Independent Plus Channel 4's 'The Taste': Judges Ludo Lefebvre, Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain

By Ellen E Jones

With Team Nigella already whipped into a state of expectant devotion by her court appearances, her show couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune moment. But The Taste, which began on Channel 4 tonight, is no ordinary Nigella Lawson cookery show and no ordinary competition, either. The contestants may come from the ranks of professional chefs or enthusiastic home cooks, but all will be judged, sight unseen, on the flavour of a single spoonful.

Taste makers: the chef Maria Elia and writer Samuel Muston sample their dish of lentils and spices

How to think like a chef

Most of us can follow a recipe. But how do professionals know instinctively to put certain ingredients together? Maria Elia takes Samuel Muston on a creative journey

Wine: Something for the weekend

'Ripe and ready' fruit? It's a big con

If you ask me I believe that, as a nation, we need to sit down and decide what we think about "ripe and ready" fruit as sold by the supermarkets at a premium. You may consider this a trivial matter. You may say there are more important things happening in the world. You may even add: "I'm a busy person and do not have time for this. I'm going to turn to the stock market reports and then shout: 'SELL COPPER!' at somebody". Which is fair enough, but if I had to reply I would reply with this: "Do you really want to be the sort of person who sells copper while all manner of soft fruits are running circles round you, and having the last laugh? Do you?"

American Football: 'When you damage your brain, you lose your personality'

New medical studies confirm what many former gridiron players have long feared – bangs to the head can have debilitating and potentially deadly consequences. By Gerard Wright in Los Angeles

Moores plotting second victory over former club

Few surprises are likely to be sprung at Hove today. Sussex play host to Lancashire, the County Championship's early joint leaders, having already played them this season in Liverpool. The visitors' coach, Peter Moores, meanwhile, was the man who guided Sussex into the greatest era in their history at the start of the last decade.

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Make the fruit the centre of
attention with a dimpled tray
made to order by ceramic artist Joanna Howells. Choose from a restrained speckled parchment finish or go crazy with a tray in
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£85, notonthehighstreet.com

The 10 best fruit bowls

Eating healthily is more appealing when the food is displayed beautifully. So arrange your apples and pears in one of these elegant table-top pieces.

Disputed Land, By Tim Pears

Indifference to a world on the wane

They compared apples with apples...and the gala won

The Cox's orange pippin is no longer Britain's favourite. Tom Peck reports

Cox pipped by Gala for top apple

Crisp and mouth-wateringly sharp, Cox's Orange Pippin has been the country's most popular apple for at least a century. But it has lost its crown to the blander, sweeter Gala apple, a more recent variety.

Dried-fruit compote

This recipe is Persian in origin and was given to me by my friend Greg Malouf.Found in his beautiful book Saraban (Hardie Grant Books, £30), it is the perfect way to eat fruit when not in season. All the dried fruit used in this recipe should be fairly easy to find in Middle Eastern stores or any good health-food shop or delicatessen.

Story of the blues: Most of us buy Stilton only at Christmas but it's a versatile year-round treat

Claire McDonald finds out what makes the festive favourite so delicious

The Maul and the Pear Tree, By PD James and TA Critchley

A maul is a kind of mallet, which was used to club a family to death (baby included) in London's East End in December 1811. The country was plunged into a frenzy of fear. Twelve nights later, an elderly couple and their maid were found bludgeoned to death. Public opinion demanded a culprit, and an Irish seaman named John Williams, who lodged at the nearby Pear Tree inn, was arrested. With the trial still ongoing, Williams was found hanged in his cell, and posthumously convicted.

Three's a crowd: Mark Hix uses two ingredients that perfectly partner each other to create classic dishes

My philosophy on cooking has always been to have no more than three main ingredients on the plate, otherwise it can be difficult to marry up all of the ingredients' flavours and you end up with a confused creation. But since recently cooking a dinner for the artist John Gerrard, I've been seriously thinking about narrowing my formula down to two ingredients which perfectly partner each other.

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