Frugal recipe for your turkey leftovers! Massaman curry...

What better than a curry on Boxing Day? This recipe works well with turkey leftovers or, if you've been following my series, you'll have saved pheasant thighs, legs, wings and spuds from the day before. We'll now add loads of spice to get things going again.

Ingredients – The Massaman curry

  • 1 large white onion (16p)
  • 1 lime (25p)
  • 2 cans (400ml each) of Island sun coconut milk (90p)
  • 1 jar (105g) of Bart Massaman paste (£1.75)
  • 500g of Tesco easy cook rice (64p)
  • The cupboard staples\leftovers:Salt, black pepper, vegetable oil, peanut butter, brown sugar, fish sauce, potatoes (leftover from Christmas day) , pheasant/turkey thighs, legs and wings.

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 £3.70 - that's 61p per head!

Instructions

  • Firstly get a large wok on the heat and add a really good glug of vegetable oil. Season the pheasant thighs, legs and wings and brown in the wok. Remove from the wok and then add the sliced white onion and soften a little.
  • Now add the massaman paste, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and salt and pepper. Cook out the paste a little and a cup of water to loosen the sauce.
  • Next up add the coconut milk and three tablespoons of fish sauce. Bring up to a simmer and add back the pheasant pieces (add the cooked leftover turkey at this stage as well). Simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes until the pheasant is tender.
  • Finally add the leftover potatoes to heat through and the juice of one lime.
  • Serve with steamed white rice and happy eating!

Lemon tart with fresh vanilla mascarpone

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 2 days before Christmas day as well - it will keep fine in the fridge.

Ingredients – The dessert

  • 4 lemons (£1.08)
  • 250ml of long life double cream (90p)
  • 250g of Italian mascarpone (£1)
  • 6 Hoads farm medium free range eggs (£1.49) – we’re using 5 eggs
  • 1 fresh vanilla pod (£1.44)
  • 1 pack (500g) of caster sugar (72p) – we’re using 200 grams
  • 1 block (500g) of sweet shortcrust pastry (£1.50p) – 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 £8.13 - that's £1.36 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.
  • 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!

The Portobello mushroom, port and stilton wellington

If you've got any vegetarians coming for Christmas this year - or if you want to cook a vegetarian meal yourself - this recipe for Portobello mushroom, port and stilton wellington is a fantastic meal to serve them.

It's absolutely delicious and it costs just £1.99 per person!

Ingredients - The wellington

  • 500g of Jus Rol puff pastry (95p)
  • 750g of Portobello mushrooms (£3.75)
  • 2 large red onions (32p)
  • 25g of fresh thyme (68p)
  • 100g Tesco pine nuts (£2.49)
  • 215g of Tesco finest mature blue stilton (£1.80)

The cupboard staples...

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

Total cost

This recipe serves five people and, if you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £9.99 - that's £1.99 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 215grams – 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, caramelised sprouts, rosemary potato roasts, sauce and stuffing

Looking for a frugal alternative to the traditional Christmas turkey dinner? Then you're in luck.

Here's my recipe for roasted pheasant (with garlic and bacon), caramelised sprouts, rosemary roasts, bread sauce and peach, sausage and thyme stuffing (serves 6, total cost £26.73 - £4.45 per person).

This main course is really great as there is so much you can do the day before and the 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. I’ve also provided a vegetarian alternative to the meat with a rich Portobello mushroom, port and stilton wellington.

Ingredients – The pheasant main

  • 2 x 250g packs of unsmoked streaky bacon (£2.56)
  • 2 x 398g of Porkinson sausages (£3.76)
  • 3 x whole Gressingham pheasants (£15)
  • 1 can of Tesco value peaches (39p)
  • 1 pint of whole milk (45p)
  • 500g of Brussel sprouts (£1)
  • 2.5kg of Tesco white potatoes (£1.20)
  • 25g of fresh rosemary (79p)
  • 25g of fresh lemon thyme (68p)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (24p)
  • 1 large onion (16p)
  • 1 loaf of Tesco crusty white bloomer (50p)

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 £26.73 - that's £4.45 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, thighs 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!

Smoked mackerel pate on crostini and red onion confit

The starter

Smoked mackerel pate on crostini and red onion confit (Serves 6, total cost £6.89 - £1.15 per person).

Ingredients – The starter

  • 600g of smoked mackerel (£4.42)
  • 5 large red onions (80p)
  • 1 lemon (27p)
  • 300ml of crème fraiche (£1)
  • 1 fresh granary baguette (40p)
  • 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, the starter was cheapest to buy from Tesco, where it came to £6.89 - that's £1.15 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!

Frugal xmas recipes

Christmas can be a stressful and an expensive time of year, especially if you're cooking for the family on Christmas day (not to mention Boxing Day as well).

I’ve created a menu which is a delicious alternative to the traditional Christmas dinner that I guarantee your family will enjoy, at very little cost.

I’ll be showing you a starter, a main course (one for vegetarians, one for meat-eaters), a delicious Christmas dessert and what to do with the leftovers for a family of six.

And all for £7.57 per person!

Turkey with bacon, cream, parsley and peas

It was Thanksgiving yesterday so here’s a great recipe for any Americans readers – perfect for using up the leftover turkey! And for us Brits, here’s your Christmas tip a month early. This really is a cracking combination. Try not to forego the fresh parsley as it really freshens the dish up.

Ingredients

  • 522g of British turkey breast steaks and pieces (£3.29)
  • 10 pack of streaky smoked bacon (£1.28)
  • 150ml of British double cream (60p)
  • 1 medium red onion (10p)
  • 25g of flat leaf parsley (50p)

The cupboard staples…

Olive oil, black pepper, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 chicken stock cube, frozen peas and rice (or pasta).

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 £5.77 - that's £1.44 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by prepping up your ingredients first. It’s quite a quick dish to cook. It’s best served with rice, so you can get on now as well (or pasta if you prefer).
  • For the prep; finely slice the turkey, bacon and onions and roughly chop the garlic and parsley.
  • Get a good thick bottomed pan on the heat, add a glug of olive oil and add the turkey and bacon. Fry until nice and browned all over. Now add the onions and garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes until the onion has softened.
  • Next up (keep on a medium heat), add a cup of chicken stock and 250g of peas. Cook for a couple of minutes so the liquid had reduced down a little and the peas cook. Now season with black pepper only (no salt is required as this comes from the bacon and chicken stock) and pour in 150ml of double cream.
  • Reduce down for a further 2-3 minutes and add the fresh parsley.
  • Happy eating!

Beef koftas, roast pepper couscous and a red cabbage & carrot salad

This is my ‘go to’ meal when I want something healthy, quick and tasty in the evening. There is something amazingly comforting about beef and chillies as a combination and you don’t get much healthier than red cabbage and carrot! This meal also goes great with a large glass of chilled white wine, preferably Chablis.

Ingredients

  • 800g of Tesco premium beef mince (£2.80)
  • 3 large carrots (35p)
  • 500g (4) Tesco market value peppers (91p)
  • 1 large red onion (20p)
  • 1 lemon (30p)
  • 1 medium red cabbage (51p)
  • 500g of Tesco couscous (61p)

The cupboard staples…

Garlic, cumin, dried chilli flakes, sugar, olive oil, salt, black pepper, white wine vinegar and 3 cloves of garlic

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 £5.68 - that's £1.42 per head!

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 220C and place 4 peppers, cut in half with seeds removed, rubbed with a little olive oil and seasoning in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Now soak 4 wooden skewers (metal skewers obviously a bit less hassle if you have them) so they don’t burn when you grill the koftas. Grab a large bowl and add to it the mince, 3 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes, 2 teaspoons of cumin and salt and pepper. Mix really well and then shape on to four skewers. Place in the fridge to firm up for 20 minutes.
  • Now for the salad. Very finely chop half a red cabbage and grate the carrots (you could finely slice if you prefer), mix in a bowl along with a pinch of sugar, a few twists of black pepper, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Easy. Place in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
  • For the couscous; place 300g in a bowl along with some seasoning and 300ml of boiling water. Give it a good stir and cover with cling film. Leave for 5 minutes and the couscous is ready. Take the peppers from the oven, roughly chop and add to the couscous along with a very finely chopped red onion, the juice of one lemon and a good glug of olive oil. Stir well and set to one side. It’s done.
  • Finally the koftas. Turn the grill up to a high heat and grill on each side for about five minutes. You’re looking for nice browned edges. Now just enjoy - happy eating!

Sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce

I rarely write dessert recipes, but since the evenings have drawn in, it felt right to make a transition towards some good old fashioned English puddings. Interestingly, I was reading that the Sharrow Bay Hotel (where the dessert was invented over 40 years ago) in Cumbria insists that all guests and staff taking part in the cookery demonstrations sign a secrecy clause forbidding them to share the ingredients. Rest easy though my friends, this recipe is out there and obtainable!

Ingredients

  • Halawi dates, 227g (£1.25)
  • 284ml Elmlea double cream (88p)
  • Farm pride free range eggs (89p)
  • 250g pack of Tesco value unsalted butter (98p)
  • 500g pack of Silver Spoon caster sugar (72p)
  • 500g pack of Tesco unrefined dark muscovado sugar (99p)

The cupboard staples…

Plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder

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 £5.71 - that's £1.43 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by preheating the oven to 170C (which is gas mark 3 or 325F).
  • Now grab a pan and add 350ml of water, the dates (227grams) and ½ a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Get on the heat and bring up to the boil. Once up to the boil, take off the heat and set to one side for use shortly.
  • Next up, take 80 grams of butter and cream together with 200g of caster sugar until light and pale. Then sift in 300g of plain flour and ½ a teaspoon of baking powder and give it a stir to incorporate a little. Now add 2 eggs (one at a time) beating the mixture well. Finally fold in the date mixture.
  • Put the mixture into a medium sized greased baking tin and place in the oven for 20 minutes. After 18 minutes, you can check to see if the pudding is ready by inserting a knife and seeing if it comes out clean.
  • Now for the sauce; place 100g of butter, 100g of muscovado sugar and 150ml of double cream in a pan and place over a low heat until the mixture is simmering, smooth and all incorporated.
  • Drizzle the sauce over the pudding and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • Happy eating!

Roast pumpkin, sausages, potatoes and sage with kale

This dish is pretty much Halloween and bonfire night on a plate; it’s also incredibly warming, so perfect for when you get in from the fireworks on Saturday night. It’s also an ideal way to use up that pumpkin!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium (1kg) culinary pumpkin (£1)
  • 1kg of charlotte potatoes (£1.40)
  • 2 large red onions (40p)
  • 200g of curly leaf kale (97p)
  • 25g of fresh sage (68p)
  • 8 Cumberland pork sausages (£1.34)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, butter and 2 cloves of garlic.

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 £5.79 - that's £1.45 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by pre-heating the oven to 200C (Gas Mark 6 OR 400F).
  • Grab a large roasting tray (you don’t want all the ingredients squashed together, give them some space!).
  • Roughly slice the onions and sage and place in the tray along with the sausages and 750g of potatoes (leave them whole). Now take the pumpkin and cut into wedges which are about the same thickness of the potatoes so it all cooks evenly. Place the pumpkin wedges in the roasting tray with the rest of the ingredients, season very well and add a really generous few glugs of olive oil. Mix to make sure everything is coated with oil and place in the oven for 50 minutes. Check after 40 minutes. The pumpkin will be browned, and nice and soft when ready to eat.
  • Now for the kale. Finely chop the garlic, get a wok on a high heat and add a little drizzle of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter to the wok. Put the garlic in the wok and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the kale along with two tablespoons of water, some seasoning and turn down to a medium heat and cook for a further 5 minutes until the kale becomes tender.
  • Happy eating!

Tandoori grilled pork chops, pilaf rice and coriander yoghurt

I have stinking cold at the moment and there is only one remedy which will hit the spot: spicy food!
I’m convinced by the medicinal properties of spices and I bet I’m not the only poor soul suffering with an ailment at the moment. It’s always best to get the pork chops marinating over night if you can - it just lifts the dish an enormous amount. It’s worth it. So do it

Ingredients

  • 4 British pork chops, 700g (£4.06)
  • 500g basic natural yoghurt (44p)
  • 3 green chillies (18p)
  • 30g of fresh coriander (79p)
  • 1 large onion (15p)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger (16p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, sunflower oil, rice, 6 cloves of garlic, 1 chicken stock cube, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne and 4 cardamom pods.

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 £5.78 - that's £1.45 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by getting the pork chops in the marinade. Try and do the night before. If not, leave for at least 2 hours. Take the pork chops and make a few small slashes in the flesh of the meat. Place in a bowl and add 3 finely chopped green chillies, 6 minced cloves of garlic, the minced ginger, 3 teaspoons of cumin, 3 teaspoons of turmeric, ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of cayenne, a good twist of black pepper and a good glug of sunflower oil. Mix well, cling film and leave to marinade.
  • You can also make the coriander yoghurt in advance as well. Take 400g of yoghurt and add the finely chopped coriander and a twist of pepper. Mix well and then refrigerate until you want to use.
  • Once you’re ready to start cooking the meal to serve it’s best to start on the pilaf rice and keep it warm and then follow up with the pork chops on the grill. Just take the pork chops out of the fridge for 10 minutes before you start cooking them.
  • Make up 450ml of chicken stock and keep hot.
  • Get a non stick pan on a medium heat and add a little olive oil. Then add the finely chopped onion and fry gently until the onion softens. Then add 300g of rice and cook for about 2 minutes making sure all the rice grains get coated. Now add 4 cardamom pods, a really good twist of black pepper, a good pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons of turmeric. Stir well incorporating all the ingredients and then add the hot chicken stock – bring up to the boil and then reduce down to a low simmer (lid on) for around 10 minutes. You want to keep an eye on the rice to make sure it doesn’t catch. The rice is ready once the liquid has been absorbed and it will light and fluffy when you run a fork though it. Foil and keep warm.
  • Finally the pork chops. Pre-heat the grill to the hottest setting it will go to, season with a little salt and grill on each side for about six minutes until you get a slightly charred look to them. Rest in a warm place for 2 minutes before serving.
  • Happy eating!

Elegantly Frugal listed in the 50 best college budget food blogs!

A bit of a milestone for the blog. My very first 'best 50' listing :-)
 
Listed on the very apt '50 Best Food Blogs for the College Budget' over the pond on an online college courses site.
 
Flying in at number 31.

Paul

Whole baked mackerel with tarragon, tomatoes and potatoes

This is one of those great dishes where you just need to do a bit of chopping and throw it into the oven. You’re then rewarded with a really deep flavoured dish just because of the nature of the ingredients involved. This is an Italian sort of recipe and you could substitute the mackerel with any other fish – haddock, salmon or trout would all work well.

Ingredients

  • 4 whole mackerel – around 250 grams per fish (£4.01)
  • 25g of fresh tarragon (65p)
  • 4 ASDA baking potatoes (50p)
  • 1 lemon (30p)
  • 6 loose tomatoes (52p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, olive oil and 4 cloves of garlic.

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 £5.98 - that's £1.49 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by pre-heating the oven to 200C (400F or Gas Mark 6).
  • Now finely chop the garlic and tarragon. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and finely slice the potatoes (you can leave the skin on).
  • Next, take the mackerel and make four ½ cm slashes on each side of the fish and season with salt and pepper (make sure you season in the cavity of the fish).
  • Take a large roasting tin and add the potatoes, garlic, tarragon and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, add the juice of one lemon, season and mix together well. Then place the four mackerel in the roasting tin and give them a good mix with the other ingredients and finish with the mackerel on top of the potatoes and tomatoes etc.
  • Foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes – removing the foil and turning the oven up to 220C for the final 10 minutes of cooking.
  • Serve with a simple salad and happy eating!

Hungarian pork goulash

We have a real winter warmer on our hands here. Dishes like goulash are spot on for cooking cuts like shoulder as the gentle simmering really breaks down the fats and makes the meat delicious and tender. The dish also has potatoes in so it really is an easy, filling affair. As my dad use to frequently extol in my youth “meal in itself lad”.

Ingredients

  • 900g of pork shoulder steaks (£3.50)
  • 150ml of soured cream (55p)
  • 2 medium onions (34p)
  • 500g of new potatoes (72p)
  • 30g of fresh flat leaf parsley

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, paprika, 1 chicken stock cube, plain flour and tomato puree  

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 £5.90 - that's £1.48 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by roughly chopping the pork into cubes of about 1 ½ inches. Reasonably good sized cubes. Then heat some olive oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the pork. Season well and brown all over. Once browned remove from the pan and set to one side.
  • Now add some finely chopped onions to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on a medium heat until they soften down and get a little bit of colour on them. Then follow up with the finely chopped garlic, cook for 1 minute and then add 2 tablespoons of paprika and 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir well and add 500ml of hot chicken stock and three tablespoons of tomato puree.
  • Finally season to taste and add the pork and potatoes to the pan. You can leave the potatoes whole.
  • Now leave to simmer with a lid on very gently for the next hour and forty five minutes. Serve with a big dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of finely chopped parsley.
  • Happy eating!

Butternut squash stuffed with mushrooms, stilton and thyme

A hearty vegetarian recipe this week, but it’s not just hearty. It’s also right in the middle of season for butternut squash so we’re seasonal as well. To get the best out of butternut squash you should always choose roasting as a cooking method. This way you lock in the flavour and tease out the sweetness in the flesh of the vegetable.

Ingredients

  • Two 800g butternut squash (£1.60)
  • 400g of mushrooms (88p)
  • 2 large red onions (30p)
  • 200g of blue stilton (£1.56)
  • 25g of fresh thyme (65p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, 5 cloves of garlic and a little butter.  

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 £4.99 - that's £1.25 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by pre-heating the oven to 200C (Gas mark 6 or 400F).
  • Now cut each squash in half, scoop out the seeds and make some nice deep cuts in the fleshy part of the squash. Four big ones about halfway down into the squash flesh will do. This ensures it cooks evenly. Then drizzle generously with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven skin side down.
  • The squash will need 50 minutes to 1 hour in the oven. The flesh will be soft and the skin slightly browned when ready.
  • Whilst the squash is in the oven you can make the stuffing.
  • Start by prepping your ingredients. So finely chop the mushrooms, red onion, thyme and garlic.
  • Now get a good thick bottomed pan on a medium heat and add a dessertspoon of butter along with a good glug of olive oil. Once the butter is foaming, lower the heat and add the onions. Cook slowly for about 8 minutes until the onions have softened down. Then turn up the heat slightly and add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 to 6 minutes until nicely browned. Finally, add the garlic and thyme and cook for a further minute. Set to one side until the squash is ready.
  • When the squash is ready to come out of the oven, scoop one dessertspoon of flesh out of each squash and add to the stuffing mixture into the pan along with the crumbled up stilton. Mix well and then return the stuffing into each squash. You will have a generous helping of stuffing for each squash.
  • Put back in the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes until browned on top. Or alternatively cook for 10 minutes and then finish on the grill.
  • Happy eating!

Fusilli with a rich beef ragu sauce

A good ragu is a long, slow and chilled out process. It’s really simple and the flavours that come through in the end should have lots of depth – which can only be achieved by slow cooking. The best way to serve is with pasta, although you can always serve with rice, jacket potato or a massive piece of crusty bread.

Ingredients

  • 690g of Tesco value beef stewing steak (£3.44)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (30p)
  • 2 medium onions (36p)
  • 25g of fresh rosemary (79p)
  • 1 can of Tesco value chopped tomatoes (33p)
  • 500g of Tesco organic Fusilli (75p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, dried chilli flakes, tomato puree and 2 beef 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 £5.97 - that's £1.49 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by preparing all of your ingredients for the ragu. So finely chop the onions, rosemary, 8 cloves of garlic and the beef. Now get a good thick bottomed pan on to a high heat and add a good generous glug of olive oil and get the oil hot. Once the oil is hot add the beef, season well with salt and lots of black pepper and brown all over. This will take about 5 minutes and we’re looking for a really good colour on the beef.
  • Once the beef is nicely browned, remove from the pan and set to one side, turn down to a medium heat and add the onions. Cook down the onions for a few minutes until they soften and then add the garlic and rosemary to the pan. Cook for a further 2 minutes and then add the beef (makes sure you add all the juices that have run off onto the plate), along with 5 tablespoons of tomato puree, a pinch of dried chilli flakes, a tin of tomatoes and 560ml of hot beef stock (use 2 stock cubes) – you can also add a really good splash of red wine if you have it at this point. Give all the ingredients a good stir to make sure nothing has caught on the bottom of the pan, bring up to a simmer and then cover the pan with a lid and simmer on a the lowest of heats for the next 2 ½ hours.
  • Make sure you stir occasionally and add a little water if needed.
  • Cook the pasta in large pan of salted boiling water and serve with the ragu on top along with a liberal sprinkling of parmesan.
  • Happy eating!

Toad in the whole with mustard crème fraiche sauce & pickled red cabbage

This seems right, so so right for the time of year we’re about to enter into. We need to stock up on wholesome food to see us through the winter and toad in the hole is one of the ultimate recipes that can help us squirrel away some calories for the impending cold months. There is also no need to constantly serve toad in the hole with gravy. I find the gravy makes the batter too soggy - a nice snappy mustard sauce works wonders as an alternative.


Ingredients

  • 8 Cumberland pork sausages (£1.34)
  • 300ml of crème fraiche (£1)
  • 6 Hoads farm free range eggs – medium (£1.49)
  • 1 medium red onion (20p)
  • 1 medium red cabbage (51p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, sunflower oil, milk, plain flour, vinegar, grain mustard, sugar and 1 chicken stock cube. 


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 £4.54 - that's £1.14 per head!

Instructions

  • Pre- heat the oven to 220C (that’s gas mark 7 or 425F).
  • The batter needs to be made first as it will benefit from resting for at least 20 minutes (30 minutes is even better). Take a large bowl and add 140 grams of flour, a good pinch of salt and 4 eggs. Mix well and then gradually whisk in between 300ml and 350ml of milk. You’re looking for a reasonably thick consistency. About the consistency of yoghurt. Set to one side to rest.
  • The secret to a great toad in the hole is getting the oil nice and hot first. This makes sure you get a good rise in the batter. Get a roasting tin and add 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil and put in the oven for about 6 to 8 minutes (or until the oil is smoking hot). Take the roasting tin out of the oven, add the sausages and put back in the oven for 5 minutes,. Now take out of the oven and add the batter to the roasting tin. Return to the oven 25 minutes.
  • Whilst the toad in the hole is in the oven you can make the mustard sauce and red cabbage.
  • Take a deep sided frying pan and sauté off one very finely chopped red onion in a little oil, add 700 ml of hot chicken stock and reduce down for 5 minutes on a high heat. Now turn down to a medium heat and stir in 300ml of crème fraiche and 2 tablespoons of grain mustard. Reduce down for a further 2 minutes on a low to medium heat and season to taste. Cover and set to one side in a warm place.
  • For the red cabbage, cut into quarters, remove the stalks and finely slice. Add the cabbage to a saucepan with 100ml of vinegar, 150ml of water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and seasoning. Bring up to the boil and then bring the heat down and simmer for a further 5 minutes (you want to retain some bite in the cabbage so check around the 3 minute mark).
  • The toad in the hole will be done now – so just take out the oven, cut into nice thick slices and serve.
  • Happy eating!

Pot roasted chicken with paprika, shallots and potatoes

Now this is one tasty dish and criminally easy. Pot roasting really does give you the best of both worlds. You get a beautifully moist chicken with nicely browned skin. The most important aspect for me though is you keep all of the flavour from the chicken in the pot and this of course creates amazing gravy. Get this one done this Sunday.

Ingredients

  • 1kg extra special corn fed chicken (£4.08)
  • 450g of shallots (£1.37)
  • 450g of maris piper potatoes (50p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, paprika, 1 bulb of garlic (use all the cloves) and 1 chicken stock cube.

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 £5.95 - that's £1.49 per head!

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 170C (325F or gas mark 3).
  • Best to get the shallots, garlic and potatoes prepared first. Just peel the shallots keeping them whole. The potatoes should be peeled and then cut into good sized cubes – if they are too small, they will dissolve a little too much in the oven. The garlic can just be roughly chopped.
  • Now season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper and then rub paprika all over the chicken. Really rub the paprika in and don’t be shy with it – make sure you coat the whole chicken.
  • Grab a large casserole dish (one that can go on the heat to seal the chicken first – a le creuset dish is perfect for the job), add a little olive oil and get on a high heat. Add the chicken to the dish and brown all over. This will take about 10 minutes. Once browned set the chicken to one side and add the shallots to the dish. Get a little colour on the shallots and then add the garlic, frying for a further minute and then finally add 450ml of chicken stock to the dish (using one chicken stock cube - of course, fresh stock is better if you have it) and the potatoes.
  • All you need to do now is put the chicken back in the dish and cover with a lid (or foil) and cook for 1 hour. After 1 hour turn the oven up to 200C (400F or gas mark 6), take off the lid cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Once the chicken is done, leave to rest in a warm place (loosely covered with foil) for around 15 minutes before carving and serving. This gives the chicken time to relax and let some of those juices flow out into the gravy. It will also be a lot easier to carve.
  • Happy eating!

Smoked haddock and leek risotto

This recipe is in honour of lovemoney.com’s esteemed mortgage sales manager, Tim Wilson. Tim is Welsh (hence the leek angle) and his favourite dish is risotto. This is for you Tim. Do try and add a glass of white wine if you have one around. I know that's not strictly frugal, but it really does wonders for the risotto. Happy stirring.

Ingredients

  • 400g of smoked haddock (£3.51)
  • 1 lemon (25p)
  • 400g of leeks (88p)
  • 1 pack (500g) of Tesco Arborio rice (99p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, butter and 2 chicken stock cubes (and a glass of white wine to make extra special)

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 £5.63 - that's £1.40 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by poaching the haddock in a shallow pan of simmering water (not salted) for 1 minute. Then turn off the heat and cover with a tight lid and leave for about 6 minutes. This cooks the haddock perfectly.
  • Now add a good glug of olive oil and three teaspoons of butter to a thick bottomed pan, when the butter is starting to froth add the leeks (finely chopped). Soften the leeks down. This will take around 7 minutes on a low to medium heat – we want to get the sweetness out of the leeks.
  • Once the leeks have softened down, add 350g of the risotto rice and really get all of the grains of rice coated with the oil, butter and leeks and turn up to a medium to high heat. Now gradually pour in the white wine if you have it and keep stirring! This will create a lovely creamy consistency. Once all the wine has been absorbed into the rice start gradually adding some hot chicken stock. I would make up about 2 pints of chicken stock. The risotto will probably take all of the stock. A good risotto is all about adding a little stock at a time, letting the stock absorb into the rice and keeping that stirring going. The risotto is ready when you have a good creamy consistency and the grains retain a hint of firmness.
  • Finally flake in the haddock, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and season with a few twists of black pepper. You also have half a lemon left, so cut into wedges and serve with the risotto.
  • Happy eating!

Prawn and chilli linguine

The last pasta dish was very popular with a few of my regular readers and I really don’t do many pasta recipes, so here’s another one!  This really is an easy, healthy option for when you get home from work and fancy something tasty without too much effort - a general crowd pleaser with prawns and chillies just going so naturally together.

Ingredients

  • 600g of Tesco cooked and peeled prawns (£4)
  • 500g of linguine (75p)
  • 1 lemon (25p)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (25p)
  • 2 green chillies (20p)
  • 1 red onion (15p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, butter and parmesan

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 £5.60 - that's £1.40 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by getting all the ingredients ready and the pasta cooking. So finely chop 4 cloves of garlic, the chillies and red onion and get the pasta going in a large pan of salted water.
  • Now get a heavy deep bottomed frying pan on a medium high heat, add some olive oil and start by frying off the red onion until translucent. Then add the prawns and fry until they have some colour on them (around 2 minutes) and then add the garlic and chillies and fry for a further minute.
  • Once the garlic and chillies have cooked and you get the wonderful frying garlic/chilli smell turn the heat right down and add the juice of one lemon, a pinch of salt, a good few twists of black pepper and 2 teaspoons of butter.
  • By now the linguine should be ready. Drain and add to the prawn mixture, mixing well with a good handful of grated parmesan.
  • Happy eating!

Homemade Cornish pasties

Ok, slightly off piste this week as this isn’t really a main meal. Of course it could become a main meal if you serve it with some vegetables or salad. I digress. I’m off to the cricket this weekend and I’ll be baking these pasties this evening in preparation for a full day’s play (and a full day’s drinking) tomorrow. I bet quite a few of you have never made pasties before and probably because they are deemed as a difficult to make.
They really aren’t as you’re about to find out.

Ingredients

  • 440g of British braising steak (£3.49)
  • 250g of Sainsbury’s basic salted butter (98p)
  • 1 medium sized Swede (73p)
  • 1 large onion (14p)
  • 1 large potato (35p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, flour (400grams) and milk (only a little for brushing the pasties).

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 £5.69 - that's £1.42 per head!

Instructions

  • Best to make the pastry first as it will need 30 minutes chilling in the fridge before use. Put 400 grams of flour in a bowl along with 200 grams of the cubed butter and run between your fingers to a breadcrumb consistency. Then stir in (use a knife) a little cold water (probably about 6 tablespoons) until the mixture becomes dough. Finally incorporate into a ball, clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Now for the pasty filling. Finely chop the beef, onion, potato and swede and mix together in a bowl along with a good pinch of salt and a very generous helping of black pepper (about 20 twists of the pepper mill).
  • Preheat the oven to 220C (Gas mark 7 or 425F).
  • Now roll the pastry out on a floured surface to about the depth of a one pound coin and shape into four circular pieces (using a side plate to trim the edges). Then take some mixture and place in the middle of each circular pastry piece, brush one half of the pastry with milk and fold over. Once folded over go back and crimp or roll the edges to create a nice snug fit.
  • Place on to a tray with some greased baking paper, brush the pasties with a little milk and place in the oven for 50 minutes. After 15 minutes turn the oven down to 175C (Gas mark 4 or 350F).
  • Let the pasties cool on a rack for 5 minutes before eating.
  • Happy eating!

Teriyaki chicken legs with coriander and lime noodles

This is an amazingly comforting dish and the sticky legs are perfect against the zing and freshness of the noodles. When cooking always try and contrast the ingredients. It’s the bedrock of good cookery. I’m definitely cooking this one this weekend!

Ingredients

  • 2 packs (2 legs per pack) of freedom food chicken legs (£1.84)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (25p)
  • 1 lime (30p)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger (22p)
  • 30g of fresh coriander (79p)
  • 410g of fresh egg noodles (£1)
  • 150ml of Amoy dark soy sauce (89p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, sunflower oil, sesame oil and honey

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 £5.29 - that's £1.32 per head!

Instructions

  • The teriyaki marinade needs to be made first. The legs need to marinate for at least 4 hours (overnight would be even better). In a bowl, combine 8 tablespoons of soy, 4 tablespoons of honey, 3 minced cloves of garlic, the minced ginger (best to do the garlic and ginger on a grater), 2 tablespoons of water and a twist of black pepper.
  • Now take the chicken legs and make three shallow slashes along each leg, place in a shallow dish and pour over the marinade. Try and turn the legs a few times whilst they marinade.
  • The noodles take no more than 5 minutes to prepare so just sit back, relax and let the marinade do its work. 
  • When you’re ready to cook the chicken legs pre heat the oven to 220C (Gas mark 7 or 425F). Then place the chicken legs in an oven proof dish and cook for 30 minutes, remove any excess marinade. After around 20 minutes in the oven brush the legs with more marinade.
  • Around 5 minutes before the chicken legs are ready start cooking the noodles. Stir fry the noodles in a hot wok with a little sunflower oil for around 2 minutes and then combine in a bowl with a little salt, black pepper, finely chopped coriander, the juice of one lime and a drizzle of sesame oil.
  • Happy eating!

Turkey, mozzarella and sage meatballs with fettuccine and tomato sauce

I know Italian meatballs are traditionally made with beef, but this series of recipes is all about sourcing cheap and great tasting meals. This falls firmly in the family category as well. A great one for the kids and the stringy mozzarella and sage works wonders with the turkey. Who needs tradition?

Ingredients

  • 500g of fettuccine (68p)
  • 700g of Italian passata sauce (90p)
  • 500g of taste the difference free range turkey mince (£2.39)
  • 1 ball, 125g of fresh Sainsbury’s basics mozzarella (47p)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (25p)
  • 20g of fresh sage (68p)
  • 1 red onion (18p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, sugar, 1 egg yolk and balsamic vinegar

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 £5.55 - that's £1.38 per head!

Instructions

  • It’s definitely best to make the meatballs first so you can refrigerate before cooking to firm them up.
  • Start by slowly cooking down the finely chopped red onion in a saucepan with a little olive oil for about 3 minutes. Then take off the heat and set to one side to cool down before adding to the mixture.
  • Now grab a mixing bowl and add the turkey mince, 1 egg yolk, the finely chopped sage, the finely chopped mozzarella, salt, lots of black pepper and two cloves of minced garlic. Mix together well and then add the onions once cooled down. Mix well again and shape into 16 balls – place in the fridge to rest and firm up. They’ll keep for a couple of days in the fridge if need be.
  • Next up the tomato sauce. Add a few teaspoons of olive oil to a saucepan and gently cook 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic – watch carefully to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Now add the passata, salt, black pepper, a good pinch of sugar, half a cup of water and a really good dash of balsamic vinegar. Reduce the sauce down by around a third.
  • The meatballs will take around 10 to 12 minutes to cook, so get the fettuccine in a large pan of salted boiling water and cook as instructed.
  • Take a large frying pan and add a few dessert spoons of olive oil and cook the meatballs until they’re nicely browned all over. Keep turning them to make sure they don’t burn. They will take about 10 to 12 minutes to cook right through. If the meatballs look like they’re catching, just turn the heat right down and cook gently for a few minutes.
  • Serve with the fettuccine and tomato sauce over the top of the meatballs. Happy eating!

Lemon and garlic roasted lamb breast, boulangere potatoes and minted peas

I’ve written a lamb’s breast recipe before, but that was a bit more of a braised affair. This is quicker to cook and great for a Sunday roast. It’s a fatty cut but that’s cool – just drain any fat off at the end (and save for future roasts) and the lemon and garlic cuts through it nicely.

Ingredients

  • 1kg boned breast of lamb (£4.08 from local butchers)
  • 700g of potatoes (84p)
  • 1 lemon (30p)
  • 1 onion (10p)
  • 25g of fresh mint (67p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, vinegar, some butter, 3 cloves of garlic, 400g of frozen peas and 1 chicken stock cube.

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 £5.99 - that's £1.50 per head!

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 160C (325F or gas mark 3).
  • Lay the lamb breast down (un-rolled) and sprinkle over 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic, the zest of one lemon and season well. Roll back up, using string to secure the joint. Now get a frying pan on a high heat - drizzle the joint with a little olive oil and seal the lamb until browned on all sides. This will take no more than 3 minutes. Finish in the pan with seasoning and a squeeze of lemon and transfer to the oven for about 75 minutes.
  • Take an oven-proof baking dish (shallow is best) and butter generously. Peel and slice the potatoes and finely slice the onion. Now add a layer of potato to the dish and then some onions, season well and repeat the process until all the potatoes and onion are gone. Finally pour over 200ml of hot chicken stock. Cover with foil and place in the oven. The potatoes will need around 75 minutes as well.
  • After 60 minutes, remove the foil from the potatoes and turn the oven up to 180C for the last 15 minutes. This will just get them nice and brown and finish the lamb nicely as well. When you take the lamb out of the oven make sure you rest for 10 minutes in a warm place before you serve.
  • Whilst the potatoes and lamb are in the oven you can make the really easy minted peas. Just cook the peas as you would usually, drain, season well and add the finely chopped mint along with 3 teaspoons of vinegar. 
  • Happy eating!

Posh macaroni cheese with crispy bacon and oven dried tomatoes

This is comfort food at its finest. I always like to get a traditional recipe into this blog as they generate the most comments and lots of lovemoney.com readers seem to enjoy the more traditional dishes. So here is my take on a classic.

Ingredients

  • 1 500g pack of Sainsbury’s macaroni (68p)
  • 1 ½ pints of milk (45p)
  • 1 pack of butcher's choice dry cured streaky bacon (£2)
  • 1 ball of Sainsbury’s basic mozzarella (47p)
  • 4 large shallots (42p)
  • 4 medium tomatoes (45p)
  • 200g of Sainsbury’s Shropshire blue (£1.47)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, sugar, flour, butter and nutmeg

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 £5.94 - that's £1.48 per head!

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 190C (375F or gas mark 5).
  • Cut the 4 tomatoes in half, place on an oven tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt, pepper and a little pinch of sugar. Place in the oven for 30 minutes (they will be ready when reduced down to about half in size and coloured on top).
  • Cook the macaroni (300g) as instructed and set to one side once done. It’s always a good idea to drain the macaroni and then refresh in cold water once cooked. It stops the macaroni cooking and takes some starch out of the pasta as well.
  • Now for the cheese sauce, melt 70g of butter in a saucepan and add 4 finely chopped shallots. Soften the shallots without colouring, this will take about 4 minutes on a low heat. Once the shallots are softened, turn up to a medium heat and stir in 50g of plain flour and cook for 2 minutes. Then gradually add 1 ½ pints of milk and keep stirring! Once the milk and flour have incorporated into a nice lump free sauce (use a whisk if you have some lumps) add some seasoning, half a teaspoon of nutmeg and 200g of the crumbled up Shropshire blue. Cook out for a further 5 minutes and the sauce will be ready. If it looks a little thick just add a dash more milk.
  • Take an ovenproof dish and add the cooked macaroni and pour over the cheese sauce. Mix well and break the mozzarella over the top and sprinkle over some black pepper. Place in the oven for 20 minutes (at 190C with the tomatoes). The finished article will be golden and bubbling on top.
  • Finally the bacon. This is real personal preference but I prefer the bacon grilled (you could fry but it will be too greasy for the finished dish. Make sure you grill so the fat runs off and the bacon will get crispier).
  • So once the macaroni cheese and tomatoes are ready, keep them warm and place the bacon under the grill. Once the bacon is done serve the bacon and tomatoes on top of a big slice of macaroni cheese. Get some good “cheffy” height with the dish!
  • Happy eating!

Falafel, roast pepper and feta salad with chilli tomato salsa

t would be wrong to class this as just a ‘vegetarian recipe’. We could all do with cutting down our consumption of meat and fish and this is one of those recipes that doesn’t make vegetarian food a chore. It’s a vibrant dish full of flavours.
There are some wonderfully innovative and top class vegetarian restaurants in the UK (Terre a Terre in Brighton instantly springs to mind), but the problem is these innovative and quality establishments are far outweighed by restaurateurs looking to make a fast buck through higher margins (see Zilli Green in Soho). Throw in the tuts that accompany vegetarians at dinner parties and the obligatorily nut roast, it feels to me we have a little way to go before we reduce our dependence on meat and fish. Try this recipe for starters.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas, 400g (39p)
  • 200g of Greek feta (£1.29)
  • 900g of cherry tomatoes (98p)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (25p)
  • 700g of mixed market value peppers (£1.38)
  • 1 pack of red chillies, 50g (50p)
  • 1 large red onion (20p)
  • 30g of fresh flat leaf parsley (69p)
  • 1 lemon (30p)

The cupboard staples…

Sunflower oil, olive oil, salt, sugar, black pepper, cumin, ground coriander, plain flour and chilli powder.

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 £5.98 - that's £1.49 per head!

Instructions

  • Let’s make the falafel first – you can pop them in the fridge until you need to use. You’ll need a food processor as well (alternatively you have some chopping ahead of you!).You need to whizz together the following; the chickpeas (drain first!), 3 garlic cloves, half the red onion, half of the parsley, 2 ½ tablespoons of flour, 2 teaspoons of cumin, 2 teaspoons of coriander, 1 teaspoon of chilli powder and seasoning. Once whizzed in the processor (the mixture doesn’t need to be too smooth) shape into 4 falafels. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Now for the roast pepper and feta salad. Get the grill on a high heat, cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and the bitter white membranes and place on a tray along with generous seasoning and a really good glug of olive oil. You want to get some really good colour on the skins of peppers, we’re talking some charring on the skins – it does loads for the flavour of the salad. Grill for around 7 or 8 minutes on each side (on a medium level). Whilst the peppers are grilling you can make the tomato salsa.
  • Finely chop 1 clove of garlic, half the red onion, 3 de-seeded chillies and chop the cherry tomatoes in half. Mix together with a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, a good twist of black pepper, the juice of half a lemon (tip: roll the lemon along the surface with palm of your hand to extract more juice) and around 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • By now the peppers should be ready. Remove from the grill and leave to cool a little before assembling the salad. Grab a bowl and add the roughly chopped feta, the rest of the parsley, and the peppers roughly chopped as well once they’ve cooled at little. It’s ok to add the peppers if warm still (it helps with the flavour). Finish with the juice of half a lemon and a twist of black pepper. That’s the salads done.
  • Now to cook the falafel. Pour some sunflower oil into a deep frying pan (you’re looking for around an inch in depth) and heat to 180C – you can test the oil is hot enough by dropping a few crumbs of bread in the pan. If they fizz up straightaway you’re good to go. If not, wait.
  • Place the falafel in the pan gently and fry for around 3 minutes on both sides until golden. Once cooked drain off the excess fat on some kitchen paper and serve with the salads.
  • Happy eating!

Chicken ‘oven baked’ with cream, mushrooms and thyme

This is a little heavy on the calorie side of things, but well worth it. Just offset the cream with some nice steamed greens - kale or spinach go very well with this dish. For the chicken always try and buy a whole chicken and just joint it yourself – chicken always tastes better when cooked on the bone, you’ll get more value for money and you can make a nice fresh stock with the carcass. Real value for money.

Ingredients

  • 1.3kg freedom food whole chicken (£3.63)
  • 300ml of double cream (84p)
  • 1 large onion (14p)
  • 160g of closed cup mushrooms (50p)
  • 15g of fresh thyme (68p)

The cupboard staples…

Olive oil, salt, black pepper, 4 cloves of garlic and one chicken stock cube (and some basic greens; kale or spinach)

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 £5.79 - that's £1.44 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by jointing the chicken. This video is an excellent demonstration of how to joint a chicken – for this dish you’ll need 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 wings and 2 breasts (cut into 2 pieces each).
  • Once the chicken has been jointed pre-heat the oven to 180C (gas mark 4).
  • Now get a large pan on to a medium heat and a little olive oil (it’s much easier if the pan can also go in the oven – if not just transfer the chicken and ingredients to an oven proof dish).
  • Start by gently frying some finely sliced onions for about 4 minutes and then add the chicken pieces (give the chicken a really good seasoning before adding to the pan) and fry until you have browned the chicken pieces all over. Now add some finely chopped garlic and thyme and then the sliced mushrooms.
  • Now make up 300ml of chicken stock (with one stock cube) – turn the heat up on the pan and add the stock. You want to reduce down for around 3 minutes. Finally add the cream, reduce down for a further minute on a medium heat. Foil and transfer to the oven.
  • The chicken will need 45 minutes – after 45 minutes remove from the oven and serve with fresh steamed greens.
  • Happy eating!

Slow roasted pork shoulder ‘Chinese style’ with pak choi

I adore slow roasted pork shoulder and usually I just season the joint and serve as a traditional Sunday roast. But sometimes it’s well worth doing something different and five spice really works well with pork. Try and cook it long and slow if you can as the shoulder is a fatty cut and the fat will baste the meat whilst it’s in the oven to create an amazing meal. So just get the pork in the oven and forget about it.

Ingredients

  • 1.1kg of British boneless pork shoulder (£3.30)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (25p)
  • 400g of pak choi (£2)
  • 2 red chillies (18p)
  • 1 small piece of ginger (10p)

The cupboard staples…

Sunflower oil, salt, black pepper, Chinese five spice and soy sauce.

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 £5.83 - that's £1.45 per head!

Instructions

  • Start by pre heating the oven to 210C. The pork will be in the oven for 4 hours in total.
  • Now take the pork (make sure the skin has been scored) and rub the meat (avoiding the skin) all over with salt, black pepper, 6 teaspoons of five spice and a little sunflower oil. Place the pork in a roasting tin and put in the oven for 20 minutes at 210C. After 20 minutes turn the oven down to 140C, add a cup of water to the bottom of the roasting tin and cover with foil. The pork will be ready in 3 hours and 40 minutes.
  • About 5 minutes before the pork is due out the oven (the pork will also need to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes before you serve , so you have 15 minutes for the pak choi) you can start on the pak choi dish.
  • Finely chop 4 cloves of garlic, the ginger and 2 red chillies (seeds included) and then chop each pak choi in half. Get a wok on a high heat and get the wok nice and hot – add some sunflower oil and then the garlic, ginger and red chillies and cook for no longer than 1 minute. Then add the pak choi, cook for a further 2 minutes and finally add a good few dashes of soy sauce (add a little sesame oil as well if you have some).
  • Slice the pork into slices and serve on top of the pak choi.
  • Happy eating!

Chilli steak burgers, paprika wedges and homemade coleslaw

I’ve never quite understood the appeal of fast food joints and something I particularly cannot stomach is watching a family of four enter a fast food restaurant and shell out more than a fiver each for some seriously bad, greasy food. On the top of that, you haven’t got a clue where the meat comes from (if you can call it meat).
This recipe takes no longer than 40 minutes to put together and in a fast food sense, it falls towards the healthier end of the scale. It’s also a very good recipe if you’re planning on having a World Cup BBQ this weekend.

Ingredients

  • 481g pack of Taste The Difference frying steak (£3.75)
  • 4 baking potatoes (50p)
  • 3 large carrots (22p)
  • 2 medium or 1 large onion (20p)
  • 1 small (as much on the small side as you can find) red cabbage (45p)
  • 4 Taste The Difference multi-seeded rolls (60p)
  • 2 green chillies (18p)

The cupboard staples…

Olive oil, salt, black pepper, 5 teaspoons paprika and 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise.

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 £5.90 - that's £1.47 per head!

Instructions

  • The burgers will need making first as they’ll benefit from firming up in the fridge for a little while – it helps when cooking them. Take a large bowl and add 2 very finely chopped green chillies (seeds included) and the steak also very finely chopped (you can use a food processer for the steak, although I find a bit of work with the knife is just as good and saves on the washing up). Season well with salt and pepper and mix well.
  • To assemble the burgers (the mixture will make 4 burgers); make a ball of about ¾ of the size of a tennis ball, roll around the palm of your hands and then flatten into a burger shape about 2cm in thickness. Place the burgers on a lightly oiled plate and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Whilst the burgers are in the fridge, you can get the paprika wedges in the oven and make the coleslaw. Pre-heat the oven to 190C before you crack on with anything else.
  • For the coleslaw you will need to grate the carrots into a bowl, add the very finely sliced onion and red cabbage and 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Season and stir well. Place in the fridge until you’re ready to use.
  • Now for the wedges. Cut each potato into 6 wedges and toss in a large roasting pan with 5 teaspoons of paprika, seasoning and 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Put in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes.
  • As we’re using steak and not mince, you can cook the burgers to personal preference. I’m going to assume medium is favoured. Get a griddle pan on a high heat (open those kitchen windows as it will get smoky) and let the pan heat up for a few minutes. When the pan is smoking hot, rub the burgers with a little olive oil and place in the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side (same if cooking on the BBQ). Try not to press down on them (it releases juices) and try not to move around too much as you lose heat in the pan and we’re looking for a good crust on the burgers. Once cooked rest for 2 minutes in a warm place.
  • Whilst the burgers are resting, cut the rolls, add a little coleslaw to them and serve up the wedges. Just add the burgers to the buns and happy eating!

Broad bean, halloumi and mint farfalle

This is a wonderfully simple meal which smacks of the summer. Broad beans are very much in season at the moment and the saltiness of the halloumi works so well with the tender little beans. Also it’s cheap to put together. Does it get any better?

Ingredients

  • 500g of broad beans (£1.50)
  • 1 lemon (30p)
  • 28g of fresh mint (79p)
  • 250g of halloumi (£2.23)
  • 500g of farfalle pasta (61p)

The cupboard staples…

Olive oil, salt, black pepper and 3 cloves of garlic

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 £5.43 - that's £1.35 per head!

Instructions

  • Pod your beans first so you have them ready to use.
  • Next up you can cook the pasta. Use 100 grams of farfalle pasta per person and cook as you would usually. You need to work fast here from now on as we want to mix all the ingredients together whilst still hot at the end.
  • Now get a griddle pan (frying pan fine if you don’t have a griddle pan) on a medium heat and slice the halloumi up into rectangle slices and cook on each side for around 1 minute on each side. Keep warm until ready to use.
  • The pasta will be around 4 or 5 minutes off now so put the broad beans in the same pan to save on water. They need 4 to 5 minutes to cook!
  • Very finely chop the mint and garlic and you can also roughly chop the halloumi which has been keeping warm.
  • Once the pasta and broad beans are ready drain and stir in the mint, garlic, halloumi, a good honest glug of olive oil, the juice of one lemon and season well with black pepper only (the halloumi is salty enough).
  • Happy eating!

Chicken curry, basmati rice and coriander yoghurt

This is the way I like to cook a curry. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way when it comes to curry – just do what you think feels right! I always use chicken thighs and legs as you get a greater depth of flavour, it feels more authentic and you get to gnaw on the bones as an added bonus.

Ingredients

  • 1.1kg of freedom food corn fed chicken and thighs (£2.64)
  • 2 large onions (26p)
  • 500g of basic natural yoghurt (45p)
  • 1 400g can of chick peas (31p)
  • 1 400ml can of coconut milk (57p)
  • 500g of basmati rice (84p)
  • 3 green chilies (12p)
  • 28g of fresh coriander (79p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, sunflower oil, turmeric, cumin, ground ginger, garam masala, mustard seeds, 1 chicken stock cube and 6 cloves of garlic

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 £5.98 - that's £1.50 per head!

Instructions

  • Ok, let’s start by getting a good big thick bottomed sauce pan on to a medium heat. Slice the onions, get some sunflower oil in the pan and fry the onions gently until they soften a little. Now for the spices.
  • It’s simple as we’ll use 2 teaspoons of all the spices listed. So once the onion has softened add the turmeric, cumin, garam masala, ground ginger (fresh if you have) and mustard seeds. Cook the spices out watching they don’t burn (add a little more oil if it looks like it’s catching on the bottom of the pan) for about 2 minutes. Then add 6 cloves of finely chopped garlic and the green chilies (seeds included, finely chopped) and cook for a further minute on a medium heat.
  • Now turn the heat up and add 1 pint of chicken stock. You want to get all the flavour from the bottom of the pan so give it a good stir and make sure the stock is bubbling away. Reduce this down for around 1 minute and then add the chicken (make sure you season the chicken with salt and pepper before adding to the pan). Bring down to a low heat and simmer for 30 minutes with a lid on.
  • After 30 minutes add the coconut milk and chickpeas and cook for a further 15 minutes on a low heat with the lid off.
  • Cook the rice as you would usually. Whilst the rice is cooking you can make the coriander yoghurt. Finely chop the coriander and add about two thirds of it to 300ml of yoghurt, add a few twists of black pepper and stir well.
  • The chicken curry will be ready now. So just take off the heat and add the remaining coriander to the curry.
  • Serve with the rice and a good drizzle of the coriander yoghurt - happy eating!

Barbecued whole mackerel and a spicy lime salsa

The first barbecue blog post of the summer! I always try and veer well clear of the usual barbecue suspects - a few snags, overcooked burgers and a warm potato salad is a living high summer nightmare for me. Be different. Mackerel really does lend itself to the barbecue and you need a spicy, sharp accompaniment to cut through the oily fish.

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh whole mackerel (£4.18 – around 250 grams per mackerel)
  • 1 medium red onion (10p)
  • 1 lime (20p)
  • 1 red chilli (10p)
  • 5 tomatoes (70p)
  • 25g of fresh coriander (67p)

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 ASDA where it came to £5.95 - that's £1.49 per head!

Instructions

  • The salsa will happily sit in the fridge for half a day and it’s good to make it in advance so the flavours get to have a good mingle together. Start by finely chopping the red onion, tomatoes, red chilli (including seeds) and coriander. Place all the chopped ingredients in a bowl and add the juice (and zest) of one lime, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Done. Easy. Barbecues should be!
  • For the mackerel, wait until the barbecue coals are white all over and not smoking – make a few small cuts (just on the surface and not to the bone) on both sides of each mackerel, rub with a little olive oil (to stop them sticking to the grill – this is important!) and finally season well with salt and black pepper. They will need 4 minutes on each side to be cooked through perfectly.
  • Happy eating!

Moussaka

Traditional moussakas will have lemon zest, fresh parsley and white wine in – all of which take us out of the frugal theme. But this dish is all about the all spice, oregano and cinnamon – the spices just work so wonderfully well with lamb. It truly is a simple classic.

Ingredients

  • 500g of lamb mince (£2.99)
  • 3 large aubergines (£1.64)
  • 1 large brown onion (16p)
  • 1 pint of semi skimmed milk (45p)
  • 1 tin (400g) of chopped tomatoes (33p)
  • 500g of plain flour (35p) – we’re using 75g of plain flour

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, 75g of butter, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon all spice and 1 tablespoon of dried oregano.

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 £5.92 - that's £1.48 per head!

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 185C.
  • Let’s kick off with the lamb mixture. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a deep, wide frying pan at a medium low heat – add the finely chopped onion and garlic and gently cook through until the onions become translucent. Now add the all spice, cinnamon and lamb mince and fry off until the mince is nicely browned all over. Finally add the tomatoes, oregano, ½ pint of water and season well – simmer down the mixture for 20 minutes.
  • Whilst the lamb mixture is reducing you can make the béchamel sauce which is the topping for the moussaka. Warm the milk gently in a saucepan and keep warm ready to use. Now melt the butter in a thick bottomed saucepan over a low heat and then stir in the flour – cook through for around 3 minutes without colouring too much. Now gradually stir in the milk. Keep stirring until you have a nice smooth béchamel. Season with a little salt and white pepper. Cover and set to one side.
  • Next up are the aubergines. Slice lengthways to around ½ a cm thick and fry in some olive oil until browned. Remove from the pan once browned and place the aubergines on some kitchen paper to get rid of the excess fat. The lamb mixture will also be ready to take off the heat
  • Last thing to do is assemble the moussaka and place in the oven. Grab a deep oven proof dish (such as a lasagne dish) and lay half of the aubergines along the bottom. Now pour in all the lamb mixture and spread evenly and then add another layer of aubergines. Finally, pour over the béchamel sauce and place in the oven for 40-45 minutes (until the top has browned). Do try and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Happy eating!

Pan fried trout fillets with a dill potato salad

This recipe is summer on a plate and obviously inspired by the return of some good weather! This is a simple, clean and light dish that’s perfect for a long lunch along with some chilled white wine and crusty bread. You could substitute the fish for salmon or sea bass if you’re feeling less frugal.

Ingredients

  • 4 large trout fillets, around 150g each (£4.14)
  • 1 large red onion (20p)
  • 1 lemon (30p)
  • 25g of fresh dill (67p)
  • 1kg pack of British small potatoes (50p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, 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 ASDA where it came to £5.85 - that's £1.46 per head!

Instructions

  • Boil the potatoes (you’ll need to use around 700g of potatoes to have plenty for 4 people) in a large pan. Whilst the potatoes are cooking very finely chop the red onion and dill. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and then slice the potatoes in half whilst still they are still warm. Now add the red onion, dill, 8 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients and season to taste. Set to one side (covered to keep warm so the potatoes can take on the flavour of the dressing).
  • Now for the trout. Get a large frying pan on to a medium heat add a knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil (the oil will stop the butter from burning) and season the trout fillets well on both sides. Once the butter is frothing and bubbling in the pan add the trout fillets and cook for 3 minutes on each side. It’s ready!
  • Happy eating!

Chicken braised with cider and red cabbage (and proper baked potatoes)

We’re going to do this recipe using the whole bird and that includes making a fresh stock as well. This is a quicker version of a usual stock and I find it works really well. This is taking it easy food perfect for a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen. The chicken served with a proper jacket potato is one of life’s simple pleasures.

Ingredients

  • 1.3kg freedom food endorsed whole chicken (£3.63)
  • 2 large onions (30p)
  • 1 small red cabbage (45p)
  • 4 baking potatoes (70p)
  • 440ml (1 can) of dry cider ( 90p from the local off licence)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, flour, 4 cloves of garlic, 3 bay leaves and whole grain mustard.

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 £5.98 - that's £1.50 per head!

Instructions

  • First up you’ll need to de-bone the chicken – you’re looking for 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 breasts (cut into 4 pieces) and 2 wings and of course the carcass left over for a stock. This video is an excellent demonstration of how to de-bone a chicken:
  • Now for the stock. Get a medium sized saucepan on the heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and brown off the chicken carcass for a few minutes. Then add a few peppercorns, three bay leaves and enough water to cover the chicken carcass (probably around 3 or 4 pints). Bring up to the simmer and skim off any impurities that rise to the surface. Leave simmering for around 80 minutes or until you have about a pint and a half of stock.
  • Whilst the stock is simmering away you can start to prepare the chicken dish and jacket potatoes. For the potatoes lay them individually on a square piece of foil (enough to wrap the potato), season with a good pinch of salt and add a drizzle of olive oil. Then wrap and set to one side ready to go in the oven.
  • Now for the chicken. Dust all the chicken pieces with 2 tablespoons of seasoned flour and finely slice the onions, cabbage and garlic. Get a good pan on the heat (heavy bottomed best and one that can go in the oven) and add some olive oil. When the oil is hot add the chicken pieces and brown nicely on all sides – once browned remove the chicken from the pan and set to one side until the stock is ready. Keep the pan for later as well. Pre-heat the oven to 160C.
  • Once the stock is ready just drain with a sieve. Now get the pan back on the heat (add a little more olive oil) and sauté off the onions and garlic for a few minutes. Then add the cider and reduce down for 1 minute. After the cider has reduced down, add 2 teaspoons of mustard and 1 and ½ pints of the stock along with the chicken and cabbage. Season well and then place in the oven (covered with foil) for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Do check the chicken every now and then to see if it needs a little more liquid.
  • You can put the jacket potatoes in the oven at the same time as the chicken.
  • After 1 hour and 30 minutes the chicken will be lovely and tender, but the jackets will probably need a quick blast at a higher heat, so just unwrap the foil and turn the oven up as high as it will go for a further 5 or 10 minutes.
  • Happy eating!

Lincolnshire sausages with red onion gravy and thyme and Gouda polenta

This is real comfort food with a slightly more elegant twist on the standard mash offering we so often see in gastro pubs around the country – polenta can be pretty boring on its own and really benefits from the cheese and fresh herbs. You can use any sausages really; Toulouse or Cumberland would be great if you wish to stretch the £1.50 per person budget.

Ingredients

  • 8 Lincolnshire sausages (£1.83)
  • 500g of Dunn’s fine polenta (44p)
  • 200g of Gouda (86p)
  • 25g of fresh lemon thyme (67p)
  • 4 large red onions (60p)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, butter, Lea and Perrin’s sauce and 2 chicken stock cubes.

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 £4.40 - that's £1.10 per head!

Instructions

  • The gravy needs at least an hour so make this first. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the finely sliced onions. Let them soften down on a very low heat for around 30 minutes until you get a nice caramelised brown colour. Once browned add 1 ½ pints of chicken stock and a few dashes of Lea and Perrin’s, along with some salt and lots of black pepper – reduce for another 30 minutes on a low simmer and the gravy will be ready.
  • Whilst the gravy is reducing down, get the sausages under the grill and cook as you usually would. You could always pan fry if you feel that way inclined. Keep warm once cooked, ready for serving.
  • Now the polenta – get 2 pints of water in a large pan and up to the boil. Now slowly add (in a nice even stream) 500g of polenta and keep stirring as you add the polenta. Keep stirring until nice and smooth. Now add 2 tablespoons of butter, 200g of grated Gouda and the finely chopped fresh thyme. Keep stirring on a low heat for a further 6 minutes until it thickens. Season to taste before serving. Serve in the traditional way!
  • Happy eating!

Beef enchiladas with a lime sour cream

I regularly have cravings for spicy food and it doesn’t get much hotter than Mexican dishes for when I need to fulfil the craving. Now I don’t put cheese on my enchiladas as it doesn’t feel very authentic to layer a nice flavoursome filling and sauce with a great big handful of English cheddar, however if you prefer cheese just put it on - a good sour cream and a cooling bottle of cerveza does the trick nicely though.

Ingredients

  • 500g of Tesco premium beef mince (£2.20)
  • 1 can of KTC red kidney beans (25p)
  • 500g of Tesco tomato passata (50p)
  • 1 large brown onion (17p)
  • 8 plain tortilla wraps (£1)
  • 300ml of soured cream (88p)
  • 1 lime (30p)
  • 3 fresh green chillies (20p)
  • 1 can of Tesco value chopped tomatoes (35p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, vinegar, chilli powder, paprika, cumin and 1 beef stock cube.

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 £5.85 - that's £1.46 per head!

Instructions

  • Get the oven preheated first to 180C.
  • First up is the tomato sauce as we want this to reduce down a little and really develop some flavour. Get a little olive oil in a saucepan and gently sauté 3 green chillies and 2 cloves of garlic (both finely chopped) for about 60 seconds. Try not to get too much colour because if the garlic burns it will taste bitter. Now add the tomato passata, the can of tomatoes, 1 pint of beef stock, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 2 teaspoons of sugar and a good twist of salt and black pepper. Turn down to a simmer and you want to reduce down by about 30% until the sauce thickens a little.
  • Next up the beef filling for the enchiladas. Get a good heavy pan on the heat; add a little olive oil and 1 finely chopped onion. Gently fry the onion for 2 minutes. Then add the beef - you want a nice high heat as we want to get the beef browned. It will take around 5 minutes to take on a good brown colour.
  • Once the beef has a nice brown colour, keep on a high heat and add 1 finely chopped clove of garlic, 2 teaspoons of chilli powder, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 2 teaspoons of cumin and a good twist of salt and black pepper. Cook out the spices for a further minute and add around ¼ of a pint of water, simmer for a further 3 minutes on a medium heat.
  • Now we’re ready to assemble. Take a tortilla, place a good tablespoonful of the beef filling into the centre and roll into a cigar shape and place into an oven dish (we want a good snug fit for the enchiladas). Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.
  • Then pour the sauce over all of the tortillas and place in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the sauce is bubbling. Whilst the enchiladas are cooking squeeze the juice of one lemon into a bowl of the soured cream and mix well with a good pinch of black pepper.
  • Happy eating!