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Come join me, to get all the inspiration you need for a delicious festive season, at the BBC Good Food Show Winter. On Sunday 29 November, I will be creating seasonal dishes throughout the show. Plus, catch me on the Interview Stage and signing books on the WHSmith Stand.
 
It is the ultimate food lovers day out! Plus you can save 20%* on tickets. Simply quote TL20 when booking to claim.
 
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When it comes to food, there's nothing more exciting than harvesting it yourself. And digging your own potatoes before cooking and eating them has to be up there as the most soul-warming, satisfying thing to do.
 
It's not just the process of stepping on the garden fork then lifting it out to reveal the mud-covered golden nuggets, but the flavour of freshly dug potatoes is something that's quite unlike any other. The  almost-sweet nuttiness of a fresh, new potato is really pronounced and the texture is perfectly waxy and floury at  the same time.
 
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Deliciously small and sweet, the blueberry is a lot more powerful than its modest size would lead you to believe. Nowadays hailed as a superfood, the blueberry has been enjoyed for many centuries by the Native Americans, who have long realised its potency in terms of high levels of antioxidants, as well as being hugely beneficial for the nervous system.
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One of my very favourite ingredients has to be the prawn. And that's not just any old frozen, imported prawn I'm talking about; rather, the king of prawns that we have right here all around the Irish coast - the Dublin Bay prawn. Also known as langoustine or the Norway lobster, the prawn is right at home here in the fresh, cold waters of the Atlantic and the Irish Sea. And it's the biting-cold sea that we have to thank for the sweet, delicious flavour that is like no other in the world.
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If I was stranded on a desert island and allowed just one ingredient, apart from chilled white wine that gushed out of a tap, I would definitely opt for an endless supply of lemons. Yes, lemons.
 
Along with the salt I would make by evaporating sea water in the sun, I'd have the magical seasoning duo that would instantly enhance the flavour of any fish, meat or vegetable that I managed to catch or find.
 
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Called 'the queen of fruits' in Asia because of its many health-boosting qualities, the strawberry is, without doubt, the quintessential flavour of summer for me. It's the nostalgic flavour that seems to remind me most of summer days when I was little. I can still see, in my mind's eye, my favourite yellow dress, with strawberry stains all down the front!
 
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Do you know what makes me really happy? Having a picnic. There, I've said it. I can practically hear you all muttering from behind your Sunday papers, 'that Rachel Allen one needs to go and get a life'. And maybe I do. But come on, isn't there something just so uncomplicated and pleasurable about eating outside in the elements? Everything tastes better, for a start. There's minimal cleaning up to do afterwards and, unless you eat outdoors all the time - which, as we are in Ireland, I doubt - there is a certain novelty factor to picnicking that I just adore.
 
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Way back when, after our ancestors started using fire as a means of heat, they discovered the transformative effects of flames and smoke on meat. Not only did smoking bring great flavour, but it also preserved the food, which was, of course, essential for survival in primitive times.
 
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As vegetables go, asparagus has to be one of the most beautiful. Firm green stalks that look like something a soldier from the Roman Empire would throw at his enemy, rather than munch on, these edible spears are something to be made the most of at this time of the year. While asparagus can be found in the shops pretty much all year round nowadays, it does tend to be flown in from far-flung places such as Africa and South America to the detriment of the flavour and texture of this stunning little vegetable.
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There's nothing quite like a bank-holiday weekend to make you want to get outside and start cooking al fresco. If you haven't already brushed down your barbecue, then now is definitely the time. For those of us who live in lovely unpredictable Ireland we know that a bit of spontaneity is key when it comes to cooking outside, as we seem to be the only country in the world that can have whole four seasons in one day! But fear not, here are some great recipes to get the barbie season kicked off in style, rain or shine.
 
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