Lack of time, not knowing how to cook and the cost of fancy ingredients are just some of the reasons why some people make the same recipes week in, week out.
But worry not – in these unprecedented times, Jamie Oliver has set out to help by sharing some incredible recipes that make the most of your kitchen staples.
His show Keep Cooking and Carry started this week on BBC Lifestyle, DStv channel 120. With ingenious ideas on what to do with those panicked pantry purchases and forgotten frozen food, he is set to offer viewers new ideas on what to cook with the simple ingredients you have and what to swap out if you haven’t.
In the meantime, here are three recipes by Oliver that you can make in your own kitchen.
Freezer-raid springtime risotto
1 litre vegetable stock (a stock cube is fine)
1 stick of celery
2 knobs of unsalted butter
300g risotto rice
125ml white wine (optional)
300g mixed frozen green veg, such as spinach, green beans and peas 60g freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon (optional)
Bring the stock to a simmer in a pan on a low heat. Peel the onion, trim the celery, then finely chop or coarsely grate them.
Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 knob of butter, plus the onion and celery into a high-sided pan on a low heat. Season lightly with sea salt and black pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veg is soft but not coloured.
Turn up the heat to medium, add the rice and stir for 2 minutes, so it sucks up all the lovely flavour. If using, pour in the wine and stir until absorbed.
Add a ladleful of hot stock, stir, and wait until it’s been fully absorbed before adding more. Cook for 16 to 18 minutes, adding more stock every minute or so and stirring regularly, until the rice is al dente. This means it should be soft and a pleasure to eat, but still holding its shape.
About 5 minutes before your rice is ready, stir in the frozen veg to cook through.
Now, your risotto needs to be slightly looser than you want it to be, as it will thicken as it sits, so add an extra ladleful of stock. Turn off the heat, stir or beat in the remaining butter and the Parmesan, then season to perfection.
Pop the lid on and let it sit for 2 minutes before serving. The most important thing is that the risotto is always oozy.
Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, an extra grating of cheese and, if you have it, a tiny squeeze of lemon juice per portion.
Beef and ale stew
3 sticks of celery
½ a bunch of fresh rosemary or 3 bay leaves
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
500ml ale, Guinness or stout
1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes 750g quality diced stewing beef
If using the oven to cook the stew, preheat it to 180ºC.
Put a large shallow ovenproof casserole pan on a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of oil.
Trim the celery, wash the carrots, peel the onions, then roughly chop it all about the same size as your beef chunks, adding the veg to the pan as you go.
Season the veg with sea salt and black pepper, and fry for 10 minutes, or until softened and starting to caramelise, stirring occasionally. 5. Strip in the rosemary leaves, stir in the flour for 2 minutes, then pour in the booze and let it cook away.
Pour in the tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of the spoon. Fill the tin with water, swirl around, and pour into the pan.
Bring just to the boil, then stir in the meat, season, and cover. Either simmer slowly on the hob or place in the oven for 2 hours, or until the meat falls apart easily.
Taste the stew and tweak the seasoning, if needed, then serve with rice or mashed potato, and some lovely veggies.
Corner-shop curry sauce
1 mug of basmati rice
2 x 200g skinless chicken breasts
1tsp jalfrezi curry paste
2 little gem lettuces
2 cloves of garlic
4cm piece of ginger
2 fresh red chillies (optional)
1 heaped tbsp jalfrezi curry paste
1 heaped tbsp mango chutney
1 x 400g tin of quality plum
1 x 400g tin of light coconut milk
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
For the sauce, peel and coarsely grate the onions, then peel and finely grate the garlic and ginger.
Put a large non-stick pan on a medium heat with 1 tbsp of oil and the grated onion, garlic and ginger, stirring regularly.
If using the chillies, halve and deseed them and add to the pan. After a few minutes, once the veg has softened, stir in the curry paste, followed by the mango chutney. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon and scraping up any sticky bits from the base of the pan. Simmer for a few minutes. 5. Pour in the coconut milk, drain and add the chickpeas, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the consistency of your liking. That’s your corner-shop curry sauce done.
Meanwhile, put 1 mug of rice, 2 mugs of boiling kettle water and a pinch of sea salt into a medium pan. Cover and cook on a medium heat for 12 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.
Put a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Rub the chicken breasts with a teaspoon of curry paste until lightly coated, then dry fry for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden and charred, turning halfway.
Remove the chicken to a board and thickly slice. If the chicken isn’t cooked through at this point it’s okay, because it will finish cooking in the sauce. Stir the chicken slices into the simmering sauce for the last 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Season the sauce to perfection.
Halve and finely slice the little gem, then toss in lemon juice.
Serve the curry with the fluffy rice and shredded lettuce. Nice with poppadoms, a dollop of yoghurt, and a few fresh coriander leaves, if you have them.