Delicious and filling, this sausage and bean pie is a perfect winter dish, and can be made with a variety of ingredients which will affect the overall frugality of it. At the end of a shopping week we found Carlin Peas at the back of the cupboard and soaked them overnight but any beans would do. We combined these with a box of Linda McCartney sausages from the bottom of the freezer.
To make the pie: Pastry ingredients (for four people, adjust as required):
300g of flour (any type, self raising will puff up a little, plain won’t – we used wholemeal spelt obtained from Approved Food (also check Low Price Foods) in these pics, white would be lighter in colour).
150g of vegetable margarine
tiny amount of water (2 or 3 tablespoons)
Place flour in a bowl. Break the marg into small pieces and rub it in to the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a very small amount of water and knead this into flour until you have firm dough (adding more water if too dry or more flour if too wet). Sprinkle flour on your working surface, divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each one out to fit your pie or oven proof dish. Line the bottom and edges of the pie dish with one section of the pastry, ready for the filling.
Filling and Baking: Ingredients:
Beans of your choice (we used 200g dried beans). You could even used baked beans and skip the gravy part!
Sausages of your choice – we used six LM ones
a little oil
1 red onion chopped
gravy mix or flour to thicken
water as needed
salt to taste
Cook your beans and sausages as per packet instructions. Fry a red onion off in a little oil and add your pre-cooked beans along with their cooking water (or add water as needed if using tinned beans). Chop the cooked sausages into chunks and add these too. Make a thick gravy of the mixture (we used original Bisto) and add salt to taste. Place filling onto the pastry in the pie dish and then cover with the top pastry, sealing the edges with a little water. Make some cuts in the top to let out steam and bake in the oven at 200C/400F for at least half an hour or until the pastry is browned.
Fruit crumble is a wonderfully frugal dish. You can use virtually any fruit (perhaps not banana!) and it’s a good way to use up items that might be passing their best. Summer brings luscious pink rhubarb, perfect for crumble. Autumn delivers apples and blackberries/brambles, also delicious. Here is a basic recipe for a combination of rhubarb and apples, adjust as you require:
2 or 3 apples, peeled and chopped (if you use eating apples you could reduce the sugar slightly)
4 or 5 sticks of rhubarb, chopped into chunks
4 tablespoons of sugar
Surprisingly, rose petals combine with rhubarb to give a beautiful flavour.
100g. flour (for a gluten-free version use Doves Farm gluten-free flour)
75g. vegetable margarine
optional additions: grated lemon rind, sunflower seeds, rolled oats.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Place the fruit in an ovenproof dish and top with the sugar. For the topping: rub the flour into the margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar and any other additions and place evenly over the filling. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about half an hour or until everything is bubbling: crispy on top, soft below. Lovely with custard or ice cream.
If you like this, you may also like our recipe for Apple Pie
This gluten-free vegetarian lasagne was made with gluten free lasagne sheets found in Lidl, making it especially frugal, though many brands exist and the recipe will work with wheat based products too. It made enough for four huge portions or six medium.
1 250g pack of lasagne sheets
For the tomato sauce
a little olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
an aubergine, cut into small chunks
4 sticks of celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 500g pack of passata
about 2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of dried oregano or other dried herbs
salt to taste
Method: fry the vegetables in the oil for a few minutes until softened. Add the passata, rinse out the pack/bottle with the water before adding it to the sauce. Bring to the boil, add your herbs and salt.
Method: melt the margarine and stir in the flour. Gradually add the milk over a medium heat, stirring all the time to avoid lumps (though don’t worry too much, in this dish they’re not very noticeable), until the sauce thickens. Add your seasoning and pour onto the top of the lasagne.
In a flat oven proof dish layer up the lasagne and the tomato sauce. It’s best to put a little sauce on the bottom to prevent sticking. The Lidl brand of lasagne did not need pre soaking (thank goodness! It always sticks together!) but check the instructions on your pack.
Make the top layer sauce and spread on top.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for at least forty minutes or until a knife slides easily into the middle of the lasagne.
This recipe used the most basic of vegetables, you can use whatever you have to hand: peppers, courgettes, peas, sweetcorn. We added sweetcorn to the white sauce pictured.
A layer of tinned spinach instead of the last layer of tomato sauce is very nice and juicy. Ditto mushrooms.
We topped with a small packet of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
You can add tomato puree if the sauce seems overly runny, though remember it does need to have more liquid than plain pasta sauce as the lasagne will absorb some of it.
We love this potato and onion pie! Well, what’s not to love? Pies are simple and filling and people gobble them up. Last night we made the pictured potato and onion pie with a block of cheap puff pastry from Lidl on the top.
Filling Ingredients (serves 5)
a little olive oil
1 bag of new potatoes washed and thinly sliced (skins left on)
4 onions, peeled and sliced up
3 tablespoons original Bisto powder (or other gravy mix)
salt to taste
water as needed (a cup or two)
In a large pan fry up the onion in the oil until softened and add the potatoes, mixing well. Add water (not actually to cover, it will form your gravy) and bring to the boil as you preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Cook the potato mix for a short time so that the potatoes are partly boiled and then add your gravy mix according to packet instructions, though you are going for thick not pouring. Combine well in the pan, adding salt as needed.
Transfer your filling to a large pie dish or casserole. Roll out your pastry to fit the pie and plonk it on top, tucking in the edges if needed.
Cook for at least half an hour, maybe up to 45 minutes, until the pastry is risen and browned and the potatoes are all soft.
Of course, all manner of ingredients can go into a pie! This one was originally intended to be a cheese, onion and potato pie, but all the cheese was gone at the end of the shopping week.
This gluten free cake contains no gluten and no refined sugar, but is sweet and even sort of juicy! It fitted a seven inch round cake tin.
Ingredients: 200g Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour 2 apples, peeled and chopped into small chunks 2 bananas, mashed 1 cupful of raisins half a cupful of sunflower oil soya milk, or other milk of your choice to mix, about a cup and a half
Place the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in your oil and some of the soya milk. Add the mashed banana and the apples and raisins and mix, mix, mix, with a wooden spoon, adding milk as you go for a good consistency (thick but not dry, pourable but not runny). Pour into a greased cake tin and bake at 200C/400F for about half an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!
The juiciness of the fruit means this gluten free cake does not dry out like some and is good for two or three days. Best kept in the fridge.
Underground, overground, brambling free! The brambles of Wimbledon Common are we…
I don’t know if Wimbledon Common is a good source of brambles (blackberries) but many hedgerows are this time of year, and that means: fruity purple cakes. With chocolate chips. Just because.
Bramble Chocolate Chip Cakes
300g Doves Farm Gluten free Self Raising flour
100g caster sugar
a couple of handfuls of freshly picked brambles
about a third of a cup of soya milk
about a third of a cup of sunflower oil
100g of chocolate chips (we used Moo Free)
water to mix to a good thick batter – though you don’t want it too runny
Mix the flour, chocolate chips and sugar together (keep some chips back for sprinkling on top). Blend up the brambles with the soya milk and mix this in along with the oil, adding some water if the batter is too thick. It should be purple!
Divide between 12 cake or muffin cases. Place in a muffin tin if using paper ones; silicone reusable cases are better in many ways, not least of which is that the cakes will not stick to them like glue as gluten-free mixes are prone to do. Top with the remaining chips. Bake at 200C/400F for 15 to 20 minutes until well risen and browning. And slightly purpling!
Extremely simple and cheap – even if you’ve never cooked before you should manage this one!
Ingredients: 6 or 7 medium sized potatoes, peeled 1 large can of baked beans in tomato sauce (approx 800g – you could use 2 standard size tins instead) 1 large onion, thinly sliced 2 or 3 sliced tomatoes 1 tablespoon of margarine for dotting over the top 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds for sprinkling on the top other optional layers: 1 or 2 cups of left-over rice mixed with some soya milk and herbs sliced mushrooms mixed with a little veg. oil and 2 cloves of crushed garlic 1 can of sweetcorn 1 can of spinach
Part-boil the potatoes for 5 or 6 minutes until starting to soften. Thinly slice them. In a large casserole or lasagne dish place a layer of potatoes then a layer of beans, then onion and repeat until all used up. That is the basic dish but you can add any other layers you like (experiment! Any tins lurking in the cupboard?), such as the garlic mushrooms, sweetcorn, spinach or rice ones above, making the last layer potatoes. Spread the sliced tomatoes over the top, dot with the marg. and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Bake for about an hour or until the potatoes are soft at 190C/380F.
Pictured Potato Bake cooked in an energy saving Halogen Oven.
Ailish Sinclair‘s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, and featuring the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, is out Autumn 2019. On Amazon and Waterstones or see Author website for more details.
Homemade cookies are really quite easy, and fun, and very frugal. This recipe makes about 40 small (2 inch/6cm) cookies
150g/5oz/three quarter cup caster sugar
150g/5 oz/three quarter cup vegetable margarine
5 tablespoons of soya milk
300g/10 oz/1and a half cups of plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Preheat oven to 200C/400F and grease cookie sheets. Cream together the sugar and marg. Mix in the soya milk and vanilla and then the flour. The mixing of the flour is best done with your hands (messy but fun!). You should have a workable dough (add more flour if it’s too wet or more soya milk if too dry and doesn’t hold together well). Roll out on a floured board (to just under 1 cm thick) and cut into cookies (if you don’t have cookie cutters you can use an upturned glass). Lay on cookie sheets and bake for about 10 minutes for soft bake cookies or a little longer for dryer, crunchy ones.
Add choc, nuts or/and dried fruit
Half dip the cooled cookies in chocolate – choccy biscuits!
Crushed chocolate beans are a colourful replacement for chocolate chips. They can also be pressed all over the top prior to baking.
Plain cookies with a handful of sesame seeds or desiccated coconut added into the dough are delicious.
Jewel biscuits: make a hole in the middle of your uncooked cookie once it is placed on a baking tray and place a boiled sweet in the space – this will melt down and fill the hole in the oven and then reset once cool – lovely for Christmas tree decorations!
Plain cookies with a square of chocolate pressed onto them before baking work well too.
Ailish Sinclair‘s debut
novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, set in a fictional castle in
Aberdeenshire, and featuring the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, is out
Autumn 2019. On Amazon and Waterstones or see Author website for more details.
This gluten free apple layer cake is low-fat and moist, using soya and rice flours. Nice served as a pudding with custard or yogurt.
Ingredients: 6oz/200g./1 and a half cups of rice flour 2oz./50g/scant cup soya flour 4oz./125g./half cup caster sugar 1 teaspoon wheat free raising agent 2 large eating apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced) 1 cup water 1/4 cup of apple juice 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil a few drops of vanilla extract (optional) brown granulated sugar for sprinkling on top
Mix the dry ingredients together then add the water, juice, oil, vanilla and mix well. Pour half the cake batter into a greased square cake tin (9×9 inches or 20×20 cm approx. works well). Spread the apple slices evenly over the batter and then top with the remaining mixture and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180c/360F for about 40 minutes or until firm.
This basic chocolate cake recipe is easy to make and so so delicious!
250g/8oz/1 and a half cups of flour
50g/2oz/1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
200/g/6oz/1 cup sugar
75g/2oz/half a cup of mixed, chopped nuts (optional)
150g/5oz/1/2 cup vegetable oil
120ml/4 fl oz/half a cup cold water or soy milk
120ml/4 fl oz/half a cup of orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift dry ingredients into 8″ square or 9″ round baking pan. Mix liquids (except vinegar) and whisk into dry. When batter is smooth, add vinegar and stir quickly, until it is evenly distributed. Put it in the oven, don’t let it stand around (that has something to do with the vinegar) Bake for 25-30 minutes…or longer until done.
A gorgeous ‘steamed pudding with chocolate sauce’ variation of this cake was sent in to us by Bracken: put broken up chocolate bar pieces in the bottom of a microwavable basin and put the chocolate cake mixture on top. Microwave for 2-4 minutes depending on machine. It is something similar to the M&S (and several other companies) steamed chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce. Its also very quick and you don’t need to use the oven (so saving electric).