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Latest Food news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
When Nigel Slater met Nadiya Hussain
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 11:00:00 GMT
Over curry and cake, two of the UK’s best-loved food writers talk about family, anxiety and learning to cope with life in the public eye
It is almost lunchtime when Nadiya Hussain arrives at my front door. She is bearing gifts. Among them, a tin of pastries she had fried that morning. “They’re my mum’s favourite,” she adds, handing me a tin of flaky, parcels, laminated like a cronut, each layer dusted with icing sugar and freckled with black onion seeds. We debate whether they are savoury or sweet. (The answer is both.) Two are wolfed instantly without the tea and clotted cream she insists they need and the rest are squirrelled away for tomorrow’s breakfast, but only because we are about to tuck into lunch.
Even before she reached the final of The Great British Bake Off, Nadiya was known to television viewers by a single name, like Nigella or Jamie. What fans of the programme like myself couldn’t know, as we took this quietly confident contestant to our hearts, was that between takes, she was running off to cry in the loo, shaking with nerves and unsure about how this could ever have happened to her.
Lina Stores Kings Cross, London N1: ‘Not remotely fun’ – restaurant review | Grace Dent
Fri, 24 Jan 2020 09:30:20 GMT
The second offshoot of the much-loved Soho deli is an oh-so-cool diner that’s let down by forgetful service and forgettable food
After my first visit to the brand new Lina Stores in King’s Cross, I refused to write a review, because I reasoned that almost all the staff would be fired by the end of the month. How unfair to air my feelings about the gum-chewing miscreant at reception who chivvied us in with all the grace of a meat-raffle caller on an oil rig. Or the surly servers who rolled their eyes at my request to move somewhere less draughty. Or the food – specifically, the overcooked pappardelle with its weak, forgettable, busking version of oxtail ragu. Lina Stores had been open for only seven days, after all, and launching a 100-seater Italian – and one that’s open from dawn to dusk seven days a week – for the bunfight of tourists and families who head each day to Pancras Square is no task for the meek.
This largely pedestrianised, multipurpose space now boasts dozens of restaurants, boutiques and businesses. Change in footfall has come rapidly. The multi-floored Dishoom outpost at the other end of Stable Street is often a one-in, one-out affair, while the door staff at family-friendly antipodean brunch spot Caravan on nearby Granary Square are masters of crowd control. It’s no mystery why the chain restaurants – albeit the very cool ones such as those two and the imminent Hoppers and Bao – have moved in.
Rachel Roddy's recipe for lamb ragu with pasta | A Kitchen in Rome
Mon, 20 Jan 2020 11:00:25 GMT
A visit to the butcher is a reminder that meat should be a privilege, not an everyday convenience, and should be cherished in time-honoured dishes like this Roman-inspired lamb ragu with pasta
As my butcher bones out a leg of lamb and cuts the meat into pieces with a precise “thwack thwack”, or joints a chicken, we talk. About the lamb or chicken; how old it is and where it came from; the nature of the cut and the goodness of fat. We talk about what I plan to do with whatever I have bought when I get home. She is generous with advice when I ask for it, in that moment shifting roles from butcher to the sort of confident home cook who inspires trust. We also talk about being the mums of difficult eight-year-old boys, and swing between big headlines and the minutiae of every day: dry hands and cold mornings.
Manuela’s hands are worth watching: like her brother, mother and grandmother before her, she is incredibly skilled, with the strength of a lumberjack and the precision of a surgeon. The other day she cut a gallina (boiling fowl) in half to reveal eggs; one almost at full size in its opaque sack, the rest a bunch, like tiny grapes, only bright yellow. It was a shock, to be honest; I wanted to turn away. It was Manuela’s reaction that made me turn back, her practical admiration of the animal before her and then the way she carefully cut away the cluster of eggs and lifted them into a tub and told me to poach them in the broth I was about to make. Again, I was shocked by her suggestion; the familiar comfort of my morning shop and cooking plans disturbed by the reality of the meat I chose to eat.
Get up and go: Jordan Bourke's recipes for winter breakfasts
Sat, 25 Jan 2020 07:00:48 GMT
Pick-me-ups to rouse the appetite on a cold morning: a lemony granola, bacon-avocado french toast, buckwheat porridge with apple, and turmeric fried eggs
Prep 10 min
Cook 25 min
Bake Off winner David Atherton: ‘I enjoy the buns innuendos!’
Wed, 06 Nov 2019 15:47:00 GMT
He won GBBO with a reputation for being calm, tidy and methodical. But the star baker says in reality he’s an extrovert hippy who hasn’t washed his hair in 15 years – and another contestant tested one of his bakes
He’s the quiet, controlled one who wowed the judges with precise technical bakes. At least, that’s the impression you probably have of the 2019 Great British Bake Off winner, David Atherton. Wrong. In person, he’s an adventurous extrovert with a hippy streak. “Most of my practices I did in my pants while eating pizza and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. The person in the edit is not me,” he says. “At the end, it showed me singing to myself and dancing around, but actually I did that the whole way through. I am calm and methodical, but I’m not particularly reserved.”
Atherton’s triumph – he didn’t win a showstopper while the hotly tipped finalist Steph Blackwell was star baker four times – is all the more remarkable because he was a reserve applicant (as was his co-finalist Alice Fevronia), drafted in to replace a dropout just two weeks before the show began. Yet the 36-year-old health adviser is such an experienced and confident cook (“Ottolenghi is my absolute hero,” he says, and he is a big fan of baker Dan Lepard), he didn’t panic or even change any social plans. “The weekend before the show, I decided to cycle to Paris. It was good for my headspace.”
Nigel Slater’s baked cheese with roasted roots recipe
Tue, 21 Jan 2020 12:00:55 GMT
Crusty molten Tunworth or camembert with tender vegetables
You will need a whole Tunworth or camembert in its thin wooden box. Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6.
Shibden Mill Inn, near Halifax: ‘Brave enough to be more than just another food pub’ – restaurant review
Sun, 26 Jan 2020 06:00:16 GMT
There’s the fierce tang of ambition here, an early contender for snack of the year, and other acts of subversion
Shibden Mill Inn, Shibden Mill Fold, Halifax (01422 365 840). Nibbles £4–£6; starters £6–£12; mains £14–£23; desserts £7–£9. Wines from £19 a bottle. Extensive gin and whisky selection
There are many kinds of brave. Rescuing families from advancing Australian bush fires is definitely brave, as is calling out predatory men in the movie business for sexual harassment. Me, on a beach, in a tight-fitting pair of Speedos might also be described as brave, though in that instance what the word really means is: “There are things that once seen, cannot be unseen.” Bravery is about context. The bravery described in a gravy-slicked restaurant column, is unlikely to stand up well against, say, that of a man who decides a narwhal tusk will do as a defensive weapon against a homicidal maniac. But that doesn’t stop it being its own kind of brave.
10 of the best restaurants in Cádiz, Spain
Fri, 02 Aug 2019 05:30:10 GMT
Fizzing with culinary highlights, this selection from the Andalucían city’s old town takes in special spots for seafood and tapas joints away from the crowds
Go early: this tapa place is very small and almost always busy. It cooks its speciality, tuna from the strait of Gibraltar, in a variety of ways: from traditional with a twist to a more-modern style. Tuna tartare or tuna lasaña are my favourites. The menu is long and the quality is high, though the prices remain reasonable (tapas from €2.20). Check out the wine list, too, and you’ll spot some great bottles.
• €12-€14pp, Calle Columela 4, on Facebook
Silo, London E5: ‘Loud, righteous and holy’ – restaurant review | Grace Dent
Fri, 17 Jan 2020 09:30:08 GMT
Silo’s zero-waste concept is laudable, but they seem to have forgotten that eating out is meant to be fun
“So what do you know about Silo?” asks our server, crouching down by the table. She pauses like a school teacher waiting for me to fill in the gap. I say nothing, being not in the mood for a test.
She changes tack: “Do you know about our concept?”
Cocktail of the week: Nutshell’s Iranian-ish coffee | The Good Mixer
Fri, 24 Jan 2020 16:00:28 GMT
A reimagined Irish coffee infused with Middle Eastern spices
Arabic coffee is made from gold roasted arabica beans that are ground and spiced with cardamom, and sometimes with saffron and cloves, too – look for it in Middle Eastern food stores, or buy online.
Failing that, make it at home by roasting green coffee beans in a pan until golden, then grinding them with spice to suit your tastes. It has a very distinctive flavour that works beautifully in this reimagined version of the Irish classic.
Maths experts zero in on secret to perfect espresso
Wed, 22 Jan 2020 16:00:29 GMT
It’s all in the grind, say mathematicians who turned to equations to solve mystery
What’s the secret of the perfect espresso? It’s a question that has long troubled cafe owners around the world, but now mathematicians say they have worked out the formula for achieving the perfect brew – and it all comes down to the daily grind.
“There is a common experience, particularly for people making coffee in their homes, and baristas as well, that you brew two espressos one after the other, you use the same ground coffee and seemingly you brew it in exactly the same way, yet the two shots can taste quite different to one another,” said Dr Jamie Foster at Portsmouth University, a co-author of the research.
20 of the UK's best restaurants – as chosen by Britain’s top chefs
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Secret gems and neighbourhood hideaways where chefs love to eat: from a cafe lunch in Cornwall to a tasting menu on the Scottish coast
Silk Road, London SE5
Chosen by James Cochran, chef-owner, Restaurant 1251
I’ve lived in south London for 15 years and the neighbourhood restaurant that stands out is Silk Road in Camberwell. I’m a massive fan of their Xinjiang style of Chinese cooking and they do many unusual things that you don’t normally see in Chinese restaurants in this country. I associate kebabs with Turkish or Greek food, but here they do lamb skewers which they cover in delicious Asian spices and chargrill really quickly. Their dumplings are on point as well. In fact, everything is packed full of flavour, but nicely balanced. The restaurant is very minimalistic, drinks are BYO and the food is very affordable – spend £20 and you’re full.
Pot shots: why G&T yoghurts are a step too far
Tue, 21 Jan 2020 14:48:31 GMT
Müller’s unlikely new flavour has outraged campaigners concerned about the normalisation of alcohol. But here’s the real problem with this rampant gin craze
Fulfilling its PR team’s wildest dreams, Müller finds itself in a spot of bother over the launch of two new gin and tonic flavoured yoghurts. Despite its G&T, pink gin and elderflower pots containing less than 0.5% alcohol (effectively, alcohol-free), there has been hot debate online between those decrying this as reckless normalisation of alcohol and those polishing their “getting Müllered” puns.
One Yorkshire GP, Dr Nigel Wells, told the BBC that, particularly in Dry January: “Given the problems we have with alcohol as a society – very visible in our GP practices and A&E departments – the creation of alcohol-inspired yoghurts seems unnecessary and counterproductive to public health.”
How to cook the perfect mapo tofu | Felicity Cloake
Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:00:24 GMT
Spicy, salty, moreish mapu tofu is an intensely aromatic dish to win over tofu sceptics. But what’s the best way to make it?
Mapo tofu, more romantically, if less glamorously, known as “pock-marked old woman’s tofu”, is the beancurd equivalent of bacon: the surefire way to convert tofu sceptics to its quiet pleasures. A speciality of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, it brims over with what Fuchsia Dunlop describes as the “spicy generosity” of the region’s cooking, being hot, salty and very moreish.
The story goes that the dish is named after the smallpox-ravaged Old Mother Chen, who cooked up a fiery storm near the city’s Bridge of Ten Thousand Blessings in the time of Emperor Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty (1856–75). More than a century later, her creation is on menus from Tokyo to Tulsa, known and loved for its aromatic heat and intensely savoury flavours, perfectly balanced by the creamy blandness of the beancurd. Trust me: even if you can’t bear tofu, you’ll love this.
Crazy Delicious review – foodie TV brought to you by Beelzebub himself
Tue, 21 Jan 2020 21:00:06 GMT
The magical Bake Off may boast culinary ‘gods’ like Heston Blumenthal – but this #foodporn is so crazy yuck it is hellish
First there was The Great British Bake Off. Then came Extra Slice, Junior Bake Off, Masterclass, Professionals, Creme de la Creme, Sewing Bee, Pottery Throwdown, calligraphy hoedown, and … whatevs. You don’t need me to do this. You have all lived through Bakeoffageddon, too. Anyway, the logical conclusion of a decade spent having your cockles warmed by standard-issue humans losing it over a collapsed baked alaska is Crazy Delicious. A six-part “magical food competition” presided over by “food gods” Heston Blumenthal, Carla Hall and Niklas Ekstedt, brought to you by Channel 4, Netflix and, methinks, Beelzebub himself. Spoiler alert: I must warn you that Crazy Delicious is neither of the things it purports to be.
Related: Heston Blumenthal: 'The most intimate relationship you can have? With your breath'
Crisps, cheese and curaçao: how to have a fantastic election night party
Thu, 05 Dec 2019 11:00:11 GMT
General elections are inherently exciting because you get to stay up late, but the food and drink can take the fun to the next level
It may be a bit early to bring this up, but on the other hand, it is only a week away: what are you going to eat on election night? On 1 May 1997, a journalist named Gavin Hills held an election party that became the stuff of fable.
There was a firework for every Tory, let off when they lost their seat, and the sky was ablaze. I wasn’t there, as I didn’t know him, but people talked about it so fervently afterwards that it has entered my memory as the best election night I ever had – the one I wasn’t at. Hills died in a freak drowning accident the same month, tragically young at 31, and the magic of the election party died with him. Now, instead, we have snacks.
Thomasina Miers’ recipe for vegetarian chilli with roasted squash and black beans | The Simple Fix
Mon, 20 Jan 2020 13:00:26 GMT
A substantial chilli brimming with character and spice, and full of satisfying texture
Towards the end of last year, a reader wrote in to request a chilli recipe for vegetarians. I thought it would be rather fitting for January, when there is a push to eat less meat, but most of us still need rich, comforting food to get through the cold evenings. Using different root vegetables builds layers of flavour in the chilli, so you might like to try carrots, parsnips and other roots, too.
James Acaster: ‘If there was no health consequence, I’d eat ice-cream all the time’
Sat, 16 Nov 2019 17:01:42 GMT
The stand-up comedian on his dad’s pancakes and the joy of cold lasagne
My mum loves baking and would make loads of biscuits and cakes, but the rule was that when a batch was gone, they were gone. Until she baked more the following month. I’d have to pace myself. I got worse at pacing myself as I got older. I was obsessed with her double chocolate chip cookies – really chewy but still with granules of demerara sugar. I still haven’t had a double chocolate chip cookie as good.
We always had dinner at the table. Mum and Dad thought it was important to have that communal time. We weren’t allowed to have dinner in front of the telly, ever. Even when I was a teen. Mum’s dessert was always kept secret. If we’d known what it was, we might have rushed or not finished our main course. Me, my brother, my sister and Dad were all obsessed by desserts, so Mum had to keep a very close eye on us.
How to turn vegetable leftovers into rainbow pancakes | Waste Not
Sat, 25 Jan 2020 06:00:46 GMT
A ingenious solution to kids’ inevitable vegetable leftovers: puree them separately, then disguise in batter and turn them into mulitcoloured pancakes
I’m currently learning the hard way how to feed our daughter: the walls, table, chair and ourselves often get splattered with food, and all sorts of delicacies get left over when she eats less than we’ve cooked.
To avoid waste and minimise mess, we usually serve her small amounts of what we eat, unsalted and mashed, or very soft pieces of vegetable, because she loves to feed herself. Leftovers are returned to the fridge or separated into different colours, blended and frozen in ice cube trays for future meals. This is a great way to preserve a child’s (or, indeed, your own) leftovers for more than five days.
David Atherton's recipe for tropical fig rolls
Wed, 22 Jan 2020 14:13:29 GMT
Dried figs are energy-rich and full of nutrients, so are perfect for an exercise snack
I love fig rolls, and had a smile branded across my face when they were announced as a technical challenge on Bake Off. Not everyone is so fond of them – yet what could be better than a crumbly, fragrant cakey-biscuity pastry with a sticky mass of rich dried fruit in the centre? Although, strictly speaking, figs are not fruit – they are best described as inverted flowers.
Dried figs are energy-rich and full of nutrients, so are perfect for an exercise snack. At this time of year, I sometimes need a bit of motivation to get on my bike, so I have given this version a tropical twist to brighten the ride.
Coalville’s Trappist brewers – in pictures
Wed, 07 Aug 2019 07:00:45 GMT
Faced with dwindling revenues from dairy farming, the monks at the Trappist monastery of Mount St Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire decided to swap milk for beer
Nigel Slater’s oxtail stew and trimmings recipes
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 10:30:55 GMT
A warming treat fit for Burns Night, complete with neeps and tatties
A sudden need for a dinner seasoned with tradition and nostalgia. I pick up lumps of oxtail from the butcher’s, a jumble of bones with deep maroon meat marbled with cream-coloured fat. I cook them with sweet roots and ribs of celery, letting the heat of the oven do the work. There is red wine and beef stock, tufts of thyme and twigs of bay and I serve it in the casserole in which it is cooked, with a mash of swedes and a flat, crisp cake of potatoes. The dinner is a dry-run for Burns Night, the sort of food to set us up for wine and whisky and song.
This is the sort of food to set us up for wine, whisky and song
Merienda, Edinburgh: ‘Good in parts’ – restaurant review
Sun, 19 Jan 2020 06:00:51 GMT
Some of the small plates here are lovely, others merely baffling
Merienda, 30 North West Circus Place, Edinburgh EH3 6TP (0103 220 2020). All savoury dishes £5.90-£9.50, desserts £7, wines from £26
There is a strain within postwar modern sculpture that, like the male ego, is dependent for its impact on enlargement. The small and banal is rendered otherworldly and apparently interesting simply by dint of having been expanded to something far beyond the expected. Think Jeff Koons’s shiny, polished balloon animals, inflated to elephantine size, or the 70m-long pink knitted rabbit, seemingly dropped on to a hillside by the Austrian art collective Gelitin, as if the discarded toy of some unimaginably giant child.
Liam Charles’ recipe for mini chocolate swiss rolls | The Sweet Spot
Sat, 25 Jan 2020 11:30:52 GMT
Show off at dinner parties with these mini swiss rolls bathed in hazelnut sauce and chocolate and studded with nuts and little filo sails
OK, I know it’s January and you’ve probably given up chocolate. I tell you what, though: treat yourself at the weekend with this swiss roll sponge slathered with the best hazelnut spread, coated in chocolate and some more toasted nuts, and finished off with some fancy filo shards. People will think you’ve been making these for days, as opposed to a couple of hours.
Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr 40 min
Five recipes for a Chinese new year feast
Mon, 20 Jan 2020 08:00:21 GMT
Celebrate China’s lunar new year with classic and updated dishes, including dongpo pork, stir-fried okra and braised fish with chillies
The diversity of Chinese cuisines is extraordinary but one food ritual unites Han Chinese communities all over the country and the world: the lunar New Year’s Eve dinner. (This year’s Chinese new year is on 25 January.) It’s the time when families traditionally gather for a lavish feast, prefaced by ritual offerings to gods and ancestors, and followed at midnight by a storm of firecrackers.
There are few rules for this “family reunion” (tuannian) meal except that there should be extraordinary amounts of food, particularly fish, meat and poultry (dayu darou: “great fish and great meat”). In the countryside, many households still fatten a pig as the holiday approaches, eating the prime cuts over the festivities, then making bacon, sausages or confit pork to eke out over the months ahead. The other essential is a fish, served whole and never quite finished, because the phrase “a fish every year” (niannian youyu) sounds the same in Chinese as “every year a surplus”.
Meera Sodha’s recipe for masala baked beans on toast | The new vegan
Sat, 25 Jan 2020 10:30:51 GMT
A frugal-but-fun remix of the classic beans on toast – ideal for lazy lunches or even lazier mornings, with a spicy-sour green chutney on the side
My mother grew up in relative wealth in Uganda, but entered into poverty when she and her family arrived in the UK after being exiled by the dictator Idi Amin.
Having little money meant cooking very thriftily: she made chutney from fallen apples in the garden, bought sacks of lentils and rice from wholesalers, and ate a lot of spiced masala baked beans.
Rise and shine: five brilliant brunch recipes
Sat, 18 Jan 2020 16:00:33 GMT
Perfect dishes for lazy weekends: frittata with bacon salad, crepes with egg and ham, apple and custard brioche buns
Buckwheat flour is one of my favourite flours to bake with, it goes with both savoury and sweet so the toppings or fillings for these crepes are endless. This will probably make a few more crepes than you need but the mixture keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.
The Argentinian red wine that conquered the world | Fiona Beckett
Fri, 24 Jan 2020 14:00:26 GMT
Argentinian malbecs are rightfully popular for their smoothness and versatility, but it’s easy to overlook other interesting variations and blends
Last week I told you there was lots more to Argentinian wine than malbec, but given that so many people adore the stuff, there might be complaints if I don’t give some new tips. After all, it features on practically every wine list you come across these days.
Although some malbecs are better than others – like every wine that gets super-popular, it’s become a bit of a cash cow – it is nevertheless reassuringly consistent. Smooth, rich, fruity, not overly tannic, and with much of the appeal of rioja, including the fact that it goes with pretty much everything (including the Burns Night haggis this evening, if you’re so minded). You could maybe criticise it for being a bit soft and occasionally soupy, but most people aren’t going to quibble, especially not at the very reasonable prices that most malbec fetches.
The new rules of holiday eating: ditch TripAdvisor, embrace disaster, and make a plan for when you're 'hangry'
Wed, 17 Jul 2019 14:13:06 GMT
Dining out while away can lead to meltdowns. From setting a budget to finding a place to eat, here’s how to make the most of your mealtimes away from home
Eating out on holiday is considered a treat. And on one level, it is. You have enough cash to blow on a plate of pasta puttanesca that tastes the same as the one you make at home, but is slightly superior because you are eating it while wearing perfume in an artfully dilapidated alleyway. That’s not something to sniff at.
Ultimately, however, while there may be a small number of eerily well-adjusted weirdos who disagree, for the rest of us dining out while away spells meltdown: skipping sightseeing to obsess over TripAdvisor reviews; arguing with holiday companions over whose dietary preferences should take priority; wasting hours trying to locate a joint that suits both your pescatarian girlfriend and your raging carnivore of a dad.
Poach perfect: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for buttery prawns, spicy chicken soup and ginger rhubarb
Sat, 25 Jan 2020 09:30:50 GMT
Three dishes that come to life through poaching: a comforting chicken soup with a kick, succulent, butter-poached prawns, and a dessert of tea-infused rhubarb on a ginger mousse
Poaching is gentle and delicate, and probably not quite as sexy-sounding as, say, grilling or pan-frying.
Those high-heat cooking methods create colour and immediate drama, whereas the one that relies on an aromatic liquid is all about suspense: a coming-together of ingredients as they gently give in to their surroundings.