That’s where food writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe comes in. Jack is the author of Tin Can Cook, which is replete with recipes that you can rustle up from tinned and dried ingredients.
As Coronavirus grips the world, life as we know it is changing by the minute. With Boris Johnson advising us to spend as much time at home as possible and limit social interaction, millions of families have been stockpiling (please do so responsibly and think of the elderly and vulnerable who may well be house-bound for three months).
Most people have probably filled their cupboards with tinned goods, curious beans they’ve never heard of and bags upon bags of pasta that they have absolutely no idea what to do with them. Just me?
“Tin Can Cook strips away the blinding glamour and elitism of many cookbooks and takes it back to the basics: making great-tasting food with ordinary ingredients,” says Jack.
You might not have needed it until now but it’s time to put your well-fingered Ottolenghi tome to the back of your cupboard and focus on the simple stuff. If you don’t already own a copy from your student days, you can buy Tin Can Cook from Amazon (hello, front door delivery) and pore over the mouthwatering recipes as you hunker down indoors.
Jack has shared three recipes with GLAMOUR to get you started as you settle into the isolation period.
Get Up Go Smoothie – serves 1
The oats in this quick and effective breakfast form the ‘get up’ portion, being a good source of slow-release energy, and the prunes – well – they should speak for themselves! This makes for a swift but stimulating start to the day, in every imaginable sense.
8 tinned prunes
40g porridge oats
First remove the stones from the prunes, then pop the fruits into your blender. Add the oats and milk, and blend until smooth – or as smooth as it gets. Down it in one; you’re ready for anything now!
Blenders are pretty handy to have in the kitchen. If you don’t have one, you can sometimes pick them up from charity shops for a song and they’ll usually have PAT tested them so they won’t go bang.
Pasta E Ceci (Pasta Chickpeas) – Serves 2
Pasta and chickpeas is a classic Roman dish, and I have upped the ‘tin factor’ on this version by making it with tinned spaghetti hoops because, why on earth not? Tinned spaghetti is pre-cooked and very very soft, so it needs little more than a gentle warm through at the end.
This recipe may look a little impetuous, or at the very least unappetising, but it is so much more than the sum of its parts, I promise you.
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
vegetable stock cube dissolved in 700ml boiling water
6 cloves of garlic, peeled, or 2 tbsp garlic paste
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp vinegar
1 tbsp oil or 15g butter
½ tsp mixed dried herbs
salt and black pepper
1 x 400g tin of spaghetti hoops
a pinch of chilli powder or dried chilli flakes (optional)
Tip the chickpeas into a medium saucepan and add the garlic cloves – whole is fine as they will be cooking for quite some time, so will end up soft and sweet rather than raw and terrifying – or use paste. Add the stock (or just use 700ml water) and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes to make the chickpeas super soft and squishy.
Pour over the tomatoes and add the vinegar, oil or butter, herbs and a pinch of salt and a good grinding of pepper, then cook for a further 10 minutes.
Tip the spaghetti hoops into a sieve or colander and rinse very slowly and gently to get rid of as much of the sticky orange sauce as possible. I must admit I omit this step as I don’t mind the sauce and like the sweetness it adds, but if I were cooking it for someone else I would rinse it off! Add the hoops to the pan and warm through for 2 minutes, stirring carefully, then serve with a grinding of pepper and some chilli on top, if you like.
Something like a Feijoada – serves 4
Feijoada is a Brazilian stew, traditionally made with pork, beef and black beans. Some versions are served with caramelised orange slices on top and stirred through, so I have used mandarins here; their bright citrus flavour helps to lift the heady, heavy black beans and beef. This may sound an odd combination but it is truly delicious. My apologies to my Brazilian friends – if you do get the chance to make an authentic feijoada, seize it, it knocks absolute spots off this one, but I’ve done the best I could with what I had!
This improves with a day’s rest, as do most of us, so keep leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge and enjoy them the next day.
1 x 400g tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
100g frozen sliced onion or 1 small onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp garlic paste or 4 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tomato purée or ketchup
1 tbsp paprika
1 chicken or beef stock cube
1 x 300g tin of mandarins, drained
1 x 400g tin of stewed steak, drained and rinsed
a few pinches of dried chilli flakes
Tip the black beans into a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, tomato purée and paprika. Cover with 700ml water and crumble in the stock cube, then bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until the beans have started to soften.
Add the mandarins and stewed steak to the pot. Cook for a further 20 minutes, then finish with dried chilli flakes to taste, and serve.