Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals episode 1: The chef creates tasty recipes for hectic lifestyles, including fennel and pink grapefruit with feta, and Spanish mussels.The much-loved chef returns to her roots and lets us into her life as never before, sharing her secrets to relaxed cooking.
Whether in her role as a working Mum, testing out recipes on friends, family and the local community, or collecting ingredients from favorite suppliers, Rachel reveals her passion and expertise for delicious but fuss-free food, perfect for the hectic lives we lead. Rachel Allen is an Irish celebrity chef, known for her work on television and as a writer. She has often appeared on Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ).
Allen went to the Ballymaloe Cookery School at the age of 18. After graduating from the school she cooked at the Ballymaloe House Hotel, eventually returning first to test recipes and then to teach at the school. She worked for a while as a caterer in Vancouver before returning to teach at Ballymaloe Cookery School.
In September 2004, RTÉ broadcast Allen’s first series in Ireland Rachel’s Favourite Food, which has also been broadcast in Australia, Canada and Europe, and elsewhere. A book, Rachel’s Favourite Food, accompanied the series, published by Gill & Macmillan. Two further TV series and books followed, Rachel’s Favourite Food for Friends and Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home; reruns of the latter became part of Create’s television schedule in the United States starting in September 2010.
Allen is a frequent guest on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, and was one of the presenters on the Good Food Channel’s Market Kitchen show. In 2008, she was in a series called Rachel Allen: Bake! for RTÉ.
Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals episode 1
Baked Mushroom Risotto
This is seriously warm and comforting, when you’re in need of something to wrap up with for the evening
- Place the porcini mushrooms in a heatproof bowl, pour over the boiling water and leave for 20 minutes until soft.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
- Melt 25g (1oz) of the butter in a large casserole dish or ovenproof saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 6–8 minutes or until soft and turning golden. Meanwhile, pour the stock into a separate pan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer on the hob.
- While the onions are cooking, drain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Roughly chop the mushrooms and set aside, then strain the soaking liquid (to remove any sand or grit) and add to the simmering stock. Season this liquid with salt and pepper.
- Add the chopped porcini mushrooms to the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 1–2 minutes. Next, tip in the rice and gently stir-fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Pour in the wine, then bring to a simmer, stirring as the mixture heats up, and cook for 2–3 minutes or until the wine has evaporated. Pour in the simmering stock, stirring to combine, then bring to the boil, cover and bake in the oven for 10–12 minutes or until just al dente.
- Meanwhile, melt 25g (1oz) of the butter in a frying pan on a medium heat, add the flat mushrooms and fry, stirring occasionally, for 3–5 minutes or until softened and lightly golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Remove the risotto from the oven and add the grated Parmesan cheese and remaining 75g (3oz) butter, then use a wooden spoon to vigorously beat everything together. Stir in the fried mushrooms, along with the marjoram or parsley, lemon juice and mascarpone (if using). Serve immediately with extra Parmesan on top.
Slow Roast Shoulder of Pork – Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals episode 1
Serves with seasonal veggies to make a fast and easy Sunday main
- Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7).
- Using a sharp knife, score the rind of the pork in a criss-cross pattern at 5mm (¼”) intervals, cutting through the fat but not into the meat itself. (Or ask your butcher to do this for you, if you prefer.) Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of salt, rubbing it into the lines scored in the fat, then place the pork in a large roasting tin and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 150°C (300°F/Gas 2) and continue to cook for a further 5 hours.
- After 5 hours, take the pork out of the oven and turn the temperature back up to 220°C (425°F), Gas mark 7. Pour off the fat into a bowl, leaving any juices in the tin. Place the garlic, squash, leeks and sage leaves around the pork. Then pour over 3 tablespoons of the reserved fat, season with salt and pepper and toss the vegetables together in the tin.
- Return to the oven for 40–50 minutes or until the pork rind has turned into delicious crackling and the vegetables are cooked through and golden. Serve as it is at the table or transfer to a large plate.
Smoked Salmon and Chive Fishcakes
A deliciously satisfying, but healthy, quick meal from Rachel’s new series, perfect for a festive starter!
- Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7) and grease a small baking tray with olive oil.
- Fill a large saucepan with water, then add the potatoes and a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil for 10 minutes, then pour all but about 4cm (1½in) of the water out of the pan and cook the potatoes on a very low heat for another 20–30 minutes until a skewer goes in easily.
- Peel them while they are still hot and mash immediately, either by hand or using the paddle attachment in an electric food mixer, until they are free of lumps.
- Meanwhile, as the potatoes cook, place the smoked salmon on the baking tray. If it is pre-sliced, simply put the slices one on top of the other. Drizzle the salmon with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then bake in the oven for 6–8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Put the mashed potato, onion, chives, capers, lemon juice, egg and breadcrumbs into a large mixing bowl. Roughly tear the smoked salmon into smaller pieces and add to the mix. Use a spoon to stir everything together – the salmon will break up further as you mix. Season with salt and pepper.
- Shape the mixture in to six patties, each about 8cm (3in) wide and 2cm (¾in) thick. The uncooked fish cakes can be prepared up to this point in advance and either frozen or kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- To cook, pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan on a medium heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted and starts to foam, add the fish cakes and fry for 3–5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crispy.
- Serve with a green salad, lemon wedges and a dollop of tartare sauce or mayonnaise.