June, 2016

May, 2016

April, 2016

  • The six rules of barbecuing

    28 April, 2016 The six rules of barbecuing

    Even the best cooks can be stumped when it comes to cooking to perfection over coals. We ask Ben Tish to tell us the six most important rules of barbecuing so we can grill with confidence over the long weekend.
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November, 2015

October, 2015

September, 2015

August, 2015

July, 2015

  • Eat like an Italian

    20 July, 2015 Eat like an Italian

    If you’ve ever been on holiday to Italy, like us, you’ve probably eaten classic pizzas, pastas and risottos until you’re fit to burst. While sticking with what you know isn’t always a bad thing, delve a little deeper and you’ll find the true heart of the region; eating cotoletta in Milan, beans in Florence and artichokes in Campania will open up a whole new world of Italian cooking. We spoke to three Air B’n’B hosts about the food of their region, must-eats while you’re there, and asked about the best-kept secrets when it comes to eating out.
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  • Michelin Stars in Your Eyes

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May, 2015

  • Q&A with Rosie Birkett

    22 May, 2015 Q&A with Rosie Birkett

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  • The Lunchbox Edit: Spring Greens

    01 May, 2015 The Lunchbox Edit: Spring Greens

    Each week, we take some of our favourite recipes and give them a little tweak to make perfect packed lunches.
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What to drink on New Year's Eve

Eve O'Sullivan
29 December, 2015

Having a party? Help is at hand. We spoke to Lucy Stevenson from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and Jane Parkinson, wine expert and Vin Pays d’Oc ambassador, about failsafe wines when catering for a crowd.

What kind of white makes for a good party wine?

Lucy: Refreshing wines with citrus and stone fruit flavours will stay light and sippable throughout the evening. If you’re serving canapes, wines like Chablis from France or Albariños from Spain make good food-friendly choices.

Jane: This might sounds a bit obvious but crowd pleasers are best, so avoid anything quirky or not so well known - play safe with whites such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

What kind of red is good for a party?

Lucy: Try something fruity but not too heavy/boozy (damage limitation for your New Year’s hangover!). Rioja Crianzas and New Zealand Pinot Noirs tend to please crowds and can be enjoyed with lots of different foods.

Jane: Reds like Syrah or Merlot are universally popular so they’re good options.

New Year's Eve is a long night… could you recommend a wine-based cocktail that’s a good way to start the evening off slowly?

Lucy: Something like a Bellini would be a hassle free and stylish cocktail to start off the night. Try blitzing up two or three different fruit purees to mix in and let your guests choose their favourite flavour.

Jane: The traditional Italian aperitif cocktail Spritz is delicious and makes a fantastic festive cocktail (because you garnish with orange and it has a bright orangey festive colour) even though it’s usually more associated with summer. Plus, it’s super-easy to make. Mix three parts Prosecco with two parts Aperol and one part soda water then garnish festively (including orange!).

Could you recommend three wine styles that go well with varied canapés?

Lucy: The refreshing acidity in white wines such as Chablis, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc will cut through oily canapés like smoked salmon blinis. Pair these crisp wines with acidic canapés (think tomatoes or anything dressed with lemon or vinegar) and they’ll taste fruitier and softer. Salty canapes like pigs-in-blankets will make red wines taste smoother and fruitier too, so you can take the opportunity to choose a wine with some tannins. A Cabernet Sauvignon from somewhere like Chile would be softened by salty foods. If you’re offering guests mince pies or sweet canapés, be aware that they will make dry wines taste bitter and less flavoursome. Sweeter drinks will pair best with these types of foods – perhaps a delicious drop of 10 Year Old Tawny Port or a festively spiced rum punch.

Jane: Grape varieties (and therefore wine styles) that are versatile so good with canapés include Sauvignon Blanc - which works with everything from goat’s cheese to tomatoes to fish, and Pinot Noir - because it is usually not as tannic as other red grapes it make easier-drinking red wines early on in the evening while eating canapés. But let’s not forget dry rosé either. Good dry pink wines are massively underrated in general and they’re especially good with canapés that have a little hit of spice to them.

Is it best to have a few options, or keep it simple with a couple of wines that will appeal to everybody?

Lucy: It depends how ‘foodie’ your guests are, but you might have more fun if you make life easier for yourself and keep it simple. Something sparkling to toast the New Year, a refreshing white wine, a flavoursome but light red and maybe something a bit sweeter to pair with sugary food.

Jane: I’d go for the latter, or at the most maybe one of each colour!

Could you suggest a less common wine that would make for a good talking point?

Lucy: Wines from Austria are great talking points (especially if you can nail the pronunciations - WSET School London’s ‘Say It’ app could help you out - http://www.wsetschool.com/say-it). Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s trademark grape variety – it makes crisp, food-friendly white wines. Red wines from the Blaufränkisch grape are fruity, flavoursome and refreshing.

Jane: Malbec isn’t exactly a less common wine but I think it’s worth telling people that this grape is French nor Argentinian! French Malbec is luscious and fruity but usually not quite as full-on as the ones from South America.

If you are going to a party, is there a failsafe wine that you’d recommend taking?

Lucy: On New Year’s Eve, you can’t go too far wrong with a bottle of bubbles. Prosecco is currently the UK’s favourite – if you’re looking to impress, ask your local wine merchant for a bottle of Prosecco DOCG. These wines come from the best Prosecco vineyards – they usually cost a little more than your average bottle, but the quality should reward the extra expense and, hey, it’s New Year!

Jane: Good question! I’d probably recommend taking a bottle of dry rosé. Gone are the days when it was seen as just a woman’s drink, so many more men are into rosé now too, plus it’s fantastic with all kinds of food and it’s easy to drink so it ticks all the boxes.

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