Check out this amazing recipe for a Christmas dessert of lemon tart with fresh vanilla mascarpone - for just £1.21 per person!

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been hard at work writing frugal recipes for a three course Xmas dinner, plus a frugal recipe on what to do with your leftovers (turn them into a delicious massaman curry - to be published on Boxing Day).

So, to re-cap, here's the recipe for the starter: Smoked mackerel pate on crostini and red onion confit. Cost: £1.14 per person

Here's the main: Roasted pheasant with garlic and bacon, caramelised sprouts, rosemary roasts, bread sauce and peach, sausage and thyme stuffing. Cost: £4.52 per person

Alternatively, here's a vegetarian main: Portobello mushroom, port and stilton wellington. Cost: £1.79 per person.

Now, onto the dessert!

The dessert: Lemon tart with fresh vanilla mascarpone (serves 6)

I'll be honest. I detest Christmas pudding. It's stodgy and the last thing you need after a heavy meal and lots of wine! Does anybody really enjoy it? My alternative is a lighter affair. The citrus really cuts through the richness of the previous two courses and the mascarpone gives a decadent feel to the dish. And this can be made up to two days before Christmas day as well - it will keep fine in the fridge.

Ingredients - The dessert

  • 4 lemons (92p)
  • 250ml of double cream (73p)
  • 250g of Italian mascarpone (£1.18)
  • 6 Tesco medium free range eggs (£1.42) - we're using 5 eggs
  • 1 fresh vanilla pod (£1.44)
  • 1 pack (500g) of caster sugar (68p) - we're using 200 grams
  • 1 block (500g) of sweet shortcrust pastry (89p) - we're using 250 grams

The cupboard staples...

  • Icing sugar and a dash of milk.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £7.26 - that's £1.21 per head!

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 200C. The filling for the tart is really easy. In a large bowl crack the eggs and whisk, then add the sugar (mixing in well) followed by the cream and the juice of 4 lemons. Sieve to make sure no pips in the mixture and then add the zest of 4 lemons (i.e. the grated lemon rinds).
  • Now for the pastry. Roll out on a floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin. Now roll the pasty over a tart case, making sure you get some overhang on the edges - line with baking paper and bake blind (you can use dried beans or rice if you don't have the posh ceramic baking beans). Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes (until the pastry has browned a little).
  • Remove the pastry case (and beans\baking paper) from the oven and turn down to 160C - pour the lemon mixture into the tart and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, the filling will feel just set and very slightly wobbly in the centre. The pastry should be browned lightly on the edges as well.
  • Leave to cool on a rack for at least 2 hours before serving (or placing in the fridge to keep). Dust with icing sugar before serving.
  • The vanilla mascarpone cream is very easy. Take the vanilla pod split and scrape out the seeds and add to the mascarpone. Add two tablespoons of caster sugar and a little milk to loosen the mascarpone. You can keep the vanilla pod and blitz with some sugar to make a vanilla sugar as well!
  • Happy eating!

An original recipe for a vegetarian Xmas main course for just £1.79 per person!

The main: The Portobello mushroom, port and stilton wellington (serves 5 - so plenty leftover for Boxing Day! - and costs £1.79 per person)

Last week I published my frugal recipe for an Xmas starter: Smoked mackerel pate on crostini and red onion confit. Next week, I'll take you through my recipe for a frugal dessert: a lemon tart with fresh vanilla mascarpone. Ingredients for these dishes can be found below, if you want to buy them up now.

But today, I'm like to take you through my recipe for a frugal main course for vegetarians. (I've also provided a meat alternative: a recipe for a roasted pheasant with garlic and bacon, caramelised sprouts, rosemary roasts, bread sauce and peach, sausage and thyme stuffing.)

Ingredients

  • 500g of Jus Rol puff pastry (89p)
  • 700g of Portobello mushrooms (£3.38)
  • 2 large red onions (42p)
  • 25g of fresh thyme (68p)
  • 100g Tesco pine nuts (£1.89)
  • 220g of Tesco blue stilton (£1.72)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 egg and a splash of port.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £8.98 - that's £1.79 per head!

Instructions

  • Let's make the filling first as we need to cool it right down before we place in the pastry - otherwise the puff pastry will meltdown and it will be too hard to handle.
  • Roughly chop the red onions, mushrooms, thyme and garlic cloves.
  • Now get a large pan on the heat and add a really good glug of olive oil. Fry off the onions first until soft, then add the mushrooms, pine nuts and garlic and fry until they have a nice colour on them. Now turn the heat right up on the pan and add a good splash of port and reduce down until the alcohol has burnt off (you don't want the mixture to have too much excess liquid so make sure you reduce sufficiently). Add the fresh thyme and salt and pepper. Let the mixture cool right down in the fridge.
  • Now preheat the oven to 220C before you rollout the pastry.
  • Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out into two even rectangles on a floured surface. I would make the pastry between ½ a cm and ¾ of a cm in thickness.
  • Remove the cooled filling from the fridge and place it in the middle of one of the pastry rectangles along with a few slices of stilton on top of the mixture (use all the 220grams - it's Christmas!). Then brush the edges with a little beaten egg and place the other rectangle on top. Bring the sides in a little using your hands so you get a nice tight wellington. Cut off any excess pastry using a knife so it seals the wellington tightly.
  • Place the wellington in the fridge to cool for 15 minutes before cooking. After 15 minutes take the wellington from the fridge, place on a baking tray (lined with greased baking paper) and egg wash. Cook for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden.
  • Happy Christmas eating!

Roasted pheasant (with garlic and bacon), caramelised sprouts, rosemary roasts, bread sauce and peach, sausage and thyme stuffing

Last week I published my frugal recipe for an Xmas starter: Smoked mackerel pate on crostini and red onion confit. Next week, I'll take you through my recipe for a frugal dessert: a lemon tart with fresh vanilla mascarpone, and, on Boxing Day, I'll reveal exactly what to do with your leftovers - turn them into a delicious pheasant massaman curry! Ingredients for these dishes can be found below, if you want to buy them up now.

But today, I'd like to take you through my recipe for a frugal main course for meat-eaters. (I've also provided a vegetarian alternative to the meat with a rich Portobello mushroom, port and stilton wellington.)

Pheasant is a great main course, as there as so much you can do the day before, and you can therefore spend a bit more of Christmas Day relaxing. Plus, pheasants take next to no time to roast, as we'll be taking the legs and wings off for use in the Boxing Day curry first.

Ingredients - The pheasant main

  • 2 x 250g packs of unsmoked streaky bacon (£3.28)
  • 2 x 398g of Porkinson sausages (£3.60)
  • 3 x whole Gressingham pheasants (£15)
  • 1 can of Tesco value peaches (27p)
  • 1 pint of whole milk (45p)
  • 500g of Brussel sprouts (£1)
  • 1.5kg of Bartlett organic potatoes (£1)
  • 25g of fresh rosemary (79p)
  • 25g of fresh lemon thyme (79p)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (25p)
  • 1 large onion (16p)
  • 1 loaf of Tesco crusty white bread (65p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, cloves, sugar, bay leaf, butter and a splash of white wine.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £27.13 - that's £4.52 per head!

Instructions

  • The day before we can prepare the pheasants, parboil the potatoes, make the stuffing and bread sauce. Let's start by prepping the pheasants.
  • We're after the crown of each bird with the bone in to roast, so this means removing the legs and wings from each bird. Once you have deboned place in the fridge overnight.
  • Now for the bread sauce. Place the milk in a saucepan and add a bay leaf, a pinch of salt and an onion sliced in half studded with cloves (5 cloves in each half the onion will be fine) and bring up to a simmer. Whilst the milk is infusing prepare 150g of white breadcrumbs - once the milk is up to the simmer turn off the heat and leave for 1 hour. After 1 hour take the onion and bay leaf from the milk, get back on a low heat and add the breadcrumbs, a twist of black pepper and tablespoon of butter. Stir in over a slow heat until thickened - this will take 5 minutes. Cool and place in the fridge.
  • Whilst the milk is infusing for the bread sauce, we can make the stuffing and prep the potatoes. The potatoes are very straightforward; just boil for 6 minutes in salted water, drain, shake around a bit to get some rough edges, cool and place in the fridge. I would make lots of potatoes as we're using Boxing Day as well in the curry so we need some leftovers.
  • The stuffing is next up. Take a cake or loaf tin and line with baking paper (no need to grease the paper) and set the oven to 190C - now finely chop a red onion and 2 cloves of garlic and fry off for 5 minutes until softened (make sure the garlic doesn't burn). Once softened, cool the onions and garlic down and add to a bowl along with the sausage meat (skin the sausages first), finely chopped thyme and chopped peaches. Season with a little black pepper and get your hands in to give it a good mix - now place the mixture in the loaf tin and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Once cooked just remove from the oven, cool down and place in the fridge. That's the bulk of the work done really!
  • First up, when you're ready to start cooking on Christmas day is to get the oven on at 200C and remove the pheasant crowns from the fridge. Let's start with the roast potatoes - just throw them in a roasting tin with some roughly chopped rosemary, a healthy pinch of salt and pepper and some big glugs of olive oil. These will take around 45-50 minutes to cook (if you want nice and crisp).
  • When the pheasants are up to room temperature, season and cover in a little olive oil. Get a large dish\pan on the heat (preferably a dish\pan that can also go in the oven) and seal the pheasant crowns on the breast for 3 minutes each. Once browned place 8 slices of streaky bacon over the breasts and roast for 30 minutes at 200C, adding a good splash of white wine to the dish and the garlic cloves with the skins on (around 12 will do). Baste the pheasants after 15 minutes in the oven. Once cooked remove the pheasants, loosely cover with foil and place somewhere warm (but not to warm so they carry on cooking). Keep the pan you cooked the pheasants in as we'll use for the gravy. Once the pheasants are out the oven put the stuffing in the oven to heat up.
  • Brussel sprout time! Cook the sprouts until al dente, drain and cut in half. Get a pan on the heat and add a dessert spoon of butter and a little olive oil to stop the butter burning - add the brussel sprouts, season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar and fry until slightly browned.
  • All that's left now is to heat up the bread sauce and make the gravy. The bread sauce probably thickened a bit overnight in the fridge so add a little milk before you heat up to loosen the sauce.
  • For the gravy put the pan we used to cooked the pheasants on the heat and deglaze the pan with some white wine - make sure you get all the goodness off the pan and squash down all the garlic cloves. Then add 2 pints of chicken stock and reduce down for 15 minutes. To thicken the sauce, mix together equal amounts of butter and flour (2 dessert spoons of each) into a paste and add to the pan stirring all the time. Reduce the gravy for a further 5 minutes and strain the gravy when it's at the thickness you're after. Season the gravy to taste.
  • Now to serve - remove the bacon from the breasts and carve one pheasant breast per person from the crown (save the carcasses for use on Boxing Day). For a little wow factor with the guests - I would slice the stuffing like a loaf of bread and place in the middle of each plate. Now, place a pheasant breast on top of the stuffing along with 4 slices of bacon and drizzle over some gravy.
  • Serve the other dishes on the side for everyone to help themselves (maybe with some greens or carrots as well).
  • Happy Christmas eating!

The rest of the Xmas recipes

Next Friday, I'll take you through a frugal recipe for lemon tart (with fresh vanilla mascarpone) and then on Boxing Day, I'll publish a recipe for pheasant massaman curry to use up all those leftovers.

To help you get prepared, I've put together the ingredients you'll need for the rest of our Xmas menu!

Ingredients - The dessert
  • 4 lemons (92p)
  • 250ml of double cream (73p)
  • 250g of Italian mascarpone (£1.18)
  • 6 Tesco medium free range eggs (£1.42)
  • 1 fresh vanilla pod (£1.44)
  • 1 pack (500g) of caster sugar (68p)
  • 1 block (500g) of sweet shortcrust pastry (89p)

The cupboard staples...

Icing sugar and a dash of milk.

Ingredients - The Massaman curry

  • 1 large white onion (16p)
  • 1 lime (20p)
  • 2 cans (400ml each) of coconut milk (98p)
  • 1 105g Bart Massaman paste (£1.75)
  • 500g of Tesco easy cook rice (64p)

The cupboard staples\leftovers...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, peanut butter, brown sugar, fish sauce, potatoes (leftover from Christmas day) , pheasant legs and wings and the carcasses.

Smoked mackerel pate on crostini and red onion confit (Serves 6)

Christmas can be a stressful and an expensive time of year when it comes to having the family round for Christmas dinner (not to mention what to feed them on Boxing Day as well). I've created a menu which is slightly alternative to the traditional Christmas dinner whilst still creating a truly great meal the family will enjoy. I'm fed up of turkey, trying to squeeze a big expensive bird into a domestic oven only to achieve dry breast meat as the legs take longer to cook! And do you really want to get up at 8am to get started on the cooking?

So over the next 3 weeks I'll be showing you a starter, a main, a dessert and what to do with the leftovers for a family of six all for £7.49 per person and some of it can be prepared in advance. This week the starter...

Smoked mackerel pate on crostini and red onion confit (Serves 6, total cost £6.85 - £1.14 per person)

Ingredients

  • 600g of smoked mackerel (£4.48)
  • 5 large red onions (84p)
  • 1 lemon (23p)
  • 300ml of crème fraiche (93p)
  • 1 fresh baguette (37p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, horseradish sauce and red wine vinegar.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £6.85 - that's £1.14 per head!

Instructions

  • The pate can be prepared on Christmas Eve. Start by flaking the mackerel into a large bowl (discarding the skin and watch out for the bones!). Now mix in the crème fraiche, the juice of half a lemon, two teaspoons of horseradish sauce and season with salt and pepper. Place in the fridge overnight.
  • You can also make the red onion confit the day before as well. Slice the red onions and place in a thick bottomed pan with a little olive oil, sauté off until the onions are translucent and you have a little colour on the bottom of the pan - probably about 6 to 7 minutes. Now add salt, pepper, a big pinch of sugar, three tablespoons of red wine vinegar and one tablespoon of water. Reduce down on a very low simmer for about 1 hour until all the liquid has evaporated and you're left with a sticky red marmalade consistency. Cool down and this can also be placed in the fridge overnight.
  • On Christmas day morning you can make the crostini. These really are simple. Slice the baguette on an angle about ½ an inch thick - you'll get plenty of crostini - I would serve 2 or 3 per person. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place in the oven at 200C for 5 minutes. Let them cool before serving.
  • When ready to serve just place a little pate on each crostini and serve with a wedge of lemon and good dollop of red onion confit on the side.
  • Happy eating!

The rest of the Xmas recipes

Next week I'll be looking at our main dish - roasted pheasant (with garlic and bacon), caramelised sprouts, rosemary roasts, bread sauce and peach, sausage and thyme stuffing - while you also have recipes for lemon tart (with fresh vanilla mascarpone) and pheasant massaman curry to look forward to.

To help you get prepared, I've put together the ingredients you'll need for the rest of our Xmas menu!

Ingredients - The main

  • 2 x 250g packs of unsmoked streaky bacon (£3.28)
  • 2 x 398g of Porkinson sausages (£3.60)
  • 3 x whole Gressingham pheasants (£15)
  • 1 can of Tesco value peaches (27p)
  • 1 pint of whole milk (45p)
  • 500g of Brussel sprouts (£1)
  • 1.5kg of Bartlett organic potatoes (£1)
  • 25g of fresh rosemary (79p)
  • 25g of fresh lemon thyme (79p)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (25p)
  • 1 large onion (16p)
  • 1 loaf of Tesco crusty white bread (65p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, cloves, butter and a splash of white wine.

Ingredients - The dessert

  • 4 lemons (92p)
  • 250ml of double cream (73p)
  • 250g of Italian mascarpone (£1.18)
  • 6 Tesco medium free range eggs (£1.42)
  • 1 fresh vanilla pod (£1.44)
  • 1 pack (500g) of caster sugar (68p)
  • 1 block (500g) of sweet shortcrust pastry (89p)

The cupboard staples...

Icing sugar and a dash of milk.

Ingredients - The Massaman curry

  • 1 large white onion (16p)
  • 1 lime (20p)
  • 2 cans (400ml each) of coconut milk (98p)
  • 1 105g Bart Massaman paste (£1.75)
  • 500g of Tesco easy cook rice (64p)

The cupboard staples\leftovers...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, peanut butter, brown sugar, fish sauce, potatoes (leftover from Christmas day) , pheasant legs and wings and the carcasses.

Potato rosti with creamed spinach and poached egg

An obvious alternative to meat and fish is vegetarian so this week I'll be showing you a recipe that will make you forget about meat and fish for one evening - the ingredients work so well together in this dish. If you really feel you can't go without meat, just add a couple of slices of crispy streaky bacon.

Ingredients

  • 4 large baking potatoes (66p)
  • 450g of fresh spinach (£1.70)
  • 35g of fresh parsley (68p)
  • 150ml of single cream (40p)
  • 6 organic medium free range eggs (£1.82)
  • 250g of Wensleydale cheese (£1.58)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, 1 garlic clove (from last week) butter and nutmeg.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £6.84 - that's £1.36 per head!

Instructions

  • The best thing to do is to make the rosti first as it can keep warm whilst the spinach and eggs are cooking and then taken out when the dish is ready to assemble. Grate the potatoes and wrap in a clean, dry tea towel to squeeze them dry - you need to get as much moisture out of the potatoes as possible. Then get a medium frying pan, splash in a little olive oil and add the grated potato so it makes one large cake - fry for around 5 minutes on a medium heat until the potato softens (season with salt and black pepper). Then turn over, add a little butter around the sides of the rosti and cook for a further 3 minutes. Cover with foil and place in the oven on a low heat to keep warm.
  • Now for the spinach and eggs. Finely slice one garlic clove and fry off in a saucepan with a little butter for 1 minute, add the spinach and wilt down for a further 30 seconds. Then add a grate of nutmeg (quarter of a teaspoon), salt, pepper and around 100ml of cream. Heat through and add a good handful of chopped parsley. Cover to keep warm.
  • The poaching egg debate is fiercely contested in some quarters, so soft poach the egg your favoured way. My preferred way is to get a deep frying pan full of water (so when you add the eggs the yolks just break the surface) and up to the simmer. Add a dash of vinegar and a pinch of salt. Now add the eggs and simmer for 3-4 minutes all the time spooning the water over the top of the yolks. This will get you the perfect soft poached egg.
  • Now to serve. Cut the rosti into 5 pieces; place a piece of rosti on the plate. Top with the spinach mixture then the poached egg and sprinkle over some grated cheese and a twist of black pepper.
  • Happy eating!

Rabbit, bacon and thyme pie

Rabbit is an outrageously underrated meat - I suppose some people can only think of nice fluffy bunnies as pets and not for eating. The meat is perfect for novices of game as it has a slight gamey flavour yet has similar characteristics to chicken in terms of flavour and texture. There is an abundance of rabbit in the UK and we're right in season at the moment so your local butcher will be able to get wild rabbit if you pre-order - a wild rabbit should cost no more than £3.50 each.

Ingredients

  • 2 wild rabbits (£3.50 per rabbit - £7)
  • 250g unsmoked streaky bacon (£1.64)
  • 1 large onion (20p)
  • 125g of unsalted butter (£1)
  • 25g of fresh lemon thyme (64p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, chicken stock cube (2), milk, flour, and garlic (2 cloves).

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £10.32 - that's £2.06 per head!

Instructions

  • Firstly you'll need to joint the rabbits. Here's how it's done. Cut the hind quarters away from the body and separate the legs. Halve the leg joints. Cut the body horizontally through the backbone into two portions, stopping at the rib cage. Cut lengthways through the breastbone and divide the ribcage section in half. Flour and season the rabbit joints generously.
  • Now finely slice the onion and bacon and add a little butter (25g) to a very large saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil to stop the butter from burning. Add the rabbit joints and fry for 5 minutes until nice and browned and remove from the pan. Now add the onions and bacon and fry until brown.
  • Add the rabbit back to the pan along with the finely chopped garlic and thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes. Then add 2 pints of chicken stock and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Once simmered turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down completely.
  • Whilst the mixture is cooling down you can make the pastry. I prefer shortcrust for this pie. You can use flaky or rough puff if you wish.
  • For 12oz of shortcrust pastry (which will be more than enough to cover the pie dish) you will need 8oz of plain flour, 4oz of cubed butter, 5 tablespoons of cold water and a pinch of salt. Put the flour, salt and butter in a bowl and run between your fingers to breadcrumb consistency. Then stir in (use a knife) a little water until the mixture becomes dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  • Now back to the rabbit mixture. You can either take the rabbit meat off the bone or just put the mixture into an ovenproof dish as it is - it depends on your personal preference. I would leave the bones on, so just fill the dish up with the mixture; cover with the pastry and brush with a little milk (remember to make a small hole in the middle to let the steam out). Cook for one hour at 200C.
  • I would serve with a big pile of comforting mash, happy eating!

Pork, chorizo and cannellini bean stew


It's two weeks in a row for pork and I know it's a little selfish, but the onset of the winter nights has had me craving a good spicy stew. And for me it comes no better than a Spanish style stew - using pork shoulder steaks is a great alternative to loin, fillet or chops and they really take to stewing as a method of cooking. The simplicity of this dish is amazing.

Ingredients

  • 850g of Tesco pork shoulder steaks (£4 - £4.71 per kg)
  • 1 can of Cannellini beans (79p)
  • 225g of Tesco chorizo (£2.35)
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes (70p)
  • 2 medium red onions (28p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, paprika, dried chilli flakes and garlic (4 cloves).

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £8.12 - that's £1.62 per head!

Instructions

  • Firstly slice the pork into strips, season and fry off in a heavy bottomed pan until brown all over. Remove from the pan and drain off any excess oil.
  • Now add the chorizo to the pan (cut into cubes), brown off for two minutes then add the roughly chopped onions, four teaspoons of paprika, 2 teaspoons of chilli flakes and the garlic. Fry for a further 2 minutes until the onion has softened.
  • Once the onions have softened add the pork back to the pan along with ½ a pint of water and the tomatoes. Season to taste.
  • Simmer the stew for 1 hour on a low heat with a lid on (add water if it looks like it needs it). After 1 hour remove the lid and add the cannellini beans. Simmer for a further 30 minutes.
  • Serve with some crusty bread and happy eating!

Organic value box from well hung meat company

This is a great organic box that can feed a family for a while - you just need to get the kids eating liver (with the bacon that shouldn't be a problem!).

http://www.wellhungmeat.com/desc.php?product_id=379

Twice cooked pork belly (with gravy) roast parsnips and sweet apple red cabbage

You've heard this one before I can hear you groan! Yes, pork belly has been done to death. But in my opinion it's a fantastic, if not better, alternative to the usual Sunday roast and at £3.99 per kg it can't be ignored - it's the perfect comfort food to comfort us during recession. The twice cooking method does take some time (overnight) and it will need attention but the results are truly amazing.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg of Tesco belly pork (£4.79 - £3.99 per kg)
  • 1 large red onion (21p)
  • 2 Cox apples (48p)
  • 1 medium red cabbage (50p)
  • 700g of parsnips (79p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, brown sugar, peppercorns, butter, flour and bay leaves.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £6.75 - that's £1.35 per head!

Instructions

  • You will need a pan large enough to take the belly pork in one single layer and so the water covers the pork. Fill the pan with cold water, a few peppercorns and three bay leaves - you will need to weight the pork down so it stays submerged. Bring up to the simmer and remove the impurities that rise to the top, simmer for around 2 hours (remembering to keep topping up the water!). When the pork is ready it will take a knife through the thickest part with very little resistance. Do not throw away the liquid as we'll use the lovely stock created to make gravy.
  • Once the pork is cooked remove from the pan and let it cool right down. Once cooled wrap in cling film and place a dish and a good weight on top of the pork and place in the fridge overnight. I find a good heavy stone mortar works perfectly; if you don't have one then six cans of beans will work just fine!
  • When you're ready to start cooking the next day get the pork out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook it so it gets up to room temperature.
  • For the gravy take the stock you saved from yesterday and remove any fat that has formed. Place in a saucepan and bring up to the boil. Once up to the boil season and bring down to a simmer. There are many ways to thicken sauces and I prefer a method called beurre manie for this gravy - to make it incorporate one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of flour in a bowl to make a smooth paste. Now add to the stock whisking all the time and it will thicken the stock nicely (make sure you simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes to cook the flour out a little). Add a drop of red wine if you have that as well.
  • For the accompanying roast parsnip dish, you will need to par boil the parsnips and then roast for 25 minutes at 220C. The parsnips will need seasoning and a good glug of olive oil before roasting. The parsnips can go in the oven at the same time as the pork belly (see below).
  • For the sweet apple red cabbage dish, peel and core the apples and finely slice. Also finely slice the red onion and half of the red cabbage. Now get a saucepan on a medium heat with some olive oil and add the apples and onions - sauté for 3 minutes before adding the finely sliced red cabbage. Season and add a good pinch of brown sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes until the cabbage softens a little.
  • The pork belly just needs seasoning with salt and black pepper, then place on a wire rack and cook at 220C for 25 minutes. I find it easier to cut the pork belly into portions before placing in the oven. Once out the oven you will have a lovely crisp crackling and the meat will be very tender inside.
  • Serve with the gravy and accompanying dishes - happy eating!

Spiced whole mackerel with a chickpea, tomato and coriander salad

One of the most sustainable fish in our waters is mackerel. It's also got a great deal going for it. It's cheap, nutritious, has bags of flavour and easy to cook. It can be a little oily for some so this salad adds a nice acidity that really balances the dish.

Ingredients

  • 5 whole fresh mackerel (£6.50- £1.30 each at the Sainsbury's fish counter)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (39p)
  • 1 lemon (19p)
  • 10 medium tomatoes (84p)
  • 1 large red onion (20p)
  • 25g (small bunch) of coriander (64p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, 1 garlic clove, cumin, cayenne and turmeric

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at ASDA (and Sainsbury's fish counter), where it came to £8.76 - that's £1.75 per head!

Instructions

  • First up is to prepare the marinade for the fish and get the flavours developing. It's really simple. Grab a bowl and add 1 grated clove of garlic, 3 teaspoons of cumin, 4 teaspoons of cayenne and 2 teaspoons of turmeric - mix this together with a good glug of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Now take the fish and make some small incisions into the flesh (not too deep we just want to get some flavour into the flesh) and pour over the marinade. Give it a good rub into the fish and place in the fridge to marinade for 30 minutes.
  • Whilst the fish is marinating you can make the salad. Finely chop the red onion, coriander and tomatoes. I would de-seed the tomatoes before you chop them. Put all the chopped ingredients in a bowl along with the chickpeas, a little salt and pepper, three tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Mix together and place in the fridge whilst you cook the fish.
  • Get the grill on a medium-high heat and cook the fish for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. The beauty of mackerel is that the skin can really take the heat, so don't be scared of the fish burning. We need some colour on it!
  • Serve with the salad and happy eating!

Slow braised oxtail with autumn mash

This week we have a cheap autumnal feel with slow braised oxtail. Oxtails have risen in price in the last 12 months due to the championing from celebrity chefs. But luckily, not all butchers have cottoned onto this and you can still find it cheaply priced. For example, I noticed oxtail down to £4.50 per kg last week at my local butcher's shop.

Just be aware that it needs slow cooking to produce a deep flavoured dish.

Ingredients

  • 2kg of oxtail - aim for top of the tail pieces (£9)
  • 3 red onions (68p)
  • 1kg of carrots (64p)
  • 1kg of swede (70p)
  • 1 garlic bulb (22p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, 2 beef stock cubes, flour, tomato puree and olive oil.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at ASDA (and the local butcher), where it came to £11.24 - that's £2.24 per head!

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 150C.
  • You'll need a good big heavy casserole dish that is capable of holding all the oxtail pieces. For 2 kg of oxtail you'll get five good pieces - firstly, coat the oxtails in seasoned flour. Give them a good coating as this will thicken the final sauce. Get a frying pan and drizzle in a little olive oil and make the pan nice and hot. Now add the oxtails and seal them on both sides. Once they are well-browned on both sides, take out the pan and set to one side.
  • Now turn the heat down slightly on the pan. Roughly slice the red onions and add them to the pan. Soften the onions down a little and add six (yes six!) finely chopped garlic cloves.
  • Whilst the onion and garlic is cooking on a low heat, make up two pints of beef stock. Remove the onion and garlic mixture from the pan and add to the casserole dish, then place the oxtails in the dish as well. Keep the frying pan for deglazing.
  • Then add one and a half pints of beef stock and a good twist of black pepper to the casserole dish. The remaining ½ pint of beef stock we can use for deglazing the frying pan. Get the pan nice and hot and add the stock and reduce down for three minutes (even better would be to deglaze the pan with red wine, if you've got some). Then stir in two tablespoons of tomato puree and add the stock to the casserole dish.
  • Cover the casserole dish with a lid and place in the oven for four to five hours. Check occasionally to make sure it doesn't need more liquid. And remove the lid for the final 30 minutes of cooking.
  • When out the oven it will be dark and rich with shiny, tasty gravy - let it rest for a little.
  • Serve with buttered mashed swede and carrot. Happy eating!

Pumpkin and sage risotto

In the interests of our vegetarian audience (and at the request of a few) this week's recipe is a little off track as there is no meat or fish involved. I'll be using pumpkin, which is cheap, tasty and best of all seasonal.

Ingredients

  • 1 small pumpkin, 250g (74p)
  • 25g of fresh sage (68p)
  • 1 medium onion (14p)
  • 50g of parmesan (81p)
  • 500g of arborio rice (95p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, 1 vegetable stock cube and olive oil.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at ASDA, where it came to £3.32 - that's 66p per head!

Instructions

  • Firstly finely chop the onion and dice the pumpkin into small cubes. Then get a heavy based pan on the heat, drizzle in a little olive oil and soften the onion. You don't want to get any colour on the onion. Whilst the onion is softening prepare 1 pint of boiling vegetable stock (try to get the stock warm as well for adding to the risotto).
  • Now add a handful (about 50g) of risotto rice to the pan for each person. Make sure you get the rice all nice and coated with the onions and oil. Then add the pumpkin and chopped sage leaves.
  • Now add a little stock and keep stirring over a medium heat. The more you stir the creamier the finished dish. Keep adding a little of the hot stock until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid. You're looking for a silky, slightly loose finish.
  • Finely season with salt and pepper and a handful of parmesan.
  • Happy eating!

Breast of lamb with garlic mash and savoy cabbage

In this week's recipe, I'll be using breast of lamb. This really is a frugal cut from the animal and it really shouldn't cost anymore than £2.20 per kg from the local butchers. It takes some love and attention to get bang on and don't be scared of the fat on the cut - we'll cook it slowly so the fat renders down and stuff with lemon and thyme to help cut through the fat. Trust me.

Ingredients

  • 1kg of breast of lamb from local butchers (£2.20)
  • 1 lemon (30p)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (30p)
  • 1.5kg of Tesco value potatoes (99p)
  • 25g of fresh thyme (68p)
  • 1 Savoy cabbage (50p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, 1 vegetable stock cube and olive oil.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £4.97 - that's 99p per head!

Instructions

  • Let's get the lamb prepared first as it needs some time in the oven. So, pre-heat the oven to 160C. Place the lamb skin side down and season with salt and black pepper. Then, finely chop the thyme, two gloves of garlic and the peel of one lemon. Scatter over the breast of lamb and then add a dash of olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon.
  • Now for rolling the lamb! It's tough to explain so I've found a great picture guide here.
  • Once the meat is ready to go, get an oven proof pan on the heat, season the outside of the lamb and give it a small drizzle of oil. Now put it in the pan and brown on all sides, once browned pour in about 200 ml of vegetable stock (white wine is better if you have it), add the rest of the garlic cloves (unpeeled as for the mash), cover with a lid and cook for around 75 minutes in the pre-heated oven.Take the lid off for the last 25 minutes of cooking and turn the oven up to 175C.
  • All you need to do now is cook the potatoes and cabbage a little before the lamb is due out of the oven - 1.5kg of potatoes is ample for 5 people. Just cook and mash as you would normal mash but squeeze out the oven cooked garlic, mix into the mash and season.
  • For the cabbage I feel its best served lightly steamed (3-4 minutes) with a little seasoning. For the serving of the lamb remember to let it rest for 10 minutes when you get it out of the oven before serving. Then just cut across into slices and serve with a little of its own gravy. Happy eating!

Rosemary and lemon chicken thighs with spinach and potato salad


In this week's recipe I'll be using chicken thighs as a cracking alternative to chicken breasts. Not only are chicken thighs richer and have more flavour, they are also a great deal cheaper. You just need to bone and skin yourself to save a little more money if you wish.

Thighs will cost from £3.29 per kg to £6 per kg for organic, whereas chicken breasts will range from £11.49 per kg to £18 per kg. That's a saving of at least £8 per kg and personally, I'd take thighs over breasts any day.

(That is, when it comes to chicken...)

Ingredients

  • 1kg of free range chicken thighs (£3.38)
  • 180g of baby spinach (£1)
  • 250g of cherry tomatoes (74p)
  • 1 large red onion (10p)
  • 1 lemon (23p)
  • 400g of new potatoes, buy loose (52p)
  • 25g of fresh rosemary (68p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt and black pepper, 1 garlic clove, sugar and white wine vinegar.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Asda, where it came to £6.65 - that's just £1.67 per head!

Instructions

  • Let's prep and get the chicken thighs marinating. Take out the bone of each thigh (just by running your knife both sides of the bone and then underneath the bone to remove) and remove the skin (or you could leave whole with bone and skin on - just score the skin a little to get the flavours in). Place the thighs in a marinade of chopped rosemary, the juice of one lemon, a glug of olive oil, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Try and let the flavours develop for a few hours - however it's not the end of the world if it's only for 20 minutes.
  • As the salad is served cold (obviously!), it's best to clean the new potatoes and cook in a pan of boiling salted water next - once cooked, cut the potatoes length-ways and chill.
  • Once the chicken thighs have marinated, place under the grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side (or a bit longer if they look thick in parts). If you decided to leave the skin and bone on the thigh, just place in a hot oven at 200C for 25 to 30 minutes - finish on the grill to get the skin crisp.
  • Whilst the chicken thighs are under the grill, we can put the salad together. Place the new potatoes, washed spinach leaves, finely sliced red onions and cherry tomatoes (sliced in half) into a large bowl.
  • For the dressing, blend 12 tablespoons of olive oil, four tablespoons of white wine vinegar, one crushed clove of garlic, salt, black pepper and a pinch of sugar together. Pour the dressing over the salad in the bowl and mix gently with your hands.
  • Now for plating up - place the salad in the centre of each plate and serve the hot chicken thighs on top.
  • Happy eating!

Thai (Pollock) curry with egg noodles


We'll be looking at cheaper cuts of meat and cheaper more sustainable fish and how to make them into some fantastic meals over the next couple of months.

I'll be showing you some recipes that are great alternatives, and in my opinion equal alternatives, to the more expensive pork chops, chicken breasts and un-sustainable cod options.

This week we start with fish and Pollock as a great, cheaper alternative to Cod. Pollock should cost no more than £4.99 per kg, whereas cod will cost in the region of £12.99 to £16.99 per kg.

In terms of texture and taste there is little difference and remember to skin and bone yourself to save more money.

Recipe #15: Thai (Pollock) curry with egg noodles (serves four people)

  • 800g of filleted Pollock (£4 at £4.99 per kg)
  • 400ml of coconut milk (57p)
  • 500ml of fish stock (cupboard staple)
  • 1 red chilli (10p)
  • 8 shallots (48p)
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar (cupboard staple)
  • 2 tbsp of Thai fish sauce (cupboard staple)
  • 4 tbsp of Thai red curry paste (cupboard staple)
  • 400g of egg noodles (73p)
  • 2 limes (34p)
  • Small bunch of coriander (79p)

The cupboard staples...

Red curry paste, fish sauce, Black pepper, fish stock cube, sunflower oil and brown sugar

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Sainsbury's, where it came to £7.01 - that's £1.75 per head!

Instructions

  • Get a large frying pan on to the heat and fry off the finely sliced shallots and red chilli in a little oil for about two minutes. Then add the curry paste and fry off for a further minute on a reasonably high heat. You need to cook that paste out.
  • Now add the stock, fish sauce, coconut milk, brown sugar and a twist of black pepper and bring up to a gentle simmer for around seven minutes - we want to reduce the sauce down a little to intensify the flavours.
  • Whilst the sauce is simmering cook through the egg noodles and place into four bowls. The egg noodles will take no longer than three minutes at a gentle simmer.
  • The sauce should have reduced a little now. So add the Pollock fillets (it's your choice to add as four fillets or cut down into eight). The Pollock will need around three to five minutes to cook on a medium simmer dependant on the thickness of the fillets.
  • Now we're ready to serve - serve the curry over the rice noodles and add a sprinkle of finely chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime.
  • Happy eating!

Chunky pea and ham soup with crusty bread

Recipe #14: Chunky pea and ham soup with crusty bread

  • 600g of ASDA gammon joint (£2.28)
  • 480g Birdseye garden peas (£1)
  • 3 red onions (30p)
  • 25g fresh of fresh mint (68p)
  • 2 seeded baguettes (72p)

The cupboard staples...

Two Chicken stock cubes, black pepper, olive oil and 3 garlic cloves.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at ASDA, where it came to just £4.98!

Instructions

It's September now and I'm already starting to feel the cold a little more and the nights are definitely closing in on us, so what better than one of the kings of comfort food?

  • Get a large heavy bottomed pan on to a low medium heat with a good glug of olive oil (Le Creuset dishes are great for making this soup with). Finely chop the red onion and garlic and add to the pan. You want to cook the onion and garlic down for 5-6 minutes so it softens without colouring too much.
  • Whilst the onions and garlic are softening prepare the gammon by trimming off the majority of fat (leave a little on for flavour) and cutting into 1cm cubed pieces.
  • Remove the onions and garlic from the pan, put the pan back on to a medium heat with a little more olive oil and add the gammon. Brown the gammon off for a few minutes.
  • Now turn down to a low heat and add the onions and garlic along with 4 pints of chicken stock (I would use 2 stock cubes for 4 pints) and season with black pepper - no salt as the gammon will be salty enough. Simmer on a very low heat for 45 minutes so the gammon can tenderise.
  • Finely add the peas and chopped mint (use the stalks as well) and simmer for a further 3 minutes until the peas are cooked.
  • Serve with the crusty seeded baguettes. Happy eating!

Spaghetti alla carbonara

Recipe #13: Spaghetti alla carbonara

  • 500g of Tesco organic spaghetti (56p)
  • 250g of Tesco unsmoked back bacon (£1.23)
  • 284ml of double cream (59p)
  • 60g of Tesco finest grated parmesan (£1)
  • 6 Tesco organic medium eggs (£1.45)

The cupboard staples...

Olive oil and black pepper.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to just £4.83!

Instructions

This is a classic and beautifully simple dish - surely everyone in the family enjoys spaghetti alla carbonara? And it's cheap. This is also made the Italian way.

  • Firstly get the spaghetti cooked, al dente of course. I would say 100g of spaghetti per person - so 500g.
  • Now get a little olive oil in a fry pan and gently fry off the bacon until crisp. This will take about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Get a bowl and whisk together the eggs (4 egg whites and 6 yolks), cheese and cream - season with a little salt and lots of black pepper.
  • The spaghetti should be cooked by now. So drain and put back in the saucepan. Add the bacon (including the oils) and cream, cheese and egg mixture. You'll need to stir a lot here so all the spaghetti gets coated.
  • Serve with some garlic bread and happy eating!

Beef & thyme (Lancashire) hotpot

I know this is a cheat on a fantastic British classic and I should be ashamed as my family are from Lancashire. My gran will be going mad if she saw this.

Thing is lamb used to be cheap, but no longer. Even the cheap cuts have been pushed up by chefs championing cheaper cuts like the neck.

Recipe #12: Beef and thyme (Lancashire) hotpot

  • 700g of British stewing beef (£2.14)
  • 3 medium onions (48p)
  • 25g fresh lemon thyme (68p)
  • 900g of white potatoes (£1)

The cupboard staples...

Salt and pepper, 1 beef stock cube and a little flour.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to just £4.30 (cheapest yet!).

Instructions

  • Now I know this is traditionally made with lamb. But lamb is expensive so I've given this British classic a frugal twist!
  • Get the oven pre-heated to 170C.
  • Now take the beef and trim off any excess fat and slice into strips or chunks (you choose!). Once this is done, add some oil to a heavy bottomed pan and get it really hot (almost smoking). Toss the beef in a little seasoned flour and fry off in the pan for 2 minutes. You want a really good colour on the beef. Remove from the pan and set to one side.
  • Now take the potatoes and cut into 2cm slices, thinly slice the onions and finely chop the thyme.
  • Next up is assembling the dish. Take a hotpot dish (3 litres) and start with about a quarter of the beef at the bottom, then a layer of onions, a layer of potatoes and a sprinkle of thyme. Season each layer with black pepper and salt and repeat until all the ingredients have been used.
  • Finally pour over roughly 700ml of boiling beef stock. It may take a little more or a little less. You want the stock to just touch the layer of potatoes at the top.
  • Loosely cover with foil and place in the oven for 2 hours at 170C. For the final 20 minutes brush a little butter on the top and place back in the oven at 220C.
  • Happy eating!




Pork stroganoff

Recipe #11: pork stroganoff

  • 690g (4 pack) of pork chops (£2)
  • 1 large onion (16p)
  • 150ml soured cream (51p)
  • 1 lemon (27p)
  • 280g of loose closed capped mushrooms (64p)
  • 35g curly parsley (68p)
  • 500g (1 pack) of easy cook long grain rice (64p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt and black pepper, paprika, 1 chicken stock cube, a little butter and olive oil.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to just £4.90.

Instructions

  • Firstly trim the meat down to remove the outer rind of fat and bones of the pork chops. Once the chops are trimmed you will have 4 filleted chops which you should bash down with the palm of your hand and thinly slice (about ½ cm thick and wide).
  • Get a flat bottomed pan on the heat (a nice heavy one), add a little olive oil and season the pork well before you sauté in the pan. You will need to sauté the pork for around 1 minute, making sure you get some colour on the meat. Once done, take the pork out and set to one side.
  • Add a little more oil to the pan and soften some thinly sliced onions for 3-4 minutes - you should use a lower heat. You want the onions to go translucent.
  • Now add a teaspoon of butter to the pan and add the sliced mushrooms and 2 teaspoons of paprika and fry until all softened.
  • Once softened add the pork to the pan along with ¼ of a pint of chicken stock (I would only use half a stock cube). Reduce down for 1 minute at a high heat and then turn right down before you add the soured cream. Make sure you're on the lowest heat possible.
  • All it needs now is a season with black pepper, the juice of one lemon and a good handful of chopped parsley. Stir well to make sure it all incorporates.
  • Serve with steamed rice and happy eating!

Green chilli pork meat balls, sunflower seed couscous salad and mint yoghurt

This type of food is me. With a larger budget I would add coriander, raisins, grilled peppers and apricots to the couscous salad. Just enjoy at £4.95.

Another great summer dish with a really cold beer.

Recipe #10: green chilli pork meat balls, sunflower seed couscous salad and mint yoghurt

  • 500g of pork mince (£1.95)
  • 500g of couscous (80p)
  • 500g of low fat natural yoghurt (46p)
  • 100g of sunflower seeds (60p)
  • 100g of green chillies (30p)
  • 150g of fresh mint (64p)
  • 1 medium sized red onion (20p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, 3 cloves of garlic (from last week) and olive oil.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at ASDA, where it came to just £4.95.

Instructions

  • Let's make the meatballs first as they'll need to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes - mix together the pork, 3 finely chopped (seeds up to you!) green chillies, 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic and salt and pepper. Mould into small balls (around 15) and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Now for the couscous salad - place 300g (500g if you're hungry) of couscous in a glass bowl, pour over twice the volume of boiling water and cover the bowl with cling film. It will take around 10 minutes to steam - give the couscous a good stir with a fork at the end to avoid lumps.
  • While the couscous is steaming get a pan on the heat and add the sunflower seeds - toast the seeds lightly and take off the heat just as they start to smoke. Also finely chop the red onion.
  • The couscous will be ready now so stir in the red onion, sunflower seeds and a good big glug of olive oil. Season to taste.
  • For the mint yoghurt finely chop the fresh mint and stir into the yoghurt with a little black pepper.
  • Using the pan you toasted the seeds in, get back on a high heat and drizzle in a little olive oil. Once the pan is really hot get the meatballs in and make sure you get loads of colour on them - don't be put off using some heat. Once the meatballs are browned all over, lower the heat to ensure they cook all the way through. Serve up with the couscous salad and a big dollop of mint yoghurt over the meatballs.
  • Happy eating!


Tagliatelle with air dried cured ham and minted peas

I've tried to steer clear of pasta dishes as it feels like a cop out.......Sainsbury's ;-)

I've put this in though as it's simple to put together and spot on to cook after a bad day at work. It also tastes of Tuscany. Big meaty red with this one. Cost £4.71.

Recipe #7: Tagliatelle with air dried cured ham and minted peas

  • 400g of egg tagliatelle (95p)
  • 1 bulb of garlic - we're using 2 cloves (34p)
  • 330g of Tesco finest petits pois peas (74p)
  • 200g of air dried cured ham (£1.89)
  • 30g of fresh mint (79p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper and olive oil.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to just £4.71.

Instructions

  • Get a large pan of salted water to cook the tagliatelle as per the packet instructions. To get al dente simply take off the heat and drain one minute before the instructions tell you to.
  • Whilst the tagliatelle is cooking get the peas on to cook. Cook for two minutes maximum and then drain off and run them under cold water so they don't cook anymore.
  • Now you can finely slice two cloves of garlic and fry over a low to medium heat for one minute (be careful not to burn the garlic).
  • Now add the peas and fry for a further two minutes. Turn off the heat and put to one side.
  • The pasta should be ready by now. So drain it and add the garlic and pea mixture. Mix it all up and add a good drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, finely chopped mint and the thinly sliced air dried cured ham.

Happy eating!

Beef, rosemary and mushroom loaf with potato dauphinoise

IMO this dish is all about the potato dauphinoise, a classic dish which I can happily eat by itself with a salad. This costs and amazing £4.81!!!

Recipe #8: Beef, thyme and mushroom loaf with potato dauphinoise

  • 210g of closed cup mushrooms (51p)
  • 500g of beef mince (£1.21)
  • 1kg maris piper potatoes (£1)
  • 1 large red onion (21p)
  • 1 pack (100g) of fresh lemon thyme (68p)
  • 2 cartons (264ml per carton - total 568ml) of Elmlea double cream (£1.20)
  • 6 cloves of garlic (use cloves from last week's bulb)

The cupboard staples...

Salt and pepper, olive oil and an egg. Include some peas as a vegetable side if you have any lurking in the freezer!

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to just £4.81.

Instructions

  • Finely chop the onion and mushrooms and fry off in a little olive oil until they have taken on a good colour and all the juices have evaporated. Set to one side to cool.
  • Now finely chop 2 cloves of garlic and thyme and mix together with the beef in a mixing bowl along with some seasoning and the egg. Add the onion and mushrooms once they have cooled down and get your hands in giving it all a good mix.
  • Get a loaf tin (around 1.5lbs) and grease with a little olive oil and add the mixture. Place some oiled greaseproof paper on top of the loaf to ensure it doesn't burn. Set to one side whilst you prepare the potato dauphinoise.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 160C.
  • Slice the potatoes very thinly (around 2mm).
  • Get a large thick bottomed pan and pour in the cream heating to a simmer. Grate the remaining four cloves of garlic; add to the cream and season well. This will take a little extra salt due to the quantity of potatoes.
  • Now add the potatoes to the cream and simmer for 5 minutes (add a little milk if the cream looks on the low side). Once this is done add the potatoes to a shallow oven proof dish.
  • Both the meatloaf and dauphinoise will take around 1 hour to cook in the pre-heated oven. Remove the greaseproof paper for the last 15 minutes of cooking of the meatloaf.
  • You can test to see if the loaf is done by putting a metal skewer through the loaf and just touching the skewer on your top lip. If it's done the skewer will be hot and come out clean.
  • For the dauphinoise be careful the cream doesn't split, check every 20 minutes and turn down a little if it does (don't worry about the meatloaf as you can just leave this in a little longer). The dauphinoise will be ready when bubbling and all browned on top.
  • Happy eating!

Mixed bean and coriander green curry with fragrant rice

A request from a vegetarian reader - sorry carnivores. You should all try it though, it's a tasty light dish and cost £4.83. Could feed more than 5 as well :-)

Recipe #7: Mixed bean and coriander green curry with fragrant rice

  • 1 garlic bulb (30p)
  • 100g of fresh ginger (23p)
  • 1 pack (50g) fresh green chillies (47p)
  • 2 onions (14p)
  • 2 packs (25g per pack) of fresh coriander (£1)
  • 1 tin (400g) red kidney beans (31p)
  • 2 tins (400g per tin) chick peas (74p)
  • 2 tins (400ml per tin) coconut milk (£1)
  • 1 pack (500g) easy cook long grain rice (64p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt and pepper, oil, cumin, turmeric and medium chilli powder

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at ASDA, where it came to just £4.83.

Instructions

  • First thing to do is to get all of your preparation done in terms of chopping and crushing - finely slice the onions and 4 or 5 fresh green chillies (seeds optional). Then grate 4 cloves of garlic and a thumb-sized piece of ginger.
  • For the rice get a large pan of salted boiling water, add the rice (500g for 5 people) and 4 teaspoons of turmeric to the water and give it a good stir. Cook as normal.
  • Now get a good thick-bottomed pan on the heat, get the pan nice and hot and add 4 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil has started to smoke slightly, lower the heat a little and add the chillies and ginger. Fry off for 20 seconds and then add 3 teaspoons of cumin and 2 teaspoons of medium chilli powder, fry off for a further 20 seconds adding the onions and garlic last and cooking through until the onions have become translucent.
  • Drain the kidney beans and chick peas and add to the pan. Continue to cook through for a few minutes on a medium heat.
  • Finally add the coconut milk and season to taste. Simmer this down on a medium heat until the sauce thickens a little, this will take about 7-8 minutes.
  • Once the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and stir in ¾ of the finely chopped fresh coriander.
  • Serve with the rice and with use the remaining ¼ of finely chopped coriander to garnish each dish.
  • Happy eating!

Egg Florentine with smoked cheddar and rocket salad (RETRO!!!)

Proper rewind to the 70s here. Not that I was around then - a classic for £5 on the nose.

Recipe #6: Egg Florentine with smoked cheddar and rocket salad (RETRO!!!)

  • 450g fresh spinach (£1.49)
  • 150ml double cream (56p)
  • 185g Ilchester Applewood smoked cheddar (£1.46)
  • 6 pack of mixed value eggs (80p)
  • 60g rocket salad (69p)

The cupboard staples...

For this recipe I'll assume you already have black pepper, salt, butter, olive oil and nutmeg.

Total cost

If you already have the staple ingredients then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco* where it came to exactly £5!

Instructions

  • Drizzle a very small amount of olive oil into a saucepan and gradually add the spinach until it wilts down. Once wilted drain the spinach and add back to the pan.
  • Get the pan back on the heat and add the cream and a pinch of nutmeg then gently heat through - you don't want to overcook the spinach or let the cream come to the boil. Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Get 5 ramekin dishes, butter the dishes and split the spinach mixture evenly between them - making a small hollow in the middle of the spinach mixture.
  • Now crack an egg into each hollow and sprinkle with grated cheese so the whole dish (and the egg) is covered. Twist a little black pepper over each one.
  • Place the ramekins on a tray and put under a medium heated grill for 5-6 minutes until the cheese is bubbling (turn the grill up to high for last 2 minutes). This will give you the perfect eggs Florentine with runny yolks.
  • Serve with a rocket salad lightly dressed with olive oil and salt and pepper.
  • Enjoy!

Beef, mushroom and thyme pie

Is there anything better than a well cooked pie? Serve with seasonal veg.

Recipe #5: Beef, mushroom and thyme pie

  • 430g of stewing beef (£2.14)
  • 2 medium red onions (42p)
  • 1 pack (25g) of fresh thyme (68p)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (31p)
  • 500g of Jus roll pastry (79p)
  • 3 medium carrots (27p)
  • 140g of mushrooms (32p)

The cupboard staples

Pepper, salt, oil, flour and 2 pints of beef stock and a splash of red wine - if you have a bottle in the house already!

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco* where it came to just £4.93.

Instructions

  • Slice the beef into strips, season with salt and black pepper and coat with five tablespoons of flour. Then get a pan very hot, add some oil and fry the beef off until brown all over. Remove the beef from the pan and place in a large shallow ovenproof dish. Keep the pan on a low heat.
  • Finely slice the garlic, onions and mushrooms and roughly chop the carrots into 1.5cm cubes, turn the heat up on the pan and fry off the vegetables until slightly browned. We're looking for colour and a slight caramelisation; once this has been achieved add the vegetables to the oven dish.
  • Next up is to finely chop the thyme and prepare the beef stock. Once the beef stock is prepared add it to the pan and let it reduce down over a high heat for a few minutes (making sure you scrap all the bits off the bottom of the pan as if you were making gravy). Finally, add the chopped thyme and pour over the beef and vegetables in the oven dish. Place the oven dish (covered with foil or a lid) in the oven at 150C for an hour. This ensures the beef gets nice and tender. Tip: if you have some red wine, add this to the pan before the beef stock.
  • After an hour, check the beef is tender. If it is, remove it from the oven and let the mixture chill for a good 30 minutes (or the pastry will become a disaster!).
  • Grab the pastry and roll out on a floured surface to about 0.5cm thick (amend thickness according to the size of your dish). Roll the pastry out over the dish - I prefer to tuck the pastry in a little so nothing overhangs. Brush with milk and make a small hole to let steam escape in the middle.
  • Put back into the oven at 190C for 30 minutes or until the pastry has risen and has a nice golden brown colour to it.
  • Enjoy!

Sausage and rosemary hotpot with pickled red cabbage

This is something you can get in the oven before you go to work and return to a wonderful smelling house - a great winter dish. Only cost £4.92 to put together.

Recipe #4: Sausage and rosemary hotpot with pickled red cabbage

Ingredients

Pack of 4 baking potatoes (75p)

2 medium onions (40p)

1 red cabbage (50p)

1 pack (25g) of fresh rosemary (79p)

2 packs (8) of Cumberland pork sausages (£1.24)

3 cloves of garlic (from the bulb of the last recipe for chorizo and pea risotto)

The cupboard staples...

Black pepper, salt, olive oil, sugar, vinegar, flour and 1 pint of chicken stock (made with stock cubes)

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco* where it came to just £4.92.

Instructions

  • Firstly, fry off the sausages in a little olive oil until browned all over. They don't have to be cooked through, you just want to seal the sausages to keep the juices in them and create a better flavour for the hotpot.
  • Finely slice the onions and potatoes (and mix in one tablespoon of flour) - not too thin or they'll break up when cooking. Also finely chop the rosemary and garlic together.
  • Place a few of the browned sausages in the bottom of a hotpot dish (or a casserole dish if you prefer), add a few sliced onions and then a sprinkle of the rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Then add a layer of the sliced potatoes. Keep repeating this process until all the ingredients have been used and you finish with a layer of potatoes.
  • Now make up the chicken stock and pour into the hotpot dish ensuring the stock just touches the top of the potatoes (add more stock if needed). Brush the top of the potatoes with olive oil and season generously with black pepper only. Place in the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours on 150C/320F. You will know it's ready when the potatoes are nice and browned on top. You can turn the oven up to a high heat for the last 10 minutes to create a really crispy top.
  • Now for the easy (or cheats!) pickled red cabbage to serve on the side. Cut the cabbage into quarters, remove the stalks and finely slice. Add the cabbage to a saucepan with 100ml of vinegar, 200ml of water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and salt and pepper. Bring up to the boil then bring the heat down and simmer for no longer than 2 minutes or until the cabbage has softened very slightly (you want to retain some bite).
  • Enjoy!

Chorizo and pea risotto

This just screams comfort. Especially at £4.97.

Recipe #3: Chorizo and pea risotto

Ingredients

225g of Tesco finest chorizo ring (£2.48)

500g of Arborio rice (95p)

1 large onion (16p)

1 bulb of garlic (34p)

1 tin of garden peas (29p)

50g of grated parmesan (75p)

The cupboard staples...

We're assuming you have the following cupboard staples already: Black pepper, olive oil and 2 pints of chicken stock (made with stock cubes).

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco* where it came to just £4.97.

Instructions

  • Add a couple of glugs of olive oil to a large heavy-based saucepan. Heat the oil for 30 seconds and then add the finely chopped garlic and onion. Sauté for a few minutes on a medium heat until onions softened - be careful NOT to burn the garlic! Once this is done pour the onion and mixture into a bowl for use shortly.
  • Get the pan back on the heat and add the cubed (about 0.5cm) chorizo - remember to take the skin of the chorizo before chopping. Fry off the chorizo for a few minutes until slightly crispy and the oils have run off. Drain off as much of the oil as possible and add the onion and garlic mixture back to the pan.
  • Now add the rice. Try to get all the grains coated with oil. Keep on a medium heat and stirring all the time so it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan. Do this for just over a minute until all coated.
  • Prepare two pints of hot chicken stock and add one ladleful of the stock to the pan, keep stirring! Never stop stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process until the majority of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is nice and tender. The more you stir the creamier the risotto - so make the effort!
  • Finally add the peas, heat through and add a good few twists of black pepper.
  • Serve with a good sprinkling of parmesan and a twist of black pepper if desired!

Beef koftas with a feta, spinach and mint salad

A perfect dish for kicking back and making outside on a summers day and even more perfect with a chilled glass of sancerre and only £4.93.

Recipe #2: Beef koftas with a feta, spinach and fresh mint salad

As well as this delicious recipe for under a fiver, why not also try last week's recipe for Spicy tuna, bean and coriander lasagne?

The Koftas

500g of British mince beef (£2)
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped (use the leftover cloves from last week's recipe)
2 tsp of dried oregano (a staple)
1 tsp of ground cumin (a staple)

The salad (and dressing)

200g of Feta cheese (£1.18)

1 finely sliced red onion (21p)

260g of spinach (75p)

30g of fresh mint (79p)

White wine vinegar (a staple)

Olive oil (a staple)

The cupboard staples...

We're assuming you have the following cupboard staples already: Salt & pepper, cumin, oregano, white wine vinegar, olive oil and 5 large wooden skewers

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco* where it came to just £4.93.

  • First thing is to get the 5 large skewers in some cold water for 20 minutes. Otherwise, the wood will burn when placed on the griddle pan.
  • Put the beef mince, finely chopped garlic, oregano, cumin and a big pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Get your hands in and give it a good mix, then chill in the fridge until the skewers have soaked.
  • When the skewers have soaked for 20 minutes take the mixture out of the fridge and press a portion of mince around each skewer, so you have a long thin sausage type shape. Hint: dip your hands in cold water when moulding the shape so the mixture doesn't stick to your hands. Once you've made five good size koftas, put in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes.
  • Now for the salad dressing; this is a standard dressing so make up however much you like - as long as use the three parts oil to one part vinegar, it will taste good! For this salad I'd suggest six tablespoons of oil and two tablespoons of white wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper and adjust to taste.
  • Now the salad itself; wash and spin the spinach leafs and place in a large salad bowl, then cube the feta into 1cm square pieces and add to the spinach. Finally, very thinly slice the red onion and mint leaves, place in the bowl and give it a light tossing. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
  • It's time for the koftas; get a heavy griddle pan or skillet on the heat for a good five minutes until very hot (get the windows open as well!). Place the koftas in the pan and cook for three minutes on each side until brown all over. Set aside and cover with foil for a few minutes, so the meat can rest (remember to pour the juices back over when serving).
  • Get the salad out of the fridge and add a few tablespoons of the dressing. Mix very lightly and serve with the koftas. Enjoy!

Spicy bean, tuna and coriander lasagne

This is an amazing dish for all the family. I can hardly believe myself that so much food can be created at a cost of £4.85.

Recipe #1 Spicy tuna, bean and coriander lasagne

Ingredients

The cupboard staples

We're assuming you have the following cupboard staples already: Salt, pepper, three tablespoon of flour, olive oil, two tablespoons butter and ½ pint of water.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco* where it came to just £4.85.

Instructions

1. Get a medium sized sauce pan on to the heat for a few seconds and add a few good glugs of olive oil. Then, add the roughly chopped red onions and sauté off for a few minutes until the onions are soft. Now add the chillies (seeds an' all) and the garlic - feel free to use more or less chilli or garlic, it's up you. But the stated amounts won't overpower the dish.

2. Drain the kidney beans and add to the pan along with the tuna and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook out for one minute on a medium heat and add the tomatoes and half pint of water and simmer for 10 minutes on a very low heat. Then set to one side adding the chopped coriander.

3. Now for the béchamel sauce. Grab a thick bottomed saucepan and add two tablespoons of butter melt down and then stir in three tablespoons of flour. Now cook out gently on a low heat for two minutes without colouring the flour to ensure the flour is cooked out.

4. Gradually add the milk over a medium heat, stirring all the time to avoid lumps. If you have lumps in the sauce don't worry too much - this is nothing a good healthy whisk won't solve at the end. Once the sauce is smooth and glossy, turn right down and simmer gently for five minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

5. In a medium-sized ovenproof cooking dish, pour around a third of the tuna, bean and tomato sauce into the bottom and cover with a layer of uncooked lasagne sheets, then pour remaining the sauce covering with another layer of lasagne sheets. Finally, pour over all of the béchamel sauce and cover with the final remaining lasagne sheets (slightly submerging them in the béchamel sauce so you get a nice crispy finish on the top after cooking).

6. Now bung in the oven at 180C for 40 minutes - or until nicely browned and crispy. Yum.