Mennula, 10 Charlotte Street, London W1

It seems only the other day that the Caponata opened in Camden in celebration of gutsy Sicilian flavours. Now Mennula – Sicilian dialect for "almond" – comes to Charlotte Street on the site of the old Passione restaurant, and brings even more dense flavours of the Italian island to London's West End.

Date, almond and honey b'stilla

Serves 4-6

From a reported ban on hanging baskets to rules on playing conkers - has the health and safety brigade really gone mad?

In October 2004, Shaun Halfpenny, then headmaster of Cummersdale Primary School in Carlisle, had a bright idea. He was sick and tired of filling in the endless Health and Safety Executive (HSE) paperwork accompanying his pupils' field trips and wanted to take a pop at the quango's red tape. He assembled a group of schoolchildren, asked them to don some laboratory goggles, and got them to play conkers. He told the world's media that the goggles were a "sensible" step to protect children's eyes from pieces of flying chestnut.

Don't open till Christmas: From puddings to sorbets, Skye Gyngell has got sweet festive treats all wrapped up

I'm beginning to feel that Christmas is just around the corner and I, for one, am excited. I love the food around this time of year. The beautiful clementines that are available are sweet and cool-tasting and if I'm not careful I can eat more than my share of mince pies.

Mince pies

Makes 12, with filling for a second batch

Nut clusters

Makes about 20

Chocolate cake with damson syrup

Serves 10

Autumn's purple patch: Skye Gyngell goes plum crazy

Unlike last year, there are damsons in abundance right now – so get going on sorbets, fools and syrups before this seasonal gem disappears for another year

Orange, vanilla and rosewater cake

Serves 8

Keep it raw: How not to cook

No frying, boiling, roasting or toasting – this is food in its purest form. If you think preparing it must be simple, think again.

Banana bread

Serves 4

DVD: Skellig (PG)

John Simm never feels like the right size (the cop in Life of Mars) or seem to have the sufficient degree of menace (The Master in Dr Who) for a lot of his roles, but he is never less than convincing or compelling.

Still flying high: Skellig comes to the small screen

I found him in the garage on a Sunday afternoon,” is the opening sentence of David Almond’s Skellig, an opening gambit destined to sit in the collective memory along with the first lines of Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit. The line, Almond says, just popped into his head one day as he walked down the street. “As I began to write it down,” he said, “it almost seemed to write itself.”

Rich chocolate cake

Serves 10
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