FORGET slaving and sweating away in the kitchen for hours – wow your family and friends with fabulous food that’s tasty and simple to prepare.

Actress and cook Fay Ripley reveals her secrets.

The London-born actress has reinvented herself as a foodie in recent years, and even won the Mumsnet Best Cookbook award for her first recipe book, Fay’s Family Food, published in 2009.

As a busy, working mum-of-two, 48-year-old Ripley’s inspiration for her latest cookbook, Fay Makes It Easy, came from wanting to put the love back into cooking, eating and sharing food.

There are 100 delicious recipes that the actress says will “strip away stress – like fake tan covers up cellulite”.

She doesn’t shy away from the more difficult dishes, like steak with a red wine and rosemary sauce, and tackles her crusty sunflower loaf with ease, using everyday ingredients and simple instructions.

Ripley believes that every meal has the potential to be a celebration and wanted to take away the stress of what to cook when her friends, family – and grown-up girl crush – came over for dinner.

“Once, I starting preparing an elaborate lamb dish that needed marinating for 40 days and 40 nights and a huge pavlova that was so big, I made a plate out of egg boxes and foil.”

But, 20 minutes before the guests arrived, a text was sent saying that her grown-up girl crush and husband no longer ate dairy, meat, wheat, sugar or alcohol.

“I had 15 minutes to produce a meal for the guests of honour using only a tin of mung beans and some coconut water.”

A burning loaf and a smoke-filled kitchen inspired her to set some simple guidelines, in order to make the cooking experience a whole lot more pleasant.

She says too many ingredients means there is always something you can’t find, don’t have or simply forget to put in.

“Too much preparation means you don’t get to brush your hair or teeth before it’s time to eat.

“My food always comes from my kitchen and my heart.”