and other stories, ASOS, Beauty Bakerie, dresses, fashion, fat acceptance, gold, Joanie clothing, lipstick, Marks and Spencer, metallics, ootd, Outfit post, outfits, personal style, Plus sized, plus sized bloggers, plus sized blogging, plus sized fashion, plus sized summer dresses, psbloggers, spring, what i wore, wiwt

Hey there, Joanie girl

There’s a certain irony in me posting this outfit during a week where we’re forecast to have snow (!!!) in the North West of England (come on weather, get it together), but sunny days are a rare occurrence where I live at the moment. Sun does interesting things to the residents of my part of Liverpool. Deckchairs are pulled out of dusty attics and thrown into front gardens. Bouncy castles suddenly appear where there were no bouncy castles before. Barbecues get fired up and remarkably pale fashion bloggers decide to use it as an excuse to get their perilously white legs out in public.

Sunglasses on

SUNGLASSES: ASOS (old)

EARRINGS: And Other Stories (old)

DRESS: Joanie Clothing

SHOES: Marks & Spencer

I’ll be honest, I’ve only worn this dress from Joanie Clothing once since I purchased it in a moment of potential-heatwave-frenzy earlier this month, although I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of it as soon as the weather gets warmer. Despite becoming increasingly weary of vintage recreation brands, I’ve heard lots of good things about Joanie since their launch last year. I’ll admit, I’ve spent a fair amount of time on their website making wish lists of all the lovely items I’d like from there.

Smiling

I was super impressed by this Poesy Paris Print Dress from there. The materials are high quality and it’s lined which was a nice surprise (I’ve bought a number of vintage recreation dresses in the past for a similar price which look great on the website, but turn out to have the texture of paper when you put them on.) Two things to be aware of though – it does come up a bit short (I’m 5ft 6 and it reaches just above my knee) and if you’re blessed with large boobs, you’ll need to size up. I’m a fairly standard size 20, but sized up to a 22 here. From my own research, Joanie’s sizing can differ from person to person (e.g. another top that I bought from there in my usual size came up quite short), so I’m glad that I asked around prior to purchasing this dress as wearing my usual size would have made my tits looked like they were trapped in a vice.

A few other things to keep in mind when purchasing from Joanie is that they don’t do exchanges. As a new, small business, I’m sure that they have good reasons for this, but it would be nice to know what they are as it does make the purchasing process slightly more frustrating than it needs to be. If you’re in between sizes, or you’re not sure how an item might hang on you if you’re larger in some areas than others, I’d strongly recommend asking around or sizing up to be on the safe side. While the returns process is free and relatively simple, they take a long time to process –  approximately 14 days from receipt of the item for the money to appear in your bank account. So don’t splurge on lots of different sizes if you think you’ll be strapped for cash later in the month.

Joanie’s items did initially go up to a size 26, but since their launch, they’ve reduced their range of sizes to stop at 22. It’s slightly disappointing that a brand that really seemed to want to support its plus sized customers has stopped doing such a broad range of sizes (although this may change in the future) and I really hope they reconsider this as their business continues to grow. Particularly as there are so many cute items on their website which I know would look banging on a number of chub babes that I know.

Hey there, Joanie girl

I paired this dress with two of my current favourite accessories – Beauty Bakerie’s lip whip in Cranberry Stilletto and a pair of amazing gold mules from Marks & Spencer. I received an email from M&S earlier this month which showed Danielle Vanier rocking a very similar pair and I knew they had to be mine (thank you for being such a fashionable enabler, Danie!) At only £19.99, they’re an absolute bargain and I can definitely see myself buying a pair of these in various different colours to go with my summer wardrobe. Now all I need is some sunshine…

 

 

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asparagus, baking, food bloggers, food blogging, lunch, Quiche, Recipes, spring, vegetarian

Recipe: Asparagus and Feta Quiche

Asparagus

On Saturday, I went for a long walk around Liverpool city centre and gloried in the fact that spring is finally here. The sun was shining, I had my sunglasses on and – for the first time in months – I didn’t feel as though I was trapped in the depths of some hideous endless winter. I’ve lived in the North West of England long enough to know that this could all change by tomorrow, but for the moment, I’m revelling in the return of short sleeves and balmy afternoons.

Another place which is happy to see the return of spring is my kitchen. After months of opening my veg box to discover piles of root vegetables (I’m still ploughing my way through all the beetroot, carrots and parsnips), I was overjoyed to see asparagus in last week’s Abel and Cole delivery. English asparagus season is short, so I love to eat as much of it as I can while it’s here. I wanted to do something a bit more exciting than merely grilling it and serving it with hollandaise when the idea hit me to pop it into a quiche.

This quiche is inspired by two excellent female food writers, Ruth Reichl and Delia Smith. I’m currently cooking my way through Reichl’s My Kitchen Year which discusses how she used cooking as a means of coping with the grief she experienced when Gourmet – the magazine she edited for a decade – suddenly folded. Reichl’s writing can be a bit flowery at times, but she has a wonderful recipe for a basic quiche (‘a custard in a crust’ she calls it) which has been rattling around my head ever since I read it. Delia Smith is (arguably) the queen of custards and crusts, and it would be remiss of me not to credit her for some of the methodology behind this one.

A mere hour’s work in the kitchen will reward you with crisp asparagus, salty pops of feta and a gloriously wobbly, savoury custard. This quiche was made for picnics, parties and long lazy lunches in the sunshine. When was the last time you said that about a Pret sandwich?

Quiche

ASPARAGUS AND FETA QUICHE (Serves 4 – 6 people)

You will need:

For the crust

  • 280g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • Handful of grated cheddar cheese (optional)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Ice water

For the filling

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 40g feta cheese, diced into cubes
  • 1 tsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten well
  • 284ml single cream
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to season

Make It!

  1. Start by making the crust. Rub the flour and butter together until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the cheese, salt and ice water – a tablespoon at a time – until the dough comes together. It should be smooth yet tacky to the touch. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. When you’re ready to make the quiche, roll the dough out until it’s about the thickness of a 2p coin. Use your rolling pin to lift it up and drape it over a tart case. You want the dough to hang over the sides as it will shrink when you’re baking it. Prick the base of the dough with a fork, cover it with baking paper and fill it with baking weights. (You can get these from Lakeland, or alternatively, just use some dried beans.)  Bake on 150 degrees c for 20 minutes. Take it out, remove the weights and paint the crust with a bit of beaten egg. (You can use some of the egg you’re using for the filling.) Let it cook in the oven for another five minutes.
  3. Make your filling. Snap the asparagus spears in two and remove the woody ends. Blanch them for two minutes in boiling water. You want them to be barely cooked and have plenty of snap. Arrange them and the feta cheese at the bottom of the pastry case.
  4. Beat the eggs and cream together and season well with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour this mixture over the asparagus and feta. Sprinkle the grated parmesan over the top.
  5. Bake at 200 degrees c for 30 minutes until the pastry is puffy and the filling is barely set and golden. Allow to cool and serve. This keeps well for 2 – 3 days and goes really well with a crisp green salad.

 

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asparagus, Food, lunch, Recipes, salad, spring

Steak and Asparagus Salad

Steak and Asparagus Salad

Some recipes haunt you. They lodge themselves inside your head and remind you of your existence every time you open the fridge and wonder what you’re going to make for dinner that evening. I’ve not stopped thinking about Heidi Swanson’s Asparagus Panzanella since it popped up on my RSS feed. It’s the perfect Spring recipe – one which is simple, elegant and can be thrown together in half an hour. (Plus, she recommends topping it with a chopped hard boiled egg and – as we all know – everything is better when you put an egg on it.)

But, me being me, I had to tinker with it a bit. My bunch of asparagus didn’t look substantial enough on its own, so I added the leftovers of a box of mixed leaves I got in my Abel and Cole delivery. I had a pack of white miso lying unloved at the back of my fridge, so I decided to add it to the dressing to round it out a bit and add an extra ping of sweetness. And (while I never really need much of an excuse to eat steak), I’d had a bit of a crappy day, so lets throw a bit of medium rare rump in there too.

While it may not look as refined as the original, sometimes there’s no shame in being a bit rough and ready. This is a spring salad which satisfies, and the perfect way to celebrate English asparagus season while you’re at it.

STEAK AND ASPARAGUS SALAD

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

You will need:

  • 1 medium sized piece of rump steak
  • 80 ml buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white miso (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch of (English) asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large handful of good quality sourdough, torn into chunks
  • 1 large handful of mixed salad leaves (I used these baby leaves I got from Abel and Cole)

Make it!

  1. Cook your steak (make sure you oil the meat, not the pan!) I find that two – three minutes on each side does the trick to get it medium rare, although this will depend on the thickness of your steak.
  2. Make the dressing by whisking together the buttermilk, olive oil, mustard, vinegar, white miso, and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust if needed, before setting aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet, add the cubes of sourdough bread and toss until every nook and cranny is smothered in melted butter. Continue to toss them gently on a medium heat until they turn crispy and golden. Transfer to a paper towel.
  4. Trim the asparagus and blanch in a saucepan of salted boiling water until just tender – around a minute or so. Add the blanched asparagus to the rinsed mixed leaves.
  5. Slice the steak against the grain into thin stripes. Add to the bowl, along with the toasted bread and a healthy drizzle of the buttermilk-miso dressing. Serve with a large glass of wine.
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