courgette, Sultana & Lemon Bread’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe, available to buy now.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

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


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:






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.




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 speedy little breakfast was utterly delectable this morning – eliciting appreciative ‘mmm’ noises to myself and raising a eyebrow at the cat, who was very interested in my sardines. Sorry moggy, but these were mine all mine. Try at your peril – I fear breakfast will never be the same again.

Ingredients (serves 1, adjust as required).

1 pitta bread
1 egg
1 or 2 sardines

Pour a little oil from the sardine tin into a frying pan on a medium heat to fry the egg. Slice the sardine lengthways and carefully lift out any visible bones before breaking into chunks and adding to the frying pan, skin side down.

Pop the pitta bread in the toaster, oven or under the grill for a few minutes. When it’s lightly toasted, serve with the crispy little chunks of fish and runny egg liked on top.

If you have any greenery kicking about, spinach, parsley, that sort of thing, serve it on the side as an optional extra. A grilled tomato or some lightly fried onion wouldn’t go amiss either, but I had it as described and it was delicious. Light and quick enough for breakfast, but potentially addictive – I found myself musing that I could happily start every weekend with a toasted pitta, crispy fried fish and a warm gooey egg…

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



While in Tanzania, I visited last years winner of Oxfam’s Female Food Heroes competition: an Africa-wide search to celebrate female farmers and food producers who were making a difference to their lives and communities. (I’ll write more about Sister Martha separately).

While we were at her house, I are very little, having spent the night before being horrendously ill. She shook her head at the state of me, and spooned out a small bowl of clear broth, and two chicken legs, and handed it to me. “Soupo,” she said.

“Soupo” turned out to be exactly what I needed, full- flavoured and slightly salty with meltingly-soft chicken falling from the bones. I devoured it, and seconds, and asked her what was in it. Sister Martha laughed. “Kuku.” “What else?” “No. Just Kuku.”

Just chicken, slowly stewed in its own juices – I jotted down a reminder to myself to make some when I got home. And tonight, still very unwell and with the typical empty fridge of the returned traveller, I dug out a packet of chicken from the freezer, defrosted it, and made myself “just Kuku.”


Ingredients: Serves two.

4 pieces of chicken on the bone
300ml water
A pinch of salt

Place the chicken in a saucepan or frying pan on a medium heat. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook for 5 minutes on each side to seal.

Pour over the water and turn up the heat to bring to the boil. Boil for a few minutes, then transfer the chicken and liquid to the slow cooker on a high heat, and cover. If you don’t have a slow cooker, simply turn the heat down to low and cover the pan, but be aware that it has a long cooking time.

Simmer gently for 3 hours, or longer , until the broth is golden and the chicken very tender.

For a clearer broth, strain the liquid before serving and add the chicken back into the bowls.

Serve on its own, or with bread, or with a shake of lemon and black pepper.

You can adapt this soup to taste; I recommend frying two sliced garlic cloves and a finely chopped onion with the chicken in the first stage for a heady, sweet soup with extra antioxidants – maybe garnish with a little coriander or parsley if you have any to hand. Use it as a simple, foolproof base and adapt it to suit your tastes.

On a night like tonight, “just Kuku” is exactly what I need.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


I just received the following email and I haven’t managed to test this as I’m in Tanzania right now, but the combination of corned beef and red wine and tomatoes makes it a winner in my book! Thanks Tom!🙂

“Hi Jack

My wife is a big fan of yours and told me to drop you a line and see if you want to add this simple recipe to your site

Very simple

Corned beef
Tin of tomato
Garlic granules
Splash of left over red wine or Worcester sauce if you have it
Spaghetti Pasta

Simple spaghetti bolognaise that costs little and tastes great!

Hope you like🙂

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


Brandy butter ice cream with white chocolate chunks.

This is a delicious use for any leftover brandy butter (or swipe it from the reduced fridge!) and a perfect accompaniment to a warm mince pie crumble🙂 I have given a method for those with and without an ice cream maker. I have an accidental one, but not for much longer!

Ingredients, serves 6:

300ml double cream
200ml milk
100g white chocolate
50g sugar
50g brandy butter

First pop the brandy butter into a heatproof dish in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt. Remove and allow it to cool.

Chop the white chocolate into small pieces, either with a sharp knife, or pop it in a freezer bag, tie it up, and bash it with a rolling pin or mallet.

Then pour the cream into a large mixing bowl, and add the milk, sugar and chocolate. Stir through.

Add a little of the brandy butter and stir in quickly to stop the cream from splitting. Add it little by little until combined.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 30 minutes clockwise, then 30 minutes anti clockwise. Repeat if necessary – it should be thick enough to not fall off a spoon but still soft enough to spoon into a tub.

Line a loaf tin or other container with two layers of clingfilm, folding it over the edges. Pour the ice cream in, smooth the top with a spoon, and freeze for at least 4 hours.

IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN ICE CREAM MAKER (and I only do because Currys sent me one to test – a bit of a one-off for me but that’s maybe one Christmas present off the list!!) – then simply whisk the ingredients into soft peaks and freeze for an hour. Remove from the freezer, stir well, and replace to freeze.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe.

Featured on The One Show, BBC One, Friday 19th December 2013.



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

‘Mince pie’ crumble, serves 6:


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

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

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

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

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


Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


In an effort to make an almost-traditional Christmas dinner for an episode of The One Show, here’s a seafood starter. Have more, if you want bigger portions – but save some room for dinner and dessert!

Ingredients: serves 8 as a starter

220g Mackerel
100g cream cheese
100g butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp black pepper

200g fresh spinach
1 small loaf fresh baked bread – I used the ‘giraffe’ bread for a change, and it was delicious!

First remove the skin from the mackerel, it should peel off easily with your fingers, and discard. Put the fish into a large mixing bowl, and break up into flakes with a fork or wooden spoon and some elbow grease. Pick out any bones you can see – but small pin-bones are usually fine.

Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds in a heatproof dish, and pour on top of the flaked mackerel. Add cream cheese, pepper and lemon juice and beat well to combine. I added a handful of chopped parsley from my window ledge for colour, it’s not essential.

Press into a lightly greased tin (I find an old butter tub a good size for making pâté!) and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

To serve, cut up the bread (some like it toasted but I like mine soft and fresh) and pop in a bowl in the centre for people to help themselves. Pop a handful of spinach on a plate, turn out the pate, slice, and place on top. Garnish with extra lemon and pepper if you want to make it look pretty!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msjackmonroe



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Allow to cool before eating!

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

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msjackmonroe




I had some finely sliced apple left over from my pancakes this morning, so decided to make some apple crisps for Small Boy to have later in the day as a snack. I only have a mini fridge at the moment, so fridge space is at a premium – thought these were something I could pop in a bag and cart about to our toddler group! Also good for lunch boxes too. I have a ‘crisper tray’ that I have accumulated on my travels, but an ordinary baking sheet would be fine.


1 apple, finely sliced up with a vegetable peeler

Place the apple pieces on your crisper tray or baking sheet – if using a baking sheet, very very lightly grease it with a bit of butter or a scant teaspoon of oil to stop the apple from sticking.

Pop into the oven at 180C for 20 minutes to bake and dry out the apple pieces, turning them over halfway through. You’ll know they’re done when the edges start to curl up – thicker pieces will take longer to dry out.

When you’ve turned the oven off, turn them over again and leave them in for another 20 minutes to make the most of the heat still kicking about in the oven! Remove, allow to cool, and pop into an airtight container or a sandwich bag for a portable snack.

These are easy to make when you’re using the oven for something else – just put the tray on an empty shelf or at the bottom of the oven. They will keep in an airtight container for up to three days, and make a handy portable snack.

Apple slices can also be dried by soaking in a little lemon juice, and hanging up to dry. I’ve seen tutorials on the Internet where people suspend them from cotton sewn through with a needle to dry naturally in the air, but I haven’t tried it myself.

You can also dry them in a non stick frying pan on a low to medium heat – but they will need to be turned over regularly and will take on a caramelly taste – I only thought of it afterwards!

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

A Girl Called Jack is available to order at Waterstones:




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


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

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

Add the flour to a mixing bowl.

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

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

Repeat until all of the batter is used up.

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

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


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

A Girl Called Jack is available to order at Waterstones: