Alex James: Mozzarella magic in the Daylesford deli

Rural Notebook

The Oxford Companion to Italian Food, By Gillian Riley

In entries from "bitterness" ("Fernet Branca is... a weird and wonderful way of mitigating a robust meal") to "offal" ("the ritual sequences of feast and fast connected with pig killing is... a glorious argument against the tyranny of the 'balanced diet'"), Gillian Riley shows that a hefty, authoritative work on the world's greatest domestic cuisine can also be personal, entertaining and readable.

Ravioli with mascarpone, and sage butter

Serves 4

Roasted rhubarb with mascarpone

Serves 4

Parmesan biscuits

Makes 12 biscuits

<a href="http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent/2008/10/spending-powe-2.html">Spending power: Pasta Hut, huh?</a>

Pizza Hut is being re-named Pasta Hut to give the business a healthy, modern makeover. Or is it?

Howard Jacobson: You can keep your good health and long life. Just give me back my pasta

Better to live a brief life without fear than live to 100 and afraid of every pea that rolls on to our plate

Paperbacks: Delizia, by John Dickie

Admirable in every respect but the clichéd cover, this book is learned, enjoyable and wonderfully readable. Dickie explains the rich variety of Italian cuisine in this most regionally diverse of Western states.

The Weasel: The ultimate boy's toy

Are you racking the noggin for an answer to the perennial problem of what to buy the man in your life for Christmas? Well, rack no longer. The object on the table before me will get the testosterone surging in any gent. The sleek shape of its motorhead owes somethin to Raymond Loewy’s streamlined design for the 1938 Broadway Limited loco. Its double row of cooling vents is like the radiator grill of an early John Deere tractor. Its raked motorhead support column suggests the soaring tailfin of a ’59 Caddy. In short, it is the ultimate boy’s toy.



Takeover calls time on Britain's oldest brewery

When Humphrey Langridge began brewing ale 425 years ago in the Elizabethan village of Wandsworth, he chose the "pugnacity and bravery" of the ram as the symbol for his business.

Miles Kington: How to say 'do not refreeze' in 11 languages

The word for 'salami' is the same in every language - except, oddly, in Italian

Rocket pesto

Frankie Dettori: My Life In Travel

'I stay in the best hotels. I couldn't ride a race after an uncomfortable night'
Career Services

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there