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A New Slant On Home Cooking

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It’s all about simple pleasures this week, as we talk to Rachel Allen about her book Home Cooking and take a peak at some of the delicious recipes found inside.

Home cooking. It’s a phrase that means different things to different people.

If you grew up in a house where no-one knew their way around the kitchen, it might mean a Pot Noodle sandwich. While for others the phrase could summon up images of 10 people sitting around a table, ready to tuck into a roasted joint and six veg.

For Rachel Allen, as she demonstrates in her Good Food series and accompanying book, home cooking is about making simple, wholesome food that the entire family can enjoy together.

Try some of Rachel Allen’s recipes at home...

Crispy prawns with Chinese noodle stir-fry (Serves 4-6)

400g medium Chinese egg noodles
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp groundnut oil
375g raw, peeled large tiger prawns or about 24 small prawns, split in half lengthways if large.
3 tbsp plain flour
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped root ginger
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cut into fine strips
110g green beans, topped and tailed and halved
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
Bunch of spring onions, trimmed and cut into strips
110g beansprouts
2 tbsp roughly chopped peanuts, toasted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil with 1 tsp of salt and cook the noodles for 3-4 minutes or following the instructions on the packet until tender. Drain well and return to the pan. Drizzle the sesame oil over and toss to coat. Cover the noodles and set aside in the pan to keep warm.

Pour 2 tbsp of the groundnut oil into a wok or large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Season the prawns with salt and pepper and toss in the flour to coat lightly, shaking off any excess. Fry the prawns for 2-3 minutes until golden and cooked through. Set aside to keep warm, but do not cover.

Add the remaining groundnut oil to the wok or frying pan. When hot, add the garlic and ginger and saute; for about 30 seconds until just golden. Tip in the chilli, carrot and beans and saute for a further 3-4 minutes. Season with the soy sauce and sugar. Add the noodles and all but a handful of each of the spring onions and beansprouts and stir-fry for 1 minute more.

To serve, divide the noodle stir-fry between warm plates or bowls. Arrange the prawns on top and sprinkle over the remaining spring onions and beansprouts. Scatter with the toasted peanuts and serve immediately.

Baked raspberry and ricotta cheesecake (Serves 8-10)

In this variation on the classic American dessert, ricotta is used rather than cream cheese for a lighter texture, while the raspberries add a tangy, refreshing touch.

50g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
150g digestive biscuits
1 x 500g tub of ricotta cheese
200g creme fraiche
3 eggs
175g caster sugar
1 tbsp runny honey
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp vanilla extract
275g fresh raspberries
Icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Grease the sides and base of a 20cm (8in) diameter springform/loose-bottomed cake tin. Place the biscuits in a food processor and blend until fine. Alternatively, place in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin. Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and tip into the prepared tin. Flatten with the back of a spoon to form an even layer.

Wash the processor bowl and blade, reset and add the ricotta, creme fraiche, eggs, sugar, honey, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Blend for a few seconds until smooth and well combined. Crush 100g of the raspberries with a fork and stir them into the mixture.

Pour the mixture onto the biscuit base in the tin and gently shake and tilt the tin so that the ricotta mixture forms a level layer. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the cheesecake is pale golden and wobbles slightly in the middle when you shake the tin. Remove, cover with foil and leave in a warm place to completely cool before storing in the fridge overnight. Don’t worry if the top has cracked, the remaining raspberries will cover this.

Run a knife around the edge to loosen the cheesecake and remove it from the tin. Transfer to a serving plate and scatter the remaining raspberries on top. Dust with icing sugar and serve.