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What's an easy dessert I can make for my wife?

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The Question

I can't cook and I'm fine with that. I have better things to do than waste my time in the kitchen. But my wife has been nagging me to learn for as long as we've been married. Next month, for our 25th anniversary, I figure I should throw her a bone and make dessert, something easy, so maybe she'll lay off for a while. Is there anything I can just buy ahead and heat up that will look homemade?

The Answer

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No, Mel Gibson, there is not. But here's a crazy notion: a dead-easy recipe (it's a Jamie Oliver classic, not that you know who that is) that might make her think you actually care. Wash and cut up about a kilo of soft, ripe fruit - peaches, plums, grapes, apricots and pears are all good - into smallish pieces and place in a roasting pan. Slit one vanilla pod lengthwise, scrape the tiny seeds into a 1/2 cup of sugar and whisk them together, then sprinkle the fruit with most of the vanilla sugar. Bake in a 450-degree oven for about 5 minutes, until the fruit is soft and fragrant. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone cheese that's dusted with the remaining sugar. Your wife will be incredulous, I'm thinking. And you'll only have wasted about 15 minutes of your precious time.

Chris Nuttall-Smith is a food writer and restaurant columnist. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail

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