OK, I put my hands up. I am a cheat. And, what’s worse, I don’t care who knows it! Unlike the Calendar Girl who bought a cake instead of making one (was it Helen Mirren’s character? I forget), I am very upfront with my guests. No roughing up edges of a pie with a fork to make it look as if it has just emerged from my Aga. No. In my humble opinion, life is simply too short to start making absolutely everything from scratch. That’s not to say I don’t like fresh food – just that if I can see a reasonable short cut that won’t affect the flavour of my recipe, I leap on it. To be fair, some of these products taste far better than if I had made them! Anyhow, check these cheats and treats out and, next time you are pushing that trolley around your local supermarket and you spot any of them, treat yourself!
Lemon and Pepper Crust – elevates a piece of white fish by adding both flavour and texture. Drizzle olive oil onto the fish, sprinkle lots of these breadcrumbs over, drizzle a little more olive oil and bake at 180 degrees for 10 – 15 mins. I also sprinkle some as a topping for my Piedmont Peppers or Crab Pasta Bake.
Coconut Rice – I use these microwaveable packs of rice and grains all the time and this particular one is my all time fave. 2 mins in the microwave and it sure perks up that flash fried salmon fillet which you have pre-marinated in soy, runny honey and freshly squeezed lemon.
Chocolate & Almond Torte Buy and keep in your freezer. You can add fresh berries, whipped cream or mascapone, or serve this plain – it is rich and perfect for a supper party. Serves up to 8 people (which works out at a very reasonable £1 per indulgent slice). Click on the photo to go straight through to the Cook website so you can order one!
Cappuccino Shortbread – beautiful biscuits from Waitrose that taste, to me, of moreish coffee ice cream. I’ve tried the other flavours that are on offer but this is top of my pops.
Scottish Crab & Chilli Ravioli – from Tesco, this is a winning superfast supper or weekend lunch. The crab is full of flavour, the chilli gives it a bit of pazzazz and the texture of the pasta is fab. Needs nothing to accompany it apart from a warmed bowl to put it in and a glass of fresh crisp white wine.
Another superb ready made from Tesco is their Italian Four Cheese Sauce. Now I know it doesn’t take long to knock up a sauce from scratch but this is instant, tangy, creamy and soooooo smooth.
Last but not least, Mascarpone Ice Cream with Blackcurrant Sorbet (Waitrose) which Marvellous-Mother-In-Law introduced us to the other Sunday. Be careful though, the combo of flavours is addictive. You have been warned!!