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Jack’s Carrot, Cumin and Kidney Bean Burger (20p)

Facebook post 16 Mar 2016.

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This is arguably the recipe that brought Jack Monroe into the limelight and the first one that I tried.

1202340The original 2013 blog (superseded by www.cookingonabootstrap.com in late 2015) where this and other recipes were originally posted are archived here, and a BBC Business article featuring Jack a couple of weeks later here. I discovered the recipes in 2015 and their simplicity and low cost got me interested in cooking for myself.

I did a bit of basic cheffing many years ago, and it was these articles that promoted me to ‘take up the knife’ again.

Astonishingly, discovered a single ‘web ghost‘ showing the place I used to work, although the date stamped on the photograph (2003) is impossible – the business was dissolved in 1997 (I was there a few years earlier) and has changed hands and names several times since. Mixed memories, but mostly great fun and window into a world I could never have imagined.

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For my version of the CCK burgers I finely chopped an onion, grated three smallish carrots, and then located the dustpan and brush and swept up all the bits of onion, peel and carrot chippings which had appeared on the kitchen floor and elsewhere.

Drove to Tesco to buy a proper can opener because the budget one I got from there didn’t work and was grinding bits of metal into the tin of kidney beans I was trying to open. Spent a few pounds on a decent one, and successfully opened the tin.

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Rinsed the goo off the beans, covered them with water in a saucepan, brought to boil then simmered for 15 minutes. Meanwhile soft fried the veg.

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Mashed everything together with a heaped teaspoon of flour and teaspoon each of cumin and coriander powder, then with floury hands made burger shapes and browned them off in the frying pan.

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Toasted some brown bread and made a burgerwich. With a dash of tabasco it was excellent.. There was enough mix left to make 4 more. Cost as a meal (inc. bread, butter, tea and electricity, but not petrol to get to Tesco and get the new can opener), 20p.

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Chicken in a Creamy-mustardy Sauce (95p)

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An important point about the A Girl Called Jack recipe book is that it’s not a gourmet book full of fancy creations. It’s a book about making nutritional food at minimal cost. Some of the recipes do have a touch of genius and are full of flavour, others are more ordinary, although I haven’t found anything that I didn’t like so far. The following lies somewhere in the middle …

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The ingredients I used today:

  • 250 ml chicken stock – can use less if that’s all you’ve got, but no less than 200 ml. (I wouldn’t use stock made from cubes because they ate high in salt, artificial flavourings and palm oil – palm oil production is a major cause of environmental destruction worldwide (although a minority of suppliers manage their crops ethically and sustainably), but unfortunately is in many products you wouldn’t think had it.
  • 1 white onion. (Could also use green beans, peas or any other odd veg lying around.)
  • 1 large carrot.
  • A generous pinch each of dried thyme and parsley.
  • Mustard. I think Dijon on it’s own works best, but use whatever mustard you have around.
  • Several dessert spoons of natural yoghurt.
  • 75 g cooked chicken meat per serving (or more if you are very hungry!).
  • All-purpose seasoning (my favourite is Schwartz ‘Season All’).

I obtained the stock by slow-cooking a chicken, then tipping the contents of the pot into a metal strainer resting on a bowl. When cooled a bit, I transferred the juices to a tall glass and after a few minutes poured off the layer of fat which separated out on top.

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Fine-chopped the onion and soft-fried it. Cooked the carrot (popped it on top of the chicken in the slow-cooker for 20 minutes, but could have just boiled it, of course) and chopped it up a bit. Everything then went into a saucepan and simmered for 20 minutes – the veg, herbs, stock and a couple of generous teaspoons of mustard.

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When it had cooled a little, stirred in yoghurt until it was looking creamy. Could use cream, but yoghurt keeps the calories down. The result was ladled over some broken-up bits of chicken in a bowl.

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With the above quantities there was enough for four servings. Tasted excellent. I actually used English and Dijon mustard in my first batch, but next time I’ll use just use Dijon. Nothing wrong with the English, I just think it goes better with sausages! A sprinkle of all-purpose seasoning on top goes well. With the usual cup of tea and assuming a slice of bread and butter, 95p (not absolutely sure as I played around with the ingredients – somewhere between 85p and £1)..

The cost I originally posted was £1.10 a meal based on three servings, but it proved to serve four. Wasn’t sure how to classify this in the ‘categories’ list, but decided to call it a soup, as that was what the final product reminded me of more than anything else – some home-made croutons (a slice of toast cut into little squares) can be added.

Courgette Crisis Pasta (77p)

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Based on a recipe from Jack Monroe’s cookingonabootstrap.com.

Back to Jack. Had a go at Jack’s Creamy Greek cheese and courgette pasta. One problem, not a single courgette in the shops due to floods and bad weather in southern Europe.

Interesting going shopping. Some people were staring at the vegetable section in Tesco, grumbling about how they were going to cope without courgettes or iceberg lettuces. The shop is bursting at the seams with all kinds of foods, but they could only talk about what wasn’t there. Made me think how much of the world’s population struggles to find even the basics, not to mention how many Mediterranean farmers will be in dire straits. There were plenty of carrots, however, so … Creamy Greek cheese and carrot pasta.

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The ingredients:

  • 1 large carrot (biggest you can find).
  • 100g string beans.
  • flat teaspoon each of dried mint and parsley (or fresh, of course, if you happen to have it).
  • 1 tablespoon oil.
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon (or a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice).
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped fine.
  • 50g feta (a crumbly Greek cheese).
  • 150g natural yoghurt.
  • 200g pasta of any sort.

Put the carrot, chopped up a bit, and beans with the ends chopped off in a pot of cold water, bring to the boil then simmer. Remove when the carrot’s just soft enough to mash (about 35 minutes from cold). Don’t throw the water away – use it to cook the pasta.

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While the above is simmering, mix the mint, parsley, oil, juice, zest and garlic. Crumble the feta in a saucepan, add the mixture just made and simmer gently for a few minutes, mixing in the yoghurt towards the end.

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I don’t have a ‘zester’, so with a sharp knife I pared the skin off the lemon and chopped it up fine. Do wash the lemon beforehand to get any oils/contaminants off the surface.

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Mash the carrot in the bottom of a dish and put the beans on top, followed by the pasta.

ccbake7Reheat the sauce to make it runny – add more yoghurt or milk if it goes too sticky – and pour it over the top. And there it is! Delightfully colourful. Tasty, tangy and very lemony – could leave out the zest if you think the lemon flavour is going to be too overpowering for you.

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I found this delicious when freshly made, but after a couple of hours, perhaps because the pasta absorbs the moisture, the flavours had diminished and it was less special.

With a cup of tea or coffee, including electricity and washing-up costs, three means for 77p each. No where near Jack’s 28p, so not one for the ultra-budget bracket (< 50p a meal).