Turkey with a twist: Felicity Cloake’s recipes for smart spins on traditional Christmas ingredients

Tired of the standard festive menu? Felicity Cloake takes five Christmas favourites – smoked salmon, turkey, spuds, sprouts and trifle – and turns them into something way more exciting insteadThe idea that Christmas is a season best enjoyed in a state of abject exhaustion is one festive tradition that needs knocking on the head: if you have to get up at 6am to start cooking, it isn’t worth it. Here are three ways with five Christmas classics: one designed with maximum ease in mind, one requiring just a little effort, and one guaranteed to knock their Santa socks off – and all guaranteed delicious. Recipes serve six. Continue...

Wreckfish, Liverpool: ‘You can tell a lot about a restaurant by its paté’ – restaurant review | Felicity Cloake

It’s been open for only a couple of weeks, but Wreckfish already feels like part of the local furniture It may be a dream job, but this reviewing lark is, I’ve realised, a surprisingly nerve-racking business: there’s too much blood, sweat and cold hard cash invested in any restaurant simply to enjoy a good dinner, then dash off the requisite word count on the bus home. In Wreckfish’s case, the responsibility weighs especially heavy: 1,522 people, including a fair few big culinary cheeses, coughed up to help Gary Usher open his new place in Liverpool, making it Kickstarter UK’s biggest restaurant campaign to date.Admittedly, not many of them are there to keep a beady eye on me on this particular midweek lunchtime. But if the big communal table in the centre remains empty, we’re by no means alone: not only are there the chefs in the open kitchen to keep us company, but on the next table, as if to hammer home the point that this is a relaxed bistro, sits a toddler, merrily working her way through the adventures of Peppa Pig while her parents eat. A couple of pensioners are getting stuck into some juicy gossip and a bottle of wine over by the door, through which the occasional passer-by pops to make a reservation. It’s been open for only a couple of weeks, but this former watchmaker’s workshop in the city’s cobbled merchant quarter already feels like part of the local furniture. Continue...

Fortify yourself: a guide to sherry, the UK’s surprisingly on-trend tipple

With reports showing sherry sales have risen 41%, here’s where to start with the drink usually written off as your great-aunt’s favouriteForget politics: if you want real fake news, see every article that has appeared in the past two decades trumpeting the great British sherry revival – I should know, I’ve written a fair few of them myself. Wine geeks can wax as lyrical as they like about the complexity and variety of this Spanish fortified wine but, to Joe Public, sherry remains the dusty bottle that come out once a year for the Christmas trifle; God forbid anyone actually drinks any.For all our efforts, overall sales have been in freefall in recent years, down half between 2005 and 2015 – but, finally, there is light on the horizon. Majestic Wines has released figures showing the sales of fortified wine in the year-to-date are up a remarkable 41%, mostly thanks to a trend for “dry, more elegant styles” among what it describes as “the hipster generation”. Continue...

Rambla, London W1: ‘Italy stand down: Catalonia wins at cannelloni’ – restaurant review| Felicity Cloake

We have a small difference of opinion concerning the acceptability of drinking from serving bowls in public We nearly don’t get to eat at Rambla at all. After a fat-fingered mistake with the online booking process, I call 95 increasingly desperate times to try to snag our table back. And when my friend resorts to travelling to the restaurant in person, they’re amused by her tale of woe: “Yes, the phone’s been ringing all afternoon!” the friendly front-of-house lady laughs as she pencils us back in.Our panic is sparked by the fact that, since my original reservation, this latest opening from Barcelona-born chef Victor Garvey has received a glowing review in the London Evening Standard, but though agreeably buzzy on a Friday night, the atmosphere remains as laid-back as the staff. We don’t even have to fight our way through a hungry crowd at the door, unlike at Barrafina just up the road. Continue...

How to make the perfect cock-a-leekie soup

St Andrew’s Day is approaching and this traditional Scottish soup is an ideal celebratory dish. But would you add sausage? Or prunes?St Andrew’s Day, which falls at the end of this month, is celebrated as the feast day of Scotland’s patron saint and a last hurrah before we disappear under an avalanche of mince pies and mulled wine. And if there’s one thing the Scots are good at, apart from politics, economics, terriers and whisky, it’s an honest broth. According to the Victorian journalist and author Christian Isobel Johnstone, who published her The Cook and Housewife’s Manual under the pseudonym Margaret Dods: “The French take the lead of all European people in soups and broths … the Scotch rank second, the Welsh next, and … the English, as a nation, are at the very bottom of the scale.” As an Edinburgh native, she may have been biased, but when one considers the likes of cullen skink, Scotch broth and our subject here, cock-a-leekie, it’s hard not to concede the point.The last, occasionally known as cockie-leekie, is often dated to the end of the 16th century, when the Lincolnshire-born traveller Fynes Moryson records having been served “pullet with some prunes in the broth” at a knight’s house in Scotland, although, given the widespread medieval tradition of meat and fruit pottages, it seems likely that similar dishes were once found throughout northern Europe – even (horror!) south of the border. Happily for us, however, this particular version remained popular in Scotland, and feels a pleasingly simple and wholesome celebratory dish to prepare the stomach for the month to come. Continue...