Guinness-baked ham hock

Serves 2-4

From plot to pot: Why buy fresh herbs when you can pick them right outside your back door?

Carolyn Hart selects eight chefs' favourites to start growing now

Baked ricotta with roast pumpkin and chard

Serves 6

Herb your enthusiasm: Meet the expert herbalist who knows exactly what thyme it is

Jekka McVicar is a bit of a legend: admirers talk of her 60 RHS gold medals; of the day Heston Blumenthal nibbled half of her stock in one visit; how she serves her staff their morning coffee with home-made meringues flavoured with her own mint and caraway seed...

Iberican ham on toasted bruschetta

Serves 4

Steamed lamb pudding

Ingredients to serve 6-8:

Love me tender: Are slow cookers worth the effort?

Sales of slow cookers are booming – but do the results always have to be bland? Jamie Merrill puts the crunch-busting appliance to the test

Parsnip, thyme and nutmeg bake with braised beef

Serves 4-6

Comfort and joy: Marcus Wareing's magical Christmas dishes

Whether it's the sweet tanginess of Christmas cranberries or the creamy perfection of a well-cooked parsnip, Marcus Wareing offers his recipes for seasonal good cheer

Cost Of Living: Alternative flooring

Wooden flooring – tasteful, practical and chameleon-like in blending in with a room's decoration – dominates today's interiors. But it can be an obvious and dull option, too, especially when you consider the many alternatives.

Chicken with figs and honey

Serves 6

Johann Hari: As life flies on, don't let poetry pass you by

If we are seeking the first great laureate of the new era, I nominate Clive James

Vegetable soup

Serves 4-6

Artichokes: Eat their hearts out

Majestic looking, versatile and easy to prepare, the artichoke is the crowning glory in Skye Gyngell's kitchen at this time of year
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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