Sarah Brown’s Red Dragon Pie

As I keep mentioning Sarah Brown’s Red Dragon Pie in my meal plans, I thought I had better publish the recipe. The book it comes from is Vegetarian Kitchen, which is out of print now.

I do wish they would do a reprint of this one. It is packed full of great, easy to make and unfussy recipes. I think it is more relevant than ever with the current popularity of vegetarianism and veganism. If you are lucky, you might find it second hand on Amazon.

Red Dragon Pie is the veggie replacement for shepherd’s pie. Just as tasty and delicious with vegetables and vegetarian gravy. I tend to use cans of aduki beans for this as it is much quicker to make. However, if you use dried you will need to soak them over night or in boiling water for 1 hour. Rinse them, bring to the boil and cook for 50 minutes. Drain and reserve the stock.

Red Dragon Pie

Serves 4


110g aduki beans

50g rice

1 tbsp oil

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

25g carrots, diced

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp mixed herbs

Half a pint of stock or the reserved liquid from the aduki beans

salt and pepper

450g potatoes, peeled and chopped

25g butter


Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked beans and rice. Mix the soy sauce, tomato puree and herbs with the stock, then pour over the beans and vegetables. Season to taste, adding a little more liquid if necessary. Transfer to a greased 1.5 litre casserole dish.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until cooked and mash with the butter. Season well and top your bean mixture. Bake in the oven for around 40 minutes until the top has browned.

For more frugal recipes we enjoy, see my Frugal Recipes page.

Lentil vegetable stew: A Simple Supper

lentil vegetable stewLentil vegetable stew

I have been visiting my mum in hospital after work and my daughters have been great at organising dinner. Last night darling daughter no 2 made a really tasty lentil vegetable stew with crusty baguettes. She adapted it from a Nigel Slater recipe to suit what she could find in the fridge, as follows:

2 onions
2 tbsp veg oil
2 tsp rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 medium carrots
4 parsnips
2 sticks of celery
125g mushrooms
2 small sweet potatoes
150g red lentils
2 tbsp plain flour
750ml hot veg stock
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
Large handful of spinach
tbsp wholegrain mustard

Chop all the vegetables and fry up in some oil until the parsnips are starting to turn golden. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the stock to the pan with the herbs and lentils and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the spinach, mustard and redcurrant jelly and stir then leave for a further ten minutes for the spinach to cook. This lentil vegetable stew would be good with rice but we enjoyed it with some ready to bake crusty baguettes from Aldi.

Update on mum

I was able to take my mum home today. She has a lot of cramp in her new hip joint, but other than that she is doing well. My dad sorted her tea and I left her in bed as she didn’t get much sleep in hospital so needs to catch up. One down, one to go – my dad’s op is on Sunday.

It was a glorious day today with daffodils and primroses everywhere. I love spring! Until tomorrow, bye for now.

Leftovers risotto: waste not want not!

leftovers risottoSometimes you need to be creative in your frugal kitchen. You can’t always slavishly follow a recipe. I frequently adapt recipes to make use of what I have, and sometimes I just make it up. This is how my leftovers risotto came about.

leftovers risottoUsing up the leftovers

Last night I looked in the fridge and freezer and I had some shredded chicken from Sunday’s roast (frozen), half a punnet of mushrooms that were looking a bit sorry for themselves and half a jar of Spanish chicken sauce. So what to do with all these leftovers? I decided on a sort of risotto. This is what I did.

leftovers risottoLeftovers risotto

First I fried the mushrooms in oil and a little butter with two cloves of garlic and two large shallots. Then I added a handful of frozen peas too. I cooked about 350g basmati rice and threw that on top with the half a jar of sauce, a can of tomatoes and half a glass of white wine that was lurking in the fridge. This was boiled it up for a bit and I added a couple of tablespoons of tomato purée, salt and pepper and some smoked paprika. Finally, I threw in the shredded defrosted chicken and warmed it through thoroughly. It was delicious! This fed three of us last night and we finished it for lunch today.

leftovers risottoSimple, nutritious and it used up some leftovers that some folk would have ended up throwing in the bin. Here is what my leftovers risotto looked like.

leftovers risottoWhat are your best leftover recipes? Do you hate waste? You can find more frugal recipes here.

Pauper’s Spanish Omelette

Last night’s Pauper’s Spanish omelette was a big success. As ever, if I can produce something quick, tasty, cheap and delicious I am happy. I hardly ever spend long cooking, unless I am entertaining. However that is rare theses days as it can be an expensive business.

Pauper's Spanish omelettePauper’s Spanish omelette

For two people I chopped up half a green pepper and sautéed it gently with 6 chopped mushrooms. I also used 10 small potatoes from a tin from Aldi, sliced. These cost 15p and are incredibly useful – I am sure they must be cheaper than fresh. I will use the rest up in a casserole.

I whizzed up two eggs for each of us in separate jugs with salt and pepper and a little milk then added half of the vegetables to each. I decided to make two separate omelettes rather than one big one as they cook more quickly, but you could do it in a big frying pan if you are making this for more people. I cooked them gently in a small frying pan and when nearly set I added a handful I grated cheese to each and finished them off under a hot grill.

This pauper’s Spanish omelette is perfect for a quick and easy frugal tea.

A rainy Sunday

Today we had planned a drive out somewhere as the girls are all doing their own thing. However it is currently pouring, despite the forecast saying dry with sunny spells. Maybe it will have improved by the time we are ready to go!

Once again the dehumidifier is coming in handy, both drying the laundry and preventing our condensation problem resurfacing. Looks like it may be on all day today as I have washed all the bed linen!

What are you doing on this rainy Remembrance Sunday? I hate the idea of war, and lots of the young men who died in the First World War seemed to be little but cannon fodder. I will spare a thought for them today.
Pauper's Spanish omelette

Simple grub: vegetable gratin

I still haven’t been shopping! We seem to have a glut of unused veg in the fridge so I put off the Aldi trip another day to use them up. This simple cheat’s vegetable gratin will do the job. It is healthy, delicious and, above all, cheap.

vegetable gratinI also took the opportunity to use a couple of sachets of cheese sauce mix that came from Approved Food. I don’t usually use packet sauces, but they were so cheap. The parsley sauces I bought last time were pretty good, so I thought I would give them a try.

vegetable gratinCheat’s vegetable gratin


I used two sticks of celery, a large courgette, a yellow pepper, a head of broccoli and a handful of mushrooms, but you could throw in any veg that needs using up. I sautéed all the vegetables for about five minutes, chopped quite small. If you prefer your veg less crunchy you could parboil it. I made the sauce and mixed it all together, put it in a casserole dish and topped with grated cheese. I then baked it for 20 minutes so that the cheese was golden and bubbly.

vegetable gratinWe had this with baked potatoes and spinach, so most of our five a day in one hit. It went down a treat and the cheese sauce mix was pretty good.

I will do a shop tonight though: I can’t put it off forever ! For more of my favourite frugal recipes, see this page.

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Shoestring Macaroni Cheese – doubt you need a recipe, but here is one anyway

Tonight I wanted something easy for tea, and macaroni cheese was perfect. It is so simple yet cheap and delicious, total comfort food on a rainy Autumn day.

macaroni cheeseShoestring Macaroni Cheese

Here is the recipe I use for macaroni cheese, although I vary it by adding bacon, mushrooms, leeks, or sometimes all three:


To serve 4

250g macaroni
2 heaped dessertspoons marg or butter
2 heaped dessertspoons plain flour
500ml milk
half tsp mustard powder or made up mustard
150g cheddar, grated
Lots of ground pepper and salt to taste


Cook the macaroni in plenty of boiling salted water and, whilst it is cooking, make the sauce. Melt the margarine or butter, then add the flour and mustard and cook gently for a minute or so. Whisk in the milk and and bring to the boil, stirring all the time so that it doesn’t catch. Lower the heat and stir until thickened. Add the grated cheese, then season with the salt and pepper to taste. Drain the macaroni and stir in most of the cheese, leaving some to sprinkle on the top. Pop under a preheated grill for 5 minutes until it turns golden and bubbly. Serve straight away with a green salad or some vegetables.

We had runner beans from the garden with our macaroni cheese as we still have plenty coming through.

For more favourite frugal recipes, see here.

Mixed Vegetable Gratin

Mixed vegetable gratin

Sometimes you just need something light and healthy that is quick to prepare. Last night was one such night. Darling daughter no 2 was invited back to her sixth form college for the annual awards evening. I am a very proud mummy as she worked really hard and got an A* and received the English award for academic achievement. It was all a bit of a rush, so before I left for work I made this easy mixed vegetable gratin, which serves 4, and we had it with jacket potatoes, although roasties would be particularly nice.

mixed vegetable gratinIngredients

1.5lb mixed veg (I used a head of broccoli, a handful of mushrooms, 4 carrots and 3 sticks of celery), lightly boiled or steamed
1 pint milk
2 oz margarine
3 tbsp flour
8 oz cheddar

mixed vegetable gratin


Place your cooked veg in a baking dish. Make your cheese sauce by melting the marg then adding the flour and cooking for a few minutes on a low heat. Whisk in the milk and turn the heat up a little until it thickens, then add 3/4 of the cheese. Take off the heat and season to taste, then pour it over your veg. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese. If I was eating this immediately I would stick it under a hot grill until the cheese browns. As I reheated it I warmed it in a medium oven for 25 minutes to half an hour.

You can find more frugal recipes here.