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Nuts; It began with the pilgrimage to the sweet chestnut tree...

Letter: In a nutshell

From Mr Peter Hurcomb


And learn to bake one as fast as you can. For the final part of our series on flour power, Michael Bateman consults an expert cake-maker and selects some of her recipes, from simple bara brith to quite sinful brownies


When Caroline Waldegrave gives a dinner, she keeps

A game of Russian poulette

It was the ultimate cultural exchange, a Cordon Bleu cook sent to Moscow to pass trade secrets to the Russians. Her mission? To make five amazing dishes from a single scrawny chicken. Deborah Antel managed to do just that

Confessions of a walnut

Book Review: Sid James by Cliff Goodwin (Century), pounds 15.99

BOOKS; On the trail of the walnut presser's wife

CLESTINE: Voices From a French Village by Gillian Tindall, Sinclair- Stevenson pounds 17.99

Food & Drink: So simple it's sophisticated: Jim Ainsworth finds the kind of cafe where the decor is canny, the cooks serene and nothing happens by accident

THE Union Cafe opened in the Marylebone pocket of the West End of London on Tuesday, and I went for lunch. It took me back 15 years to the day I opened the doors of my own restaurant for the first time.

Where shall we meet: Cafe de Columbia

Your friend from overseas is standing outside Lillywhites, A-Z in one hand, camcorder in the other. So this is Piccadilly Circus. You, meanwhile, are sitting in a comfortable hessian chair enjoying a Columbian espresso (pounds 1.45) and a treacle tart (pounds 2.95) in Justin de Blank's fan-cooled Cafe de Columbia. Fortnum's clock is just striking twelve as your tourist poodles past the Royal Academy down Burlington Arcade, turning right into the Museum of Mankind. Pausing only to video the Easter Island statue given to the museum by Queen Victoria (who had no idea where to put it), they join you for a fashionable salad of rocket, parmesan, pears and walnuts (pounds 7) and a bottle of chilled white wine (pounds 9.95). Let's hope your friend is paying. Mon-Sat 10am-4.30pm/Sun 2-5pm.

Racing: Ryan's return is near

WILLIE RYAN is hoping to make his comeback on Saturday after successfully coming through a workout yesterday morning. Ryan, 33, has been on the sidelines since breaking three ribs when unseated by Foyer in the Derby.

Health Update: A nutty diet

MEN WHO want to avoid heart attacks would be well advised to eat more almonds and walnuts. A study of 16 Australian men, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that they reduced their cholesterol levels by 7 per cent when taking

TRIED & TESTED / Taking a crack at it: We sample seven nutcrackers. The hard shell won when it came to the crunch

Most of us would probably eat a lot more nuts - and they are now sold loose in supermarkets all the year round - if cracking them were made easier. It can be off-putting, when your nutcracker sends minute pieces of kernel flying all over the room, or if you spend more time excavating stubborn fragments from the shell than you do eating the nuts. So to find a nutcracker that is really easy to use, and effective, we asked four regular nut eaters to try out a selection. We gave them a supply of walnuts, brazils, hazelnuts and almonds to test each one against. Read on, to find out which would crack even the toughest nut.

Captain Moonlight: Spy scoop

NO HOLIDAY relaxation for the dedicated team that produces the Daily Mirror. While you were rewinding the video and thinking about more cake, two Mirror men were infiltrating the new London headquarters of MI5 at Vauxhall Bridge and gasping at the walnut, the marble, the gym, the squash courts, the German kitchen units and a little railway for whizzing documents around. Not that the Captain begrudges any of this; a happy spy is a good spy, say I. No, what caught my eye was the reference by one of the contractors quoted in the story to a 'trophy room'. Now what sort of trophies does MI5 gather in? Best Supporting Agent? Best Designed Dead Letter Drop? The Silver Spool for Bugger of the Year? Runners-up, Most Efficient Internal Security Agency, 1978, behind the Secur itate and just ahead of the Tontons Macoutes? And what will be mounted in there? The Head of MI6? I did try to ask, but a Government spokesman refused to comment. If anyone knows anything, make a rendezvous with the Captain, usual place, no umbrellas.

Put some bounce in your bird: Liven up turkey and other dishes with the help of the versatile, hardy cranberry

For years I've longed to see an American cranberry harvest. By all accounts, it is a spectacular sight. The boggy fields of low, heather-like bushes are artificially flooded, the cranberries knocked off into the water, then drained off in an enormous scarlet wave. Imagine this on a perfect autumn day, with blue skies and gold- and orange-leaved trees.
election 2015
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
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11 best anti-ageing day creams

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Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

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