16 December 2007

Epic Proportions

I didn't realise how long it was since I've last posted here, so another long post, sorry! This time of year is pretty busy though, and I can't believe that there is only one week till I go home for Christmas :) and Kieran leaves our flat :( although obviously, he will always be a part of Team Hadfield.

Above: It has been so humid and tropical in Wellington lately that we have been eating our dinner outside a lot. I made this for dinner the other night, using some chops that Tim's parents gave us when we went to their farm in September to help with docking. After defrosting them (naturally, I hadn't kept them in the fridge for three months) I baked them with some of the cranberry conserve that Santa gave me last year, mixed with a little dry mustard powder. They were delicious, all sticky and blackened and meaty. To go with I made the Egyptian Tomato Salad from Nigella Bites, using some of the tomatoes we got from the vege market. This recipe is very easy and really summery. You peel the tomatoes, slice them up with some spring onion, pour over a little olive oil, and leave it to sit for a while for the flavours to develop. The potatoes I just parboiled and fried in my non stick pan in cubes, with some cumin seeds and plenty of salt.

On Friday night I didn't even have dinner (Tim had some toast and leftover lentil soup) because we went to the stadium to see the Phoenix vs Queensland, and by the time I'd got home from work there wasn't any time to cook. It was a very warm, muggy night, perfect for being outside, and the game was lots of fun. We went with Kieran (flatmate) and Alicia (Canadian who also works at Starbucks) and I have to say that being in a crowd of soccer fans (I think there was just over 9000 people there, pretty good for a non-Beckham game here) is a great way of letting out any repressed anger you might have as you yell and curse and chant along that "All we want is a decent referee."

Above: I wish I could say I made this! Tim, Kieran, Alicia and I went out to breakfast the next morning (how very Sex and The City! I thought to my unsophisticated self) at Epic, on Willis Street. They serve the most amazingly enormous and imaginative breakfasts, for very reasonable prices. The above - savoury French toast with mushrooms, chorizo, spinach, grilled capsicum, hollandaise and chutney was only $13, and being the glutton that I am, I got a couple of hash browns on the side. It was seriously good and slowed me down too - I hate paying for tiny meals - and everything tasted of quality, not as though it was out of a packet.

Above: Tim ordered the big vegetarian fry up and then, rather idiosyncratically, asked for bacon and kranky on the side. He had started eating this by the time I took a photo of it, but really, it looks pretty good, huh? Tim said his eggs were cooked perfectly.

Above: Kieran had the Mexican Big Breakfast, with corn fritters on the side, and Alicia had the three-egg omelette. Everything was sooo good! We got there bang on 9.00am (quite an achievement on a Saturday morning, especially since we had been drinking the night before) and there were hardly any people there, but it filled up quickly.

If you are ever in Wellington, make sure you check this place out. There was also a blackboard menu which I forced myself not to look at for fear of never being able to make a decision. Kieran and Alicia got latte bowls, Tim got a flat white (I think the general concession was 'good, but not as good as Starbucks') and I got a lovely spirulina.

Tim had work to go to, but Kieran and Alicia and I made the most of the sun by driving out to Island Bay, which is near to the airport. I'd never been there before - it's such a jewel of a place on a sunny day, real postcard stuff - blue sky, blue-green sea, the cliffs...we chilled in the sun (and yes, I schmeered myself with copious amounts of sunblock) on the pebbly beach and tried to avoid being bitten by the mosquitos that were as big as 747s.

Above: Island Bay. Unlike many beaches in NZ, this one has sun-warmed pebbles instead of sand.

When I got home I started making a pavlova. I didn't have any real motivation to do it, in that we weren't celebrating or something like that, but I had a pomegranate, and I had lots of egg whites in the freezer, and since we are all going home for Christmas soon it's a nice time to eat that sort of food. So, following the recipe for Pomegranate Pavlova in How To Be A Domestic Goddess, I started whipping those egg whites into shape.

Above: Everything was going fine until I realised I'd ran out of cornflour, and of course in the unstable world of pavlova every ingredient is crucial. So I thought maybe I could substitute it with custard powder, which is mostly cornflour anyway, right? Well, I sifted it in, poured over the vinegar...and it made this funny bubbling noise. So I folded it all together, spread the shiny mixture onto the baking tray, and put it in the oven quickly. Then I looked at the ingredients on the custard powder and it had cream of tartar in it. Uh oh! I thought. And hoped for the best.
Anyway while it was baking I got on with dinner, which was good old spag bol (hey, we are students) I put some of the red wine that I wasn't drinking in the spaghetti sauce, which made it smell delicious. I also added some red lentils to it, which cooked down into nothing and added texture and of course, added healthiness. But of course you all should be familiar with my lentil obsession by now...

Above: We ate outside again, because it was so warm. The spag bol tasted great - if only cheese wasn't so expensive, we could have grated some over the top.

We were sitting outside drinking and talking (Tim: beer, Emma: Loud and Lola Cosmopolitan mix, Kieran and I: Red Wine) when the timer went off for the pav. I checked for signs of disaster but apart from being ENORMOUS (it has expanded to take up nearly the whole darn baking tray, which I think the cream of tarter may have had a hand in doing) it seemed to be absolutely fine. I whipped some cream and spread it thickly over, and then came the fun part.

Above: You may or may not know this, but one of the more effective ways of seeding a pomegranate is to hit it repeatedly with a wooden spoon till the ruby seeds rain down. So, here I am, well, smacking the pomegranate.

Above: This pav was soooo delicious, all crisp and sugary without and yieldingly marshmallowy within. The pomegranate also makes a great topping - it looks gorgeous and its fragrantly acidic, crunchy seeds go well with the cream and all the sugar. This is the third pav of Nigella's that I've tried and I have to say they are fantastic recipes.

Above: From the top, the Pomegranate Pav, the Nectarine and Passionfruit Pav, and the Chocolate Raspberry Pav. They make me think of Miss World contestants, all lined up like that. Which do you think looks the prettiest? I sure can't decide...
In other news: Less than ten days till Christmas! Aaaaahhh!!!


  1. Yum! So.... was the custard powder a suitable alternative after all?

    Was thinking of your blog this afternoon as we were having a birthday/Christmas with the Lees, who will, of course, be in Los Angeles/Texas for the respective festivities in real time. Was the usual family party fare i.e. mouthwateringly wonderful spread.

    Off to the Otaua Christmas Church service in a short while.

    Three games of soccer so far this month? This is disturbingly sporty of you, and, it seems your sports knowledge is improving as you have at least identified which one is the ref.

  2. Beautiful pavs Laura, my fave is still the choccy one!