Advent Calendars

By Andrew Quigley

Jan 7, 2022

Advent Calendars

Advent Calendars - YES OR NO?! 

Every year I tell myself that advent calendars are simply a waste of money, packaging and I am FAR too mature and grown up to want chocolate at 7am in the morning. 

But then December the 1st arrives, I get a massive case of FOMO and there I am in Tesco Express buying the last Cadbury's Dairy milk on the shelf... 

Anyone else in the same boat?? 

GO NUTS For: This Week's Recommendation

Born by mistake in the Mani-kitchen, this deep roast crunchy nut butter has a rich and delicious flavour that fans say truly is a life-changing experience!

Spoon it. Pour it. Eat-it-with-your-fingers. Taste it, you’ll see why I love it so much. 

I have found MULTIPLE ways to enjoy this, including dolloping liberally over my porridge in the morning, smothered over sourdough or to adding to a creamy satay sauce

Chef Tip: Soup Season got you feeling Sad?  

By Hope Pointing, Banquist Head Chef

Here are 3 great tips to pimp your soup: 

  1. Add something CRISPY or CRUNCHY. Of course there's the crouton, but why not try some toasted seeds or nuts or perhaps some crispy chorizo. 
  2. Focus on your stock. This is the foundation of your soup so using a high quality chicken or vegetable broth WILL make a difference. 
  3. Top with a kick of flavour. Pesto, flavoured oil, harissa, mango chutney - the possibilities are endless. You want a hint of acidity, heat, saltiness or umami that is going to get the tastebuds going.  

And make sure spend a little extra time at the end garnishing or adding a different colour (ok- that might be 4 tips but it links to points 1 and 3). 

This Week's Recipe: Roast Chicken and Bread Salad 

I came across this recipe after listening to the Table Manners podcast with Laura Jackson. Her description completely sold me this dish and it's safe to say, it did not disappoint.

I think this would also work really well around the festive period using up leftover cooked turkey!

Recipe adapted from Judy Rodgers' dish at the Zuni Cafe

Serves 4 


Leftover roast chicken (enough for 4 people)

About 8 to 12 ounces country bread slightly stale open-crumbed

6 to 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 to 2 tbsp champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 tbsp dried currants

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

2/3 garlic cloves

2 banana shallots 

2 tablespoons chicken stock, warmed (ideally leftover from cooking the chicken)

A few handfuls rocket leaves 

  • Cut the bread into large chunks. Carve off all of the bottom crust and most of the top and side crust (reserve the rest to use as croutons in salads or soups). 
  • Brush the bread all over with olive oil. Lightly pan fry or bake in the oven for around 3-5 minutes before turning until golden all-over. 
  • Combine about 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the Champagne or white wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toss about 1/4 cup of this vinaigrette with the torn bread in a large bowl until the bread is evenly coated. 
  • Place the currants in a small bowl and moisten with the red wine vinegar and warm water. Set aside.
  • Add a tbsp of olive oil to a frying pan, add the garlic and shallots, and cook over medium-low heat, until softened but not coloured. 
  • Combine the cooked shallots and garlic with the bread and mix well. Drain the plumped currants and mix through. 
  • Add the cooked chicken (warm or cold), along with any cooking juices or stock into the salad mixture and stir well. Drizzle with a little more vinaigrette and taste for seasoning, add more salt, pepper or acidity if needed. 
  • Serve warm with rocket or any bitter leaves. 


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