In Gdn 26.4.14, Henry Dimbleby and Jane Baxter offered some tips for getting good results quick by using tins.  I’ve got some more to add later – including a number from Katherine Whitehorn’s classic leaving-home manual, Cooking In A Bedsitter.  Meanwhile, best of the Dimbleby tips are . …


“Purists will tell you, rightly, that you should buy tinned whole tomatoes and drain off the juice they are sitting in. The juice is of a lower quality and has a noticeably metallic flavour.”

Salad dressing:

“Crushed garlic, tinned anchovies, tinned green peppercorns, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and sunflower oil. “

Butter bean or flageolet gratin:

“Sweat onion, garlic and thyme, mix with the beans and put in an oven dish. Blitz garlic, olive oil and breadcrumbs in a blender. Scatter on top and bake in a high oven or grill.”


“Blitz chickpeas with garlic, olive oil, tahini and lemon juice. Butter beans also make a lovely dip, done in the same way.

Vitello tonnato:

“This classic Italian sauce is traditionally served on cold roast veal but it is also delicious on very finely sliced, cold, rare roast beef. Blitz mayonnaise, tinned tuna, some tinned anchovies and capers in a blender – add some of the roasting juices if you still have them. Season with lemon juice and pepper (you won’t need salt).”

Toffee pudding:

“Simmer a tin of condensed milk (with the lid still unopened) in a pan two-thirds full of water for 2-3 hours. Don’t let the pan dry out, or the can will explode.” 

Some more ideas in the readers’ comments at




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