Tinned fish is a pantry must – especially when you’ve got the builders in.

My entire flat is covered in a thick layer of dust. I spent five hours cleaning my kitchen before creating these recipes, but tomorrow it’ll be covered in dust again.

Right now all I can cope with is snacks, toast, sandwiches, noodles, one-dish bakes and takeaways. I’m trying to work through my pantry supplies, to reduce the amount of stuff I own generally. I have tonnes of plates, cups, gadgets. Let me stand up and say: 'My name is Kerstin and I’m a kitchenware addict.' I could start a prop shop for stylists with my collections of vintage enamelware, cut crystal bowls, blue and white china, Portuguese cabbageware. Every week I go to Portobello and buy something. It’s ridiculous.Ham & High: Kerstin busy Spanish or Portuguese tinned fishKerstin busy Spanish or Portuguese tinned fish (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

But back to food; I invest in Spanish and Portuguese tinned fish. Sometimes supermarkets like Lidl will stock Ortiz tuna cheaply. And you should always have a jar of anchovies in the store cupboard. Anchovies have a long history of providing an umami boost to food: the Romans used garum, a fermented anchovy sauce, to spice up their dishes; fish sauce is widely used in Thai and Malaysian food.

If possible, buy Cantabrian anchovies, which are firm, dense and clean tasting. People think they don’t like anchovies, but what they’ve experienced is poor anchovies or too many, probably on a pizza. A small amount perks up a dish or a sauce, so my advice if cooking for the haters is to hide them.

Anchovies have multiple uses. Throw a couple plus a chilli pepper into a cooked tomato sauce and you have puttanesca for your pasta. Mince one into olive oil, mustard, garlic, lemon juice and coddled egg, and you have a caesar salad dressing. Other store cupboard tinned essentials include tuna and sardines, but you can explore more exotic fare such as tinned swordfish, smoked mussels, and clams for an impromptu spag vong.
Ham & High: Jansson's TemptationJansson's Temptation (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

Jansson’s Temptation (Serves 6)
The correct anchovies to use are the Swedish slightly pickled ones, actually sprats, which can be found at Ocado or Swedish shops. But normal anchovies can be used as a replacement.

unsalted butter to smear the baking tin
1 clove garlic, cut in half and rubbed around your baking tin
2 large brown onions, peeled and sliced thinly
1 kg, around 5 medium peeled potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
500 ml single cream
1 jar of salted anchovies or anchovies in oil, drained
Or 125 g tin Swedish anchovies (sprats) to be authentic

Fry the onions till soft. Peel and slice the potatoes.
Prepare the baking tin with butter and garlic.
Layer the baking tin with neat overlapping rows of potato rounds. Do four layers and in-between add some of the fried onions. Salt each layer slightly. After the second layer, add half of the anchovies. When finished, add 350ml of the cream.
Cover with foil and bake at 180ºC for 30 minutes until a fork goes through the potatoes easily. Add the rest of the cream and place the anchovies in criss-cross style on top. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.

Sardines on toast (serves 4)

Ham & High: Sardines on toastSardines on toast (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)
Remember when Sunday TV used to be so boring, hours of Songs of Praise with no choice, no Netflix, no BBC iplayer? My mum used to make this for us on rainy Sunday afternoons as a light tea.

120 g tin of sardines in olive oil, mashed
1/2 lemon
4 slices bread, toasted
freshly ground black pepper
sprig fresh mint leaves (optional)

Mash the sardines, oil and lemon juice together in a bowl.
Toast the bread both sides.
Put a heaped tablespoon on each slice and garnish with pepper and lemon juice, and mint leaves if you wish.

Tuna salad sandwich (serves 2)

Ham & High: A tuna sandwichA tuna sandwich (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)
We tend to have tuna sandwiches with sweetcorn or cucumber in the UK. I like the American style tuna salad sandwich, which is mixed with mayonnaise and a pickle such as finely sliced cocktail gherkins. It's simple, quick and rather addictive. Usually I'd say buy a good Spanish or Portuguese brand of tuna, but the mayonnaise makes even the cheapest tuna taste good. You can swap out the gherkins for silver skin onions, or pickled green peppercorns or capers. Build in a crisp lettuce leaf to the sandwich or slices of cucumber to add crunch.

4 slices of the bread of your choice, spread with mayonnaise
160 g tin of tuna in water but in oil is fine too
5 tbsps mayonnaise
1/2 small brown or red onion, thinly sliced
5 mini gherkins, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, juice of
plenty of pepper and a little salt.

Prepare your bread slices
Mix the tuna with the rest of the ingredients. Add heaped tablespoons of the tuna salad into the centre of your bread slice, spread thickly, and close with the other slice of bread. Cut in half.