If life is a little busy at times it’s tempting to resort to some ready meals but this doesn’t mean you have to have something ersatz and dull. If you’re travelling in France stock up on haricots lingots (beans cooked in goose fat) or cassoulet, bake in the oven until crispy on top and served with a fresh green salad with a mustardy dressing. To accompany this I would recommend a simple fruity red such as Vin de Pays de Vaucluse: Le Petit Caboche 2011 (known as the lunchtime Côte du Rhone!).

A vegetarian alternative (contrary to French belief that haricot lingots qualify) is the delicious ‘Giddy Goat’ crumble from local business Yumble (www.yumblecrumble.co.uk). It’s a tasty savoury crumble made with butternut squash and goats cheese which comes ready to pop in the oven, a light fruity red such as Coteaux de l'Ardèche: Les Terrasses Rouge 2011 will bring out the sweetness of the butternut squash perfectly.

Dinner party desserts will benefit from being small, sweet and easy to prepare in advance. One of my favourites is lemon possett which couldn’t be easier. Double cream, sugar and lemon juice are boiled then poured into small glasses and set in the fridge. Very simple, rich yet tangy and delicious with a light dessert wine such Coteaux du Layon Rablay: Château la Tomaze 2009 which has enough acidity to cope with the citruss-y flavor of the possett.

By: Pippa Goldfinger