Pear and frangipane tart

Serves 8

Henry Hitchings: What is myrrh anyway?

I was brought up to say "Merry Christmas" rather than "Happy Christmas". "Happy" was supposed to be kept back for birthdays and the New Year. But now, I've noticed, my mother insists on "Happy Christmas". Challenged about this apparent volte-face, she cites the tweeness of "Merry", an adjective which, as she points out, has also been tarnished by its association with drunkenness.

Tasty treats: Cook up some edible Christmas gifts

Still not done all your Christmas shopping? Then head for the kitchen.

Christmas fruit and nut cookies

Makes about 24

Skellig, Sage, Gateshead

Given that Skellig appears to be a smelly old tramp with an appetite for dead mice and decayed bluebottles, it's a relief that the new opera Skellig, commissioned by the Sage at Gateshead, doesn't go in for scratch-and-sniff technology. Even without the chance to experience that particular unattractive aspect of Skellig – a grouchy, winged creature whom young Michael finds and befriends – there is more than enough to engage listeners of all ages in this surprisingly successful children's opera.

Cherry clafoutis

Serves 6-8

Just add fresh air: Skye Gyngell's quick and easy al-fresco summer eats

This past winter has seemed the longest ever, so it is with great excitement and gratitude that we at the restaurant have welcomed in the blue sky and warmer days. We are eating outside most days now and the garden is full of tulips, peonies, early roses and dahlias. Warm-weather produce is also finally beginning to trickle in – asparagus, peas, broadbeans, the first deeply sweet, orange-fleshed melons from Italy as well as apricots and even a box of cherries. Basil has returned, one or two tomato varieties and the first peppers and aubergines.

Anchoïade

Anchoïade is a sweet, salty, pounded paste from the South of France that is best eaten simply on toast. Use a pestle and mortar if you can – it gives a much more interesting, less homogenised flavour than the purée achieved in a Magimix.

It happened one Christmas

'Tis the season to tell a cracking good yarn. We asked five of our favourite columnists to reveal their Yuletide memories from first loves, via crazy horses, to doorstepping Felicity Kendal

Lincoln Cathedral, South Rose Window, Anonymous: The Bishop's Eye (1330s)

The Independent's Great Art series

Grillo Demo: The painter's home in Ibiza

Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Elle McPherson are among the famous names who own one of Grillo Demo's jasmine paintings. But, says Chloe Grimshaw, his house in Ibiza eschews all A-list glitz in favour of colourful bohemian chic
Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions