Rachel Allen : Enjoy the wonderful recipes and easy cooking style of Irish chef Rachel Allen on DVD - the complete television series of Rachel's Favourite Food

Rachel Allen : Rachel's Favourite Food (Series 1)

“What am I going to cook tonight?”

Anyone who cooks regularly for friends, family or just for themselves will be very familiar with that question.

The difficult part is often not preparing the food - which can be enjoyably simple - but coming up with the ideas for things to eat in the first place.

In this series, Rachel suggests menus for the different kinds of meals that people who are interested in cooking have to prepare: a quick but stylish midweek dinner party; Sunday brunch; favourite winter comfort foods; a children’s birthday party; a summer lunch – these are just some of the 13 different meals that make up the series.

Using readily accessible but interesting ingredients, the series features dishes from around the world – Italy, Spain, Thailand, America, Ireland, Mexico and Vietnam are just some of the places which have inspired Rachel's suggestions.

Married, with two small children, Rachel knows what it’s like to cook when you have a young family, a full-time job and many demands on your time. This series is aimed at people who like to cook, but often do not have much time to spend in the kitchen.

1. The Italian Job - easy entertaining

You come home from work, you’re exhausted, you may have children to put to bed, and you have friends coming round to dinner. This is a stylish dinner with an Italian flavour that’s very easy to make, very delicious and uses readily available ingredients:

Goats cheese, honey and rocket salad
Pasta with spicy sausage, tomato and rosemary
Gremolata sauce
Chocolate puddings with Amaretto and macaroons

2. Summer Lunch
This is a perfect summer lunch, making use of the best seasonal ingredients, and it’s also useful for some formal entertaining where you want something that looks impressive, but which can all be prepared in advance

Tomato and mozzarella salad
Tapanade toasts
Poached salmon and Hollandaise sauce
New Potatoes and pea and mint puree
rhubarb fool with shortbread biscuits

3. Formula Fun Lunch for the boys
Lucky boys! In these enlightened times, some may baulk at the idea of cooking a special lunch for the boys as they laze in front of the telly, but is this any more out of date than a girly lunch? As someone who loves my girly lunches, I don’t think so. And besides, cooking this means not having to sit through the mind-numbing tedium of Formula One. What a relief!

Homemade tortilla chips with tomato salsa
Homemade burgers and homemade mayonnaise
Steak sandwich and homemade chips
Captain America-style chocolate sundaes (using bought chocolate and vanilla ice-cream, with homemade chocolate and fudge sauces)

4. When the boat comes in!
Nutritionists talk about the benefits of fish, TV chefs call it the ultimate fast food, I just think it tastes great and it’s pretty sexy, too. What’s more sensuous - a bowl of tomato soup and a chicken wing, or a bowl of steaming mussels and some pan-fried fish?

Mussels steamed in coconut milk with lime and coriander
Panfried john dory with chilli and parsley oil
Easy pannacotta with raspberries

5. Chilli Night
Sometimes simple is best and, when made properly, few things are simpler or better than this classic from the 1970s.
Cheese tortillas with chilli and spring onion
The best chilli con carne with rice, tacos, sour cream, grated cheddar and coriander, made with steak, not mince
Green salad
Lemon ice - a refreshing, tangy, cooling desert after all those chillies

6. An indoor picnic
Food eaten outdoors tastes good, but why should really great picnic food be limited to those rare times that we can actually eat outside? Imagine a Saturday lunch, either round the kitchen table or on the beach, with everyone digging in to a variety of great food, which is easy to assemble, looks fantastic, and tastes wonderful:
lamb with raisins and pine nuts
butter beans with rosemary
spicy pitta wedges
aubergine and garlic puree
strawberry meringue mess

7. Oodles of Noodles
Noodles are quick, cheap, easy and fun to use. This programme has a taste of the Far East about it:

Thai coconut soup with bok choi and rice noodles
Japanese chicken and udon noodle soup
Noodle salad with chicken and mint
Vietnamese prawn salad with noodles

8. Vegetarian food for everyone
Despite the huge increase of choice in ingredients, there are still those who think vegetarian food equals nut roasts, and restaurateurs whose vegetarian dish of the day is pasta - how unimaginative is that? I know seasoned travellers who always request vegetarian food on long flights as it is usually much better than the dried up chicken that is invariably on the menu. Some subterfuge is called for - don’t call it vegetarian food! This menu is great for those that have a vegetarian in the house, but are fed up with cooking two meals at every meal.

Spiced toasted nuts and seeds
Onion bhajis(shallow fried) with tomato salsa
Dall with chilli and garam masala mash potato - an odd-sounding but great tasting combination
Mangoes and bananas in lime syrup
Fresh gingerade

9. Great family meal
Sitting down for a family meal seems to be happening less and less, which is a shame. Here’s a suggestion for a family supper that almost everyone likes - including vegetarians who’ll love the vegetable dishes - but which is virtually stress-free to make. In fact, making this meal is very therapeutic, so comforting are the flavours and textures:

Pea and coriander soup
Nutty scones
Quick roast chicken with roasted vegetables
A spicy roast chicken alternative
‘Easy as pie’ upside down plum cake

10. Sunday brunch
Sunday lunches are great, but there are times when you get up late and don’t want to wait for, and prepare, a big Sunday lunch. So brunch is the perfect answer. Dr Atkins mightn’t have approved of this indulgent mixture of protein and carbohydrates but, do you care?

Pancakes with rashers and maple syrup
30 day muffins (the mixture lasts for thirty days!)
The perfect scrambled egg, with smoked salmon
Tropical fruit salad with honey and lime juice
Mango and banana smoothie
Buck’s Fizz

11. Comfort Food
Three wonderful dishes, and even better because they’re all made in one pot, so less washing up...

Risotto with wild mushrooms
Ballymaloe Irish stew
Chicken and bacon casserole
Hot lemon pudding

12. Children’s birthday party
This is where you can throw fashionable food aside (what a relief) and have fun with some old-fashioned, all-time favourites:

Toad in the hole
Buns with retro coloured icing
Little gingerbread men
Toffee popcorn
Chewy chocolate rice crispie bars
A foolproof birthday cake

13. Winter Sunday lunch
A great lunch for a lazy winter afternoon

Parsnip and chorizo soup with soda foccacia
Lamb shanks with barley
Individual apple and blackberry crumbles

All rights reserved unless explicitly granted. Inproduction Ltd © 2006 - Site design TempoWeb