“ Brand: Prestige / Type: Casserole „
Who among us will ever forget the moment when Judy Finnegan inadvertently flashed her washed out bra at an awards ceremony? Or the time her toy boy husband Richard Madeley came over all shy at the supermarket checkouts and dashed out with a trolley of unpaid for wine? For years we cringed as Richard, frankness personified, revealed things about the couple's sex life life we'd rather not have known, and we felt Judy's pain as she simultaneously battled the bulge and the bottle (allegedly).
It's always seemed to me that daytime television's answer to Taylor and Burton should be honoured for posterity so I was delighted when Prestige, that esteemed manufacturer of pots, pans and other kitchenalia, produced "This Morning" a range of oven to table ware and cooking utensils in honour of Richard and Judy*. Whenever I see my splendid dish I am overcome by the urge to sing the show's lovely theme tune and my mind immediately turns to the image of Fred the Weatherman falling into the Albert Dock. What else in the kitchen could make one so happy?
Always one to be charmed by a sexy piece of kitchen kit and a bargain price, I added this ceramic lidded casserole dish to a Debenhams order when the range was being generously discounted. I've long regarded Prestige as a good solid brand, even if their designs are often a little dull. It was the lovely imperial purple colour of this range that caught my eye initially but I was also taken with the unusual shape of this dish and its lid.
The dish measures 28 x 15 x 24.5 cm and has a capacity of 2.6 litres, more than enough for cooking a casserole for a family of four, and fine for six servings at a push. It's certainly more than big enough for two, which is what we usually number, but when there's just the two of us, I'd sooner use something not so showy and save this 'for good'.
In cooking terms it's absolutely fine, as good as any other casserole dish I've used, allowing food to cook evenly. It's oven safe right up to Gas Mark 9 (240 Celsius) and is also suitable for use in a microwave (so Prestige claim, as an Amish cadet I've not put that to the test). It's also dishwasher safe, another feature I can't comment on though I do find it easy to wash by hand as there are no fiddly bits to scrub on this simple sleek design.
I only wish I could say that carrying the dish was as easy. There are two 'handles' on this dish which are actually holes cut into the single piece body of the dish (i.e. not separate pieces attached to the dish). While you might instinctively think of carrying the dish by these handles, it's hardly practical because when the dish is hot you need oven gloves and you simply can't get your hand through the holes when you're wearing them. Instead you have to carry the dish by putting your hands around the body of the dish, something that always makes me feel a little uneasy. The lid too is a bit awkward to lift when the dish is piping hot and I find it easier to use a folded tea towel that to negotiate the manoeuvre using oven gloves. It would not be unfair to say that this dish epitomises style of over substance; it looks great but isn't very easy to use.
This dish does get compliments when I bring it to the table but I'd sooner have something plainer that is easier to carry and I wouldn't bother buying any of the other items in the range to match. It comes with a Prestige 5 year guarantee and it does seem very sturdy. It can go under the grill and is freezer safe too, but I find all that little consolation when I feel like I might easily drop the dish.
If you want to heed my warnings and buy one anyway, Debenhams is currently offering 30 per cent off the usual price of £32, making it £22.40. It's all academic anyway; save your pennies and buy something more practical from Le Creuset instead.
* there is no reason to believe that Prestige were nodding Richard and Judy-wards when they created this range,