Tin recipe book author shares the secrets to making meals in lockdown

Tin recipe book author shares the secrets to making meals in lockdown


The restaurant-quality meals you can make from a CAN: Author of tinned food cookbook reveals how to use your cupboard stash – as young people are urged to avoid supermarkets and make supplies last

  • Lola Milne, author of Take One Tin, shared her top tips for coronavirus cooking
  • She said it’s a great time to experiment with flavours and that planning was key
  • Recipes include tomato and lentil ragu, Vietnamese crab cakes and banoffee pie
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

The author of cookbook that celebrates tinned ingredients has shared her top tips for cooking in quarantine.

Speaking exclusively to Femail UK-based food writer Lola Milne, who published Take One Tin in January, has revealed how to make restaurant-quality meals such as Vietnamese crab cakes and banoffee pie.

‘Tins are such a wonderfully everyday thing, we all have them stashed in our cupboards and use them often, maybe even daily,’ she explained. ‘They’re a brilliant way to eat fruit and veg that aren’t in season and that haven’t been flown thousands of miles. I hadn’t really seen them focused on, celebrated or elevated before.’  

It comes as young and healthy people are urged to stay away from supermarkets and make meals from food in their cupboards as demand for groceries and household goods surges during the coronavirus lockdown.

Britons have hoarded food worth £1 billion during the past fortnight as a result of panic buying – despite assurances from the government and industry that there is still plenty in the supply chain.

The boss of Ocado has urged people to ‘make their meals work’, rather than stockpiling more food. 

Here Lola shares her top tips for making your stash of canned food go further, and her recipes for gourmet lockdown dinners.  

Speaking exclusively to Femail Lola Milne (pictured) who published Take One Tin in January, said she believes the lockdown is a great time to experiment with cooking and creating tasty recipes


Lola told Femail: ‘I would say make the absolute most of all your ingredients, make sure you add to leftovers, change it up and make them last longer. 

If you’ve made a veggie tray bake or sauce have a go at whizzing it into a soup, use leftover roasted vegetables or pulses to make a salad by adding pulses or tinned mackerel or tuna, grains and a punchy dressing. 

‘I often make a large batch of tomatoey lentils, or beans, like butter or cannelini or chickpeas, and then use that as a base for a few different meals. 


‘If you get bored of what you’re eating whack it in the freezer or give to a neighbour in need. 


‘Planning is great, try and visualise the week ahead so that you minimise on waste and reduce trips out.

‘Look at what you have in the cupboards and use that up first. It is a great opportunity to be creative with what you have, make sure you write down any successes, I always think I’ll remember, but never do.’  

Lola, pictured making a banoffee pie, said that planning is key to using your foods up in lockdown


‘Its a great time to be super creative with what you have in your store cupboard and freezer. Try to think about things that you can swap out or substitute. 

‘Try playing with dressings, a great tool to have for pulses and tinned fish, lemon, different vinegars, dried or fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, anchovies, chilli or yogurt. 

‘Can you add extra texture to a dish with some crisp breadcrumbs or toasted nuts and seeds? Be flexible about the vegetables or fruits you use in things, try tinned or frozen instead. 

Take One Tin by Lola Milne is published by Kyle Books, £14.99. Photography by Lizzie Mayson

‘I’m on a bread making voyage myself, trying out different flours and flavourings.  

‘I’ve aimed for all the recipes in the book to be accessible for a range of cookery abilities, they all have short ingredient lists and skimp on steps. 

‘The Sri Lankan mackerel curry is so delicious, warming and easy- a few spices fried off then onion, garlic and ginger cooked gently before adding tinned tomatoes, coconut milk and tinned mackerel, best enjoyed with rice or bread. 

‘If you don’t have any tinned mackerel you could use pilchards or skippers instead. 

‘My brother (who I think would freely admit he isn’t the most proficient cook) makes it weekly with a side of coconut rice. 

‘Another super simple one is corn chowder- sweat some spring onion (or shallot, onion or red onion) in butter before adding some peeled and chopped potato, vegetable stock, milk and a bay leaf; just before taking off the heat add some tinned sweetcorn then blitz until smooth. I like to make big cheesy croutons to top it with and sprinkle with a few chilli flakes.

From Jackfruit and Red Kidney Bean Chilli or Sweetcorn Fritters to Pineapple, Coconut and Lime Upside Down Cake, Lola’s book shows how tinned foods can become exciting and delicious dishes. Below are three of the best recipes from the book. Lola is pictured

Tomato, lentil & aubergine ragú 

When I was growing up, my aunty Sophie often made a big pan of tomatoey lentils when we went round.

This version is a nod to a traditional Italian meat ragú, but I have added soft aubergine instead and served with soft polenta & wilted greens.



  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 aubergines, cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 200ml red wine
  • 2 × 400g tins beluga lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 2 × 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the onions and soften over a low heat for about 10–15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another frying pan, heat the remaining oil, add the aubergines and a pinch of salt, then fry on high for 5–10 minutes, stirring often until the aubergine cubes are golden. Set aside.

By this point, the onions should be soft and tinged golden. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, bay leaves and chilli flakes. 

Fry for a further 2–3 minutes, then tip in the wine. 

Bring to the boil and boil until it has reduced by two-thirds in volume (this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes). 

Last but not least, add the lentils, tomatoes and the browned aubergine cubes. 

Season and reduce the heat, then simmer for 15–20 minutes until the sauce has thickened a little and the aubergine is buttery soft.

Just before serving, fish out the bay leaves. 

This ragù is great with soft polenta, pasta or served simply with a hunk of bread.

Vietnamese crab cakes 

These are inspired by a Vietnamese dish of fish marinated in lots of turmeric, ginger and garlic, pan-fried and served with the classic Vietnamese dressing Nuóc cham.

I’ve repurposed these flavours into crisp crab cakes.



  • 2 × 170g tins lump crab meat, drained
  • 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about 1½ tablespoons when grated)
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 15g dill, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 10 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon flavourless oil (such as sunflower)


  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 teaspoons soft brown sugar
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

To make the crab cakes

Mix the crab, ginger, chilli, garlic, dill, turmeric, shallots, 4 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs and half the beaten eggs in a bowl. 

Shape into eight patties and stick in the fridge to firm up for at least 20 minutes.

To make the dressing

 Mix all the ingredients with 2 tablespoons of water, check the balance of sour, sweet and salty and adjust accordingly.

Just before frying, dip each cake in the remaining beaten egg and then into the remaining breadcrumbs to coat. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the cakes for 4 minutes per side until golden.

Serve alongside the dressing, for drizzling or dunking.

Tip: Try nestling a crab cake in a lettuce leaf with some finely sliced cucumber, then drizzle with the dressing.

Banoffee pie with hazelnut cream 

 What is not to love about sweet banana, buttery biscuits and a load of nutty, chocolate cream? 

I feel my Granny Susan, whoate bananas with double cream and a sprinkling of caster sugar, would agree.



  • 325g digestive biscuits
  • 200g slightly salted butter, melted
  • 100g blanched hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped


  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 397g tin condensed milk
  • 125g slightly salted butter, cut into small pieces


  • 3–4 bananas
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 300ml double cream
  • 3 tablespoons Nutella


Begin with the case: in a food-processor, blitz the digestives until you have fine crumbs (alternatively, put into a freezer bag and whack with a rolling pin). 

Tip into a bowl with the melted butter and 75g of the chopped hazelnuts, and mix to combine.

Press the mixture into a 26cm loose-based tart tin, then pop in the fridge while you make the filling.

For the filling

Add the sugar to a large, non-stick frying pan, put over a low-medium heat and allow to melt: do not stir! 

Once melted, turn up the heat and simmer hard until it has turned a deep, golden colour.

Turn the heat to low and slowly stir in the condensed milk. 

It may not come together immediately; keep stirring and it will become smooth and uniform in colour, about 10 minutes. Add the butter, stirring until melted and combined. 

Pour into your chilled case, smooth the surface and put back into the fridge for at least 1 hour.

When you’re ready to serve, peel and slice the bananas, toss with a little lemon juice (this will stop them going brown) and lay over the caramel. 

Whip the cream to soft peaks, fold in the Nutella, then spread over the bananas. 

Sprinkle over the reserved hazelnuts to serve.

Tip: If you’ve got time to spare and prefer a less labour intensive approach, an alternative method for the caramel layer is to place the unopened tin of condensed milk in a saucepan. 

Cover with boiling water, then simmer over a low heat, uncovered (checking the water level remains at least 2.5cm above the tin) for about 3 hours. 

Allow to cool completely before opening and tipping the contents into the prepared case.

  •  Take One Tin by Lola Milne is published by Kyle Books, £14.99. Photography by Lizzie Mayson

Source: Read Full Article