Food & drink | The Guardian

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

Is the Blue Nile, TripAdvisor’s 'best' restaurant in London, really that good?

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:01:01 GMT

A modest Eritrean cafe in Woolwich recently shot to the top of TripAdvisor’s London rankings. Such listings are nonsense – but it is a fine place to eat

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Beautiful homewares from The Simple Things - in pictures

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:16:59 GMT

From hand-knitted gloves to pineapple wall sconces, a selection of beautiful homewares from The Simple Things magazine

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How to make the perfect country pâté

Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:07:21 GMT

Would you splash out on mincing and sous-vide machines in pursuit of the perfect pâté de campagne? Order pig fat and offal from the butcher? Or just pop to the supermarket for some Shippam’s meat paste?

How to make perfect chicken liver pâté

How to make perfect smoked mackerel pâté

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God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: the thriving culture of pub Christmas carols

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 19:23:07 GMT

Village pubs in Yorkshire are packed with locals giving new life to traditional yuletide songs spurned by the Victorian church Continue reading...

The Christmas turkey: is it ever worth the bother?

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 00:00:04 GMT

No matter how you cook it – and I have one recipe that needs 32 items in the stuffing alone – a Christmas turkey will never be more than just fine

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The foodie traveller … on German tree cakes in Dresden

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 07:00:08 GMT

One of Germany’s most beloved cakes is also one of the hardest to make – but this family-run bakery has it down to an art

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How to cook the perfect oatcakes

Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:35:00 GMT

Are oatcakes delicious or dull, what do you top them with – and is it worth making your own?

How to cook the perfect digestive biscuit
How to bake the perfect soda bread
How to cook the perfect tattie scones Continue reading...

The cheesiest pizza in the world – Guardian Australia review

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 01:45:53 GMT

A 99-cheese pizza sounds disgusting but one Melbourne chef has found a way to make it work

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David Tanis’s Mediterranean winter feast

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:00:09 GMT

Moroccan-spiced lamb, pan-roasted parsnips, almond honey cake – these brilliant Mediterranean recipes add spice to the Christmas season

If you’re planning a holiday gathering, it can be quite nice to abandon traditional fare for a change. You can be sure there will plenty of roasted ham and mince pies everywhere else, so why not give your guests a bit of something different?

I always want to escape the holiday season and head for warmer weather, but when that’s not possible, I import the bright flavours of the Mediterranean for a winter dinner party.

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The foodie traveller: savoury cocktails in Italy

Sun, 07 Dec 2014 07:00:04 GMT

Cocktails sometimes err on the sweet side. No chance of that with these new wave Italian concoctions introducing onions, chilli and blue cheese into the mix Continue reading...

How to bake the perfect florentines

Thu, 09 Oct 2014 07:00:04 GMT

Are these light and lacy confections the world’s best biscuits, is there any place for the glace cherry, and should you double-dip in chocolate or go nude?

  • How to bake the perfect digestive biscuit
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Pannage pork: why it’s time to pig out on British Ibérico-style ham

Mon, 01 Dec 2014 13:00:00 GMT

Top chefs reckon acorn-fed pigs in Britain produce some of the world’s best ham. So why haven’t you heard of it, and where can you get some? Continue reading...

Shout out to all the pear! How Rick Ross gave fruit a hip-hop big-up

Sun, 30 Nov 2014 18:00:00 GMT

A quote from the rapper about his favourite fruit has taken on a life of its own – are there any lessons here for businesses who want to target that elusive hip-health demographic? Continue reading...

Come out of your shell: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for mussels, clams and oysters

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 18:00:10 GMT

Fancy a trip abroad without moving out of your own kitchen? Mussel, clam and oyster recipes from around the world will take you anywhere you want Continue reading...

20 best white wines for Christmas

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:00:20 GMT

From supermarket bargains to high-end treats, the Observer wine critic picks his festive highlights

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Fortified wines for Christmas

Sun, 07 Dec 2014 05:59:03 GMT

The big day wouldn’t be the same without something special in your glass. Here’s a Muscat, Port and sherry for you to try Continue reading...

How to make the perfect prawn cocktail

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 11:20:40 GMT

Do you have a soft spot for this retro classic? What kind of prawns do you use, is iceberg essential, and can any fancy sauces beat mayonnaise mixed with tomato ketchup?

How to make the perfect black forest gateau Continue reading...

Fake flavours: why artificial aromas can’t compete with real food smells

Mon, 08 Dec 2014 12:44:35 GMT

The Aromafork is a fun way to experiment with flavours, but its vials of fake strawberry, banana and almond smell disgusting. Would you be happy unwrapping a molecular gastronomy kit on Christmas morning? Continue reading...

Cereal Killer: which other novelty cafes could be a hit?

Thu, 11 Dec 2014 12:45:01 GMT

An all-day diner selling nothing but cereal seems beyond parody – but it might just work. What is your fantasy one-trick pony?

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India Knight: I’ve a deep mistrust of people who dislike cheese

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:00:10 GMT

The author and journalist talks about bonding with her father over steak tartare and how food plays an integral part in all her novels

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What should you do with all your old spices?

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:22:10 GMT

A recent survey suggests that there are millions of pounds’ worth of unused spices sitting on our shelves. What should you do with those dusty jars of cumin, coriander and cayenne? Continue reading...

Our 10 best wine recipes

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 06:00:20 GMT

Not just a welcome accompaniment, a nice splash of red, white or even fizz can add richness and piquancy to meat, fish, veg, puddings or ... well, just about anything

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How to cook the perfect pasta puttanesca

Thu, 25 Sep 2014 06:00:09 GMT

Are anchovies essential in ‘whore’s pasta’, do you top it with cheese, and what other store-cupboard standbys do you cook when the fridge is bare?

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Welcome to part two of Observer Food Monthly’s Christmas special

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:00:19 GMT

In our second guide to the perfect Christmas, find even more brilliant recipes, plus a round-up of the year’s best food books and the most memorable meals eaten

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The Shed Cookbook – review

Sat, 06 Dec 2014 06:00:28 GMT

The Gladwin brothers’ plentiful book of forgaging tips and seasonal, nose-to-tail recipes is as handsome as it is ample Continue reading...

Bread and ginger: white chocolate stollen and lebkuchen recipes

Sat, 06 Dec 2014 06:00:30 GMT

Winter baking practically demands the addition of warming ginger: here it’s paired with white chocolate in a comforting Christmas bread and cinnamon and cloves in spiced biscuits

Ginger is one of the few ingredients that is good in all its forms: sticky stem ginger, ground ginger, fiery fresh ginger, ginger in chewy, sugared chunks or candied in syrup to a mild sweet warmth. Though each has a slightly different flavour – some hotter, others more muted – they’re all perfect to bake with. Typically, I’d add a heap of grated ginger to cakes batters, whereas drier biscuit and pastry mixes work better with the ground stuff. In bread, which relies on sensitive yeast for its rise, it’s best to use chunks of sweetened ginger distributed through the dough.

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How to make the perfect bagels

Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:00:00 GMT

Real bagels are a traditionally Jewish chewy delight that were imported to the US. Should you roll or poke, and what should you serve them with? Continue reading...

Cereal Killer cafe is just a symptom of gentrification, not the cause

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:24:53 GMT

The media outrage over hipster brothers selling expensive cereal in a poor borough is overblown and masks more complex issues Continue reading...

Eating on public transport: the dos and don'ts

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:22:02 GMT

Eating and drinking on public transport is increasingly tightly policed – much to the relief of those who find having to watch, smell and hear other people eat intolerable. Here is our guide to conscientious in-transit eating

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Top 10 bars in Buenos Aires

Thu, 11 Dec 2014 06:00:14 GMT

The bar scene in Buenos Aires has evolved away from the bubble-like draw of Palermo to feature a more diverse spread across the city. Our updated list reveals 10 great spots
Old favourites: 10 more Buenos Aires bars

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Madrid city guide: what to see plus the best bars, restaurants and hotels

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 06:00:02 GMT

The Spanish capital teems with fun places to eat and drink, chic hotels and vivid historical sights. Here are our local’s tips for getting the max out of Madrid
• Your Madrid: readers’ travel tips

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How to make banana and sesame biscotti – recipe

Fri, 05 Dec 2014 08:00:07 GMT

These are great for lunchboxes, will keep well and, unlike many shop-bought snack bars, don’t include a huge amount of sugar

They are a great lunchbox filler, but the cost of those so-called snack bars gets more prohibitive by the day. Besides, even some of the more innocent and wholesome-looking cereal bars on the market still list sugar as a chief component.

I wanted to include a mid-morning snack in my daughter’s school lunchbox that she would enjoy, that I didn’t have to bake from fresh every day and, importantly, didn’t include a huge amount of sugar.

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Season's eatings: Christmas maraschino cherry recipe

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 23:52:42 GMT

Forget the recipes for maraschino cherries from the fifties and sixties – this modern version makes a great Christmas present of this seasonal fruit

A bowl of cherries and a box of mangos has always been a Christmas tradition in our home. With a short picking season, and what can be a delicate, easily spoiled crop, cherries are usually expensive.

A large bowl as a centre piece of the Christmas table, is decadent. That juicy bite into the red flesh of a cherry is one of the joys of summer. The crack of the skin, the drip of sweet juice down your hand or chin. Despite their expense they should be enjoyed.

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40 Maltby Street, London SE1 – restaurant review

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:34:01 GMT

‘The food that issues from the postage-stamp-sized kitchen is all pretty much faultless: not a beat is missed’ Continue reading...

Nigel Slater’s crumbled lamb with roquefort recipe

Tue, 09 Dec 2014 12:00:02 GMT

A meaty midwinter meal

Put 6 large lamb cutlets on a chopping board and flatten them slightly, using a cutlet bat or rolling pin. They shouldn’t be more than a couple of centimetres thick.

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Tis the season to be veggie: Christmas vegetarian recipes

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:40:41 GMT

Vegetarians often miss out at Christmas, which chef Tom Hunt has set out to put right. With these recipes he proves that the vegetarian option actually offers a much wider choice of festive food

Every year, I spend Christmas at home with my family, getting plied with whisky macs, mince pies and kisses from my grandma while she drops hints about the absence of great-grandchildren. Before sitting down to lunch, my stepdad will put on The Pogues, by the end of which everyone is stamping their feet, rapping cutlery on the table and singing at the top of their voices.

For a lot of my childhood I was vegetarian, but the Christmas offerings were so poor I’d turn to the slightly dry turkey at the centre of the festive table and relax my morals for the day, secretly enjoying the bird.

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How to cook the perfect vegetable lasagne

Thu, 14 Aug 2014 07:00:00 GMT

Can a veggie version rival lasagne alla bolognese, do you use one vegetable or a range, should they be chunky or pureed – and how cheesy is too cheesy?

How to make the perfect arancini
How to cook the perfect osso buco
How to make the perfect tiramisu Continue reading...

The 10 best sparkling wines for Christmas and New Year

Sat, 06 Dec 2014 11:00:03 GMT

Who needs champagne? Save yourself a few quid and get the party started with one of these top quality sparkling wines

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Eat to the beat: a music insider’s guide to dining out in Tokyo

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 07:00:06 GMT

Where do music promoters take their bands when in Tokyo? Laura Martin tours a handful of the capital’s 88,000 restaurants, at the end of gig season, to find out

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How to make the perfect bircher muesli

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 06:00:05 GMT

What do you add to your soaked-oat muesli, does anyone use sugar and cream, and which other breakfasts can you prepare the night before?

How to make the perfect granola

How to make the perfect tattie scones

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Mexico: The Cookbook - review

Sat, 22 Nov 2014 06:00:00 GMT

Margarita Carrillo Arronte’s definitive book on traditional Mexican cuisine is a culinary adventure through the colourful splendour of Mesoamerica

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Vienna city guide: what to do, plus the best cafes, restaurants and hotels

Sat, 29 Nov 2014 07:00:11 GMT

It’s home to great art and music, but the city of spies and Sigmund Freud also has an edgy vibe – and a new buzz, discovers Kevin Rushby

• Your shout: readers’ tips on Vienna

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Nigel Slater’s winter salad recipes

Sun, 07 Dec 2014 06:00:03 GMT

Winter salads must be hearty, so add sliced meat, smoked oysters, red cabbage or fennel if you want a healthy dish that won’t fail to pack a punch

’Tis the season of the crisp winter salad. Ice-white fennel, thinly sliced and tossed with peppery oil, clementine juice and whole, flat parsley leaves; white cabbage shredded with russet apples and young walnuts, dressed with walnut oil and clear honey; maincrop carrots with pomegranate seeds and mint. Salads that snap and crackle with crisp winter vegetables and fruit.

Brussels sprouts have already had quite a few outings in the salad bowl this winter. Raw and shredded, they have been tossed with a mayonnaise-based dressing made lighter with yogurt, then rippled through with Stilton and poppy seeds. Lightly steamed, they were a surprising hit when cut into wedges and mixed with a dressing of groundnut, walnut oils, grain mustard, flat parsley, toasted pecan nuts and curls of crisp, smoked bacon.

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The Townhouse, Ludlow, Shropshire: hotel review

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 07:00:24 GMT

Chef Claude Bosi has made a keenly awaited return to Ludlow with The Townhouse, a cosy, ultra-traditional bed and breakfast

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How to make the perfect cinder toffee

Thu, 30 Oct 2014 07:00:35 GMT

Do you use butter and honey or keep it simple with sugar? Is there anything finer to eat around the bonfire, and do you make any other recipes that are more akin to a science experiment?

How to make the perfect tablet

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Bulletproof coffee: is adding butter to your brew a step too far?

Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:16:03 GMT

Fitness junkies claim this paleo-friendly start to the day has numerous health benefits, including increasing energy and keeping you full for longer. But does it actually taste any good?

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Britain’s best Christmas markets

Sat, 06 Dec 2014 07:00:17 GMT

Get into the present-giving spirit by picking out presents at a quirky craft market or open studios event, with gift ideas from independent producers. Here are the best of the festive bunch
Top 10 food markets in Europe

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How to make the perfect kulfi

Wed, 03 Sep 2014 11:25:00 GMT

The popular Indian frozen dessert is made from caramelised milk, but do you really need to cook the milk for four hours? What flavouring is best? And how do you get it out of the moulds? Continue reading...

Taste test: Christmas lunch

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:00:11 GMT

Turkeys, stuffing, Christmas pudding and brandy butter, rated for Observer Food Monthly

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Long goodbye: Vivek Singh’s final meal

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:00:06 GMT

It would be an all-day, all-night send off for the TV chef and Cinnamon Club supremo

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Angela Hartnett, Jason Atherton, Nuno Mendes and others on their favourite small bites recipes to help you through the festive season

Sat, 06 Dec 2014 11:00:07 GMT

Can’t be bothered with a big blowout meal this Christmas? Graze your way through the holidays with recipes for snacks and small bites from Korea, Georgia, Italy, Gujarat and more. Nine cooks pick their favourites

This is one of those glorious dishes that takes a few store cupboard staples and transforms them into something wonderful – and before you have a pop, salt cod, or baccalà, is a staple in many Italian households, as are olives, capers and dried chilli. Baccalà is also incredibly easy to make at home, which is just as well, since it often features on the Italian Christmas Eve table. Both the cod and the sauce can be prepared well ahead of time, leaving you with just a bit of cooking at the last minute. Serves six.

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If you must eat meat, save it for Christmas

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:42:26 GMT

From chickens pumped with antibiotics to the environmental devastation caused by production, we need to realise we are not fed with happy farm animals Continue reading...

Cram some healthy party-food antidotes into your lunch

Thu, 11 Dec 2014 13:48:55 GMT

Festive food can take its toll on the body – take lunchtime as an opportunity to get some fresh vegetables and vitamins

Winter – especially the run-up to Christmas – can be a tough time to maintain a healthy, or at the very least balanced, diet. It’s a bit cold, which inevitably makes you crave something substantial. You’re probably darting about madly, with little time to cook or plan lunches in advance, and to top it off, most refreshments offered at this time of year tend to gravitate towards the booze and pastry food groups, from shortcrust mince pies to filo-wrapped party prawns. And, while indulgence in moderation is no bad thing (hello, advent calendar), sometimes it’s nice to give your body a bit of a breather and try to pack in something healthy between the party food.

• An easy grab-and-go option is to buy some rye bread (Biona do a great range: lots of metropolitan corner shops now stock it, as well as online supermarkets) and pack ingredients for a couple of open sandwiches. Spread with horseradish, then top with sliced cooked beetroot, chunks of smoked mackerel fillet and a sprig of dill.

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How to make cake with vegetables

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:30:05 GMT

Meat substitutes are a sorry sham compared to the glories of vegetables – and if you’re inventive, you can use your greens in all sorts of surprising ways, from bolognese to brownies

Being a well-brought-up boy, I pride myself on leaving a clean plate. It helps that I have a double-jointed index finger: pressed down flat on a plate, it works like a sort of windscreen wiper, scooping up any leftover crumbs or juices and leaving the crockery (in my wife’s words) “sinisterly clean”.

It also helps that I am both greedy and curious. I’ll eat just about anything, from the exotic (squashed guinea pig in Peru) to the humdrum (cold baked beans in the tin, with a splash of Lea & Perrins – mmm).

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Technology is ready for synthetic foods. Are you?

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:43:14 GMT

Synthetic foods are increasingly touted as the future of comestibles. But the technology has rapidly outstripped consumer interest. How do you push progress that makes people squirm?

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We mustn’t let morbid obesity kill our potential. I didn’t

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:04:51 GMT

Work was a daily struggle until I decided to seek medical treatment. Could classifying obesity as a disability help others find solutions to a problem that is manifestly physical?

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Top 10 craft beer pubs in Liverpool

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 11:30:04 GMT

Liverpool likes to party late, particularly in the run-up to Christmas but where in the city can you find a great pint? Tony Naylor rounds up 10 of the best places to hail the ale

More from our best craft beer pubs around the UK series

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San Francisco’s restaurant scene: no such thing as a bad lunch

Sat, 06 Dec 2014 06:59:09 GMT

Tis the season to stuff your face, and where better than San Francisco, where it’s impossible to eat badly, says Guardian restaurant reviewer Marina O’Loughlin in her guide to the city’s fabulous food scene Continue reading...

How to make the perfect naan bread

Thu, 02 Oct 2014 07:00:09 GMT

Do you need a tandoor to make proper naans, are chapatis or parathas a better bet, and has anyone mastered homemade stuffed flatbreads?

How to make the perfect kulfi

How to make the perfect saag paneer

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Food, beauty, anarchy: new guided tours of Barcelona by the locals

Thu, 04 Dec 2014 06:00:09 GMT

Barcelona is full of tourist traps, but new, bespoke walking tours, operated by locals – and backed by superstar chef Ferran Adrià – offer a glimpse into the hidden life of the city

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How to cook the perfect cornbread

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:00:21 GMT

Do you like this US classic sweet and dense or savoury and crumbly? Do you season with bacon fat, and add cheese or chillies? Or do you avoid it altogether in favour of bread made from wheat?

How to make the perfect bagels

How to make the perfect old fashioned

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The good mixer: apple-dash roll cocktail recipe

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 21:00:02 GMT

The bar manager at the new Dandelyan bar at Sea Containers whips up a fruity little number that’s strictly for grown-ups Continue reading...

The Great British Bake Off scandal: ‘It makes good TV if there’s conflict’

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 19:05:00 GMT

Iain Watters chucked his soggy baked alaska and caused a national furore. So, is he OK now

• August 2014: Great British Bake Off’s Iain Watters loses his cool over baked alaska

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The weekend cook: Thomasina Miers’ recipes for mutton curry and red cabbage and kale curry

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 21:00:02 GMT

Indian spices are just made to go into winter warmers of all kinds

The evocative nature of rich, warming Indian spices makes me feel like party time, and suits our winter climate perfectly. Pair with the wonderfully deep flavours of British mutton and you are on to a real winner. We used to eat mutton all the time in this country – it was much preferred to lamb (when properly hung, it’s also equally tender). We often cook a curry at home for friends or family on Boxing Day or New Year’s Day– not only does it feel special, but you can make lots in advance and freeze to cut down on the work. The leftovers are a treasure trove in the fridge.

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Wine: give madeira a chance this Christmas

Sat, 22 Nov 2014 06:00:24 GMT

Pass the port? No thanks, says our wine writer, mine’s a madeira

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Jack Monroe’s chicken liver spaghetti bolognese recipe

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 10:00:06 GMT

Don’t be put off by memories of school dinners – chicken liver is a cheap source of protein and, if flash-fried or casseroled, absolutely delicious

Jack Monroe’s spaghetti alla puttanesca

Jack Monroe’s cauliflower and bacon carbonara

Chicken liver is one of those foods I detested throughout my childhood, knowing it only in its school dinner incarnation: cooked until grey and grainy, with flabby onions and barely a smudge of gravy. When I started writing budget recipes on my blog a few years ago, many readers got in touch to extol the virtues of chicken liver. At around 50p for a large dose of protein, I decided to brave it. This is a much-simplified version of a bolognese, but the chicken livers need little else. I’ve learned to avoid school dinner liver by either cooking it for less than a minute, or slowly casseroling it for at least 40 – anything in between seems terrifying.

(Serves 4)

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How to make perfect ginger nut biscuits

Thu, 20 Nov 2014 08:00:09 GMT

How do you ensure that satisfying snap when you bite into them? What do you add for that fiery sweetness? And where should you hide the biscuit tin?

• Felicity Cloake: How to cook the perfect digestive biscuit Continue reading...

How many free samples is too many?

Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:06:06 GMT

Etiquette varies from person to person, so how many samples is it socially acceptable to take? And should anyone ever be arrested for over-sampling?

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Top 10 food markets in Europe

Mon, 01 Dec 2014 06:00:03 GMT

Whether it’s traditional stalls or the new breed of street-food events, these European markets offer tasty treats – and more interesting presents than you’ll find at a naff Christmas market

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The Art School, Liverpool – restaurant review

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 14:30:05 GMT

‘There’s no sense that anyone involved has eaten in an ambitious restaurant outside Liverpool since the turn of the century’

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The most far flung Irish pubs in the world

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 06:00:00 GMT

No matter how far you travel, one thing’s for sure – you’re likely to come across an Irish pub. We pick some of the most remote and unusually-located, from the world’s highest to a bar at the end of the earth

• Have you been to a great Irish bar on your travels? Tell us about it in the comments below

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Wines for the Christmas turkey

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 05:59:05 GMT

Three bottles to help the big bird slip down a treat

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How to mix the perfect old fashioned

Thu, 17 Jul 2014 05:00:00 GMT

Is this potent drink simply sublime, or do you prefer a fancier cocktail? Do you use bourbon, rye or scotch; is fruit sacrilege; and where do you stand on water and ice? Continue reading...

How to make the perfect coffee granita

Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:03:00 GMT

Does granita beat ice-cream on a hot day, is coffee the best flavour, and are there any shortcuts to achieving that gorgeous granular texture?

How to make the perfect tiramisu
How to make the perfect lemon meringue pie
How to make the perfect lemon posset Continue reading...

Nigel Slater’s warm beef tartare recipe

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:00:17 GMT

A hot twist on the classic French recipe

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Season’s cheatings: baking easy party pieces

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 06:00:17 GMT

Preparing a festive spread can really take the merry out of merrymaking – dodge the stress with celebratory bakes that are easy to prepare but impressive enough to place before guests

It’s in party season that our pride most swells and suffers: the anticipation of great spreads of salads and trays laden with canapes served with superlative hosting skills collapses when the souffles sink and the soup goes cold.

My flatmates and I hosted a party a couple of weeks ago where, for the first hour of the gathering, and with our guests in limbo in the front room, we were still scrambling to piece together a spread. The result wasn’t the “rustic Iranian feast” we’d envisaged but a duo of wilted salads and two bowls of crisps, and guests trickled in to the smell of burning and spilt wine. It’s a cautionary tale. Don’t bite off more than you can chew this festive season. Here are a couple of simple bakes: easy to prepare, no fuss to serve, but impressive nonetheless.

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Readers’ recipe swap: mustard

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 06:00:46 GMT

We’re as keen as, well, you-know-what on your ideas for this fiery favourite...

Next time we’d love to see your DAIRY-FREE recipes. Upload them with your best pics to GuardianWitness or send them along to by Wednesday 10 December.

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Get to know the carmenère grape variety

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 05:59:06 GMT

For a grape that was thought to have vanished, the carmenère variety is fast making up for lost time

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Porky’s: restaurant review

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 06:00:03 GMT

Imagine running out of pork. Jay visits Porky’s to see if its Memphis-style BBQ can join his ‘strategic reserve’ Continue reading...

Pizzas ‘contain up to three times recommended daily limit of salt’

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 00:02:06 GMT

Study of 1,267 types of pizza finds that half contained more than 6g of salt, an adult’s recommended daily allowance Continue reading...

Taco king Larry Cano who brought Mexican cuisine to US masses dies at 90

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 16:08:21 GMT

El Torito founder popularized Mexican staples by making them milder: ‘It would be ridiculous to have spicy food for the first time someone tries Mexican’

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The foodie traveller: tripe sandwiches in Florence

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 06:00:03 GMT

For centuries Florentines have filled their bellies with cheap, nutritious lampredotto (tripe) rolls – blissfully unaware that one day it would become a hipster snack

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The best culture gifts for Christmas

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 19:30:39 GMT

Joy Division oven gloves – just what I always wanted … If you’re stuck for presents, the arts can help! From Beano ukuleles to Play-Doh photographs and Yeezmas cards, here’s the best of what’s out there

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10 of the best restaurants and food hits in San Francisco: readers’ tips

Sat, 06 Dec 2014 07:00:15 GMT

From food trucks to historic San Francisco restaurants, delicious vegan pastries to the best Mexican in town, our readers certainly know their way around the city’s fabulous food scene. Here are their top tips Continue reading...

Spring, London WC2 – restaurant review

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 21:00:07 GMT

‘At night, it’s seductive and dreamy. During the day it’s chillier: as pale, precious and studied as Dita Von Teese’

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How to bake the perfect flourless chocolate cake

Thu, 16 Oct 2014 09:00:09 GMT

How do you get it creamy yet fluffy, have you made the original River Café chocolate nemesis recipe, and which other gluten-free desserts are worth a go?

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Heston Blumenthal has finally heard about foie gras? Where has he been?

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 16:06:53 GMT

While thousands of people flock to food banks, others are so picky and jaded they need their food to have been tortured in order to enjoy it Continue reading...

Thomasina Miers’ Christmas dessert recipes

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:02:53 GMT

From pomegranate meringues to chocolate brownies with smoky caramel – why not try sweets with a difference this festive season?

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Pie firm faces investigation into size of its slice of market

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 20:08:14 GMT

Competition and Markets Authority fears Pork Farms’ partial acquisition of Kerry Foods could raise prices or reduce quality Continue reading...

Barcelona's Andrés Iniesta lists his family vineyard on Airbnb

Tue, 02 Dec 2014 12:41:45 GMT

The Barcelona and Spain midfield star has added his family vineyard – Bodega Iniesta – to Airbnb, offering two lucky guests the chance to be hosted by one of the world’s most celebrated footballers

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Drink: it’s time to get in the Christmas spirit

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 18:00:02 GMT

While we’re always looking for bargains on the wine front, with spirits we seem to be more willing to pay full whack. But what’s worth shelling out on this Christmas? Continue reading...

Why Jamie Oliver’s chilli punishment is a bad idea

Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:27:19 GMT

The chef gave his daughter chilli-rubbed apple slices after bad behaviour – but it is unwise for non-professionals to make their cooking a form of child cruelty Continue reading...

How to make the perfect pea and ham soup

Thu, 13 Nov 2014 08:00:01 GMT

Is London particular the ultimate winter soup, or do you have something even more warming up your woolly sleeve? And what else can you do with cheap and nutritious split peas?

How to make the perfect clam chowder

How to make the perfect watercress soup

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How to make the perfect Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:42:22 GMT

Adding sugar is a must, but should you boil your sweet potatoes or bake them? And are eggs essential? Then there is the dilemma over toppings. Marshmallows, anyone?

  • Felicity Cloake: Perfect pumpkin pie
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The foodie traveller: fusion pastries in Thessaloniki, Greece

Sun, 30 Nov 2014 07:00:09 GMT

What do you get when you combine a croissant with a Greek custard pie? Answer: a bougatsan – and a viral hit on Instagram

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Spheres of influence: Persian meatballs to make your mouth water

Fri, 05 Dec 2014 12:30:01 GMT

Meatballs have tantalised Sabrina Ghayour since childhood. Here she wraps up her Residency with kofta – Persian meatballs – using festive cranberries and spiced yoghurt

Isn’t it funny how the memory of a particular food can instantly evoke the whole scene where you first ate it? The place, the sounds, the smells, the people, how you felt at the time. For me, this is triggered by meatballs.

Last week I wrote about my great-aunt Mama Gohar’s chaotically wonderful household – lots of children, beautiful aromas emanating from the kitchen, and little me stealing mini meatballs when she wasn’t looking. I remember being entranced by these simple, meaty morsels, and my lasting love for them was cemented right there and then in her 1970s, tan-tiled London kitchen.

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Real street food: Mongolian Khuushuur

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:23:29 GMT

This tasty, simple and filling handheld beef or mutton pastry has its origins in the dumplings of neighbouring China, says Drinking Coffee Elsewhere: Mongolia’s Millicent Bogert

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Can the Cereal Killer cafe, which sells only cereal, really make a killing?

Tue, 09 Dec 2014 16:19:35 GMT

The new London cafe, set up by twins Alan and Gary Keery, simply sells breakfast cereal. But would you go out for a bowl of Frosties or Special K?

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Oakland: the city stepping out of San Francisco's shadow

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 07:00:23 GMT

There’s a cultural hubbub around San Francisco’s lesser-known Californian sibling, with great restaurants and shops popping up all over the city – and earning it the tag of the ‘New Brooklyn’

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s Christmas dinner main course recipes

Sat, 06 Dec 2014 11:00:07 GMT

Stuff the turkey and try something different instead

I prefer serving several smaller birds at the Christmas table, rather than one enormous one that presides over its minion side dishes. There’s something more attractive and less daunting about a table where the dishes are on an equal footing. Blood oranges look fantastic here, if you can get them, but use regular oranges if that’s all you can find. Serves four.

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Season's eatings: soft banana ice-cream recipe

Wed, 03 Dec 2014 23:19:14 GMT

Beautiful plants, producing beautiful fruits – bananas are available in Australia all year round. Why not turn some in sorbet for hot days ahead?

Bananas are beautiful plants, producing a beautiful fruit. Not a true tree, their stems instead, are leaves, packed tight together.

The magenta hanging flowers are huge and bell shaped. The bananas grow within this magenta outer flower until they become a huge bunch of hanging green hands, growing in a spiral pattern down the stem. The magenta flower can also be eaten, it’s delicious sliced finely into a Vietnamese coleslaw.

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Three Australian wines to try

Sun, 30 Nov 2014 06:00:14 GMT

A complex Chardonnay, a spice-infused Shiraz and a budget Pinot Noir from the Antipodes Continue reading...

Adam Handling at Caxton: restaurant review

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 06:00:05 GMT

Adam Handling did simple food perfectly on MasterChef. Now he’s at Caxton and things have got a lot more complicated

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Marcus Wareing: ‘I eat the potatoes first, then the stuffing, then the meat’

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:00:43 GMT

The MasterChef judge is far from alone. Rather than balancing the flavours, lots of people eat their food in a specific order. Some can’t even bear different foods to touch on the plate Continue reading...

Thanksgiving or Britsgiving? ‘One in six Britons’ to celebrate US holiday

Thu, 27 Nov 2014 16:05:06 GMT

Sales of turkeys are up in Waitrose and Ocado as the British latch on to the American holiday in a big way, supermarket claims

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How to make the perfect eggnog

Thu, 11 Dec 2014 09:00:20 GMT

Is Christmas not Christmas without eggnog, or do you prefer mulled wine – or another festive tipple entirely? Which spirits and spices do you use, and does anyone serve eggnog warm?

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How to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich

Wed, 05 Nov 2014 10:56:25 GMT

Fluffy Mighty White or the fuller texture of artisan sourdough? Taleggio, Teifi or prepacked slices? And what is the best way to cook your sandwich: grill, griddle, frying pan or toastie machine?

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Breakfast of champions: Ai Weiwei’s congee

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 06:00:14 GMT

The Chinese artist’s beloved rice porridge can be made sweet or savoury. Try it with shredded cabbage and fried mushrooms Continue reading...

San Francisco food: send us your tips

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 10:38:36 GMT

Share your top places to eat in San Francisco and you could win a £200 hotel voucher

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Book of the week: Cookbook Book

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 06:00:38 GMT

Annahita Kamali and Florian Böhm have compiled a compilation of classics for lovers of culinary prose

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Estela: restaurant review

Sun, 30 Nov 2014 05:59:08 GMT

A restaurant that hides its food under piles of greens is good enough for Barack Obama, but how about for Jay?
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Nigel Slater’s vegetarian Christmas dinner

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 06:00:05 GMT

Deep, rich and earthy, these sumptuous dishes make a wonderfully warming winter meal – or the perfect vegetarian Christmas dinner

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How to make apple and cinnamon trifle – recipe

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 11:59:26 GMT

These quick and easy mini trifles are a great way to round off Sunday lunch on a cold winter’s day

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11 ways to eat more healthily – without ruining your life

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 06:00:00 GMT

Believe it or not, you can improve your diet and still enjoy meals. Here’s how …

• Download the Happy for Life app for free

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Save our chocolate: expert tips to halt the cocoa shortage

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 18:42:18 GMT

Chocoholics everywhere have a duty to help preserve the world’s dwindling supply of cocoa. Leading chocolatiers offer their advice Continue reading...

Wine: reds for Christmas Day

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 06:00:05 GMT

There’s a decent drop of red to suit just about any budget in the supermarkets this year. So choose your price point and take your pick Continue reading...

Taste test: Christmas chocolate

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:00:27 GMT

Dark bars, champagne truffles and salted caramels rated for Observer Food Monthly

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Now is the time for restaurants to embrace free-from diners

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:44:47 GMT

New EU legislation makes eating out easier for people with food allergies, intolerances and coeliac disease. So why isn’t everyone supporting it?

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How to eat: toast

Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:19:26 GMT

This month, How To Eat is tackling a quintessentially British snack – toast. Sounds simple, right? But how wrong you are. Do you use a toaster or grill? White sliced or rye, sourdough or seeded multigrain? And that’s just the start of it …

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Aldi and Lidl’s best and worst luxury Christmas food – taste test

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 17:00:06 GMT

This Christmas, you can buy luxuries such as lobster, caviar and fine wines from the discount supermarkets. But can they compete on taste as well as price? Here are five festive steals and five false economies

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Our 10 best canapé recipes

Sat, 06 Dec 2014 06:00:29 GMT

Christmas is on the horizon, which means party food is on the menu. Forget limp vol au vents and serve up Scandi-inspired duck, spiced yams and cured sardines instead

These dainty little egg halves, scattered with rust-red paprika and vibrant leafy dill, make for a very pretty platter.

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Malik’s Tandoori: restaurant review

Sun, 07 Dec 2014 06:00:03 GMT

Media types west of London flock to Malik’s, but is it really so great, or just a local curry house, much like yours?

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Nigel Slater’s Christmas fruit and nut recipes

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:00:14 GMT

Fruit and nuts are the essence of Christmas cooking. Try partridge with clementines or pie filled with dried apricots, peaches and prunes

Photographs by Jonathan Lovekin for Observer Food Monthly

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Farewell to the Tudor, Wigan – my favourite pub

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 12:19:23 GMT

The drinking establishment of your teenage years has a special place in your heart. Where did you drink your first pint of snakebite?

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Choosing the right wine for Christmas with one of Australia's top sommeliers – video

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:20:09 GMT

Samantha Payne gives her top tips for picking a bottle of wine for Christmas Day. Whether red or white, Australian or French, Samantha will help you land the best bottle to match your menu on the big day in the first instalment of her new series for Guardian Australia. Special thanks to The Governor's Table at the Museum of Sydney, where this video was made. Continue reading...