National treasure Marks & Spencer is following in the footsteps of that other National Treasure, the Sainted Delia, and has launched a range of "cheat's cooking" ingredients and ready-made sauces. I am not usually a fan of such products, preferring to make my own sauces etc, but I have to admit I'm a recent convert to this range. If you're in a hurry, or don't enjoy cooking, this is ideal for knocking up a quick yet flavourful meal. The ingredients pots are helpfully sold alongside "real" ingredients such as chicken breasts, prawns, noodles and fresh herbs. I am particularly partial to the Green Thai Curry Paste, which, when combined with a tin of coconut milk and some diced chicken or salmon, makes an authentic-tasting Thai curry, almost as good as the one I made from scratch with ingredients purchased from my local Asian supermarket. The Red Thai paste is also good: a teaspoonful with prawns adds a wonderful piquancy, and needs only some noodles and fresh coriander to complete a simple lunch dish. Last night, I tried the coconut sauce, straight from the pot, as a relish to Teriyaki salmon. It had a nice balance of flavours, the sweetness of the coconut offset by the sharpness of lime and ginger.
The range extends to other ingredients, such as a base for chocolate mousse ("Just add cream"), stuffing, flavoured breadcrumbs (to coat chicken), and the now-infamous coating for roast potatoes.
The range was launched nearly a year ago, but has only recently appeared in my local M&S.