Food & drink | The Guardian

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

How to feed four for £10, in one pot

Sun, 18 Jan 2015 12:00:06 GMT

Lamb curry, pisto, pot au feu, couscous, stir-fried noodles: seven of our favourite cooks create delicious dishes on a budget

Seven dishes that feed four for £10, all cooked in one pot. When calculating the costs we didn’t count common storecupboard ingredients such as salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, stock cubes, bay leaf, mustard, paprika and so on. Prices were based on those from but may vary.

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Keep it simple, stupid: how to cook without fuss

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:29:08 GMT

The key to really great home cooking is often sticking to a few core elements – a simple recipe such as this ham hock soup will show off your skills to their best

Sometimes it takes the most confidence to do the simplest things.

My mother-in-law for example, whom I would put on any list of the world’s great cooks, is the only person I know with the chutzpah to serve old-fashioned savoury mince with plain boiled potatoes at a dinner party. It is so good I could live off it.

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The Great British Bake Off: more than 12m watch Nancy Birtwhistle win

Thu, 09 Oct 2014 09:13:25 GMT

Show’s switch from BBC2 to BBC1 pays off as it rises above World Cup final to draw channel’s biggest audience of year Continue reading...

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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The Great British Bake Off rises to top of most-watched TV of 2014 so far

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:43:51 GMT

BBC1 cooking show set to be crowned top entertainment show of the year, beaten only by England’s defeat to Uruguay in summer World Cup

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How to cook the perfect vegetarian haggis

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 08:00:12 GMT

Is a veggie version of an offal dish an abomination – or infinitely preferable to the real thing? And if you don’t like haggis, which other Scottish specialities will you be serving up on Burns Night?

Haggis, I’ve always thought, is one of those dishes best left to the experts. I briefly considered testing this theory this year, but Graeme Taylor of A Scots Larder promptly put me off by quoting a recipe in his possession: “Leave the windpipe out of the pan to disgorge the phlegm.” Call me squeamish, but I do not deal in culinary phlegm.

But vegetarian haggis, well, that’s another matter entirely. It is one of the few vegetarian versions of any meat-centred dish that can stand entirely on its own merits – commercial versions tend to be delicious (though, I admit, the plucky sort has my heart. And lungs. And windpipe).

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Top 10 food markets in Madrid

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:00:24 GMT

With Madrid’s two-week Gastro Festival opening on Saturday, now is a great time to sample the best jamón, tortilla and tapas with our guide to the city’s markets

  • Madrid city guide: bars, restaurants, hotels and sights
  • Madrid’s best tapas bars
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Rhubarb recipes to the rescue

Sat, 17 Jan 2015 06:00:13 GMT

Rosy rhubarb – cleverly teased from the ground in the depths of winter – adds a welcome splash of colour to baking. Try it in this elegant clafoutis and a classic crumble...

Baking has a tendency to settle into dull shades of brown and beige, so it pays especially to work with the rhythm of the seasons, using fruit and vegetables to lend life – and a splash of colour – to your recipes.

In summer there’s the blackcurrant crop, rolling into foraged blackberries and fat russet apples as the year creeps on. Other short-spanning crops include gooseberries, blood oranges and fuzzy-skinned peaches. My favourite though, and the one that keeps me going through January, is forced rhubarb.

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My cooking is a mess – and tastes better for it

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:06:20 GMT

There’s a place for artful food presentation – it’s just not usually on my plate

Recently I made a dreadful mess in the kitchen. It was delicious. I was looking for something to kick off a dinner party, something around which conversation could gather, and was musing on the Jewish Ashkenazi staple of egg and onion: crushed up cooled boiled eggs with slow-cooked, then cooled fried onions. It’s a soothing trip to the nursery or better still, the small child’s overheated sick bed.

I wanted to make a grown-up version. Instead of onions I used finely sliced spring onions. I added chopped salted anchovies. I dressed it with a serious vinaigrette, made with spoonfuls of nose-tickling Dijon mustard and mayonnaise and glugs of peppery olive oil. I can’t pretend. It looked terrible. It looked like it had been pre-consumed, rejected by the body as not fit for purpose and returned to the bowl from the wrong direction. I hesitated. Could I really serve this?

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The Great British Bake Off final: episode 10 – as it happened

Wed, 08 Oct 2014 20:20:39 GMT

It was the week we’ve all been waiting for. Nancy, Richard and Luis went spoon to spoon on fiendish challenges and a killer showstopper combining sponge, caramel, choux and petit four. Heidi Stephens followed the action

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The Great British Bake Off final review – perfect mix rises to the occasion

Thu, 09 Oct 2014 05:00:03 GMT

Bake Off stuck to the recipe for the last in the series, with imaginative concoctions, irreverent presenters and a nailbiting showstopper Continue reading...

Observer Food Monthly: the best thing I ate in 2014

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:00:07 GMT

Contributors including Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver share the best thing they ate this year, from shiso-leaf noodles to live langoustine

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Why are we so obsessed with food trends?

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:26:05 GMT

I run a barbecue restaurant, but don’t call me trendy – cooking over coals is a time-honoured cuisine. Food gimmicks, on the other hand, really get my goat

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Spare a thought for your waitress this Christmas - it’s not a job for the faint-hearted

Sat, 20 Dec 2014 09:00:04 GMT

Drunkenness, rudeness, harassment... Melissa Sigodo has seen it all during her five year restaurant career

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Nigel Slater’s cauliflower with smoked garlic and cheddar recipe

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT

A family favourite – with a twist

Bake a head of smoked garlic, wrapped in kitchen foil, for 40 minutes at 200C/gas mark 6 until soft and fragrant. Break a medium-sized (500g) cauliflower into large florets, discarding the tougher stalks.

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Making fresh pasta is a rite of passage

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:30:09 GMT

It’s far less faff than it seems to whip up your own tagliatelle, lasagne sheets or spaghetti – you don’t even need a machine to make these ‘badly cut’ yet authentic maltagliata pieces

Leo Tolstoy thought it was good for the soul to make your own shoes. As a result he spent his later years hobbling around with terrible corns. Some things are better left to the experts.

For most people, pasta falls into that category. The dried stuff you buy in the shops is so cheap and good that making your own seems quite perverse. (This is not true, by the way, of the “fresh pasta” sold in supermarkets, which is, almost without exception, horrible and slimy.)

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Nigel Slater’s sloe gin recipes

Sun, 25 Jan 2015 06:00:00 GMT

Whether you make your own or not, sloe gin works as well as a perfect tipple on a frosty night, or as a marinade for roast pheasant, apples or rhubarb

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Suet surrender: sweet and savoury pudding recipes

Sat, 24 Jan 2015 06:01:15 GMT

The irresistible, rib-sticking qualities of these suet pudding recipes will throw many a January diet into disarray. Relent and embrace this beef and ale pud and moist mini cakes wholeheartedly

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Any last requests? A gallery of Last Bites cinemagraphs

Wed, 03 Dec 2014 12:30:04 GMT

A special selection of of cinemagraphs from the popular Last Bites series. Best viewed in our redesigned responsive site – scroll to the bottom and select “view in Beta”. All cinemagraphs by photographer Emma Lee and assistant Lizzie Mayson, animated by Mateusz Karpow, from an idea by Rachel Vere.

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Wine: how to tell if a wine is faulty, or merely funky

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:00:08 GMT

New-wave wines bring with them a whole new set of challenges 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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Rhubarb, oat and cinnamon loaf – recipe

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:51:13 GMT

This fruit cake is great in children’s packed lunches, and just as delicious with a pot of tea for adults

When my children take a packed lunch to school, I like to include something baked as bedfellow to the sandwich, fruit, lump of cheese. They’re fond of those European-style cakes that include almonds and cooked fruit but, ever-conscious of the no-nut policy at my daughter’s primary school, I have been experimenting with oats instead of nuts.

This is my take on my Kiwi mother-in-law’s recipe for rhubarb loaf. Stored in a tin, the loaf keeps well for several days. Sliced and spread thickly with butter alongside a steaming pot of tea, it’s pretty good for the grownups too.

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Ricky Wilson: Working on The Voice, I have the same thing for lunch every day

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:06:20 GMT

The musician and judge on The Voice reveals a childhood obsession with crisp sandwiches and why he never eats on a plane

I wasn’t interested in food as a kid. I was skinny, non-sporty and lacked appetite, although lamb chops were OK, especially with mint sauce – the king of condiments and still the only sweet thing I like. I’ve never once ordered a pudding.

The only food I made as a kid and teen was crisp sandwiches, with white bread, margarine and crisps. I’ve spoken to Michelin-starred chefs after appearing on Sunday morning TV shows and they can all reel off their favourite crisp sandwich, like “Frazzles, white bread, Lurpak!”

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Asher Keddie will not be returning as Ten pins hopes on more reality shows

Fri, 14 Nov 2014 02:46:38 GMT

No new series for Party Tricks or Offspring but The Bachelor returns alongside Bachelorette spin-off and Gogglebox, a television show about people watching television

• Asher Keddie and Rodger Corser on Party Tricks
• Offspring cancelled: Asher Keddie plays Nina for last time

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Food in fashion: Dorset's restaurant and hotel scene

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 07:00:18 GMT

With a coast jumping with seafood, great local produce and a new wave of stylish hotels, chefs and foodies are flocking to Dorset. We round up the very best of the county’s restaurants
• West Dorset’s top 10 budget restaurants

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Why a Lake District winter break is the perfect escape

Wed, 14 Jan 2015 06:00:05 GMT

With bracing walks, dramatic scenery and not a tourist in view, visiting the Lakes is more enjoyable at this time of year, says Kevin Rushby. And when the weather turns, it’s easy to keep warm. Cumbrian whisky, anyone?

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Top 10 budget restaurants and cafes in Newcastle

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 06:00:26 GMT

Guardian readers recently voted Newcastle their favourite UK city, but how does it fare for good affordable food? Updating his 2010 budget eats guide, Tony Naylor chooses 10 more Tyneside restaurants where you can eat well for under £10

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The good mixer: tamarind sour soft drink recipe

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 18:00:08 GMT

This one’s for anyone, young or old, who loves those sour, fizzy sweets and fancies a healthier, natural alternative for a change Continue reading...

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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Harry’s Shack: restaurant review

Fri, 09 Jan 2015 17:46:52 GMT

Harry’s Shack teeters on the edge of Northern Ireland’s north coast. But its many fans flock here come rain or shine

118 Strand Road, Portstewart, Northern Ireland (028 7083 1783). Meal for two, including drinks and service: £50

Last December, Harry’s Shack, at Portstewart on Northern Ireland’s north coast, issued a stark warning via Facebook. “It is simply not safe to come near us,” it said. “Do not even attempt it.” I can think of no other restaurant in the United Kingdom which would actively describe itself as mad, bad and dangerous to know; then again I can think of no other restaurant like Harry’s Shack. A ferocious winter storm, with winds fattened up across 1,000 miles or more of the North Atlantic, was bringing the sea up the beach, over the car park and to the very door. That day the restaurant didn’t just have a view; it risked becoming a part of it.

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The Steel Lady: meet the knife-seller

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 06:00:48 GMT

For Natalie McVeigh of IO Shen knives – a Japanese brand she imports to the UK – only the best blade will cut it

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Who should win this year's MasterChef: The Professionals final?

Tue, 23 Dec 2014 12:00:07 GMT

It’s down to Sven-Hanson Britt, Jamie Scott and Brian McLeish, but the real winner of this year’s cooking competition is the show itself, which is in the best shape of its life

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The best places to eat out and drink this week

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 06:00:52 GMT

Viet Shack | My food vice… Starbucks chai tea latte | Joanna Fuertes-Knight on food

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Fasting facts: is the 5:2 diet too good to be true?

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:58:04 GMT

From claims that fasting makes you thin and feeds the brain to the suggestion that it can even reboot the immune system, Amy Fleming looks at the scientific evidence for restricted eating

More than a year since they first hit the bookshops, 5:2 diet books are still bestsellers on Amazon. As a result, it is not uncommon to witness people, with that odd wind-tunnel facial effect of rapid weight loss, dishing up spaghetti fashioned from courgettes while excitedly apologising for any crankiness, because they’re “on a fast day”. (In case you spent the last 13 months in a cave with no Wi-Fi, the idea of 5:2 is that on two “fast” days a week you get by on reduced calories, and the rest of the time you eat normally.) Its appeal lies in its perceived simplicity, and the fact that you’re on a diet for less than a third of the time.

Reading through all the potential health benefits of fasting, the practice has panacea written all over it. Perhaps, the reasoning goes, this is why it’s been done so much throughout history, and why some religions still prescribe it. Hippocrates was into it, Plato fasted for greater physical and mental efficiency, and Mark Twain said: “A little starvation can really do more for the average sick man than can the best medicines and the best doctors.”

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Raw milk: Victorians who sell or supply it for consumption risk $60,000 fine

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 04:29:47 GMT

A strong bittering agent will be added to unpasteurised milk to deter people from drinking it, consumer affairs minister says

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Oat, bran and peanut butter fridge balls – recipe

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:35:11 GMT

These sweet treats are a bit like bite-sized flapjacks, but with less butter and more milk – great as a healthy-ish snack

I’m always looking for new recipes that work well as a treat, but don’t contain too much sugar. These mid-morning snacks do use some, but you can whittle it down to whatever level you’re happy with. They look a little bonkers but taste delicious.

They’re super-easy to make, and the only heat required is to bring the milk, butter and sugar to the boil. You pour the hot liquid over an oat and bran mixture, and what you have in essence is a raw flapjack mix, with less butter and with milk as the primary cohesive ingredient.

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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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Let’s go to … Cardiff

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:00:07 GMT

Rugby fans will know all about the Six Nations opener in Cardiff next month, but there’s plenty more to do in the city other than drink beer and watch the game

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The Great British Bake Off Christmas by Lizzie Kamenetzky – digested read

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 16:00:05 GMT

John Crace whisks the festive baking bible into a crisp meringue of Mel’n’Sue innuendo

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Frankie’s batters competition to take away title of fish and chip shop of 2015

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 16:01:06 GMT

Eatery in Shetland wins overall title at National Fish & Chip awards as well as picking up gong for sustainable seafood Continue reading...

New year's resolutions: cycle to work, run a marathon and drink less coffee

Tue, 13 Jan 2015 04:36:24 GMT

Put your new year’s resolutions into action with our expert guide to cycling to work, running a marathon and cutting back on coffee

  • New year’s resolutions part 3
  • New year’s resolutions part 2
  • New year’s resolutions part 1
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The Great British Bake Off’s Nancy is the nicest baker of them all

Thu, 09 Oct 2014 06:00:01 GMT

Bake Off’s winner has brought me, an unbeliever, to the mixing bowl
• Nancy Birtwhistle wins The Great British Bake Off 2014 Continue reading...

Bake off: Justin Gellatly’s final meal

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 11:00:04 GMT

The former-St John chef and master baker would opt for a homemade, south-London send-off

My last meal would kick off with pillows of joy: my little buns stuffed with goat’s cheese and truffle. They’re buttery, fluffy and would make quite the canape with a couple of glasses of Krug.

Now that we have a bakery, I miss cooking other foods with my wife. We used to be chefs; now we’re bakers. Life is all bread, cakes, doughnuts and puddings! For this reason, the whole meal would be cooked and eaten at home together in south London.

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How to make the perfect salted caramel sauce

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:33:52 GMT

Is salted caramel a fad or the world’s most delicious foodstuff? Does the sauce need any extra flavours – vanilla, rosemary, chilli – and what do you drizzle it on?

Salted caramel is one of those trends that came from nowhere, seemed daring for a bit (salt? In a sweet?), got all saucy with Nigella on the cover of a glossy magazine, and is now reduced to flogging overpriced milkshakes at my local multiplex, which presumably means its moment in the sun is over. But salted caramel could be as unfashionable as the sun-dried tomato and I’d still love it – once you’ve tasted that alchemic combination of bittersweet, toasty sugar, rich butter and salt, you can’t go back.

Though caramel au beurre salé first pops up in Brittany, home to some of the world’s finest butters, Nigella reckons it arrived on our shores from the other side of the Atlantic, rather than the Channel – which makes sense, given the Americans seem far more attuned to the pleasurable combination of sugar and salt than we are. Just think of their chocolate-covered pretzels, or bacon and maple syrup pancakes, or their enviable range of nut-based confectionary.

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Pulled pork: why we’re pigging out on US barbecue food

Thu, 06 Nov 2014 08:00:05 GMT

We can’t get enough of pulled pork, from US-style barbecue joints to slow-cooked shoulder at home. But has the craze peaked with pulled pork ready meals and flavoured crisps?

Will 2015 be the year of pulled chicken?

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Masterchef South Africa viewers root for domestic-worker contestant

Tue, 02 Dec 2014 19:33:40 GMT

Siphokazi Mdlankomo hopes to inspire others as calls grow for better labour rights for hidden army in post-apartheid economy Continue reading...

Best beers of the summer reviewed, and the perfect weather to drink them in

Wed, 14 Jan 2015 03:15:45 GMT

Summer is the time for quenching your thirst with an icy beer. We match the beers with the season

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Shake Shack valued at $2bn as stock doubles on day one of offering

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:25:17 GMT

Shares in the burger chain, which has spread from Manhattan to nine countries, ended the day at $48 after an IPO of $21. As it rises, McDonald’s falls

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Australian vermouth – the perfect summer drink

Mon, 12 Jan 2015 04:10:36 GMT

Forget the dusty old bottles of Cinzano – new Australian flavoured, fortified wines are complex and delicious. Have them straight over ice, in a negroni, with ginger beer or in a martini

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Chicago prohibition-style: a city still married to the mob

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 07:00:10 GMT

As dry January draws to a close, get into the spirit(s) again with Saptarshi Ray’s foray into Chicago’s prohibition-era jazz and cocktail bars, accompanied by gangster-themed tours of the city. Capiche?
• Top 10 hotels in Chicago

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The foodie traveller … on knowing your calçots (onions) in Catalonia

Sun, 11 Jan 2015 07:00:10 GMT

The calçotada is a Catalan winter food festival that involves giant spring onions and red wine poured into the mouth from a great height. As you might guess, it’s a messy affair

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Four delicious recipes with Palestinian olive oil

Wed, 31 Dec 2014 10:47:06 GMT

Yotam Ottolenghi, Jane Baxter and Joanna Blythman have created recipes for the tenth anniversary of Zaytoun olive oil, using traditional Palestinian ingredients

Ten years of Palestinian fairtrade olive oil

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Small business in the spotlight ... Grub Club

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 08:00:12 GMT

Siddarth Vijayakumar and Olivia Sibony met in the south Indian jungle and bonded over a passion for food. Their business Grub Club was launched in January 2013

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Lebanese wines: a tribute to Serge Hochar

Sun, 18 Jan 2015 06:00:13 GMT

The great Lebanese winemaker Serge Hochar, who died recently, produced wonderful wine right through his country’s civil war. Here’s a tribute to his courage and good taste

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Nigel Slater’s chicken, cavolo nero and squash soup

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:00:05 GMT

A seasonal chicken soup to warm your way through winter

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The Bridge Inn, Ratho, Edinburgh: hotel review

Sat, 10 Jan 2015 07:00:04 GMT

Our writer pigs out at this stylish canalside inn – officially the best pub in Scotland – where meats are reared or shot locally

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Girls allowed: the entrepreneur helping migrant women start food businesses

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 06:00:03 GMT

Niki Kopcke founded Mazí Mas to give migrant women with true talent in the kitchen the space to spread their wings

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Jack Monroe’s mack’n’cheese – recipe

Wed, 21 Jan 2015 11:11:19 GMT

No, that’s not a typo – adding mackerel to a cheesy pasta bake elevates it to a new level of deliciousness

Mac’n’cheese is a favourite in our household, and conversations with other parents show it is popular among lots of people with young children for smuggling in vegetables, scraps and leftovers. This one was inspired by a smoked mackerel and cream cheese pâté I made one Christmas. I wondered if the fishy, creamy flavours would translate to a baked pasta dish – and they did. It is not a traditional mac’n’cheese recipe by any stretch of the imagination, but it has become a firm favourite at our table. To keep it low cost, I’ve used a mixture of mackerel and sardines.

(Serves 4)

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Holiday guide to Goa: the best beaches, hotels and restaurants

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 07:00:03 GMT

A break in Goa can be much more than just a holiday on beautiful beaches: the Indian state has a fast-developing food and drink scene that embraces local and international flavours, as well as stylish modern hotels and ancient traditions
Inland Goa: an alternative to beach-side culture

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Sicily's baroque masterpiece makes for the perfect (warm) winter break

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 07:00:14 GMT

South-east Sicily loses nothing out of season but the crowds, finds Ed Cumming. It could just be the best time to enjoy its spectacular architecture, fantastic cuisine and ancient landscapes

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A brief history of IPA

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:30:08 GMT

When ordinary beer wouldn’t survive the journey to India, a new pale ale was born

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The foodie traveller … on the spread of raw cuisine

Sun, 18 Jan 2015 12:00:01 GMT

The raw food movement is gathering momentum in Europe, and thriving in Scandinavia, particularly in Iceland

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Roll up! Would you queue for The Apprentice Firing Range, the MasterChef Ghost Train or the Top Gear Mechanical Bull at the new BBC theme park?

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 17:55:21 GMT

Never mind Doctor Who and Sherlock, what we really need is some interactive attractions inspired by Casualty and Newsnight Continue reading...

The life of pie: Yotam Ottolenghi’s pie recipes

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:00:09 GMT

There isn’t much that can’t be improved by wrapping it in pastry, be it meat, cheese, fruit or veg

A few weeks ago, I took part in a debate on Radio 4’s Today programme about the great “north-south” food divide. I went head-to-head with Manchester’s lauded chef Mary-Ellen McTague, with Justin Webb acting as referee. But, rather than throwing pomegranate seeds one way and pork pies the other, it soon became apparent that we were both arguing from the same side. Yes, certain specialist ingredients are easier to pick up on the way home from work in London, Mary-Ellen said, but home cooks in the north and south are equally as likely to make something interesting and “exotic”.

Mind you, by the same token, we’re just as likely to be seduced by the simple and timeless combination of warm meat, potatoes and buttery pastry, too: Aberdeen’s steak and kidney pies, Geordie ale-crust cheese and onion pasties, Yorkshire pork pies, Lancashire hotpot pies, Shropshire’s pork and apple fidget pie, Cornish pasties, Mary-Ellen’s own beef, Big Ben and oyster pie (the name refers to the Thwaites brown ale that goes into it), which she created for the 2014 Manchester Food & Drink Festival. From John O’Groats to Land’s End, there’s a lot of crumbly pastry on which we can all stand firm together.

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How to eat: chilli con carne

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:06:20 GMT

This month we’re tackling that cowboy classic, chilli con carne. Do you use brisket or mince? Serve it with guacamole or salsa? Is it righteous over rice or perfect on potato? And who in their right mind would scatter it with fresh coriander or serve it over (soggy) nachos? As for refried beans, can we at least agree that they are banned?

Saddle up, Word of Mouth! This month, How to Eat – the blog attempting to define the ideal way to enjoy Britain’s favourite dishes – is moseying on down the trail, crossing from Texas into Mexico in order to settle, once and for all, what constitutes the ultimate chilli con carne. The International Chili Society insists that this cannot be done. “From the time the second person on Earth mixed some chile peppers with meat and cooked them, the great chilli debate was on; more of a war, in fact,” proclaims its website. But what do they know? Being American, they can’t even spell “chilli”. And, clearly, they have never encountered How to Eat, where, each month, after the moderators have sieved out the threats of violence and the dust has settled, a nation invariably comes together as one and, smiling wryly to itself, admits: “You know what? That weird, bald fella who writes How To Eat? He was right.”* So, without further ado, let’s get to rustling up the perfect chilli.

*This may be a slight exaggeration. Subs, could you check back and make sure that I am always right? Cheers.

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Our 10 best barley recipes

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 06:00:30 GMT

This affordable, ancient grain gives bite and substance to soups, breads and stews and imparts a nutty, wholesome flavour to traditional rice dishes like pilaf and risotto

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The foodie traveller … on artichokes, served ‘Jewish-style’, in Rome

Sun, 25 Jan 2015 07:00:04 GMT

Rome’s ancient Jewish quarter retains a distinctive culinary tradition dating from classical antiquity. And the humble artichoke is at its centre

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Child’s Junior MasterChef win overshadowed by his sexist remark

Sun, 11 Jan 2015 16:04:14 GMT

Victor Beltran’s stuffed pepperoni pizza has received less media coverage than his remark about cleaning and genetics

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Real street food: Tuaran mee noodles

Tue, 06 Jan 2015 11:46:52 GMT

This moreish hawker dish from the city of Tuaran in Malaysian Borneo should be fragrant, very eggy, and slightly smoky from the charring of the hot wok, says Kkmoi blogger Jackie Miao

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Book of the week: The Violet Bakery Cookbook

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 06:00:26 GMT

Clare Ptak’s justly popular cake-stop The Violet Bakery takes its sweet and savoury secrets to the printed page

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How to understand sommeliers and wine slang– video

Mon, 12 Jan 2015 22:33:18 GMT

Understanding just what a sommelier is trying to tell you about a bottle of wine could be the difference between a good night and a great one. In the latest instalment of How to Drink Wine with Samantha, sommelier Samantha Payne decodes some of the technical jargon that professionals use. Don't let fancy wine slang catch you out again Continue reading...

Shake Shack vs McDonald's – which is the better burger?

Sat, 24 Jan 2015 15:03:00 GMT

Shake Shack started as a small hot dog stand in Manhattan in 2001 – now its burgers and shakes can be found all over the world. What's more, the rise of Shake Shack comes as the original home of the burger is on the slide. On Friday, McDonald's reported a 15% fall in global annual profits. New Yorkers seem to find value (if not necessarily taste) in both brands, as the Guardian's Rupert Neate found out… Continue reading...

Wine: what to drink with your book club

Fri, 09 Jan 2015 17:59:02 GMT

Book clubs aren’t just about discussing the latest bestseller or old-school classic; they’re about spending quality time with friends. So pay some attention to what you quaff while talking novels

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Mary Berry’s still divine in The Great British Bake Off

Wed, 08 Oct 2014 21:00:22 GMT

Paul Hollywood can become a blend of double entendres, but no such problems have stuck to the indefatigable Mary Berry Continue reading...

How craft beer has set struggling pubs free from the nachos

Sun, 18 Jan 2015 00:04:14 GMT

Independent British brewers are buying up premises to release them from pubco ties – and give them new life Continue reading...

Four Australian wines you don't know about but should – video

Wed, 28 Jan 2015 05:06:16 GMT

Sommelier Samantha Payne loves Australian wines made with Italian grape varieties. Here she selects four food-friendly bottles you might not have heard of but ought to try. In the last in the series of How to Drink Wine with Samantha, these are the Aussie reds and whites to add panache to any dinner party Continue reading...

Readers’ Recipe Swap: maple syrup

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 06:00:50 GMT

A dash of mellow maple syrup lifts your sweet and savoury dishes to new heights of flavour, from scones to meat marinades

The next theme will be... pancakes. Send us your ideas via or upload them to Guardian Witness by noon on Wednesday 3 February. We’ll publish the winners on Saturday 14 February.

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Noma goes to Tokyo: ‘this is a great opportunity to show off what we can do’

Fri, 26 Dec 2014 18:25:48 GMT

René Redzepi is taking his staff of 60 to Japan for a six-week residency, and 60,000 people have applied for reservations

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Birch, Bristol – restaurant review

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:00:02 GMT

‘The place has already been colonised by regulars unable to believe their luck. And rightly so: I’d give my eye teeth to have this as my local’

Everybody loves a good critical savaging. My colleague over at the Observer, Jay Rayner, has written books and stage shows about the delicious shiver of schadenfreude that accompanies the hatchet job. And it’s true: give a place a kicking, and the delighted squeals of “Ouch!” pile up on social media, the web hits go bananas and everyone’s happy. (Apart, of course, from the poor saps who had the temerity to serve the curdled creme brulee to the restaurant critic.)

So I’m sorry to be the Pollyanna girlie delivering another rave. I’m sorry that this tiny neighbourhood restaurant presses every single one of the right buttons, doesn’t miss a single beat, fails signally to treat me appallingly, and sends me out into the night beaming from ear to ear like a great, Somerset apple brandy-soaked eejit.

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Family life: Red Ike, my communist grandfather, Here Without You and sugary brioche

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 06:44:03 GMT

Readers’ favourite photographs, songs and recipes 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

With the holidays less than two weeks away, your thoughts are probably turning to family, friends and feasting. Either that, or you’re planning on escaping it all by jetting off to sunnier climes. But even if your dreams of flight can’t be realised, dinner is a great way to transport you abroad.

Clams, mussels and oysters are particularly good for this. These trusty bivalves make perfect sense in all manner of cuisines, and can take you just about wherever you fancy. If you want nothing more than a hop across the Channel, a classic moules marinières, with its butter-softened shallots, thyme and bay, plus some white wine or dry cider, will do the trick. Or head down to the south-east of France, and bake your mussels Provence-style, with a scattering of parsley, gruyère and breadcrumbs on top. While you’re down here, bouillabaisse, the classic Provençal fish stew, or Spanish paella will sate anyone wanting something a bit more substantial and warming from their mussels, with saffron and chilli providing the golden glow all sun-lovers crave. Spaghetti alle vongole – spaghetti with clams simply cooked with chilli, garlic and parsley – will take you over to Italy.

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Three great budget wines for January

Sun, 11 Jan 2015 05:59:08 GMT

These smooth and interesting wines won’t break the bank

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The good mixer: apple and fennel Hendrick’s cocktail recipe

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:00:10 GMT

The head chef at The Dairy and The Manor in Clapham hits the spot with a refreshing evening cocktail

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Observer Food Monthly Awards 2014: the winners - in pictures

Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:14:25 GMT

All the winners from this year’s awards, from best food personality to best cookbook, photographed exclusively for Observer Food Monthly

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Ruby bakes meringues

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 06:00:53 GMT

Meringues, though slight in their ingredients list and airy in their construction, are more than just sugary fripperies – try adding nuts, coffee and chocolate for a substantial treat

Aside from the exertion – or electronically-assisted ease – of the whisking itself, meringues are blissfully easy to make. With just egg whites and sugar as the two base ingredients, there’s plenty of scope to experiment with additional flavours in your meringue – perhaps brown sugar, vanilla, chopped nuts, coffee or chocolate. There are only a couple of important things to bear in mind: the first is to make sure that the bowl and whisk you use are perfectly clean and grease-free before whisking; the second is to mix any additional ingredients in after the meringue mixture has reached stiff peak stage (where the meringue, when the whisk is slowly lifted from it, holds in straight, well-defined spikes).

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Let’s go to … Rye, East Sussex

Tue, 13 Jan 2015 11:49:45 GMT

Next month’s scallop festival is just one reason to visit the pretty seaside town. Exploring the old town’s streets and a trip to the sandy beaches nearby make for an idyllic weekend break, too

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The case for Chianti

Sun, 25 Jan 2015 05:59:02 GMT

What exactly constitutes a Chianti? From geography to grape mixes, here are three very distinct and very tasty Chiantis for you to try

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MasterChef: The Professionals review – gloomy, boring and overdone

Wed, 05 Nov 2014 07:00:05 GMT

It says something about a show when Gregg Wallace is the best thing about it. The format needs a makeover Continue reading...

Beth Cullen Kerridge and Tom Kerridge: art, food and the trouble with bankers

Sun, 16 Nov 2014 07:59:01 GMT

Beth Cullen Kerridge put her career as a sculptor on hold to support her husband’s struggle to become a Michelin-starred chef. Now the tables have turned

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Wine: a trip round Chile and Argentina

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 17:00:07 GMT

Why did two Chilean producers invite our wine critic to visit both them and Argentina?

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Breakfast of champions: Theodore Roosevelt’s hominy porridge

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 05:59:08 GMT

Start the day the former president’s way, with a bowl of porridge sprinkled with salt, pepper and butter, or lots of sugar Continue reading...

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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Eclectic ending: Darina Allen’s final meal

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:00:03 GMT

The Ballymaloe founder would try for an intriguingly eclectic final Andalucian feast of finest Serrano ham, Irish shellfish, English foraged salad and even an apple tart imported from a top London restaurant ...

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Happy Orthodox Christmas: what to eat in Russia

Wed, 07 Jan 2015 05:00:11 GMT

As the UK struggles with the January blues, Orthodox Christians in Russia and beyond are celebrating Christmas. Chef Maksim Syrnikov rounds up some of the best traditional recipes for the festive season

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The good mixer: sloe gin fizz cocktail recipe

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:00:12 GMT

When it’s cold, damp and dark outside, give yourself a lift with this perky little cocktail featuring two types of gin with a fizzy top Continue reading...

Ramen raiders – are noodles out of foodie fashion?

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 10:54:15 GMT

American chef David Chang has bemoaned the recent ramen boom, claiming the dish has now become ‘the very establishment it once stood against’. Is he just off his noodle?

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Top 10 bars in Phoenix and Scottsdale for Super Bowl 2015

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:30:09 GMT

If you’re Arizona-bound for the big Super Bowl game, be sure to explore beyond the sponsored beer gardens around the stadium. Our guide covers cool cocktails, craft beers and fine wines Continue reading...

The good mixer: sunny side up cocktail recipe

Fri, 09 Jan 2015 18:00:02 GMT

A fruity little number to take the edge off a bleak winter’s day

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More than $300,000 in wine stolen from famed Napa restaurant recovered

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:24:07 GMT

A haul of 76 bottles of mostly rare French wine, taken from the French Laundry sometime late on Christmas Day, is found in a private cellar in North Carolina

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Aldi and Lidl’s best budget wines

Sun, 18 Jan 2015 08:04:09 GMT

The discounters’ wine range is small but consistent

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Hot chip vending machine created by company that believed it could fry

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 03:16:36 GMT

Ten years in development, Perth firm’s ‘mini fish and chip shop’ will start commercial production this year – and sights are set on the international market

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What reality TV can teach us

Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:04:03 GMT

Critics may accuse reality TV of rotting viewers’ brains, but closer examination reveals its profound philosophical content Continue reading...

Soups, broths and chowder recipes for hot and healthy packed lunches

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:29:04 GMT

Hearty packed lunches of chowders, soups and broths are what is needed if the cold weather is testing your health-conscious resolve

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The Big Allotment Challenge review – as exciting as watching tomatoes dry

Sat, 24 Jan 2015 07:29:02 GMT

Bake-Off made cakes sexy, and fun – can the BBC sprinkle the same magic on vegetable gardening? Don’t talk rot Continue reading...

Knives out: why we love reading cruel restaurant reviews

Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:46:42 GMT

As a food critic, I know that people love the negative reviews and that it’s more fun to read and write about the bad meals than the good ones

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Jack Monroe’s red bean soup with dumplings

Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:08:47 GMT

The humble kidney bean makes a great base for this deeply satisfying soup and dumpling combo Continue reading...

The truth about Noma's live prawn dish

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:42:30 GMT

The Danish restaurant’s Japanese pop-up has hit the headlines for its ‘live’ seafood. Food writer Joe Warwick waited tables and tried the still-twitching crustacean

It is just shy of 2am and I’m sitting at a 24-hour sushi bar in Tsukiji market, Tokyo. I’ve just had some of the best nigiri of my life, and I’m watching the chef who sliced my fish dip a set of very long chopsticks into a tank behind the bar. It looks as though he’s trying to grab a rather large and lively mackerel. My immediate thought is that he’s going to make it into sashimi, ikizukuri-style.

My basic Japanese (I spent a week in Tokyo getting by in restaurants with sumimasen, hai, omakase, okanjo onegaishimasu and arigato) means that it takes a while to get to the bottom of what’s actually going on. “Sashimi?” I eventually ask, with a concerned look on my face. The chef smiles and shakes his head. “Pet,” he says. “Six years old.” He’d been tickling his pet mackerel. We all laugh and I take another gulp of sake. I love sushi and sashimi, the fresher the better, but I’m relieved. A live fish being dispatched, sliced and served up inches away from me is not something I want to see.

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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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Reality television to dominate Australian screens in 2015

Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:49:04 GMT

Expect more cooking and renovation shows. Amanda Meade reports on what we’ll be watching – like it or not

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The weekend cook: Thomasina Miers’ recipes for Mexican-style lamb shoulder and homemade baked beans

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 10:47:41 GMT

A slow-cooked lamb shoulder heady with spices and smoky, fruity chillies, plus homemade baked beans that knock spots of those you buy in a tin

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Delhi’s new breed of independent restaurants, bars and clubs

Tue, 13 Jan 2015 06:00:12 GMT

Delhi has become more than just ruins and street food. A vibrant new party scene is emerging, with creative cafes, restaurants and bars run by ‘outsiders’ who are making this tough city their own

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Readers’ recipe swap: desiccated coconut

Sat, 24 Jan 2015 06:00:04 GMT

Your bountiful pestos, chutneys and desserts make winter tropical

• We’d like to see your recipes for kids’ packed lunches. Send them in to or upload them to GuardianWitness by 28 January. Winning recipes will appear here and in the magazine on 7 february

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Peaky Blinders; Human Universe; The Kitchen; The Great British Bake Off – TV review

Sat, 11 Oct 2014 17:00:02 GMT

Tom Hardy turned up in Brum, Brian Cox was finally brought down to Earth, and Bake Off tilted at windmills in a week of the unexpected

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Can uptight Marcus Wareing save MasterChef: The Professionals?

Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:18:51 GMT

Lovely Michel Roux Jr has been replaced by a wazzock. But is he what the show needs to recover from the farce that was the last series?

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Hanoi in three days: holiday itinerary

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 06:00:07 GMT

Hanoi is noisy, busy and motorbike-clogged but it’s still a joy to experience the serene views, street-food scene and culture – and to explore even more on one of the city’s numerous walking tours

Top 10 boutique budget hotels in Hanoi
More from our holiday itineraries series

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Give pease pudding a chance

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:15:46 GMT

An uninspiring bucket list of world food recommends pasties and pies from the UK. It could have been more adventurous

A strange book arrives in the post. It’s called 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die, and is a follow-up, if that’s the right word, to 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. My first thought is: how exhausting. On the press release, the American chef and TV star Anthony Bourdain is quoted as saying it lists 1,000 foods we need to eat “urgently”, as if we are all suffering from some weird, life-threatening ailment that might only be cured by scoffing down a plate of Middendorf’s thin fish (a farmed catfish popular in the Mississippi Delta) or a bowl of hideg meggyleves (a Hungarian cold sour cherry soup). My second thought is: ugh, how grotesque. It’s too much, this global all-you-can-eat buffet. I can’t think I’ve ever had a particular longing to eat fenalar, the salted lamb beloved of Norwegians, or shav, the cold Ashkenazi soup made from sorrel. But even if I had, my desire would soon cool faced with this super-sized smorgasbord. Turning the book’s pages, what I feel I need most is a bowl of plain boiled rice and perhaps a side order of Pepto-bismol.

Foods are a bit like friends: there are only so many you can fit in your life at one time. Old ones – mashed potato, tinned tomato soup, orange-flavoured Jacob’s Clubs – are always lovely, there to fall back on when you’re glum or just starving, though occasionally, of course, you do outgrow the odd thing or two (in my case: Findus Crispy Pancakes, instant coffee, sliced white bread). Sometimes, a new one will arrive on the scene, and it’s love at first sight: you pal up, and gorge yourself. A lot of us, a few years ago, went through this with green curries, with the result that lasagne all but disappeared for a while, having been culled to make way for this new, supposedly more exotic dish. (I still miss lasagne, for which reason I was oddly stirred – you might say moved – to see it the other night on the menu at Angela Hartnett’s swanky St James’s restaurant, Cafe Murano) Other foods, meanwhile, one can cope with only infrequently, in small doses (again, like certain friends). Craving something seriously hot, you take yourself out to somewhere that does Hunan or Sichuan cooking, and in the heat of your lust, over-order by about eight dishes. But then the food arrives, and you remember the last time you did this, you thought your tongue was going to spontaneously combust and your husband refused to sleep in the same bed as you for eight days. Even before you’ve laid down your chopsticks in defeat, you’re overcome with chilli-fatigue and remorse.

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Len Deighton's new cookstrips No 1: soufflé

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:15:46 GMT

In the first in a new series of tips for Observer Food Monthly, the spy novelist spills the secrets of soufflé

No 1: Soufflé

They say “you can wait for a soufflé, but it can’t wait for you”. That’s nonsense. Prepared (but uncooked) soufflés will wait for hours. Make them before your guests arrive.

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Our 10 best warming drinks

Sat, 10 Jan 2015 06:00:07 GMT

Soothing drink recipes to take your mind off the return to work and the cold and dreary weather. Try an uplifting mug of mulled apple juice, a regal hot chocolate or perhaps a hot toddy with a twist ...

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The weekend cook: Thomasina Miers’ pie recipes

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 18:00:08 GMT

You can’t beat a good pie in winter, or at any time, really, be it cheese and potato pie with savoy cabbage or blood orange and vanilla shaker pie

Crumbly, buttery, flaky: I’d happily eat a pie with nothing in the middle if the pastry were good enough. Combine that with a hot filling, savoury or sweet, and there is little more satisfying in the depths of winter. Both this week’s pies use 10-minute homemade pastry, but buy a good all-butter shortcrust if you prefer. One bonus of making your own is using leftovers for cheese straws, rollovers, tarts and the rest.

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Go slow: how to do less and take in more on holiday

Sat, 17 Jan 2015 12:00:07 GMT

From healthy retreats and solo journeys to holidays which are normally full-on, like skiing and city breaks, our writers show you how to ditch the itinerary, slow down and enjoy the moment

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Our 10 best sweet pastry recipes

Sat, 24 Jan 2015 06:00:03 GMT

Shut out the cold and open the oven door to a batch of crisp apple spring rolls or dainty rhubarb and custard tartlets  – what better way to spend a wintery weekend … Continue reading...

How I gave up fine dining

Sat, 03 Jan 2015 08:30:13 GMT

‘I’m hallucinating food, and not yer fancy-schmancy restaurant food’

• Bim Adewunmi gives up Twitter
• Alexis Petridis gives up being grumpy
• Jess Cartner-Morley gives up heels

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The Lincs link: sausage and potato curry

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:25:28 GMT

Meera Sodha’s grandparents fled from Uganda to Lincolnshire in the 70s, finding a bounty of incredible produce ready to forge fusions with Gujarati cuisine

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Jammed to bursting: Ruby's rhubarb and custard split buns recipe

Sat, 01 Nov 2014 05:59:12 GMT

Rhubarb jam is easy to make and sumptuous in these split buns, accompanied by its trusty companion, custard – but any fruit jam would be just as good.

It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when deciding what to do with your weekend, but I can think of worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than making a vat of jam. That’s not to romanticise it – I challenge anyone to feel like a domestic goddess when nervously brandishing a wooden spoon over a pan of boiling sugar – but there’s certainly something comforting about it. It makes a big difference to your baking too, if you can complement a crusty loaf, victoria sponge or buttery bun with a jam that’ll do it justice.

Although this recipe is for a simple rhubarb jam don’t be afraid to shake things up, depending on what you have to hand in the house or on the allotment: a glut of blackberries would work, as would a few raspberries to perk up a punnet of peaches. Play around with liqueurs and aromatics too – a capful of cassis, for example, will add depth to a plum jam, or some grated root ginger can spice things up a little.

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The weekend cook: Thomasina Miers’ recipes to bring light to dark winter days

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 14:00:00 GMT

Yes, it’s cold, dark and damp outside, so put some winter cheer into your tummy with bright, fresh dishes such as spiced chicken liver salad and a half-soup, half-stew squash and chorizo number

Cheap ingredients don’t need to taste cheap. This week, I’m using chicken livers and squash, both affordable and healthy, and turning them into luxurious-tasting, stellar plates of food that will have everyone purring contentedly. Both recipes use spicing and colour to whisk you from the dark British winter and transport you to a warmer, sunnier mood. The chicken livers make a crisp, headily spiced warm salad that manages to be both rich and light at the same time, while the squash falls apart in a beautifully seasoned, hearty soup that is pretty to look at and mouthwatering to eat.

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