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Friday 31 January 2014

Friday Wishlist: Gorgeous things that you'll want to buy RIGHT NOW

The perfect dress. £35 from ASOS.

The perfect dining chairs. £140 each from Graham & Green.

The perfect plates. £19.95 from Snowden Flood.

The perfect lingerie. From £31 at Damaris.

The perfect wooly socks. £25 from Plumo.

The perfect necklace. £35 from Tatty Devine.

The perfect blanket. £48 from I Feel Smug. And snug.

The perfect shoes. £95 from Labour of Love.

Sluttery Sales Spy: Rockett St George, Clarks & Plümo

Make your bank manager proud this week: save yourself £386.99 by buying everything below. You thrifty little minx, you. 


Cooperative square neck dress, £15 (was £55), Urban Outfitters
I do so love a square neckline. I'm not terribly sure they look good on me, but love is blind to such trifling matters. This Cooperative dress is down to FIFTEEN POUNDS at Urban Outfitters. That's so absurd, we need to buy it right away. *logic face*

Pintuck dress, £15 (was £38), ASOS
Perhaps from a distance, through a computer screen, this green dress from ASOS doesn't look like anything special. But luckily I'm here to be your eyes and your mirror, in some sort of Sartrean fashion hell heaven, so let me tell you about all the glorious pintucks you can't see in this photo. They are, um, glorious. And pintucky. Really quite pin-like, and most definitely tucked. And they - and the rest of the dress - also come in blue!


Leather shoulder bag, £24 (was £79), & Other Stories
Dudettes: & Other Stories has an AMAZING sale going on - and it just keeps getting better and better. I actually decided to feature this bag a few days ago, and when I double-checked that it was still in stock last night (hey, I'm a thorough spy) the price had dropped by ANOTHER twenty quid. By the time you read this, it might actually be free. Or they might pay you to take it. And isn't it divine? I am in love. It's real leather, it's bright pink, it looks like a little suitcase. Can one marry a handbag? I think Mrs Laura Leather-Shoulder-Bag has a rather aristocratic ring to it. BRB, practising my new signature.

Leather shoulder bag, £38 (was £125), & Other Stories
Also of note at & Other Stories: this beautiful, wine-coloured bag. I like it a lot, because it looks like I would be FORCED to zip it shut before I sling it over my shoulder. This is a sensitive topic for me right now. Let me take a deep breath, and I'll tell you all about it. 

Please picture the scene yesterday morning: it was 8.45am. I was waiting to cross my busy road to get to my car, to get to work. Approximately 346 schoolchildren were walking by. A friendly White Van Man stopped and flashed his lights, waving me across the road. I was immensely thankful. I ran, I waved, I shrieked in horror as my lovely yellow satchel tumbled to the ground, right in the middle of the road, the strap broken. Reader, I had not buckled up my satchel. As well as being a moron, I am also what you might describe as a hideously messy person, particularly in the privacy of my own bag. This was a horrific situation. A line of traffic had to wait for me to gather up the following items (only two are untrue, you can take a guess at which):
  • A yellow Lego pencil case, 4 biros, a pencil, and a collapsible metre stick
  • 5 black liquid eyeliners, 3 lip balms, and a bright pink lipstick
  • 3 toothpicks, a skewer, and a tube of superglue (there is a reason for this, I promise)
  • A packet of Hello Kitty tissues
  • My passport and all the ticket stubs housed within
  • A bus pass
  • Hilary Devey
  • An Oyster card (I don't live in London, so who knows)
  • A necklace and four badges
  • The entirety of the Press Complaints Commission's Editors' Code of Conduct, in concertina booklet form
  • My phone
  • 1 Werther's Original
  • My diary
  • 2 iPhone chargers
  • 1 false eyelash strip
  • A map of Barcelona and a lovely postcard from our own Frances (thank you, Frances!)
  • 3 memory sticks
  • An iPad
  • Derren Brown
  • An origami swan (not life size)
  • Some eyelash curlers
  • 2 letters from HMRC
  • A miniature bottle of Tabasco 
  • A wooden chip shop fork
Then I said fuck in front of some children and ran to my car. 

The moral I'm choosing to take from this tale: I need a bag that I have to do up. This may be it. 


Mary Janes, £115 (was £195), Plümo
Sian can take ALL the credit for spotting these fabulous Kat Maconie Mary Janes in the Plümo sale. She's been coveting them for many months, and they were one (two) of the stars of her party shoe round-up at the end of last year. She said then that she'd be ready to pounce as soon as they hit the sale, and she was true to her word. All kneel before the altar of Ms Meades, then quickly get up again and race her for the beautiful shoes. Quick, run. She's speedy, that one. 

(I feel I must also point out another of her amazing finds: these bunny loafers. That's right, kids - loafers with bunny ears. Sometimes I just think the world is a wonderful place to be.)

Moody Cute boots, £44.99 (was £89.99), Clarks
From delicate rose gold to clompy, moody boots. Well, Moody Cute. Does that make moody any better? I'm not sure, because Moody Cute makes me think, for some reason, of Miley Cyrus (same initials!) circa. Hannah Montana, which then makes me think of tongues, which I suppose works because lace-up boots also have tongues. These tongues aren't hanging out, but they could be. Don't turn your back on these boots, lest they start twerking. OR WORSE. Need I say wrecking ball? Hoo boy. Boots these days, eh?


Dinosaurs cushion, £29.71 (was £34.95), Ohh Deer
Rawr! You'll need to rush if you want to take advantage of the Ohh Deer sale, because today's the last day (for those of you reading this on Saturday, yesterday was the last day. Sorry). This dinosaur cushion is a cheery thing. Which is your favourite? I like the yellow and blue one that looks like a kangaroo.

Surprise Surprise lamp, £99 (was £149), Rockett St George
I wrote about this Surprise Surprise lamp from Rockett St George a wee while ago, and I still adore it. I got all my Cilla Black references out of the way back then, so don't worry. I originally reckoned £149 was a bit pricey, but worth it. £99, therefore, is a veritable bargain. I really want it. Every day will be a gift when I've got a massive great big parcel bow on my wall.


Lee Lee cat socks, £1.75 (was £3.50), Accessorize
ANGRY KITTEN SOCKS. I'm buying them. I'll forget I have them on, and then terrify myself as a pissed-off cat appears from under my boots. He's called Lee Lee, but that sweet name doesn't mean he won't try to kill you. 

What have you been buying this week? And what's the strangest thing in your handbag right now? 

Let Her Eat Cake: Dulce de Leche Cake

Dulce de Leche is the embodiment of sweet, caramel comfort. It's also, essentially, just a fancy name for condensed milk that's been heated for a few hours until it becomes a rich, sticky goo. There are various ways of making it, but the easiest (and sluttiest) way is to buy it in the tin.

Hazelnuts and mascarpone make sure that this cake doesn't rocket off the sweeter-than-sweet scale, but you could replace with almonds if you so fancy. Warning: this involves A LOT of spoon licking.

Dulce de Leche Cake
You will need:
For the cake
  • 175g butter, softened 
  • 175g caster sugar 
  • 3 free-range eggs 
  • 140g self-raising flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 50g chopped hazelnuts 
For the filling and topping:
  • 300g mascarpone 
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar 
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out or a few drops vanilla essence 
  • 25g chopped hazelnuts, to decorate
  • 1/2 tin or about 5 tablespoons of dulce de leche (caramel) 
Make it!
The cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Lightly grease and line a 20cm round cake tin. 
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with each to help the mixture stay smooth. 
  4. Gently fold in the remainder of the flour and baking powder, taking care not to over-mix. 
  5. When just combined, stir in the chopped hazelnuts. 
  6. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until risen and a skewer comes out clean. 
  7. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 
The filling and topping:
  1. Spoon the mascarpone into a bowl. Add the vanilla and icing sugar (you might want a little more, to taste) and beat together. Set aside. 
  2. Finely chop or give the hazelnuts a quick blitz with a hand blender. 
  3. Tip them into a small, dry frying pan and toast over a medium heat until fragrant - careful, they burn quickly. Set aside to cool slightly. 
  4. Carefully cut your cake in half. 
  5. Spread the bottom half of the cake with some of the mascarpone, then a thick layer of the dulce de leche or caramel. 
  6. Sandwich the top on and spread the remaining mascarpone over the top and sides of the cake. 
  7. Swirl the caramel over the surface and add the toasted hazelnuts to finish.

Thursday 30 January 2014

Everybody Yog-hurts: The Collective Dairy

I've finally got to the stage of marathon training where I am thinking about what I should be eating. Protein! Good carbs! Not going to McDonald's all the time, whatever the Olympics say.

A surprisingly excellent source of protein is yoghurt, with the advantage of also tasting delicious. (I am still in mourning for the french-set lemon ones of my youth, so if you see any, please holler!) My friend Amy is a total obsessive and writes the For The Love Of Yoghurt blog. Last year, my attention was caught by her ecstatic write-up of Kiwi yoghurt company The Collective Dairy, specifically their Blood Orange flavour, and again with their Christmas pudding variety, which I tried late last year.

It's bloody good yoghurt. It might be Kiwi recipes, but they're all made in Somerset with West Country milk, honey and British ingredients where possible (and free-range eggs for the sauce in their rather delicious-looking lemon one). Well done them. That limited edition Christmas Pud one came in a massive pot which I still managed to consume in one well-spiced sitting - layers of lovely rich sauce, plump juicy sultanas, and all topped off with really good yoghurt. Not that I've been thinking about it since, or anything, because that would obviously be weird. Ahem.

Amy and I were both sent a box of yoghurts to try, which worked out extremely well for Amy, whose screams of lactose-related joy echoed over the horizons of south east London, and for me, because one of the flavours was Raspberry and Amaretto! OMG! Again, lovely thick yoghurt with a sweeping curve of delicious sauce. I would clearly add another slug of amaretto, but that's just because I have amaretto separation anxiety. I also loved the original flavour, Sweet Jane, partly because it made me think of my mum (Jane), and partly because I added a load of muesli to it and it tasted banging.

The Collective yoghurt costs £2.39 for 500g and £1 for a 125g pot and the good news is they're on offer at Waitrose/Ocado until 10 February so you can try loads.

My Lovely Horse: Celebrating the Chinese New Year in Style

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! We've shown you some delicious recipes, so now let's move onto the other wonderful stuff appropriate to the year of the horse. Let's not dwell on certain supermarket scandals of the past 12 months - as this wise Aled Lewis cushion says 'Haters Gonna Hate'. Why not show some love instead and lasso this pony for £39 from Bouf?

If a single cushion isn't enough then how about showing some serious equine love with this amazing yellow horsey wallpaper? Designed by Barnaby Gates, a whole 10 metre roll is £78 from Rockett St George.

I've wanted a rocking horse forever but I'm too old and heavy to make proper use of them any more (sad face). Thankfully Ted Baker has heard my heartfelt pleas and made this amazingly beautiful Rocking Horse ring for £39 just for me.

You lovers of classic literature, may remember the Etsy shop, House of Ismay and its a lovely collection of literary brooches. This Black Beauty piece is only £10.90 and made with the pages of a worn-out copy of the book. Or if your reading tastes run a little more bloody, then there's also a horse's head made with pages from The Godfather.

I'm convinced this French Connection jumper is actually one of those magic eyes pictures, if I stare hard enough it'll reveal something magical. Like the fact John Lewis has it reduced from £75 down to £35!

Traditionally red is said to be the luckiest colour so these sweet Irregular Choice trainers for £60 will have me trotting happily down the street in the hopes I fall on a winning lottery ticket. Bonus points for the pony lucky charm too. 

I'm going to need a place to keep all my lottery winnings and this Horse and Star envelope bag from Yumi is perfect. It's also reduced to a very reasonable £19.60 so I'll have plenty left to buy gin.

Spangled Disco Pony Sunglasses. They're £35 from Urban Outfitters and the fact that these merely exist makes me happy to be alive. Now let's all join in in the Official Song of 2014:

Top Chinese New Year Recipes

Tomorrow marks the start of the Chinese New Year. This year, it's the Year of the Horse. People born this year will be gifted, cheerful and popular, but they'll have a bit of a temper and be rubbish at managing their money. For the rest of us, the year should bring health, prosperity and travel opportunities. Hurrah for the Year of the Horse! We should celebrate this with loads of Chinese food, and that's so much more than rice and noodles, but they're a good place to start.

You could get a takeaway, but it's really very easy to make your takeaway favourites at home. Our crispy chilli beef is even gluten free! Sweet and sour fish will be a hit at any Chinese feast, while our egg fried rice is actually made with cauliflower. Tea smoked chicken is a restaurant favourite that's so simple to make at home you'll wonder why you haven't tried it before.

You'll want some starters. Spring rolls are a popular choice, why not try them with a rhubarb-y twist? Duck with pancakes is great, but we've got a veggie version that everyone will love. Oh, and a lychee martini would be an excellent way to start your meal, too.

Why not celebrate Chinese New Year with mountains of dim sum? (Why not, indeed?) Crispy lamb buns should definitely feature in your selection, just look at them! Char sui pork pastries are another must-include dish on your dim sum table. Don't forget the dumplings, gyoza or (gluten free) pot stickers, either. 

We're in love with super-spicy Szechuan cuisine. Share a fiery hotpot with friends or slurp down a bowl of addictively delicious noodles (you have been warned). You'll probably need a round of Shanghai Fizz or a pitcher of iced green tea to put out the fire on your tongues.

If you've heard of century eggs, you might rightly be a bit scared to try them. Don't worry, we've got our very own tame version, dragon eggs! They're as delicious as they are pretty.

You simply have to end your meal with fortune cookies. And cake, every celebration needs green tea and lychee cake.

Want more recipe inspiration? Check out the rest of our top ten recipe compilations.

Shop in the Spotlight: Rivers and Roads

Though I get down on my knees and thank the universe for the internet on an almost daily basis, it can also be immensely frustrating when you've seen a beautiful dress posted, hundreds of times over, only to find it hasn't got a UK stockist - now that's just cruelty.

I'd been despairing about the lack of LA-based Dear Creatures in my life (go on, look upon the beauty of their website), when the gods of the internet decided to smile on me and award me Rivers and Roads, a relatively new website specialising in (big tick) "vintage-inspired and retro-style fashion" from (another big tick) "hard-to-find independent designers and much-loved brands". Including Dear Creatures. That means their stunning I Was Made For You dress, shown above, can be mine for £90 and without the hassles of international shipping.

As can this equally beautiful Tell Me Something I Don't Know dress (£82), or the cute AND REDUCED Shining Through The Dark coat.

It's not just Dear Creatures. Although the shop selection is quite small, it packs in a lot of temptation. There are quite a few pieces from new-to-me Spanish brand PepaLoves. This is their Night On My Side blouse, also available in strawberry or a sunny yellow for £34.

I can imagine Sara would like their Another Pearl Top (surely a girl can't have too many, especially when they are only £19 each?).

Knitted Dove, meanwhile, are the label behind The Lion's Roar dress. Though a confusing name given its stag pattern, I'd be prepared to overlook that for a mighty fine frock. I don't entirely approve of Rivers and Roads practice of naming their clothes strange things but, hey, it didn't do Modcloth - a shop with a very similar aesthetic - any harm did it?

There are some suitably winsome bags to complete your ensemble and a small selection of Betty Page shoes for sale too. This handsome pair is £68 and has been called What Are You Doing on New Year's Eve? Well, that's a long way away and I don't know yet but - if I'm dressed in any of the above - I'll be very happy.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Shelf Esteem: How To Be A Heroine by Samantha Ellis

Shelf worth: 4/5

Just how good, really, are the books we loved? I'm talking about the ones we read as girls -  teenagers even: Ballet Shoes, Riders, Anne of Green Gables, Jane Austen, What Katie Did, The Color Purple, everything we poured in our eyes when all we had was a library card and time.

Samantha Ellis grew up in an Iraqi Jewish community in north London. And, like a good Domestic Sluttery woman, she read. A lot. This wonderful book serves as part-memoir, part-re-examination of her girlhood heroines to see if they still measure up decades down the road, and how they held her hand along the way.

Ellis gets through an impressive list of books and heroines, but in such an elegant way that you almost don't notice the bibliography building up. Each book is weaved into a part of her own life: her growing love of theatre (Ballet Shoes), writing and her sense of "I must write" destiny (Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, Little Women), her relationships and university career, and a fantastically empowering chapter on being single, which combs through her reading to find some decent literary spinsters (1926's Lolly Willowes, about a 28-year-old (!) spinster who moves away and becomes a witch sounds fantastic).

Ellis has a remarkable knack with a recap - where she summarises a plot, she takes it seriously and makes it sparkle, showing due respect to the good reads of her past. I must read Lace, if she will read Scandal. But what I loved most about this book was how much it turns out classic "growing-up" reading overlaps with others. I thought I and my writing buddy Elizabeth to be lone lovers of Emily of New Moon (LM Montgomery's sharper and more intriguing go at Anne of Green Gables's themes), but no! Here's Ellis explaining exactly why purple-eyed Emily and her total dedication to writing are to be cherished.

Even when the book doesn't go in-depth, it's littered with mentions of books you have loved, certainly ones that I have loved (Singled Out! Rivals! Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret! Nights at the Circus! Oh, 6'2 Fevvers, you utter legend) which made me feels as though this book had been written just for me.

Knitting all these books, and Ellis's memories together, is the idea of the heroine. In Ellis's girlhood eyes, her heroine is her mother, who fled Iraq and started a new life in London. In her books, she looks for a companion to emulate. For years, she thinks the ideal is Wuthering Heights' Cathy, before eventually coming round to her friend Emma's love of Jane Eyre.

Who really stands up as the ideal? Lizzy Bennett seems to have Ellis's affections, understandably, but she isn't reverent to characters or their authors. She is grippingly unforgiving when authors fail their characters. Over the ocean in New York, Herman Wouk, author of Marjorie Morningstar (heard of, not read), should feel burning disapproval for failing his heroine at the very end. There are loads of titles in here I haven't read, and which I'm looking forward to immensely. Even the ones where the authors get it wrong - in fact, especially those.

The book slides away in the last chapter. Ellis's clipped control dips as she gets caught up in a starry-eyed and rather hasty "Oh God, it's the end of the book, let's tie it up" treatise on how one must be the writer for one's own life and indeed, the heroine (Nora Ephron namechecked, obv). Nevertheless. If you're feeling a bit lost in the post-Christmas/New Year sprawl of what to read next, then this is a fantastic read: as a palate cleanser for your next book and as a reminder of the books that made you - and the heroines therein.

Plus Size Picks: The Fluted Hem Skirt

This week we return to our regularly scheduled plus size programming: how to style one piece to create three very different looks. I picked the fluted hem skirt from Carmakoma, a fairly innocuous piece currently in the sale for just under £40. You could wear this the obvious way - to work with a plain top and black shoes - but when has Domestic Sluttery ever been obvious (except when talking about the importance of cake and gin)? Instead these looks show you some much stronger ways to work the mid-length skirt into your wardrobe. There are polka dots, there are metallics and there is quite a lot of lime green. Just add tights. It is still January, after all.

1. Do The Polka

Polka dot jumper (sizes 14 - 30) £22 Yours Clothing | Guitar charm pendant £14.70 Tatty DevineCasablanca polka dot slingbacks £45 Miss L Fire | Red daisy wired hair bow £3.99 New Look

I'm not afraid of a print clash, but doubling up on polka dots of different colours requires a certain addiction to all things twee. It works only if you keep the rest of your outfit simple, so the shapes should be classic. A fitted jumper (tucked in) works really well and, while I'm an advocate of Miss L Fire's surprisingly comfy sandals, a polka dot ballet flat or lace-up would work just as well. Red retro accessories finish this look, which was created to the sound of The Pipettes 'Pull Shapes' (which explains a lot).

2. Mixed Metallics

Metallic cowl top £18 Boohoo Plus (sizes 16 - 24) | Geo rings necklace £6.65 Forever 21 | Hola fox clutch bag £35 Aspire Style | T-bar platforms (wide fit) £45 Viva La Diva | Chunky night globe ring (up to XL) £8 ASOS Curve

The gold and silver in this cowl necked top from Boohoo's new plus size range mean you can mix your metallics throughout this outfit. 'Tis a brave woman who wears silver and gold, but it can look really cool when done right. The chunky peep toe platforms are a great find available up to an EEE fit, and the fox clutch adds a bit of a quirky touch - a metallic bag would be too much for this look.

3. Get in Lime

Green dip hem blouse (sizes 14 - 28) Very | Black belt £7 EvansChina Girl prospect heels £79.95 Nelly | Star collar perspex necklace £11 Punky Pins | Lime lace box clutch £30 River Island

If bright colour is your bag, you're going to love all this lime green. Three uses of the shade is more than enough, so it's easy enough to tone down the concept behind this look if you don't fancy all the accessories. Swap the bag for a black one, or try a less ostentatious shoe if snakeskin, ombre perspex and suede trims don't float your boat (but why?). The fluted hem of the shirt echoes the skirt, which creates a really strong look, but a belt cinching everything at the waist will ensure you're not lost under all that flare!

Sluttishly Savoury: Chorizo, Sweet Potato & Halloumi Bake

It's been, oh, about ten minutes since I posted a chorizo recipe, so I thought it was time I rectified that. Chorizo is one of my all-time favourite foods. It's comforting and hearty during the winter months, and fresh and flavoursome - conjuring up memories of holidays and beaches - in spring and summer. Sometimes I have to stop myself putting it in everything (puddings are the exception, although I can think of some that would benefit from a slice or two of chorizo).

I didn't need to give myself a good talking to when it came to this recipe, however. Chorizo is great mates with sweet potato and halloumi (another of my favourite things - so squeaky and salty!). The more chorizo, the merrier, as far as I'm concerned - so I used a whole ring of it. This is a breathtakingly easy recipe - a little chopping, then into the oven and ta-da - filling, wholesome food to satisfy your hunger on these long, cold nights (and you might get flashes of sunny Spain while you eat. Especially if you wash everything down with a nice Rioja).

Chorizo, Sweet Potato & Halloumi Bake (serves 4)
You will need:
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 5cm pieces
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into rough chunks
  • 2 red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, each clove peeled but left intact
  • Olive oil
  • 225g (1 ring) chorizo, skin removed and cut into 1cm discs
  • 150g halloumi, finely sliced
Make it!
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
  2. Put the sweet potato, red onion, peppers, garlic, and olive oil into a large ovenproof dish and use your hands to coat everything in oil. Add the discs of chorizo in a layer on top. Place in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, mixing the chorizo through the dish after about 25 minutes (it should be looking slightly crispy by this time - that's why we leave it on top for a bit before jumbling it all up).
  3. After the cooking time is up - the sweet potato should be nice and soft by now, and the other veg should look, well, cooked, with slight charring to some of the edges - add the finely-sliced halloumi to the top of the dish. Turn the oven heat right up - as far as it will go, unless you have some sort of bonkers oven that can incinerate stuff, in which case, use your discretion. Pop the dish back in for about 5-10 minutes, until the halloumi has melted and turned goldenish. Alternatively, turn the grill up to high and stick it under there for a while (mine's broken, oh woe is me).
  4. Serve immediately, with some crusty bread on the side if you want. 

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Sluttishly Savoury: Moroccan Lamb Rice

I absolutely love playing about with recipes. That's one of my favourite things about cooking. Trying a substitute ingredient because you've forgotten to buy cumin, or adding more cheese because you've got an odd end of Stilton that needs using. The very worst that can happen is that you have to have chippy tea.

This spicy lamb dish is the result of my love of slow cooking and a little bit of playing about. I don't often cook with lamb but my interest was piqued by this BBC Food lamb pilau. While I liked the idea of spicy lamb and rice (who wouldn't?), the short cooking times and lack of spices didn't sound right for my tastes. So I tweaked and played and added a whole new bunch of spices into the dish and let my casserole dish work its magic. The result is rich, spicy, and beautifully scented rice, dotted with sweet fruit and tender lamb.

Moroccan lamb rice (serves 3-4)
You'll need:
  • 600g diced lamb
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pint lamb stock
  • 12 dried apricots
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp of Ras el hanout
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 green chillies, chopped
  • 30g tomato puree
  • 750g Basmati rice
  • 100g natural yoghurt
  • Handful of mint,chopped
  • Flaked almonds
Make it!
  1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees/gas mark 2.
  2. Fry the onion until softened, then season and brown the diced lamb in the same pan.
  3. Throw in a casserole dish with the stock, cinnamon, apricots, garlic and ras el hanout.
  4. Leave in the oven for an hour, reply to funny things on Twitter.
  5. Stir and taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed and then add the two of the chillies and tomato puree and pop back in the oven for another hour.
  6. When you're starving hungry, add your rice and pop the lid back on. Check on it in about seven minutes - it will have soaked up a lot of the water. Add some more if your rice isn't quite cooked (up to a pint should do it) so you don't soak everything up and burn your dinner. The flavour is already there, a little more water won't dilute it.
  7. Stir the chopped mint through the rice and serve in your favourite bowls.
  8. Add a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkling of flaked almonds and the rest of the chopped chilli. Pomegranate seeds would also look beautiful and complement the flavours brilliantly.
Top tip: Unfortunately, this doesn't reheat very well - you need to add more water to the rice and it goes a bit like an odd risotto. Which means you'll just have to have seconds if there's some left. Oh no, that's terrible.

Design Porn: Mona Mara jewellery

It's always pleasing when you find a new jewellery brand that's less full-on fashion than Topshop but isn't going to cost you the family jewels. That's why I'm loving the work of Mona Mara - UK designed and made, and great at hitting that tricky middle ground between the two.

The collection, only launched last year, also manages to achieve the balance between heartfelt and cool: your partner could give you one of the pieces and raise an awww or two (or three), but you won't get laughed at for wearing them by your friends in the playground. 

Case in point, this 'Seek and You Shall Find' necklace, £48. Made from plated gold over brass, this little arrow is not only extremely pretty but its long 76cm chain makes it suitable for casually slinging on when you're going out adventuring. 

Mona Mara love their keys and make them in varying degrees of ornateness and soppiness. This one offers the Key to My Heart but you can also discover the Key to My Happiness and the Key to Success, all for £48. The Key to My City, meanwhile, is currently reduced to £38.

There are some simpler stunning silhouette pieces too, like this gorgeous cat necklace. It's £40 or, you have a bit more money to spend, there's also a sterling silver version available.

Mona Mara is a London-based company and proud of it. I'd be (even more) proud of it too if I was bearing this London city skyline necklace about my person. Although it's out of stock at the moment, you can order it now for delivery in February (a Valentine's gift to self maybe?).

For rock chicks of whatever age, surely no band T-shirt is complete without this Peace hand sterling silver necklace? I'm also taking it as a rather obvious sign to give Mona Mara a hand for their excellent first collection - I'm very much looking forward to seeing what designs follow next.
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