Her charming manner and effortless style on TV makes Irish celebrity chef, Rachel Allen, a delight to watch each weekend on Saturday Kitchen. So who could be better than the BBC's "Irish cooking queen" to get us organised for the hectic culinary season of Christmas.Author of four bestselling cookbooks which include kitchen staple, Rachel's Favourite Food At Home, the enthusiastic chef is renowned for her practical cooking style that delivers delicious food using simple methods. So HELLO! Online seeks advice on time-saving in the kitchen, and asks Rachel for recipes perfect for Christmas Day, from eggs benedict and breakfast scones to a chicken liver pate starter and a dessert with a twist – mulled wine cupcakes.
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The busy mum-of-two's key advice for cooking – especially at the festive time of the year when family come together and there are lots of mouths to feed – is to prepare in advance.Mince pies are a must! But the greatest thing about them is that you can make them any time now and keep them until Christmas. Rachel says: "Mince pies can be made in advance and frozen, where they will keep for a couple of months. You can then bake them straight from frozen, they'll just take a little extra time to cook but you know then they are done when they're golden and crisp." For the bakers among us who are planning to make up a personalised festive gift hamper, Rachel explains that you can also make your hamper treats ahead of schedule: "Cakes, breads or cookies make the perfect Christmas present for the food lover in your life. I like to gift wrap a cake tin or even a loaf itself. Panettone and Stollen are good choices as they keep for weeks."The softly spoken Irish chef, who promotes getting the family together in the kitchen, says that "using good butter is essential when baking anything from crisp pastry to traditional Christmas cake". She recommends her Irish favourite, Kerrygold, a time-saver as it's "naturally softer and can be used straight from the fridge".
And it can be used to whisk up your own Brandy butter in an instant. Just combine it with icing sugar and a dash of hardy whisky for an unforgettable creamy taste and perfect accompaniment to Christmas pudding.Finally, if you find that your turkey turns dry, use her tip for seasoning the festive bird: "Rubbing a simple salt and pepper seasoning or butter marinade into the turkey before it goes in the oven will lock in taste and ensure the bird remains moist throughout cooking."Start Christmas Day off as you mean to go on with one of Rachel's perfect breakfast recipes, or prepare a light starter for guests to dip into upon arrival. But for the crème-de-la-crème of Christmas desserts try Rachel's Mulled Wine Cupcakes topped with a rich Irish Whiskey and Chestnut Frosting. Served in a jam jar, these petite cakes can be tied with a ribbon and given away as a delicious gift to family and friends. Or, for those who simply can't resist, grab a spoon and dive into its moist, festive sponge.
Poached Eggs Benedict with quick Hollandaise
Sweet and Fruity Breakfast Scones
Chicken Liver Pate with Tomato Salad
Mulled Wine Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey and Chestnut Frosting