When the leaves start to turn colour, it marks the annual autumnal return of Rachel Allen to our televisions. 'Rachel's Favourite Food at Home' is the third series from this young Irish cook, and it comes with an accompanying book - her first in hardcover - of the same name. With chapters having titles like Picnics and Days Out, Food for Children, Home Cinema, and Big Celebrations, this publication differs from her earlier works by its focus on Allen's lifestyle. The series was filmed, and the book's photos taken, at the Allen home near the Ballymaloe Cookery School (where she teaches) in East Cork and there are lots of shots of family and friends in situ.
But, leaving the depictions of Allen's lovely life aside, there are also plenty of scrumptious shots of the ever-managable food that she presents. She doesn't reinvent the wheel - there are plenty of recipes for simple soups, pastas and cakes - but Allen has to be credited with giving people the inspiration as well as the instructions to prepare her delicious and easy dishes. With some good, healthy options for family-friendly and, particularly, child-friendly food, there is plenty to choose from - Asian flavours (Thai Stir-Fried Beef with Red Peppers and Pak Choi, Roast Southeast Asian Salmon), retro favourites (Fondue Savoyard, Raclette, Macaroni Cheese) and must-try puddings (Toffee, Apple and Almond Crumble, Bill Granger's Butterscotch Pudding).
So, whether you've been seduced by her TV persona or are simply interested in accessible recipes, 'Rachel's Favourite Food at Home' is worth more than just a brief browse.