Irish chef Rachel Allen relaxing at home
Rachel Allen is Ireland's best-loved TV chef. A popular cookery author with regular appearances on the BBC's Saturday Kitchen, Rachel lives in Dublin with her husband and two sons. MSN Food sat down for a chat with Rachel to talk all things food and drink.
When it comes to the meals you cook for your family, do you tend to prepare things first thing in the morning, to get ahead?
No, I don't really. I always say I will! I'm not one of those really organised people that has supper ready by 8am. I wish I was in a way, but I'm not!
When you filmed your TV series Home Cooking, and Bake, you met up with lots of well-known chefs. Were there any secrets that you learnt from them?
Loads, absolutely loads. That was actually a brilliant part of the series. We went into different chefs' houses, to see what they cooked for their families at home. A lot of these chefs were Michelin-starred chefs that were cooking lots of haute cuisine food in their restaurants. It was lovely to see that a lot of them came home and cooked something really simple like a pot roast! I learnt a lot. I don't think you ever really stop learning, but I was really inspired by that part of the show.
How would you tackle children that are fussy eaters?
One of our sons went through a slightly fussy stage, so I said to him 'You tell me what you do like', and we'd base meals around that. Cook the kind of things that they like, within reason! I know someone with three children, and she'll say to them 'What do you want tonight?', and they'll all choose something different. I think, well, it's not a restaurant! When I was younger, you sat at the table and you ate whatever everyone else was eating. You got what you were given! I think that every single parent has battled with their children at the table at some stage. I would be lying if I said I hadn't.
Beef stir fry
Do you have any tips for parents, when it comes to cooking for children?
One thing I notice with my children is that if I put too much on their plate, I think they find it a bit overwhelming, and they don't eat very much. Certainly I have noticed that if I put a little bit on their plate, and they finish it and they're thrilled with themselves - it's a bit more pleasing for everyone.
Where do you shop for your food in Cork?
There are a couple of farmers' markets that I always go to: the Midleton Farmers' Market and another one at Mahon Point. For gorgeous spices, I go to Green Saffron Spices. For fish, we have a local lady whose company is called Love Fish. Her husband is a fisherman and he goes out for one day at a time, maximum, so you know that everything is fresh. If you're on her texting list, she sends a text to everyone saying: "I've got sole, plaice, haddock and prawns." Then you text her back and she delivers to you. She doesn't have shop overheads, so it's actually a very good price. It's cheaper than you'd get in a shop and it's fresher. I try to shop like that. I've got nothing against supermarkets, but personally I find going to supermarkets with three children gets quite tricky! I try to go to supermarkets for just the basics.
Which ingredients and dishes are you looking forward to eating?
Cabbage! I love Savoy cabbage! I love it just tossed in a tiny bit of butter with salt and pepper, and it goes well with roast chicken. I absolutely love roasts!