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!