Thursday, 16 April 2009

Easter Treats (and cheats)

EASTER Sunday and we catered for ten friends and family members.
Seeing as it was a holy day where I wholly wanted to be eating chocolate eggs and hot cross buns, I decided to give myself a helping hand in the kitchen.
I'd love to say I glamorously 'called in the caterers', but the budget didn't stretch that far so I took inspiration from some Delia/Nigella Express-style cheats instead.
The buffet-style menu featured the following dishes (which contained the following 'cheat' ingredients):
  • Puff pastry tarts topped with balsamic red onions, goats' cheese and fresh thyme, and tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves. I used ready-to-roll puff pastry. No one makes their own puff pastry. Not even Gordon Ramsay
  • Sticky chicken drumsticks roasted in a marinade which included a packet of the new Schwartz Shotz spice mix
  • Classic potato salad. No cheats involved except - like Nigella - I used kitchen scissors to snip fresh chives into the mayonnaise. On second thoughts, it was shop-bought mayo too
  • Red cabbage, carrot and walnut coleslaw in honey and mustard dressing, courtesy of English Provender Company
  • Tomato, basil and pinenut salad. Completely cheat free. I even sliced the tomatoes
  • Mixed leaf salad, from a cellophane bag. And bread from Marks and Sparks
  • Sainsburys hot cross bun bread and butter pudding, in the style of Jamie Oliver's TV advert. Yes, I used ready-made custard from the chiller. And I buttered the buns, before marmalading them, for extra decadence
  • Mixed berry pavlova. Homemade and decorated by the boy to stunning effect
  • Easter chocolate muffins made from a chocolate bread mix from Saxon Chocolates and then topped with a nest of buttery chocolate ganache (hand-beaten, I hasten to add) and Cadbury Mini Eggs.
I am sure even the purist of chefs will agree that sometimes only a cheat (or three) will do, especially when time stands between you and a mountain of chocolate.
What's your favourite cheat ingredient? Let me know.....


Heavenly Housewife said...

Check out that pavlova, Hubby doesnt even make his own toast! That looks like an awesome spread, and despite 'cheats' its still no easy feat to entertain for 10! I bet you were washing dishes all night too! In my case I have done some horrid cheats and said they were my own, sometimes I just cant take the pressure of cooking for my husband's aunties et al. I have bought whole curries from restaurants and called them my own (just added a sprinkle of coriander for effect) and the potato samosas from tesco r really good if you bake them in the oven, nobody ever figures it out ;D... I have a few tricks up my sleeves.

Emily said...

Thanks for reading! The boy only decorated the pavlova... with my guidance. He's better at the visual stuff than I am. An eye for what looks good. He is with me, after all.
Thanks for the cheat tips. I'd probably never make stuff like samosas and I am always on the look out for good ones. A bit of fresh coriander and a wedge of lemon... no one can tell the difference!

Anonymous said...

At least you made the effort to cook - I just ate out as usual. still recovering from too much cooking on christmas day.

Instead of buttering the buns you could have just used a brioche instead... saves even MORE time. Your heart won't thank you for it though in the morning.

Emily said...

Thanks for the tip G! Didn't really think of using brioche put sounds like a great idea, esp if it saves on the work even more.

Don't blame you for eating out though. I hope to pack in a bit of restaurant-hopping now that I have done my time in the kitchen!

Food Of Miami said...

do you recommend the Schwartz Shotz spice mix?

great post!!