Rachel Allen’s Food for Living
What five ingredients must you always have in your kitchen?
Butter (for baking), garlic and onions (as the base for so many savoury dishes), good quality olive oil for drizzling over veg and salads and lemons – they work in so many different cuisines from spicy to Mediterranean.
What are some of your go-to dishes for easy entertaining?
When it’s easily available then fish, very simply seasoned and pan-fried. It’s also lovely to roast a whole fillet of salmon and serve it with a flavoured butter. It’s really quick, you roast the fillet for nine minutes and then leave it to rest for five so it continues to cook.
Roast chicken is also simple, lovely home-cooking. Buy the best chicken you can and stuff it with lots of herbs, like thyme and rosemary, a whole lemon and garlic. Put some butter over the skin and season with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Simple things like fresh seasoning instead of powdered make such a difference.
How do you avoid being a stressed host?
Lists! Write lots of lists. Make sure you create a menu with things that can be done in advance – don’t think you can do everything at the last minute. Write an order of work with timings, so if you want to eat at 8pm know what time dishes need to go into the oven to make that happen.
What’s your entertaining style?
The food determines the serving style but I aim for a variety in the different courses. I like lots of little bites with drinks – rough pâtés of duck or mackerel and soup in little espresso cups. I love big sharing plates, one course plated and a convivial atmosphere.