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Sunday list: 19 May 2013

♥ Loll about in bed for a bit… sleeping, eating toast and marmalade, reading…

♥ Get the flat laundry on and hang it out to dry in the sunshine

♥ Unpack the vegetables I bought from the market yesterday which *coughs* are still in the trolley in the kitchen

♥ Turn the compost – and maybe do some weeding

♥ Listen to the Archers Omnibus while I do some batch cooking for the freezer: red curry beef, parsnip soup

♥ Refill the wood baskets and lay the fire

♥ Back up recent photos to external drive and swap around the music on my phone

♥ Sew buttons on Alice’s sixth birthday cardigan

♥ Watch a film and knit some more of Liz’s beanie

♥ Tackle the giant pile of ironing

♥ Cook dinner: potato pizza

♥ Bake a Masterchef-watching treat for the flatties: this apple cake

♥ Phone Mum

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Fashion

Lovely & amazing

Photo of bride in beautiful silk Chinoiserie dress

Sophie Voon Bridal: gowns so beautiful they could sway a marriage-shy old spinster

There’s a lot to love about Sophie Voon Bridal, purveyor of delectable dresses for your wedding day and other extra special occasions.

The dresses really are the stuff of dreams: exquisitely cut confections with simple silhouettes in luxe fabrics …

Divine. And no meringues in sight.

Kudos, too, for choosing to photograph the collection on two gorgeous women, one curvier than the other. It’s refreshing to see a designer showing that beautiful bespoke fashion can be for everybody.

The modern vintage vibe of the frocks carries through to the website, which is every bit as delectable as the dresses.

Those gorgeous illustrations with rioting flowers and butterflies floating off the page are from the pen of Wellington designer Mary Adams. She crafted the wallpaper for the boutique as well.

Photo of two gorgeous brides standing in front of exquisite green and pink floral wallpaper designed by Mary Adams

I have dreams about this Mary Adams wallpaper. Click on the pic to go to the designer’s website and check out her other work

Wouldn’t you have the sweetest dreams if this wallpaper was in your boudoir?

Mary’s also responsible for the website of another of my favourite homegrown businesses: the Amazing Travelling Photobooth.

Dion and his crew are all about combining “old world charm with a high-tech heart” to record your special day for posterity.

Weddings, birthday parties, corporate events… no matter what makes your day special, photographic keepsakes from the Amazing Travelling Photobooth will make sure you and your guests remember it.

Trust me. They don’t call it the amazing memory making machine for nothing. Even people who hate having their pictures taken will succumb to the lure of the booth.

And, right now they’ve got a sweet sweet deal for brides to be: Book a booth for your wedding and make your deposit by 31 July and go into a draw to win a Sophie Voon Bridal dress.

Now wouldn’t that be lovely?

Photo advertising competition: book and make your deposit with the Amazing Travelling Photobooth before July 31 2013 to go into the draw to win a Sophie Voon Bridal dress

Sweet deal

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Photo of Katherine Hepburn

My boss told me I was “very Kate Hepburn” today.

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Best compliment ever

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Food

What’s Wellington’s best beef dish?

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Photo: Annette White

It’s no secret I’m a card-carrying carnivore – a fully paid up member of the nose-to-tail eating club.

Meat is bloody marvellous. The whole beast, flesh, bones, marrow… it’s all good.

And Kiwi-grown? It really is among the best in the world. Yet two of the most memorable meat meals I’ve eaten in recent years have been in London restaurants.

·         Roast bone marrow and parsley salad at St John Bar and Restaurant in Smithfield. There’s a thrilling contrast between the austerity of what’s on the plate – bones, grilled sourdough, a small pile of dressed parsley and an even smaller pile of Maldon salt – and the luxuriousness of the marrow, jelly soft and slippery.

·         A magnificently meaty beef pie for two, shared with a friend in the stark but pub-convivial surrounds of Great Queen St, in Holborn. The dish arrives with a battered old serving spoon, the kind your nana has in the second drawer in her kitchen. The gravy has bubbled up around the edges. And the crust… Oh my god, the crust. A proper suet crust. Flaky. Intensely savoury. Melt in your mouth light and toothsomely dense at the same time. It is the crust of dreams. It is perfect.

This week I’m taking New York-based food and travel writer Elyse Pasquale out for dinner in Wellington. Her blog, Foodie International is all about tasting different countries’ cultures. Literally.

Elyse is eating her way around New Zealand filming a new web series, Off the Beaten Plate. She’s already staying with a sheep and beef farming family so she can find out first-hand what makes our lamb so good. So while she’s in Wellington, I want to showcase our wonderful grass-fed New Zealand beef.

But there’s so much choice. I’m struggling to decide. Where should we go for dinner? And what should we eat? I’d love to know what you think.

Tell me, what’s the best beef dish you’ve eaten in a Wellington restaurant in the past 12 months, and why was it so good?

 

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Food, Recipes

Devilish dark chocolate and ginger cookies

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These chewy, American-style cookies are sweetly sinful. They’re seductively spiced, studded with fiery candied ginger and hand carved chunks of dark chocolate. Defiantly adult, they have a powerful kick. If you’d like them to be more devilish still, replace the syrup with treacle or blackstrap molasses.

Makes 24 large biscuits.

⅓ cup + 1/2 cup white sugar
21/4 cups plain white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground ginger
170g softened, salted butter
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup golden syrup
2 tablespoons chopped stem ginger (or crystallised ginger)
100g dark chocolate, cut into shards (I used Whittaker’s Ghana, which is 72% cocoa)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Place half a cup of sugar for dipping in a shallow dish.

Sieve together flour, baking soda and spices.

In an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and remaining white sugar until light and fluffy – about three minutes. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, then golden syrup.

Carefully add dry ingredients and beat on low until just mixed.

Scoop out heaped tablespoons of the dough, roll into balls and then toss in the sugar.

Place 5cm apart on two trays lined with baking paper and cook until browned, about 11 minutes. The edges will be slightly set but the centre should still be soft.

Set on trays for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool before storing in a tin.

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Food, Recipes

Parmesan-crumbed lamb chops

The best picnic food ever – if they last that long.

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 These Parmesan-crumbed lamb chops are pretty darn awesome, hot or cold.

The recipe is from Pipi: the cookbook and once you try it you won’t want to do them any other way. Adding cheese is a stroke of genius, keeping the deeply savoury, golden, crunchy crumbs firmly stuck to the chop.

6 slices fresh bread

3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

1/2 cup flour

Pinch of salt

2 eggs, beaten

2 lamb racks, cut up into 16 wee chops

2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Whiz the bread and Parmesan together in a food processor until they are tiny crumbs. Then fill one bowl with the flour seasoned with the salt, a second with the beaten egg and a third with the crumbs.

First dust the chops with the flour, then dip them in the egg, and then put them in the bowl with the crumb mixture, turning them until they are completely coated. If you want to make absolutely sure you have a lot of crumb on the chops, you can repeat the egg and breadcrumb steps.

Lay the chops on a plate lined with greaseproof paper and put them in the fridge for at least half an hour to help set the crumbs.

Now you’re ready to cook the chops. Place a large frying pan on a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Brown the chops on each side. You will have to do this in batches, using the remaining oil. Then transfer the chops to a roasting dish or baking tray, and put them in the oven for 10-15 minutes to cook through.

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