Sport Richardt Strauss could return to the Ireland squad for the Six Nations following his rapid recovery from heart surgery

Schmidt coached Strauss at Leinster and believes that his return is a bonus for Ireland ahead of the Six Nations campaign

Steamed pudding with prunes and pomegranate

Serves 4

Only 50 baking days to go: Why making your own Christmas cake and pudding is a surprisingly exact science

All at once I am not so sure this was a good idea. Go to Yorkshire, I'd been told, to Betty's famous tea shop in Harrogate, and they'll teach you how to make a Christmas cake and pudding. Do it now and they will be nicely matured by the festive season. They can teach anyone. Even you.

Wild Cooking, By Richard Mabey

Thirty-five years after his Food for Free, Mabey has produced an accompanying cookbook. The wait was worth it for such a literate and imaginative work.

The ten best sherries

Forget mojitos - sherry is back in vogue

Damson, 113 Heaton Moor Road, Stockport

For a city of its size and importance, Manchester is notoriously short of great restaurants. On a recent trip to the city's biennial arts festival, I was looking for somewhere new and interesting to eat. The list my team of researchers drew up – OK, that I drew up after an hour on Google – looked pretty much the same as the last time I'd visited, albeit littered with the corpses of the fallen.

Dad's pumpkin soup

Ingredients to serve 8-10:

Lemon syllabub

Serves 6

Chop and change: Skye Gyngell's three-course delight to banish the winter blues

Skye Gyngell knows the perfect way to shake off end-of-winter fatigue: invite a few friends over for this re-energising three-course meal

Slow-cooked spinach with chickpeas

Serves 4

Braised oxtail with garlic and sherry vinegar

Serves 4-6

Vanished rock guitarist is declared dead

Missing Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards has been declared as presumed dead, a band spokeswoman confirmed yesterday.

Wine: A question of taste

Isn't it strange how certain styles of wine keep returning? Just as flared trousers and mutton have regained popularity, so too a number of the wine styles we consigned to history have started to make a comeback. Among the worst offenders were German riesling, sherry and beaujolais, which had all sold their good names down the river.

Fragola grape sorbet

Serves 6

Persimmon sorbet

Serves 6
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