Whilst it can be very soul satisfying to start making something from scratch, you mustn’t not make something to tickle our culinary palate because it takes too long.

Whilst some may call it cheating the word and expression ‘convenience food’ is categorised aptly to “save time”. I guess one item I am sure we all use are cans of chopped tomatoes negating the necessity of peeling and de-seeding fresh tomatoes for casseroles, stews and pasta sauces. Oh that’s assuming you don’t use the “convenience” of ready-made pasta sauces.Puff and Pesto

As with all convenience foods some are good, some not so good, this all depends on your palate and preference. It certainly comes to the fore when I use Instant Potato Mash for thickening Soups like Leek and Potato or Watercress.

I have mentioned before my two types of shopping mode – the first ‘list and time schedule’ the second ‘cruise the shelves’ This is always rewarding and certainly a source of inspiration on many occasions. Baguettes to Bake – Pain au Chocolate – Danish Pastries – Cookie Dough for little ones to make their own cookies. Prepared Artichoke Hearts – Palm Hearts – Pulses ready for Salads or Casseroles or whizzing to make dips.

Puff and Pesto 2There is also the balance between fresh and prepared. One of mine is Brussels Sprouts. I buy frozen purely from an economical stand point – I don’t throw half of them away when preparing. Yes I hear the words they don’t taste the same – Oh really!

So to Pastry. Yes I do like my own Short Crust especially for Apple Pies. I haven’t made Puff Pastry for many years and find ready-made just the job for so many different things and of course ready-made Filo Pastry is wonderful too. With very little effort a few ingredients can be topped with a crust or a dish lined and the centre filled, baked and Hey Presto a delight is magically conjured up as always, your imagination is the only boundary.

Cheese and Basil Tart

1 pack of ready rolled Puff Pastry

Jar or tub Basil Pesto


Pitted Black Olives

8ozs Mozzarella

Egg – beaten

Fresh Basil for Garnish

  1. Roll out Pastry onto a baking sheet and score round the edge with a knife about ¼ inch border (don’t cut through)
  2. Spread Pesto over inner section. Scatter Capers & Olives over and then put pieces of Mozzarella over.  Brush the edges with Egg wash.
  3. Place in a pre heated hot oven (200 C) and bake till golden brown about 10 – 15 mins.
  4. Sprinkle with Fresh Basil Leaves and service in slices.

Using the same principles you can cut the Pastry into small squares and make individual tarts. Change the ingredients – Tomatoes maybe – Asparagus – Artichoke bottoms – and of course many other types of Cheese.

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