Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home

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By now I hope you have had time to tune in to my lovely daughter-in-law Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home on Wednesdays at 7.30 on RTE 1. 
This is Rachel’s third television series and her programmes are now also shown on BBC.
Rachel’s recipes are easy and delicious and the book that accompanies the series has a great mix of international and ethnic recipes, classic regional fare and good old-fashioned family favourites like Macaroni Cheese, Homemade Sausages and Banana Butterscotch Pudding. The ten chapters are enticingly named Easy Family Food, Sweet Celebrations, Picnics and Days Out, Food for Children, Extended Family, Dining Alfresco, Home Cinema, Big Celebrations, Edible Gifts, Just like Mum used to Make. 
Each section has a selection of yummy recipes beautifully illustrated by Peter Cassidy’s food photos and the equally enticing location shots were taken by Cristian Barnett.
Rachel is a busy Mum with two boisterous boys. She encourages her contemporaries to bring the kids into the kitchen and let them help with the peeling, chopping and cooking, to hell with the mess. Its all about having fun and whetting their appetite, not only for food but also for cooking and the simple pleasure of sitting down around the kitchen table with family and friends.
Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home, is published by Collins and is available in hardback at €22.95  Buy this Book from Amazon

South American Beef Steak with Chimichurri Salsa
Serves 6

The flavours in the salsa marry beautifully with the steak, which can be cooked on a barbecue, in a frying pan or grill pan on the hob. It is delicious served with the Avocado, Orange and Watercress salad.

6 sirloin steaks, about 1cm (½ in) thick

For the marinade:
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
100ml (3½ fl.oz) olive oil

For the chimichurri salsa:
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped spring onion
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Juice of ½ lime
100ml (3½ fl.oz) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Using a sharp knife score the steaks 1mm (1/16in) deep in a criss-cross pattern.
Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a shallow glass or china dish or strong plastic bag, add the beef and toss in the marinade. Then place in the fridge for at least 1 hour (or up to about 8 hours).
To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat a grill pan, frying pan or your barbecue until very hot. Remove the beef from the marinade and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side or longer, depending on your taste. Reserve the marinade and use it to brush over the steaks during the cooking. Transfer to serving plates, spoon over the chimichurri salsa, with more in a bowl on the side, and serve.

Avocado, Orange and Watercress Salad
Serves 6

This salad has wonderful fresh flavours. It’s great with spicy food, like the South American Beef steak. If you want to make it in advance, leave out the avocado and watercress until you are almost ready to serve.

50ml (2fl.oz) olive oil
Juice of ½ lime
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 orange, peeled and chopped
2 avocados, halved, peeled, stoned and chopped roughly
125g (4½oz) watercress sprigs (about 6 handfuls)

In a bowl mix the olive oil and lime juice and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the chopped orange and avocado. Then gently toss in the watercress sprigs and serve.

Lamb Samosas
Makes 20

Samosas are the ultimate finger food, which makes them the ultimate telly food! Use filo pastry as a faster alternative to the traditional samosa pastry. For a vegetarian version, replace the lamb with an equal quantity of boiled, skinned and chopped potato.

2 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
300g (11oz) finely chopped or minced lamb
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g (4oz) peas (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
5 sheets of filo pastry, measuring 25x50cm (10x20in)
1 egg, beaten

Heat a frying pan, add the sunflower or olive oil, then toss in the lamb, onion and ground spices. Season and cook for about 10 minutes without a lid until the lamb is just cooked and the juices have evaporated. Add the peas and toss. Take off the heat and add the chopped coriander and season again to taste. Set aside for a minute to let the lamb cool.
Meanwhile, lay the filo pastry out on a board and cut into half lengthways, then into half widthways, so you have four rectangles from each whole sheet. Cover all the pieces of filo with a barely damp tea towel (to prevent them from drying out). Place one sheet lengthways in front of you and pile a dessertspoon of the lamb mixture at the end closest to you. Roll the pastry from the end closest to you, once, then fold in both the long sides and roll over and over, away from you, into a little parcel. Brush the finishing edge with a little of the beaten egg to seal and then place on a baking tray. Brush the finished samosa with beaten egg and repeat with all the remaining pastry and meat.
These can be prepared earlier in the day up to this point and chilled in the fridge. To cook, place the baking tray into an oven preheated to 220C (425F), gas mark 7 for 10-12 minutes until golden.

Cardamom Sour Cream Cake
Serves 6-8

This is one of the most delicious cakes. It stays wonderfully moist and the flavour of the sour cream or crème fraîche with the cardamom is sublime. This makes a gorgeous birthday cake, or a special gift for Mother’s Day.

For the cake:
1 egg
200ml tub sour cream or crème fraîche (reserve 1 tbsp. for icing)
175g (6oz) caster sugar
225g (8oz) plain flour, sifted
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cardamom seeds

For the icing:
125g (4½ oz) icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp sour cream or crème fraîche

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), gas mark 4. Grease the sides of a 20cm (8in) round cake tin and dust with flour; line the base of the tin with a disc of greaseproof paper.
Whisk the egg in a large bowl. Add all but 1 generous tablespoon of the sour cream or crème fraîche and the sugar and whisk to combine. Add the sifted flour and bicarbonate of soda, then the salt and the ground cardamom. Fold the mixture to combine, do not over-mix. Transfer into the tin and place in the oven. Cook for about 35 minutes until the top of the cake just feels firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and cooling on a wire rack.
When the cake has just cooled, make the icing by mixing the reserved tablespoon of sour cream or crème fraîche with the icing sugar. If it is too stiff add just a drop of water. Spread the icing over the top of the cake, allowing any extra icing to drip down the sides.
Variation:
Cardamom Sour-Cream Buns
This recipe works perfectly well when cooked in bun cases. They look so sweet with birthday candles in each one. Just divide the mixture between 12 paper cases in a bun or muffin tray (or use a non-stick 12-bun tray) and cook at the same temperature for 18-20 minutes. Ice as above.

Parmesan Chicken Goujons
Serves 6-8

Use good-quality free-range chicken and you’ll have a delicious and nutritious meal the little ones will adore. Rachel’s children love dipping these goujons into homemade Tomato Ketchup or Mayonnaise or sometimes a mixture of the two!

600g (1lb6oz) boneless and skinless chicken
50g (2oz ) plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
100g (4oz) breadcrumbs
50g (2oz) Parmesan cheese, or something similar, such as Grana Padano, finely grated
3 tbsp sunflower oil

These can either be cooked on the hob or in the oven. If using the oven, preheat to 200C (400F), gas mark 6 and place on a baking tray in the oven to preheat.
Cut the chicken into goujons the size of a big finger (1x10cm (½x4in)). Place the flour in a mixing bowl or in a plastic bag with some salt and pepper. Place the beaten eggs in another bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs and finely grated cheese together and place in a bowl or bag as well.
Toss the goujons in the seasoned flour, making sure they do not stick together, then remove. Shake off the excess flour and dip them in the beaten egg. Remove from the egg, letting the excess drip off, and toss into the breadcrumb cheese mix. Shake off the excess and lay the goujons on a plate.
To cook on the hob, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the goujons in a single layer, cook on one side for about 3 minutes until golden, then turn down the heat and flip the pieces over. Cook on the other side for about 4 minutes, until cooked through and golden.
To cook the goujons in the oven, drizzle the base of the preheated tray with the oil and lay the floured and seasoned goujons in a single layer. Bake in the oven for about 12-18 minutes, turning the goujons over halfway through, or when golden on one side. When they are completely cooked remove from the oven and serve.

Upside-down Apple and Cinnamon Cake
Serves 8

50g (2oz) butter
250g (9oz) brown sugar
3 eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced 5mm (¼ in) thick
200g (7oz) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 generous tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
200ml (7fl.oz) buttermilk or sour milk
75ml (2¾ fl.oz) vegetable or sunflower oil


Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), gas mark 4. Melt the butter in a medium-sized ovenproof frying pan (measuring 25cm (10in) in diameter). Stir in half the sugar and cook over a gentle heat for about 2 minutes. Add the apple –there’s no need to stir – and remove from the heat and set aside.
Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt, bicarbonate of soda and ground cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk the eggs in a measuring jug or small bowl and add the remaining sugar, buttermilk and oil. Mix together, then pour into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine into a liquid batter. Pour this over the apple in the pan. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the cake feels firm in the centre.
Cool for 5 minutes before turning out by placing an inverted plate over the top of the pan and turning pan and plate over together in one quick movement. Serve warm or at room temperature with softly whipped cream.

Bill Granger’s Banana Butterscotch Pudding
Serves 4-6

This recipe originally came from Bill’s book Simply Bill and he cooked it when Rachel appeared with him on Great Food Live. She adapted it slightly to fit her pie dish, to make it for 12 people double the recipe and cook in a 25cm (10in) square gratin dish for 55 minutes.

For the pudding:
125g (4½oz) plain flour
3 level tsp baking powder
125g (4¼oz) caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 banana, mashed
250ml (8fl.oz) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g (3¼oz) butter, melted

For the topping:
100g (4oz) soft brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
150ml (5fl.oz) boiling water

To serve:
Softly whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), Gas mark 4. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the caster sugar. Mix together the beaten egg, the mashed banana, milk, vanilla extract and melted butter. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir to mix until combined. Pour this wet dough into a 1.25 litre (2¼ pint) pie dish and place the dish on a baking tray.
To make the topping, put the brown sugar, golden syrup and boiling water into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and then drizzle it all over the pudding. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until it feels slightly firm in the centre. 
Serve with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream. If you are not going to serve the pudding immediately, keep it somewhere warm until you are ready – it sits quite happily.

Foolproof Food

Popcorn Paradise
Serves 4

Its difficult to have a home cinema night without popcorn, so why not try this recipe and all its variations? Serve the popcorn in a big bowl or in paper cornets for each person.

Plain popcorn:
3 tbsp sunflower oil
75g (3oz) popcorn
25g (1oz) butter
Pinch of salt

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the popcorn and swirl the pan to coat the popcorn in oil. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and the corn should start to pop in a couple of minutes. As soon as it starts popping (after 5-7 minutes), take the saucepan off the heat and add the butter and salt. Put the lid back on the pan and shake to mix. Pour out into bowls and leave to cool a little.

Variations
Toffee Popcorn
Cook the popcorn as for the plain popcorn recipe, but while the corn is popping, make the toffee coating by melting 25g (1oz) butter in a small saucepan. Then add 25g (1oz) brown sugar and 1 generous tablespoon golden syrup and stir over a high heat for ½-1 minute until thick. Pour the toffee over the popcorn, put the lid on the pan and shake to mix. Pour out into bowls and cool a little before serving.
Spiced Popcorn
Cook the popcorn for the plain popcorn recipe as far as removing the pan from the heat. In a bowl, mix 1½ teaspoons each of ground cumin and coriander seeds with ½ teaspoon each of medium-strength curry powder and ground paprika and ¾ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons sunflower oil in a frying pan, add the spices and stir for about 30 seconds until lightly toasted. Throw in 25g (1oz) caster sugar and ¾ teaspoon salt, stir, then add all of this into the prepared popcorn in the saucepan, toss and empty into a big bowl.


 Hot Tips

Herb Tour/Talk at Airfield Gardens, Dundrum, Dublin 14 on tomorrow Sunday September 24th at 2.30pm, cost €10 – Info/Booking 01-2984301 or booking@airfield.ie  organized by Irish Organic Herbs ( www.irishorganicherbs.com  ) in association with Airfield House and Gardens. Anna Maria Keaveney, Medical Herbalist IIMH, will discuss the benefit of herbs in relation to such topics as the immune system, menopause, detox, arthritis, stress etc.

North West Food Fest continues this weekend –
Today Sat. 23rd – McNean Food Trail – 1.00-7.30pm 
Sunday 24th – 10.00am-5.00pm – Family Fun Fungus Forage – Tel Alex at 071-9643963 www.passport-breifne.com
The Organic Fair at the Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim – 11.00am-5pm Tel 071-9854338 organiccentre@eircom.net 

Louth Food Group – Promoting Local foods with Louth Leader
Louth Leader have recently launched the ‘Louth Food Group’ whereby 9 local producers have come together under one umbrella to promote, develop and grow their business in the speciality food sector. Members benefit from Training Programmes, Collective Marketing, PR Initiatives, Individual Mentoring and access to Leader funding. More details from Michelle O’Brien, Food Specialist, Louth Food Group, Louth Leader, Market St. Ardee, Co Louth, Tel 041-6857375 info@louthleader.com  michelle@louthleader.com  www.louthleader.com 

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Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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