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Food | The Guardian

Latest Food news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Liam Charles’s recipe for pistachio butter and fig jam tart

Tue, 25 Sep 2018 11:00:20 GMT

A Middle Eastern twist on the classic combo of peanut butter and jelly

When you think of PB and J, you think of peanut butter. Nope, not this time. This recipe uses pistachio butter, its green cousin. It’s available in pretty much every supermarket now, so let’s use it in a tart, along with fig jam and some walnuts, orange blossom water and honey for a Middle Eastern twist on that classic combo of peanut butter and jelly.

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Soane’s Kitchen, London W5: ‘It reminds me of a Victoria Wood sketch’ – restaurant review | Grace Dent

Fri, 21 Sep 2018 09:00:24 GMT

A great space in a historic building, but the service is confused and the food drab

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Grade I-listed building, and one with a famous architect, must be in want of a good tea room. In Ealing, west London, the folk behind the recently re-loved walled kitchen garden within Pitzhanger Manor, built circa 1800, have aimed much higher than this.

Soane’s Kitchen is an elegant, bright, airy, beautifully situated space promising breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, all of which, the menu promises, are so seasonally sensitive and ethically sourced that one ascends spiritually to a higher plane merely by eating its beans on toast. Sorry – its homemade, bloody mary-flavoured beans on Hedone sourdough, topped with a Breckland Brown egg squeezed from the hind portions of an ecstatic Norfolk free-range chicken. In the evening, there’s the likes of tempura shrimp burger served on a squid ink-coloured bun, and gluten-free rump of Paley Farm lamb with aubergine puree for £17.50, while your new potatoes to go with that will cost an extra £3.50.

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How to cook the perfect French apple tart | Felicity Cloake

Wed, 19 Sep 2018 11:00:16 GMT

A properly appley bake with just the right balance of gooeyness and crunch

‘If you look closely,” wrote the late, lamented Lyonnais chef Paul Bocuse, “France is not hexagonal but round, like a tart” – proof that, if you’re a culinary genius, you can say just about anything and people will lap it up. Bocuse is right, however, that, despite its obviously polygonal shape, France is the home of perfect, and often perfectly round, tarts: even the meanest bakery seems to turn out flawless pastry cases full of crème pat and seasonal fruit.

Unlike the tarte tatin, which must be served hot from the oven, the classic patissier’s tart can be made well in advance: ideal for impressing guests, or just allowing you to drink a little too much over Sunday lunch and still produce dessert afterwards. And, like all the best showstopper dishes, it’s surprisingly easy to execute. Not that you need to tell anyone that.

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Nigel Slater's warming autumn recipes

Mon, 17 Sep 2018 07:00:17 GMT

The change of seasons finds Nigel Slater contentedly back in a hot kitchen, preparing duck with figs, pot roast pork and apple and blackberry crumble

The light coming into the kitchen is golden once more and I couldn’t be happier. Each warm, sunny day is bookended by crisp mornings and cool evenings. There is a distinct change of climate at the stove, too: the jars of beans and lentils have come down from the larder shelf; there is meat cooking slowly on its bones; and there are proper puddings in the oven. As a cook, I’m in my element, but also as a shopper, with the best of both seasons at my fingertips. After just one too many salad days of a long, hot summer, this cook has never been happier to be back in the kitchen.

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What climate change means for the wine industry

Sun, 16 Sep 2018 11:00:22 GMT

The warmer weather may benefit English vineyards, but winemakers from Bordeaux to California are struggling. Here are six wines rising to the challenge

One of the ways the British media covers climate change is to treat it as a bit of banter in silly-season items on English wine. This summer’s heatwave was the pretext for an awful lot of these “and finally” moments, in which the tone is unfailingly flippant: never mind the melting Arctic, the shires will take over from Champagne!

Well, hoorah for that. Except, of course, the impact of climate changeon wine isn’t quite as straightforward as a few nice summers and guaranteed bumper vintages in Sussex. What the larky local-radio questions about Bordeaux-on-Thames tend to gloss over is that itwon’t necessarily make the UK, or anywhere, a better place to grow wine. Erratic weather, floods, hurricanes, extreme, unseasonal frost and drought: none of these are friends of the winemaker.

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Is eating bananas whole gay? Fragile masculinity's bizarre new 'hetiquette' | Arwa Mahdawi

Fri, 20 Jul 2018 17:44:01 GMT

Rapper Wiz Khalifa’s insistence that ‘you gotta break it in pieces, bro’ is but one example of gender expectations affecting food

Rapper Wiz Khalifa thinks heterosexual men shouldn’t eat bananas straight out of the peel. Khalifa shared his fruity thoughts on the Breakfast Club radio show earlier this week, telling host Charlamagne Tha God that men should break their bananas into little bits. It’s simple “hetiquette”.

“If you bite into a banana, you sus,” Khalifa said. “Sus” is slang for suspect, and in this instance, seems to be implying that eating a banana whole is a gay thing to do.

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Alchemilla, Nottingham – ‘Quite gorgeous’ – restaurant review | Grace Dent

Fri, 07 Sep 2018 09:00:07 GMT

A refreshing experience: compelling, Japanese-influenced, semi-fine dining that tests the boundaries of Nottingham’s eating out scene

Almost all new restaurants claim to be a labour of love, hewn from an unswerving chef’s blood, sweat and tears. Chefs are really dramatic people. However, the opening of Alchemilla in Nottingham is a gargantuan feat by any measure.

Alchemilla lives below-ground in a crypt-like space, formerly an abandoned coaching house on the Derby Road. The premises sat unloved and festering for more than 100 years, full of rubbish and rot. It was the sort of loveless hell portal over which Kevin from Grand Designs might become quite animated. Especially if chef Alex Bond had told him he planned to spend part of spring 2017 renovating the place himself.

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s Middle Eastern recipes

Sat, 22 Sep 2018 08:30:18 GMT

Beef skewers with dried limes, a version of spiced rice found across the Arabian Gulf – and a fresh, crunchy salad to counteract its richness

My colleague Noor Murad has opened my eyes to a world that is both familiar and a bit exotic. Dishes from her native Bahrain (and the rest of the Arabian Gulf) have their roots in Arabic, Persian and Indian cooking, but also draw from Europe, Africa and Asia. It is a vibrant cuisine, shaped over centuries of trade and perfected mostly by women in home kitchens. The sharp flavours, generous use of spice, and love of rice and seafood are perfect building blocks for some seriously joyful feasts.

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Thomasina Miers’ recipe for spiced lamb and aubergine fatteh

Mon, 24 Sep 2018 11:00:18 GMT

A glorious muddle of lamb, roasted aubergine, Middle Eastern spices and crisp chickpeas

Last year I was at Breddo’s, an extremely good taqueria in London’s Soho, and found myself ordering the crab nachos. They were superb, and reminded me why deviations from “authentic” recipes are not always a bad thing. El pastor, an exquisite street-food staple of Mexico City, is a rendition of the Lebanese kebab. Nachos now fly off the pass at Wahaca, with zingy avocado and tomato salsas and sobrasada. This Middle Eastern fatteh has a similar vibe, using toasted pitta to scoop up the delicious topping.

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Don’t save Aquafaba for Scrabble - here’s how to use the vegan miracle ingredient

Tue, 25 Sep 2018 11:55:09 GMT

Aquafaba, AKA chickpea water, can be used instead of eggs, and has now made it into the Scrabble dictionary. Here are three recipes to try

It’s the news we have all been waiting for: the shadowy powers behind the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary have decreed that “aquafaba” (22 points!) is now acceptable – in the US at least. Setting aside the question of who bothers to consult the rules before launching into a full-blown fight about whether “OK” is allowed (spoiler: it is now), what on earth is aquafaba?

Well, as any vegan will tell you, aquafaba is just a fancy name for chickpea cooking water – that murky liquid left at the bottom of the tin, or in the pan after boiling up your dried pulses. According to Sébastien Kardinal and Laura VeganPower, authors of the Aquafaba cookbook, it has exactly the same ratio of water to protein and starch (90:10) as egg whites – which means it can be cooked in much the same way. Chickpea meringues may sound unlikely, but trust me, they’re pure magic.

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The rise and fall of the TV chef | Tim Hayward

Sun, 19 Aug 2018 10:00:18 GMT

There may never be another Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay. Why would today’s young chefs be interested in working in food television?

For almost as long as there has been TV, there have been cooks on it – from 1940s original Philip Harben to the Sainted Delia – but it was around 1999 that TV producer Pat Llewellyn, in a blaze of genius, brought Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay to life on our screens, in sweaty whites and clogs, but repositioned as sexy. These weren’t TV presenters with some distant history of cooking or food writing, these were real chefs and we were going to share their lives and love them like rock stars.

Celebrity chefs with one foot in the kitchen and one on the studio floor became the dominant phenomenon of British media and for a couple of decades, the overwhelming ambition of many young cooks was to break into TV, while the image – mercurial, driven, invariably male, perfectionist, a Marco Pierre White filtered through his scion Ramsay – became a template. All that, though, is suddenly up for grabs. We’re witnessing a change in the peculiar relationship between chefs and celebrity.

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Rachel Roddy’s recipe for stuffed courgettes

Mon, 24 Sep 2018 11:00:19 GMT

A filling of minced meat and rice brings a taste of the Middle East to Italy with a smattering of parsley, mint and lemon juice

Like finding the right word, or remembering a name that’s been on the tip of your tongue all afternoon, learning a good cooking trick or tip can be an a-ha moment so satisfying that you say it out loud. Learning to check cakes for doneness with a strand of spaghetti, for example, was, and years later still is, a proper a-ha! As are pressing an unpeeled clove of garlic with the heel of my hand so it splits and the skin comes away, rolling a lemon back and forth on the table so it gets juicy, tucking cold butter in a back pocket, or leaving a tapped hard-boiled egg in cold water for 30 seconds so the cracked shell comes away like a cloak. Even though these tricks are now common – banal, even, when there are YouTube videos documenting them, it doesn’t take away from the fact these are daily a-has as satisfying as getting 12 across or remembering who played that character in The Long Good Friday.

It’s a similar feeling when you discover that something you have previously done one way can be done in a quicker, easier way. With the rice-stuffed tomatoes I wrote about last year, for example – a summer standard on home tables and bakery counters in Rome – it turns out the rice doesn’t need to be pre-boiled, and instead can simply be mixed with olive oil, the pulp excavated from the tomatoes and some seasoning, then rested, before being spooned into the tomato shells. I have now done this dozens of times, but I still always think a-ha! as the rice cooks and swells (ideally, so much it dislodges the tomato lid). It is the same a-ha! when I make Claudia Roden’s stuffed courgettes from her book of Middle Eastern food, a fitting book to celebrate this week, I think, because it has been transporting me for decades now – and also because it was the Arabs who introduced rice to Sicily, Italy and, ultimately, the rest of Europe.

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Nigel Slater’s ricotta recipes

Sun, 23 Sep 2018 05:00:17 GMT

Spread straight on to bread, baked, used in puds or scoffed in lumps, lovely versatile ricotta is a source of joy

I made myself a slice of thick toast, its crumb chewy, its crust as black as soot, then spread the surface with a snowy mound of ricotta and pieces of jelly-fleshed apricot. This treat never quite made it to the table and I ate it while standing at the kitchen counter. Then, a few minutes later, a second piece of bread, this time untoasted with a swirl of the ricotta, its crest pushed down into a hollow deep enough to hold a pool of olive oil. Unmediated, almost spontaneous. Eaten out of pure greed after coming home with a fresh loaf and white cheese as soft as cream.

Ricotta barely makes it as a cheese. Traditionally made from the whey left behind after the curds that will become cheese are removed and start their journey to the maturing room, this is the lightest, gentlest-tasting dairy product, next to milk. It has no body to speak of, and can be spread like whipped cream. I like it with strawberries. You can make ricotta al caffe, the famous desert with ricotta and espresso, or use it in a cheesecake to lighten the mixture of eggs, mascarpone or cream cheese.

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20 of Europe's best ice-cream parlours: readers’ travel tips

Thu, 09 Aug 2018 05:30:08 GMT

Unusual flavours, such as lemongrass, poppy seeds, and peppered raspberry, are among the treats discovered by readers in search of a holiday scoop

Legendary ice-cream shop La Martinière is on the quayside in Saint-Martin-de-Ré, and also has a quieter outpost at the far end of the island by the Baleines lighthouse. There are too many flavours to count: my three-year-old was bowled over by the simple vanilla, my husband by the local caramel fleur-de-sel (sea salt, for which the island is famous) and I couldn’t get enough of the Ferrero Rocher and the peppered raspberry. Eat in La Martinière’s garden reclining on the deckchairs, or stroll down to the lighthouse gardens and enjoy the view over the Atlantic as the waves crash onto the beach below.
17 quai de La Poithevinière/9 Allee du Phare, la-martiniere.fr
Jo Devine

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Nigel Slater’s clams, pak choi and oyster sauce

Tue, 25 Sep 2018 11:00:20 GMT

Magnificent molluscs with juicy veg and an Oriental twist

Slice 2 plump pak choi in half lengthways. Wash them under cold running water then lay them, cut side up and still wet, in a large shallow baking dish or shallow pan. Blend together 5 tbsp of oyster sauce and 100ml of water.

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Don't throw away out-of-date yoghurt – use it to make more

Sat, 22 Sep 2018 05:00:13 GMT

Culture-rich live yoghurt can be put to good use even when it’s past its best

If you leave natural yoghurt at room temperature, it won’t go off. It will start to ferment and thicken into a happy colony of yeast and bacteria that can be used to make your own, thereby turning one pot of yoghurt into a self-perpetuating culture.

Buy live yoghurt without any additives or sugar if you want all of its nutritional benefits, including healthy strains of probiotics such as lactobacillus and bifidus, bacteria essential for our digestive system. Ignore the use-by date. Instead, smell or taste it to see if it’s souring and, if it is, don’t throw it away. Bake it into cakes, use as a sour dressing for cooked vegetables, or strain to make labneh, a creamy dip that’s delectable served with olive oil or rolled into balls and coated with spices such as sumac or za’atar.

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From Iranian chicken to Qatari risotto: four recipes from the Middle East

Sat, 22 Sep 2018 06:00:17 GMT

Deliciously spiced dishes, including cannellini beans with eggs and Turkish lamb dumplings with yoghurt

Prep 30 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4-6

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Three Sicilian wines that make you an offer you can’t refuse

Sun, 26 Aug 2018 10:08:36 GMT

Sicily, so close to mainland Italy, has a rich vinicultural heritage all its own

Morrisons The Best Nero d’Avola, Sicily, 2017 (£6, Morrisons)
With a culture infused with, among others, Greek, Roman, Norman, Muslim, Byzantine and Spanish influences, Sicily feels much further from mainland Italy than the couple of miles of the Messina Strait. Its wine culture, too, is very much its own. The second-largest wine-producing region in Italy (itself the world’s largest wine producer), it makes roughly the same amount as Portugal and double that of Greece and, like those two countries, has its own high-quality grape varieties. For reds, the most widely planted is nero d’avola, often used to flesh out blends on the island and (sometimes secretly) the mainland. Its stock has risen in the Sicilian wine renaissance of the past 20 years, however, making it a solo star of such darkly plummy reds as Morrisons’ bargain.

Arianna Occhipinti SP68 Bianco, Sicily, 2017 (£22, Les Caves; Buon Vino)
While a lot of Sicilian wine (good and bad) is blended from grapes sourced in various locations, it’s when the wine comes from a single region that things get really interesting. One of the most intriguing extends from the town of Vittoria in the southeast of the island, home of the frappato variety, used to make pleasantly light, strawberry-and-cherry-scented red easy-drinkers such as Beccaria Frappato 2015 (£7.75, WoodWinters). For a truly ethereal expression of frappato – one that brings sage, rosemary and spice to the perfumed strawberries – try Arianna Occhipinti Frappato 2016 (£33.05, Les Caves), while the same winemaker’s white blend is a summer garden swirl of jasmine, with blood-orange pith, tang and refreshment.

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Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for squash salad with tahini and pomegranate

Sat, 22 Sep 2018 09:00:18 GMT

A hearty Middle Eastern salad with all the warming flavours of autumn

The word “salad” can mean many different things. Some are team players – salads that work well as part of an array of other dishes. Some provide light refreshment – a little bit of cold crunch on the side. But at this time of year, as the temperature dips, I gravitate towards big, hearty salads: standalone numbers that can fill even the hungriest of stomachs with all the colours of the autumn trees, and with warming flavours to boot.

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Spiced pumpkin filo pie and a cheese-stuffed loaf: 20 best packed lunch recipes – part 2

Tue, 25 Sep 2018 07:00:15 GMT

From Nigella’s noodles to a Mumbai street-food classic, Observer Food Monthly picks recipes that pack up well for school, the office or a picnic

  • 20 best packed lunch recipes – part 1

Hot out of the oven, drench with honey, chilli and oregano for an impressive lunch, or take it to eat cold on a picnic.

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How to pick the right wine for a Middle Eastern feast

Fri, 21 Sep 2018 13:00:27 GMT

The region’s food is a great complement to wine, especially all that red-wine friendly grilled spiced meat

However you define the Middle East geographically, we’re not talking about a dominant wine culture compared with the likes of France or Spain. True, Lebanon and Turkey have historic wine-growing traditions, but not Egypt, Jordan or other Arab states. Yet the food we think of as being Middle Eastern is a great complement to wine, subtly spiced and including a fair amount of red wine-friendly grilled meat.

Lebanon is one of the prime hunting grounds. As a former French protectorate, the grapes it grows – syrah, grenache and cinsault, along with, surprisingly for such a warm climate, a fair bit of cabernet sauvignon – are similar to those in the south of France, so the same varieties grown elsewhere will also work with Lebanese food; and made as rosé as well as red. If you’ve run down summer stocks, head to Waitrose and pick up a couple of bottles of Rosé de Balthazar (12.7%), from near Carcassonne, for £6.99, a good couple of quid less than most Provence rosés.

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Easy does it: seven simple new Yotam Ottolenghi recipes

Sat, 01 Sep 2018 06:00:48 GMT

These dishes from my latest book make cooking fun, relaxing and delicious

One person’s idea of cooking simply is the next person’s culinary nightmare. For me, it’s about being able to stop at my greengrocer on the way home, pick up a couple of things that look good and make something within 20 or 30 minutes of getting in. My husband, Karl, on the other hand, has a completely different idea. If we’re having friends over at the weekend, he’ll want to spend a good amount of time prepping and cooking as much as he can beforehand, so that very little needs to be done when our guests are here.

There are other approaches, too. Esme, who tests my recipes, prefers to be in the garden at weekends. Her idea of simple cooking is to put something in the oven on a Saturday morning and leave it simmering away, ready to be eaten four or five hours later. My colleague Tara, on the other hand, can’t relax without knowing that a meal is ready a full day before it’s due to be eaten: sauces are in the fridge, stews in the freezer, vegetables are blanched or roasted and ready.

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Elena Arzak's guide to San Sebastián, Spain: 10 top tips

Wed, 15 Aug 2018 05:30:21 GMT

As Lonely Planet names the city’s pintxos the world’s best food experience, the renowned chef at Restaurant Arzak picks her culinary highlights – and the must-see sights

Bokado is a restaurant overlooking the stunning Bahía de la Concha. It’s great for dinner (the summer tasting menu costs €47pp and includes seared Iberian pork, langoustines and wild bonito) or for a drink on the terrace watching the sun set over the sea. The people behind Bokado also run the restaurant and cafe at the San Telmo museum and style themselves as “pioneers in miniature cuisine”, with dishes such as squid croquettes (€2), crispy octopus (€5) and steak skewers (€2). The museum is in the old town and is a must-see. It celebrates Basque heritage through archaeological finds and more than 6,000 paintings, sculptures and photographs, including the 11 Sert Canvases (housed in San Telmo church), which illustrate the most important events in Basque history.
Both at Plaza Zuloaga, +34 943 573 626, bokadosantelmo.com; santelmomuseoa.eus

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Tast, Manchester: ’We probably don’t quite deserve it’ – restaurant review | Grace Dent

Fri, 14 Sep 2018 09:00:17 GMT

Pep Guardiola’s Catalan adventure is important, possibly a bit earnest, but the proof is in the pudding

As I sit in the Pep Guardiola-financed Catalonian restaurant Tast, one of Manchester’s newest, most forward-reaching dining experiences, I ponder how, during the recent culinary wars over cultural appropriation, one country that remained curiously silent is Spain. So, while Jamaicans have been audibly irked by Jamie Oliver’s jerk rice, and the Japanese take umbrage over our cackhanded tribute to katsu, the Spanish have stayed shtum about the piles of oily patatas bravas and pil pil prawns presented along Britain’s high streets as “a real taste of Catalonia”. It’s almost as if they’ve enjoyed the 40-year self-own. “Let them eat their king edward patatas doused in ketchup and chilli flakes!” they seem to have laughed since the 70s. “Give them their chor-it-so boiled in red wine with garlic bread to dip!”

All this, however, makes it trickier for delicate, thoughtful, educational places such as Tast to tempt in large crowds in 2018. And this it will need to keep bums on seats across its capacious three floors. Tast is a high-end, imaginative, occasionally edgy “taste of the Catalan kitchen” by Paco Pérez, a chef of two Michelin-star calibre.

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Rachel Roddy’s recipe for almond and apricot tart

Mon, 17 Sep 2018 11:00:15 GMT

The French culinary influence on Sicily shows through in this rich pasticcio: an almond-topped pie with a not-too-sweet fruit filling

Apparently it was King Ferdinand I of Naples who introduced butter to Sicily. Having fled to Palermo on Nelson’s HMS Vanguard when French Revolutionary troops invaded Naples in 1798, and encouraged by his Austrian-born wife Queen Maria Carolina, King F constructed a crown dairy in the Palermo commune of Partinico. According to the writer and food historian Mary Taylor Simeti, this daily supply of cream and butter was vital when the rest of Ferdinand’s court, with its aspirations to French style, arrived in Sicily. They turned their backs on traditional Sicilian cooking, sending to Paris for their chefs, who became known as monzù – a corruption of monsieur.

Bechamel, brioche, mousses, glazes, sauces, pastry enriched with butter and cream: the food of the extremely rich had virtually no influence on the food of most of the population, who were, for the most part, desperately poor. In time, though, even when the fashion for French cooking faded and the monzùs turned their attention to elaborating on traditional Sicilian recipes, certain dishes and habits persisted and seeped into popular cooking.

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Cocktail of the week: Berber & Q's Lebaneeza

Fri, 21 Sep 2018 14:00:29 GMT

A Middle Eastern-inspired infusion of saffron, white rum and grapefruit

I’ve suggested infusing a whole bottle of white rum with saffron, not least because the bottle is a handy receptacle and, once made, this keeps indefinitely, but by all means make it in a smaller quantity if that suits your needs.

Serves 1

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Can you learn to cook like a chef by watching YouTube?

Wed, 01 Aug 2018 11:50:42 GMT

Tim Dowling is a quasi-competent cook. Can a week of online tutorials help take his straightfoward cuisine to restaurant standard?

Chef Lallalin Mahasrabphaisal cooks in one of Manchester’s most acclaimed restaurants, Siam Smiles. Previously located inside a Thai supermarket she owned, the cafe has now moved to new premises. While it was, and still is, a modest place, this paper’s reviewer called it “the most exciting thing to happen to me in Manchester since the days of the Haçienda.”

And yet Mahasrabphaisal, also known as Chef May, has no formal culinary training, experience, or , initially at least, any kind of yearning. She only took it up because the cafe’s chef quit and she wanted to keep the place going. She taught herself to cook by watching YouTube videos.

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How to find the best-value French wines | Fiona Beckett

Fri, 14 Sep 2018 13:00:23 GMT

It’s still possible to get affordable, good-quality French wine – so long as you know where to look

It might seem odd to talk of value for money when it comes to French wine, given that it boasts some of the most expensive wines in the world, but in my view it’s hard to surpass. Of course, France produces a lot of poor and overrated wine, too, but it’s still possible to find thrilling and affordable bottles from every part of the country – so long as you know where to look.

As prices of premium wines have risen elsewhere, French wine looks increasingly good value. The price of champagne, for example, often compares favourably with that of English sparkling wine, especially if you go for own-label: Waitrose’s current offer on its stylishly packaged, attractively creamy Blanc de Blancs Brut (12.5%) at £18.99(down from £23.99) is a good case in point.

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Cocktail of the week: la vie en rosé

Fri, 14 Sep 2018 14:00:23 GMT

A French-influenced vodka-and-rose-flavoured spritz with floral notes

It’s time to make wine spritzes classy again, and this rosé-based one has a lovely, floral nose that’s the perfect companion to any late-summer garden party. This subtle and elegant drink uses a homemade infused rose water and vodka mix that’s great to have in the drinks cabinet to add aromatics to all kinds of cocktails; it keeps for ages, too.

Serves 1

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Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for leeks, saffron and haricot beans

Sat, 15 Sep 2018 09:00:05 GMT

A slow-cooked vegetable hotpot with herby French onion tones

Margot Henderson is a food hero of mine. When I moved flats in London, I wanted to be sure of two things: that I had a patch of grass to call my own and that I lived within a short radius of her (and Melanie Arnold’s) Rochelle Canteen. While this dish isn’t on their menu, it was inspired by a similar slow-cooked courgette dish that is. Eating it reminded me always to let the flavours do the talking and to keep things simple with my own cooking.

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Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles, London: ‘I left thinking all was well in the world’ – restaurant review | Jay Rayner

Sun, 16 Sep 2018 05:00:16 GMT

Slurp joyously at this brilliant noodle joint – and drown your fears over Britain’s Chinese eateries

Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles, 62 Wentworth Street, London E1 7AL (020 8617 1470). Small plates £4.80-£7.50, big plates £7.90-£11.20, wine from £16.50 a bottle

These are complex times for Britain’s Chinese restaurants. I know this because recently I sat on a panel about their future at Asia House in London. For the most part I was listening to my fellow panellists, Andy Kwok of the Good Earth group, and the uber-restaurateur Alan Yau, who set up Hakkasan, Yauatcha and Park Chinois among others. I contributed memories of the Chinese restaurants along Queensway in the early 1970s, where chefs stood in the windows pulling noodles as a kind of come-hither culinary theatre; they talked brutal economic and business realities.

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Classic French recipes | Yotam Ottolenghi

Sat, 15 Sep 2018 08:29:01 GMT

A Gallic feast, starting with gram flour pancakes from the Riviera, then a classic duck provençal, and capped with a crunchy Parisian apple pudding

The little formal chef training I got was in a very French environment, where I was taught a set of techniques and recipes formalised decades earlier. For my ability to make a decent stock or chop vegetables uniformly – both important skills, yet ones I exercise less and less – I will always be grateful to my French mentors, but for inspiration that is more relevant to the way I cook today, I owe more to visits to France itself. Rustic, regional cooking, still going strong, as well as innovations in the big cities, feed me a constant flow of fresh ideas from this culinary giant of a nation.

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Anna Jones’s recipes for fig and halva sundae and cardamom drizzle cake

Fri, 21 Sep 2018 11:00:25 GMT

An easy dessert packed with the flavours of the Middle East and a rich cake with honey and almond

I remember my first taste of halva, from the deli counter at our local suburban supermarket, where it was kept in a plastic box on top of the cheese counter. My mum used to buy big hunks of it, chipped off the block with a satisfying crumbly precision. Halva represents all that I love about sweets and cakes from the Middle East, the contrast of something pleasingly sweet with a savoury note from sesame to cardamom and saffron. Here are two easy treats that tread the fine line between sweet and savoury with perfect balance.

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Festa sul Prato: ‘Utterly cheery and fun and good-hearted’ – restaurant review

Sun, 23 Sep 2018 04:59:15 GMT

Head into the depths of Deptford for this delightful park cafe, where everyone can join the party

Festa sul Prato, Folkestone Gardens, Deptford, London SE8 5JE (07814 829912). Breakfast dishes £1.50-£8.50, starters £3-£8, mains £10-£14, all wine £20

I travel this country so much, some of my friends call me the train whisperer. They claim I have electrified rails for bones. I know the differences between the unreserved carriages on the East Coast and West Coast lines. I know where best to stand on random station platforms – York, Cardiff – to have the best chance of getting a table seat, and what time past the hour the trains depart from Manchester for London. When my work on The One Show took me to Wales regularly, the guards at Paddington would allow me through the gates early because we were on first-name terms. I’m a trainspotter with benefits, the benefits being that I actually get on the trains.

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Ditch the almond milk: why everything you know about sustainable eating is probably wrong

Wed, 05 Sep 2018 05:00:50 GMT

From cod to clingfilm, the advice we’re given can often be confusing. If you’re serious about eating green, here are some straightforward solutions

In food and drink, we all want to do the right thing. We want to shop and eat sustainably. But, sometimes, it is easier said than done. Our willingness to jump on the latest eco-trends and unquestioningly accept reassuring labelling can lead to unintended consequences. If we are serious about eating green, we need to read beyond the headlines and think rigorously about how we apply ethical advice in our own lives. By way of inspiration, here are some of the ways we get it wrong on ingredients, storage and recycling – and a few surprisingly easy solutions.

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Meat-free: Peter Kuruvita's gourd curry and pomegranate rice recipes

Tue, 25 Sep 2018 01:09:18 GMT

Those looking for dinner inspiration during meat-free week will enjoy this warming Sri Lankan curry and pomegranate rice

These recipes are a reflection of the changing dialogue about what we eat. They are a celebration of all things vegetable and their growing prominence at our tables. I want to show you how they can be the star. As the Sri Lankans are fond of saying, you can “curry anything” – and I want you to embrace the idea of a meal where flesh is not the main event. Vegetables and grains and pulses can shine. And here they do. Very brightly.

Cooking with vegetables is a very natural thing for me. My grandmother was a vegan all her life and Sri Lankans would usually have only one piece of meat, if any, in their meals, along with lots of different vegetable curries. Growing up in Sri Lanka, I was exposed to a multitude of vegetables, pulses and grains, and saw how these elements are celebrated in the subcontinent’s different cuisines. I am not a vegetarian, but I do love vegetables. They can become such a complete and joyous meal, and my motivation – far above those associated with choice based on taste, environmental or moral reasons – is just to cook with more vegies.

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Savoury muffins and a desk-side soup: 20 best packed lunch recipes – part 1

Mon, 24 Sep 2018 07:00:14 GMT

Nigel Slater’s favourite sandwich, an omelette and paratha tiffin, a lemon cake snack – lunchboxes packed by Observer Food Monthly

I’m a huge fan of a muffin – whether savoury or sweet – which is a Kiwi thing as every cafe and bakery in New Zealand seems to make a muffin or two. Much as these are lovely eaten warm from the oven, thickly buttered, they’re also great split open and topped with a salad for a light lunch. And if you don’t eat them all on the day they’re baked, they’re terrific halved and toasted. Because the muffins contain rich bacon lardons and caramelised shallots, they benefit from being served with a simple salad dressed with lemon juice, and plenty of mint to woo the peas.

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Gravity-defying dessert, $195 mac’n’cheese and Beyoncé’s guacamole: the tastiest food TV

Wed, 29 Aug 2018 14:17:21 GMT

There’s plenty to satisfy your food-based telly cravings in the week between Great British Bake Off episodes. Here’s our pick ...

While everyone was busy being distracted by all the prestige drama, streaming services have quietly built up a giant stockpile of food shows. With CNN’s Anthony Bourdain documentary not out for at least another year, and the next episode of the Great British Bake Off almost a whole week away, here’s a list of all the food shows you should be watching instead.

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Compote, dressing or gin: what can you do with a glut of blackberries?

Sun, 23 Sep 2018 13:00:25 GMT

The summer heatwave may be a distant dream, but it has left its mark on our hedgerows, where brambles are still going strong. Here are the best ways to use the fruit up

This year will be remembered for many important news events – the snow, Gareth Southgate’s waistcoat, that massive puddle outside Hammersmith tube station – but for me, it will always be the year of the fruit.

The heatwave may feel like a freakish dream, but its legacy lingers on in the bumper harvest of free food in our hedgerows and urban scrublands: damsons, sloes and, above all, blackberries, still going strong in London after six solid weeks of picking. (The same heatwave ripened the commercial crop a month early, which is why they have now been replaced by fruit from central America in many supermarkets, even as the edges of their carparks burst with wild berries.)

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