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No. Fifty Cheyne, London SW3: ‘A good laugh’ - restaurant review | Grace Dent

Fri, 10 May 2019 09:00:38 GMT

The perfect storm of very posh yet also pub-like

As we approached No Fifty Cheyne, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, of a Saturday evening, the streets felt quaintly pretty and soothingly silent. This is SW3. No Fifty Cheyne is a neighbourhood restaurant that, relatively speaking, almost nobody needs to frequent over a weekend. If you can afford to have this aesthetically splendid renovation as your local, there’s a strong chance you have other homes to flee to come Friday.

No Fifty Cheyne sits close to the Thames, bathed in the iridescent twinkle of Albert Bridge, and blue plaques on nearby walls speak of rose bushes planted by Elizabeth I. Sally Greene, theatre impresario and owner of Ronnie Scott’s, has taken her former Cheyne Walk Brasserie and transformed it into an elegant, grown-up safe space from life’s beastliness. Downstairs is a 70-seat restaurant serving the likes of snail and black pudding vol-au-vent, chicken liver terrine, a 14oz chateaubriand to share, and native lobster. Upstairs is a claret-coloured, womb-like, windowless cocktail snug and, to the right of this, the sort of panelled, bejewelled, sofa-strewn lounge in which one could imagine Marquise Isabelle from Dangerous Liaisons wearing an enormous bonnet and plotting mischief.

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Is English wine becoming hip? | Fiona Beckett on wine

Fri, 17 May 2019 13:00:09 GMT

An excellent vintage in 2018 and an innovative new band of winemakers mean things are looking up for home-grown bottles

Over the past few years, I have written about English wine more out of duty than any great enthusiasm. True, there has been some excellent fizz (which now makes up 71% of English wine sales) but, with a few honourable exceptions, the still wines have been underwhelming. But, aided by an excellent vintage in 2018 and an innovative new band of winemakers, things are suddenly looking up. In fact, I would even go so far as to say English wine is becoming hip.

I’ve recently tasted an orange albariño (from Welsh producer Ancre Hill), a pet nat (by Westwell), an on-trend field blend (a wine made from different grape varieties grown in the same vineyard), as well as the lushest of chardonnays that could be easily mistaken for a top white burgundy. Wines are being bottled with wacky names and labels – a good example being Black Book winery’s funky Mix-Up (11.5%) now stocked, amazingly, by the Wine Society at £22. There are rosés and reds and other white varieties apart from the ubiquitous bacchus (look out for pinot gris), there are wines from Wales and vineyards being planted in Scotland, which finally makes sense of the industry’s promotional body’s recent rebranding as Wine GB.

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10 great-value restaurants on Latin America’s 50 best list

Wed, 14 Nov 2018 06:30:09 GMT

From a Buenos Aires spot where greens rule to a ‘house of pig’ in São Paulo, our writer offers a personal selection of affordable restaurants on Latin America’s latest 50 best list

Elaborate tasting menus and fine dining dominate the annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants list but it’s a different story with the Latin American edition of the awards. The top spot for 2018 did go to Lima’s Maido for the second year running (15-course menu £103), but further down the list there are plenty of restaurants offering great cooking at much more affordable prices. Here are 10 of the tastiest bargains around.

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Taste test: the high street's doughnuts, scones and muffins

Sun, 24 Feb 2019 11:00:22 GMT

Bake Off alumnus Liam Charles on honeycomb patterns in croissants (good) and luminous custard (bad)

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Antennae-to-tail eating: how to use up prawn heads and tails | Waste not

Sat, 18 May 2019 05:00:27 GMT

This recipe for crisp prawn heads and tails with shell salt is proof that stock isn’t the only option for these often-discarded bits of shellfish

Before becoming vegetarian, I was a nose-to-tail eater, a philosophy coined by chef Fergus Henderson that celebrates the whole animal by cooking with every part, and wasting nothing. This zero-waste approach has repopularised offal and cheaper cuts, yet most meat sales are still high-on-the-hog, prime cuts.

You may be wondering why a vegetarian is writing about meat. Animal agriculture has a huge impact on our planet, and in my opinion eating more plants is key to reducing this, but for the many that do eat meat, eating less, and choosing better-quality, cheaper cuts, also helps considerably. I’m vegetarian, not because meat isn’t delicious, but because, to my mind, it’s a more mindful way of eating. That’s why I’m an advocate for good animal agriculture, too.

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How fine is Finest? Four wines from Tesco | Fiona Beckett

Fri, 10 May 2019 13:00:36 GMT

Spring tasting season is upon us. Is Tesco’s 28% market share justified?

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, I’m back on the subject of supermarket booze again this week, the reason being it’s the height of the spring tasting season. The most recent one was Tesco, which still accounts for roughly 28% of the bottles we buy. Does it deserve more than a quarter of our entire custom? Well, put it this way, Tesco is not significantly worse than its main competitors, but it’s a long way from offering the choice it did in its Wine Club heyday, not only in types of wine, but in terms of suppliers, too.

Take the New Zealand range Tesco showed the other day (mostly, admittedly, from it “Finest*” label, which is where the better value lies). Of the 10 wines on show, eight were from a large own-brand producer called Indevin, which, in Tesco’s words, “creates exclusive wine programs for the world’s biggest wine retailers”. It’s a similar situation with South Africa, where all seven own-label wines on show came from an outfit called Origin, by whom I’ve never been particularly impressed.

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Georgia on my plate: a culinary journey in the Caucasus

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 11:00:14 GMT

No lesson in the complex art of Georgian cuisine is complete without a toast or two, says our writer on a tour of the country’s mountains and cities
Suzanne Moore in ‘mind-blowingly gorgeous Georgia’

“This is a crazy Georgian situation,” says Ketino Sujashvili, with a hint of theatrical relish, as a dozen different crises flare up in her kitchen all at once.

I’ve just arrived at Ketino’s guesthouse in Kazbegi, northern Georgia, for an informal cooking class – the plan is to make khinkali, the soupy minced-meat dumplings prized in this spectacular region of the High Caucasus mountains. It begins smoothly enough, with the women in Ketino’s kitchen creating a space for me at their table, clearly amused by this lanky Irishman eager to learn the secrets of Georgian cuisine.

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Bake Off: The Professionals review – an infuriating imitation of the real thing

Tue, 30 Apr 2019 20:00:27 GMT

The joy of the original show is becoming invested in ordinary humans excelling themselves. Watching chefs getting it wrong is just frustrating

It remains a strange thing to have done: to have taken The Great British Bake Off, a show that lives and dies by its showcasing of amateur skills and the invitation to lose yourself in a nostalgic daydream of fluffy buttercream, and stripped it of every ounce of that to produce a spinoff. But there you go and here we are – the fourth series of Bake Off: The Professionals (Channel 4).

Twelve teams bake six at a time over two days, overseen by the presenters Liam Charles (a hugely charming contestant on proper Bake Off in 2017) and Tom Allen (who has his own experience of talent competitions, having won the comedy contest So You Think You’re Funny? in 2005). They are judged by Cherish Finden (the award-winning executive pastry chef at the Langham hotel in London) and Benoit Blin (the chef patissier at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons et Frenchest Frenchman that ever did live). They are a slightly effortful, slightly exhausting quartet, although Blin’s unmediated expressions of disappointment are always worth the price of admission. “Texture-wise,” he says dolefully at one stage, munching on a sub-par showpiece, “I am not ’aving fon.”

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The Rose, Deal, Kent: ‘London has arrived’ – restaurant review | Grace Dent

Fri, 17 May 2019 09:00:11 GMT

A plutonium-grade revamp has turned this old-school boozer into a chic magnet for mini-breakers down from the capital

One of the perils of living in a seaside resort such as Deal on the east coast of Kent is that, eventually, London will find you. One minute, you can pop out to Londis in your dressing gown, drink Gold Blend and have no real opinion on nuno felting, then a shift will occur. One of those incomers will paint over a pebble-dashed terrace with Farrow & Ball Arsenic, open a gluten-free macaron kiosk, and the game will be up. For Kensal Rise and Hackney people, that’s like leaving jam out for ants. Soon, you’ll be knee deep in nocellara olives, spoken-word performances and places like The Rose on Deal high street, a recently tarted-up pub, restaurant and boutique hotel.

Any implication that the plutonium-grade revampment of The Rose from rough-and-ready, 200-year-old, old-school boozer to chic magnet for mini-breakers is “an improvement” will doubtless cause the locals umbrage. Nevertheless, it now serves rhubarb mezcal cocktails, tiny bowls of Marcona almonds, wild nettle soup and ox tongue on beetroot. For £200, without dinner, I stayed one Friday night in a bric-a-brac-stuffed room painted in jarring shades of burgundy, turquoise and navy, with a velour curtain in place of a toilet door and a communal Nespresso machine in the corridor. I do not like anyone in this world well enough to forgo a toilet door, while if you speak to me at a communal Nespresso machine at 7am before I have drunk the Nespresso, I will unapologetically hammer you to death with a Muji indoor shoe.

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How to cook the perfect onion tart - recipe | Felicity Cloake

Wed, 15 May 2019 11:00:04 GMT

‘Onion tart’ hardly describes this sumptuous mess of creamy sweet onions studded with bacon and slumped into a shortcrust case

Described by chef Simon Hopkinson as “a classic amongst tarts”, this deliciously sweet recipe from Alsace-Lorraine is somewhere between a quiche and a flammkuchen, a tangle of buttery, slow-cooked onions barely held together by a rich egg custard. When I first came across it, in an Alsatian restaurant perched rather incongruously on the side of an Alp, I thought an onion tart sounded rather dull. I’m not too proud to admit I was wrong: thanks to the alchemy that occurs when this most common, yet least lauded of vegetables is given time to fulfil its potential in the flavour department, this is a dish that’s far more than the sum of its parts.

Though it’s by no means the only onion pastry in the French repertoire – Provençal pissaladière and Flemish flamiche spring to mind, but there are no doubt others – it’s my new favourite. More summery than Lancashire butter pie and less antisocial than pickled onion Space Raiders, this is a great, vegetarian-friendly centrepiece for a spring lunch, though, frankly, I’d snap it up at just about any time of day, or indeed year.

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Liam Charles’ recipe for cereal milk pull-apart bun | The sweet spot

Sat, 18 May 2019 10:00:39 GMT

The joy of that sugary milk left in your bowl of cereal is condensed into a fun-to-make, tactile snack

Everyone loves cereal: there’s such a variety of shapes, sizes and flavours, and you often get a good splash of nostalgia with it, too. In recent years, chefs have been using cereal in desserts and baking, allowing people to be more experimental with flavours. Big love to Christina Tosi, the legendary American pastry chef who blew my mind with the idea of cereal milk. The amount given here makes more than you need for the recipe, so you can experiment with it in more bakes.

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Stalk talk: Yotam Ottolenghi’s asparagus recipes

Sat, 18 May 2019 08:30:29 GMT

Asparagus: so good with nothing more than a knob of butter, but unbeatable in a ricotta tart with miso and black garlic, in Korean spicy pancakes, or with garlic pesto and tempura onions

I have made a U-turn with asparagus. I used to advocate pairing it only with mild ingredients (and not too many of them), so as not to mask its fine flavour, but I now believe it can, in fact, endure a fair bit of goings-on while still keeping its asparagussy truth. Yes, a knob of butter or a drizzle of olive oil, with perhaps a poached egg on top, is a fine way to serve the spears, but fermented ingredients with built-in intensity – soy, black garlic, miso, gochujang chilli paste – are equally good partners. In fact, they shed a funky new light on the old asparagus.

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OFM’s classic cookbook: Rick Stein’s English Seafood Cookery

Sun, 19 May 2019 10:00:01 GMT

Nathan Outlaw pays tribute to the 1988 book that he borrowed from Rick Stein’s restaurant (and never gave back). Plus five brilliant recipes

I wouldn’t be the chef I am today if this book didn’t exist.

I saw a copy for the first time in 1998, in the staff room at the Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. I’d started working with Rick in March that year and picked it up from the staff room table one quiet lunchtime and never put it back. I borrowed it for life. Sorry, Rick!

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Nigel Slater: 10 recipes from my little black book

Sun, 19 May 2019 12:00:04 GMT

Exclusive extract: For years, Nigel Slater has been writing down everything he eats in his notebook. These notes shape the plant-based recipes in his new book, Greenfeast

There is a little black book on the kitchen table. Neatly annotated in places, virtually illegible in others, it is the latest in a long line of tissue-thin pages containing the hand-written details of everything I eat. This is not one of the kitchen chronicles where I write down recipe workings and shopping lists, ideas and wishlists, but a daily diary of everything that ends up on my plate. If I have yoghurt, blackcurrant compote and pumpkin seeds at breakfast, it will be in that little book. Likewise, a lunch of green lentils and grilled red peppers, or a dinner of roast cauliflower and a bowl of miso soup. Each bowl of soup, plate of pasta and every mushroom on toast is faithfully logged. I don’t know exactly why or when I started noting down my dinner, but these little books are now filled in out of habit as much as anything else. The notes are often made at night, just before I lock up and go to bed. I suspect my little black books will be buried with me.

I occasionally look back at what I have written, often as I change one journal for the next. One of the points that interests me, and perhaps this is the main reason I have kept the daily ritual going for so long, is that I can follow how my eating has changed, albeit gradually, over the years. There are, of course, unshakable edibles, (I seem to have started and ended each day’s eating with a bowl of yoghurt for as long as I can remember), but I also find marked changes in what I cook and eat. The most notable is the quantity – I definitely eat less than I used to – and there is a conspicuous move towards lighter dishes, particularly in spring and summer.

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New ways with new potatoes – recipes by Robin Gill | Four favourite recipes

Sat, 18 May 2019 06:00:34 GMT

Hold the butter and mint, and instead try the new-season new potatoes with preserved lemon, with peas, mint and mustard, as a risotto or even as a warm salad with oysters

Prep 20 min
Cure Overnight
Cook 1 hr 20 min
Serves 4

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Cocktail of the week: Teatulia’s oolong old fashioned | The good mixer

Fri, 17 May 2019 14:00:04 GMT

An orangey, tea-infused bourbon special, just in time for World Whisky Day

Despite the UK’s national love of tea, this wonderful ingredient goes under-used beyond the teapot. We use it in all our cocktails, to showcase just what it can do. We grow all our tea ourselves at our 100% organic garden in Tetulia, northern Bangladesh. Tea gives drinks a wonderful depth and complexity, and is an easy way to spruce up a classic, such as this old fashioned, which is on our new list and ideal for World Whisky Day.

Serves 1

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Thomasina Miers’ recipe for Persian rice pudding with apricot and pistachios | The simple fix

Mon, 20 May 2019 11:00:35 GMT

This luxurious, scented dessert is so far removed from the rice pudding you know, you’ll be an instant convert

If I could tell my younger self that one day I would be encouraging people to make rice pudding, I wouldn’t have believed it. It was the dish I dreaded most at school: stodgy, lukewarm and overcooked. However, sun-soaked trips to Mexico cured me of this aversion. There, plump and tender grains bathe in chilled scented creams, and the result is subtle and delicious. Here, I have taken a Persian lean with stunning colours from the apricots, saffron and pistachios; it’s fabulous served in warm weather.

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Meera Sodha's vegan recipe for cauliflower, beetroot and asparagus salad with mustard-miso dressing | The new vegan

Sat, 18 May 2019 09:00:32 GMT

The search for the perfect salad – one packed with flavour and interest – may have peaked with this tangy-crunchy roast veg and asparagus number

Beyond friendship, love and good health, often what I really want is a delicious salad. One that’s not too difficult to put together and entertains the tastebuds. Not too much to ask, you’d think, but actually, it can be difficult to achieve. So I have decided to dedicate my life to searching for the perfect salad. Today’s recipe, packed with vegetables that roast well, combined with a punchy, miso-and-mustard dressing, is one small step on that journey.

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Best vegan restaurants in the UK: readers’ travel tips

Thu, 08 Nov 2018 06:30:05 GMT

With influences ranging from Van Gogh to Asia, these vegan venues serve up arty as well as delicious food – on beaches, buses … and in an underpass

Bundobust is fast becoming a Leeds institution for food lovers of all persuasions. Everything is veggie, and a large proportion of the menu is vegan, with an easy vegan sharing menu for two a great way in. From the okra fries dusted in black salt and mango powder (genius) to the chole dal and masala dosa, its south Indian street food, craft beer and Asian-inspired cocktails are a winning combo. With dishes from £4-6.50 it’s also easy on the wallet, so you can try a bit of everything.
Laura King

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A glorious shambles: why Celebrity Bake Off now beats the original

Wed, 06 Mar 2019 09:56:02 GMT

Russell Brand made a biscuit vagina, and John Lithgow crafted a lumpy gingerbread Churchill – comic ineptitude that trumps GBBO’s self-seriousness any day

In the opening episode of Celebrity Bake Off last night, John Lithgow baked a 3D biscuit scene of himself as Winston Churchill in The Crown. The showstopper challenge was to bake something based on a performance they were proud of, and Lithgow said portraying Churchill was “the best time I’ve ever had acting”.

There’s something immensely pleasing about this. It may be the relentless positivity of Lithgow himself (who later did a splendid Yoda impersonation), or the fact that he depicted a drama that apparently set Netflix back £100m in gingerbread ingredients that can’t have cost more than £20. “Look at poor Winston,” he wailed as he took Churchill out of the oven. “He’s all lumpy.”

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Prue Leith: ‘I once thought I’d stabbed a chef in the manhood’

Sat, 13 Apr 2019 16:00:24 GMT

The Bake Off judge on working for sexist chefs, learning to love oysters and what she’ll be eating for her 80th birthday

My first taste memory is of our nanny in South Africa making white bread sandwiches with salad cream, which was potato mashed with a cheap mayonnaise thing with bits in it of – I suppose – pickled cucumber. I absolutely loved them. And on the beach, she would butter Marie biscuits on the flat side and sprinkle hundreds and thousands on them, one by one from the packet, until it was empty. I was always concerned how the packet would divide up among the people present. I’d feel extremely anxious that I’d have the extra one at the end; at least that I got as many as everyone else. I was very greedy. My brother calls me “Mersey Mouth”, referring to the Mersey Tunnel I suppose, which is huge and unreliable.

Aunt Kitty shot the milkman. My uncle Alan, Kitty’s husband, was headmaster at a very good state school but had a very dotty, scatty wife. Kitty was very beautiful but would have driven you mad, frankly. Anyway, she woke up one night and saw someone walking near the French windows at the bottom of the bed and she took her husband’s gun from the bedside drawer and there was the sound of gunfire, shattering of glass and the yelling of the poor milkman, who was just delivering. When Uncle Alan, beside her, woke up to all this noise, and asked why she hadn’t told him about a possible burglar, she replied: “I didn’t want to wake you.”

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Coconut Tree, Cheltenham: ‘laid-back and on point’ – restaurant review

Sun, 19 May 2019 04:59:04 GMT

Cheap and full of charm, the Coconut Tree captures the vivid flavour of Sri Lanka

The Coconut Tree, 59 St Paul’s Road, Cheltenham GL50 4JA (01242 465 758). Also in Bristol and Oxford. Dishes £2.50-£8; wines from £17

Eating well is an expression of normality. When we’re not in crisis, we eat well. When we’re not at war, we eat well. It’s also a way of reclaiming normality: of refusing to let the darkness win. It’s why I went to the Coconut Tree in Cheltenham, the original outpost of a small group of places serving what they describe as Sri Lankan street food. A few weeks ago, the island made headlines for the most terrible of reasons: a grim narrative of suicide bombs and body counts. Countries are not defined by atrocity, but by the good things. Great cooking is always one of the good things. A restaurant review cannot defeat terror but, at the very least, talking about the country’s vivid food – its way with coconut, turmeric, cardamom and chilies – is so very much better than talking about all the other stuff we’ve heard from Sri Lanka recently.

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A return to great grenache | David Williams

Sun, 12 May 2019 05:00:24 GMT

Why this soft, ripe red-wine variety is worth coming back to

Chaffey Bros Wine Co Pax Aeterna Old Vine Barossa Nouveau, Australia 2017 (£17.95, Great Western Wine) I’m not always one for choosing wine by grape variety on its own. More usually it’s the region and producer that come first in my decision-making hierarchy. But one variety I do keep coming back to at the moment is grenache. That might be because I’m making up for lost time: I wasn’t always in love with grenache, made as a single-variety (it was different when it was blended, as it often is in southern France, with syrah and others). It could be a little bit too liberal with its natural assets, those great gushing geysers of soft-tannined, dark ripe berry fruit and alcohol. These days, however, you’re as likely to find grenache in more gentle mode: still soft, but pale, refreshing – even, on occasion elegant, and certainly, in the case of Chaffey Bros’s supple, spicy, young vine from old vines, refreshing.

Viña Zorzal Garnacha, Navarra, Spain 2017 (£7.25, The Wine Society) Barossa Valley, and south Australia in general, is proving to be a real hotspot for modern-style lighter grenache – literally, since this is a sun-loving variety that is capable of offering up plump grape bunches in the dustiest, driest heat, all the more so once the vines are older. You can see the effects in another Barossan, Magpie Estate’s The Songlines Grenache, Barossa Valley, Australia 2017 (£10.95, Cheers Wine Merchants), which has an easy, thirst-quenching style. In similar conditions in Europe, meanwhile, Spain’s winemakers have really got to grips with their own stock of old grenache (aka garnacha) vines in the past decade, and the results can be supremely good value, as in the effortlessly lithe juiciness of Zorzal’s unoaked beauty from the northwestern region of Navarra.

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Scully, Mayfair: ‘The cooking is vivid, inventive, idiosyncratic’ | Jay Rayner

Sun, 12 May 2019 04:59:22 GMT

This week’s review is that rarest of things, a showy restaurant with striking food that justifies its price

Scully, 4 St James’s Market, London SW1Y 4AH (020 3911 6840). Snacks and small plates £8-£14. Large plates £28-£36. Desserts £8-£10. Wines from £32

Last week I reviewed a tiny restaurant in Manchester where a bowl of Tyrolean pasta costs £6 and will sustain you through an Alpine winter. The week before I was banging on about a trattoria in Bristol knocking out three courses for £17. I remind you of these things because, unlike those places, this week’s restaurant will require a chunk of your sterling. It is a fancy place in a fancy development of cream-coloured stone that will never be allowed to discolour. The cheapest bottle of wine this week is £32. The only way you can get out of there for less than £100 at dinner is by not doing it properly. It’s all fur coat and mink-lined knickers.

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What's it like to live with a chef?

Sun, 19 May 2019 10:00:05 GMT

Long hours, early starts: three couples reveal how they juggle the demands of the job with domestic life – and who does the cooking at home

James “Jocky” Petrie, group executive development chef for the Gordon Ramsay Group, lives with his wife, musician Úna Palliser, near St Albans. They have two daughters: one four-year-old and one a few months old. Petrie has appeared on MasterChef, Heston’s Fantastical Food and Hell’s Kitchen. Úna has worked with Shakira, the Killers, Moby and Gnarls Barkley.

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Anna Jones’ aubergine recipes | The modern cook

Fri, 17 May 2019 11:00:05 GMT

Find new flavours to boost aubergine – with lime- and pistachio-coated wedges or in a curry tangy with tamarind

Aubergine doesn’t get much attention in my kitchen; my husband, John, doesn’t like it (though I think this is because he has eaten so many badly cooked aubergines – not by me, of course). But a couple of weeks ago, I found myself pining for aubergine like it was a long-lost friend. I cooked up some fat wedges until they were dark and golden on the outside, topped them with a lime and pistachio crumb, and ate a happy solo lunch with flatbreads and salted yoghurt. I also tried it paired with tamarind in this sweet-and-sour curry, spooned on to sticky jasmine rice. My aubergine craving was quelled and, of course, John licked his plate clean.

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Cocktail of the week: Olly Smith’s rebujito | The Good Mixer

Fri, 10 May 2019 15:00:38 GMT

Fino sherry and lemonade with a slice, just as they enjoy it in Andalusia

This is the drink that keeps the feria dancing in Jerez, Spain, every spring – this year’s event kicks off today. It’s utterly scrumptious and showcases sherry at its heart.

To turn this into a batch cocktail, follow the proportions of one part fino to two parts lemonade in a two-litre jug – though you’ll probably need to make another jug very quickly, because this stuff vanishes like music in the night.

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Rachel Roddy’s recipe for fava bean puree with wilted greens | A kitchen in Rome

Mon, 20 May 2019 11:00:35 GMT

A simple and comforting dish that turns broad beans into a soupy puree that’s perfect for dipping or serving with wilted greens

At this time of year in Rome, broad beans act like cheerleaders chanting “S-P-R-I-N-G” from plates and piles in shops. They also come with a warning. This warning usually takes the form of a note stuck to the door of a shop or trattoria saying something along the lines of “Qui si vendono fave fresche” (“Here we sell fresh broad beans”). As warnings go, it’s mild stuff. In fact, for years not only did I have no idea that these notes were warnings, I also thought they were a promotion – a handwritten invitation to come inside and be rewarded with beans waiting to be freed from their velour-lined jackets and eaten with pecorino, braised with artichokes or caught up in a tangle of pasta and cheese.

The notes are far from mild for some. Favism is an ancient hereditary disorder that affects people of Mediterranean descent. It’s rare but dangerous, and involves an allergic-like reaction to broad beans. “One of our customers can’t even walk past our door when fava are in season,” a local trattoria owner told me, flicking beans out of their pods directly into a pan like some sort of vegetable Tiddlywinks. I spent the next few days worrying about this customer, noting all the streets they couldn’t walk down (most of them). While the dangerous compound is largely deactivated by cooking, with all the cheerleaders around at this time of year, it would be best to avoid certain streets.

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Cutlets, crispy chicken and cherry croutons: recipes for leftover bread | Yotam Ottolenghi recipes

Sat, 11 May 2019 08:30:00 GMT

Old bread is the perfect vehicle for soaking up juices and marinades, adding texture to crisp, spatchcocked chicken or as a biscuity foil for creamy desserts

It doesn’t take much to sell a loaf of freshly baked bread: soft, airy, crusty and a wonderful vehicle for just about anything, it’s everyone’s darling. Stale bread, on the other hand, needs a good public relations person if it’s not to end up a sad bag of breadcrumbs in the back of the freezer. I am more than happy to assume that role, because I know there is nothing better than fried old bread, crisp on the outside and soft inside after absorbing the juices of whatever it has come into contact with. Try, and you’ll also be sold.

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Nigel Slater’s vegetable stock and soup recipes

Sun, 19 May 2019 04:59:04 GMT

A flavoursome broth to lift both soup and spirits

I have been in need of a good vegetable stock for some time. Not one of the delicate, vegetal liquids the colour of hay but something altogether deeper, richer and more ballsy. In other words, more like a brown meat stock. Such a broth would be immensely useful in my kitchen as a base for the heartier non-meat recipes that form the backbone of my daily eating, but also as something restoring to drink as you might a cup of miso. My gran would have had Bovril. The colour must be dark and glossy, the flavour deeply, mysteriously herbal with a hint of mushroom and there should be a roasted backnote, the sort you find in a long-simmered meat stock.

And so the kitchen slowly filled with the smell of onions, celery and carrots, which we roasted with miso then removed from the oven and simmered for a good hour with thyme, bay and shitake. We slipped in a sheet of kombu for an extra layer of depth.

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‘Great food, but please do something about the noise’ – the battle for quieter restaurants

Thu, 09 May 2019 10:00:41 GMT

Background noise in some eateries can reach the equivalent of a lawnmower or a motorbike. It’s enough to put you off your dinner

Gregory Scott’s friends have asked him to find a quiet restaurant for dinner. Until recently this would have been a challenge, given that Scott lives in New York. “It’s known to be one of the noisiest cities in the world,” he says. Now he feels confident that, although he has never been, a small borscht joint called Ukrainian East Village will fit the bill.

That’s because last year Scott set up an app called Soundprint – the “Yelp for noise”. It allows users to search for restaurants conducive to conversation – and, in turn, asks them to record decibel (dB) levels (the app comes with a meter) in other establishments. It has had more than 60,000 submissions, with more than 500 coming from the UK. Ukrainian East Village has been measured four times by app users and averaged 74dB, a “moderate” level that Scott says is great for conversation. As someone with permanent hearing loss, he has a particular interest in such places.

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