Did Sybil muff the cheese muffins or was it the recipe? For a multi-media dimension to her appraisal of cookbooks tune in to Radio 4's Food Programme tomorrow at 12.30pm (and 4pm on Monday) to hear Sybil Kapoor putting three of the best Christmas books through their paces. She tested recipes from the Larousse Gastronomique, Jill Norman's New Penguin Cookery Book and Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Course. One didn't turn out as it should have...
¿ "I''m going to get you, Butler" – the catchphrase from the dire 1970s sitcom On the Buses – could be your reminder to buy British for your next cheese fondue. After all, the TV series and the Swiss dish were both at the peak of fashion at about the same time. Fondue sets have made a comeback, though the same cannot perhaps be said for Reg Varney and the crew. Anyway, Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses, which began 60 years ago and still makes traditional regional cheeses with milk from local herds, has brought out a Cheddar called Elite that's intended for cooking; it apparently melts faster and more evenly than most cheeses and doesn't go stringy or hard. This makes it good for pizzas, pastas – and fondues. Buy it in Tesco or Asda for around £1.59 for 200g, and if you're buying for a fondue allow three packs of cheese for half a dozen people.
¿ "The Orlando Consort's gusto is irresistible," said the American Record Guide. One to relish, for those who like wassailing and cooking, is the innovative early music singers' new CD, Food, Wine and Song on the Harmonia Mundi label. As well as a score of songs sacred and secular on the subject of eating and drinking, the beautifully produced (with the elder Breughel's Peasant Wedding on the cover) package incorporates a booklet of medieval recipes brought up to date by knowledgeable chefs and cookery writers including Jean Christophe Novelli (bread, almond and saffron pudding with a fig and raisin crust), Sara Paston-Williams (haddock in ale) and Clarissa Dickson-Wright (leeks and beetroot in raisin sauce). Jamie's slap, bang, wallop, and a guitar solo, it ain't. Food, Wine and Song is jolly and good and available from record shops for £13.99.
¿ Into the "why worry?" category falls The British Goose Producers Association's insistence that geese are not as fatty as we think. It commissioned research to show that the fat content of goose meat is lower than usually quoted; that the geese produced now have less fat than lamb and beef; and that the fat contains a relatively low proportion of undesirable saturated fats and a higher proportion of the more desirable mono-unsaturated and essential fatty acids. On the one hand, the Association is keen to claim that goose is not really a fatty bird; then again, it reminds us that goose fat is a good thing – it makes the crispest roast potatoes. Goose producers shouldn't protest so much; it's not as if we will be living off a diet of fatty gooseburgers for most of the year. Goose is only available from September to December, is usually superior to and more of a treat than turkey, and is becoming ever more popular as an alternative fowl for the Christmas table. Information about where to buy geese is available on the website www.geese.cc.Reuse content