Food for a fiver

8 December 2008


Providing you already have the herbs and spices, plus rice to serve with the finished chilli, this dish will come in at well under a fiver for up to six people.

2 lb (1kg) lean minced beef
1 large onion
2 peppers, any colour
2 courgettes
1 tin of kidney beans
1 or 2 tins of plum or chopped tomatoes
Tomato puree
Garlic puree
Chilli powder
Pinch of curry powder
1 (beef) stock cube
A pinch of curry powder

1. Put the mince in a large, deep-sided pan on a low heat and let it brown slowly while you wash and chop the vegetables. (Break up the lumps of meat from time to time with a wooden spoon.)

2. When the meat is just about cooked, strain off the fatty liquid and add the peppers, courgettes, mushrooms, onion, herbs and spices and give it all a good stir.

3. Wash a generous handful of spinach and add to the meat with the tinned tomatoes; keep stirring and turn the heat right up to make it bubble. Thoroughly rinse the kidney beans in a sieve and put them in too.

4. Add enough tomato puree to thicken the sauce until it’s the way you like it, then turn the heat right down, cover with a lid and simmer very gently for about half an hour.


Serve these hot with vegetables and a few potato wedges, or cold with salad and/or pitta bread. You can use whatever kind of rice you like, and substitute beef with minced pork or lamb.

1lb (450 – 500g) mince
6oz (150g) rice
8oz (200g) white breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup of milk

1. Cook rice in the usual way then strain through a sieve and immediately rinse with plenty of cold water.

2. Mix the beaten eggs with about ¼ cup of milk and spread the breadcrumbs out on a large, shallow tray.

3. Put the cooked rice into a very large bowl with the raw mince (and whatever herbs and spices you want to use) and squish it together gently with your hands.

4. Shape into Scotch egg size balls – or slightly smaller – dip them into the egg mixture, then coat with the breadcrumbs.

5. Heat enough oil in a very large saucepan to just cover the rissoles (a piece of stale bread will turn golden in less than 30 seconds if the oil’s hot enough) and deep fry for a few minutes until the coating is crisp and brown.

6. Put the rissoles on an ovenproof tray in a moderate oven (Gas mark 4/180c) for about 20 minutes.


This disk only takes a couple of minutes longer to throw together than a pasta bake made with a jar of instant sauce, and apart from having a much better flavour it also contains a lot less salt. You can even prepare the pasta bake in the morning and keep covered in the fridge until dinnertime.

If you don’t have tomato juice, use two tins of chopped tomatoes or a carton of passata (finely chopped and sieved tomatoes) instead.

1 large or two small tins of tuna
1 large tin of sweetcorn
¾ litre of tomato juice
½ tub (approx 8oz/300g) of soft cream cheese
Dried pasta shapes (approx 1 handful per person)
Parsley or Herbs de Provence
2 large handfuls of grated cheese (a mix of mozzarella and cheddar is good)
1 or 2 packets of ready salted crisps (scrunched up in the bag)

1. Blend the tomato juice with the soft cream cheese or Quark to make the sauce.

2. Drain the tins of tuna and sweetcorn and mix together in a large ovenproof dish with the (uncooked) pasta, sauce and herbs, making sure all the pasta is covered by the sauce.

3. Top with the grated cheese and scrunched up crisps and bake in the oven on Gas mark 4 (180c) for 30 – 40 minutes, by which time the pasta should be perfectly cooked.


These sausage rolls are made with suet which is easy to handle – even for very inexperienced pastry makers – and, contrary to popular belief, actually contains less saturated fat than butter. Serve hot with mashed potatoes, green vegetables and gravy.

For the filling:
1lb (500g) Pork mince
1 tin (standard size 114g) of apple chunks
I small sachet of sage & onion stuffing mix

For the pastry:
8oz self raising flour
4oz suet
6 fl oz water (approx)

1. Squish the pork, stuffing mix and apple chunks together in a large bowl with your hands.

2. Mix the flour and suet together in another large bowl and gradually add the water to form a ball of dough. The dough should be quite soft, but firm enough to handle easily; if it’s too sticky, sprinkle more flour into the mixing bowl and keep kneading it gently until it feels right.

3. Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a large rectangle; as thin as you can get it without tearing.
4. Form the sausage meat into a fat roll, roughly the same length as the pastry, and place in the middle. Fold one side of the pastry across the meat and brush it with milk; bring the opposite side of the pastry over, pressing it down gently to hide the join, then brush the top and sides of the giant sausage roll with milk, trim the rough ends and cut it crossways into slices. You should get about a dozen sausage rolls roughly two inches thick.

5. Place the sausage rolls on an oiled baking tray and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the meat is obviously cooked through.


Lancashire hot pot was traditionally made with lamb chops or cutlets on the bone; use them if you like, but a much cheaper version can be made with neck fillet, which only needs a slightly longer cooking time to become as succulent and juicy as the most expensive leg of lamb.

2lb (1kg) neck fillet of lamb
2lb (1kg) potatoes
1 large onion
1 pint of lamb or beef stock
Salt & pepper

1. Peel the potatoes, rinse them well and slice into rings about 1/8 inch (2mm) thick.

2. Heat some oil in a large pan, fry the onion for a few minutes then add the lamb and brown the meat quickly on all sides.

3. Put half the potato rings on the bottom of a deep ovenproof dish, cover with the lamb and onions and season well.

4. Pour in the hot stock then layer the rest of the potatoes on top of the meat and dot with small pieces of butter.

5. Cover the casserole with a lid, or a sheet of foil, and cook in a moderate oven, gas mark 4 (180c) for about two hours, then remove the lid and continue cooking for another 15 – 20 minutes until the potatoes on the top are golden brown and crisp around the edges.


½ lb (225g) chicken livers
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tsp Thyme
2 tbsp butter
½ small glass of sherry or brandy
2 tbsp single cream

1. Clean and cut the livers into small pieces, removing any skin or fatty bits then peel and finely chop the onion and crush the garlic.

2. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large saucepan, add the liver, onion, garlic and thyme, and fry for about 5 minutes, then turn the heat down, cover with a lid and cook gently for another five minutes.

3. Transfer everything to a large mixing bowl with a slotted spoon in order to leave most of the liquid behind in the pan.

4. Blend on the lowest speed setting for a minute, adding a fresh bit of butter (about 1 tbsp) with the sherry and cream and then blend for a few seconds more.

5. Put the pate into a small casserole dish and chill in the fridge for about an hour. Eat within four days.


You can use pre-packed boil-in-the-bag kippers for this recipe, which means the skin and most of the bones will already have been removed.

½ (225g) kippers
Approx ½ lb (300g) tub 8oz of low fat cream cheese
1 lemon (juice)
1 clove of garlic
Black pepper

1. Follow the instructions on the packet for boil-in-the-bag kippers, or grill or fry them gently with a little lump of butter for about 10 minutes.

2. Flake the kippers, double checking for large bones, then put the fish in a large mixing bowl with the cream cheese, garlic, lemon juice and black pepper.

3. Either beat everything together with a wooden spoon, or use an electric whisk to get a fairly smooth, creamy paste in a matter of seconds. Cover with a lid and chill the pate in the fridge for about an hour. Use within four days.

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