Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monday Musings - Volume 2

It’s that time of the week again! I’m still working on the transitions - practice makes perfect :)  By the way, this is my 600th post on The 21st Century Housewife on Blogger, so I guess this is a blogoversary of sorts! I’ve done a lot more than that on my main site, The 21st Century Housewife though, as I’ve been blogging there for eight years!

Here are the links I mentioned in this week’s vlog:-

How to get your kids to clean up their rooms from

Gold Star Wednesday From My Tiny Kitchen

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies from Seaside Simplicity

Pumpkin Swirled Brownies from Family, Stamping and Food

Flapper Pie from Brenda’s Canadian Kitchen

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Catching Up on Friday

I've posted another blog about beautiful Monaco on my main site, along with a couple of recipe posts. Please click on the links below the photographs below to see them. 

Grown Up Apple Sauce

Marvellous Monaco

Busy Day Blueberry Pie

And if you haven't already, please do check out my first video blog entry - 

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Relaxing Day in Monaco

I'm finding it really hard uploading lots of photographs using blogger, so please visit my main site to see this post by clicking here

Friday, October 22, 2010

National Baking Week - Giveaway Winner and Chocolate Chip Cookies

First of all, huge congratulations to Jo Bryan of Peterborough, who is the winner of the selection of Pyrex non-stick bakeware and prepware worth £50 courtesy of Pyrex and National Baking Week.

This is my last post in celebration of National Baking Week, and for me, no celebration of baking would be complete without my chocolate chip cookie recipe. They are one of the first things I baked as a child, and over the years they have become one of my signature recipes. Everyone always asks for the recipe, and I’m happy to share it.

One thing that really makes a difference is using Nestle Toll House Morsels instead of ordinary chocolate chips. They can be hard to find in England, but are available from The Stateside Candy Company. It’s really worth sourcing these as I think they are among the best chocolate chips in the world – although other brands still give a delicious result.

These cookies are best eaten the day they are made, although I have never found it to be a problem as frankly, most of them get eaten before they even get a chance to cool! Try them with an ice cold glass of milk - it may sound cliché, but it really does make an ambrosial snack. A cup of tea doesn’t go amiss either!

2/3 cup soft unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups all purpose (plain) flour
½ teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
½ teaspoon salt
1 package (6 ounces) chocolate chips (preferably Nestle Toll House Semi Sweet morsels - see above)

You’ll need two baking sheets, either lightly greased with butter or lined with some greaseproof paper.  Heat the oven to 350ºF or 170ºC (160ºC fan oven). 

Cream together the butter and the sugars. Add the egg and vanilla and stir in.  Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. 

Drop the mixture by teaspoons onto the prepared baking sheets. (You may need to bake the cookies in more than one batch.)  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly brown. 

It is worth keeping an eye on them as all ovens vary.  The cookies should still be soft, but will get firmer as they cool.  Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on them for about five minutes. (This is an important step - they won’t come off the baking sheets properly if you don’t allow them to rest first.) Carefully remove the cookies from the baking sheets and place on wire racks to cool - if you can resist them!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

National Baking Week - Luscious Lemon Tart

Before I get to the recipe, this is the last day for entries to the National Baking Week Giveaway here on The 21st Century Housewife! You could win a selection of Pyrex non-stick bakeware and prepware worth £50! All you need to do to enter is email me by clicking here with the words ‘Pyrex Giveaway’ in the subject line of the email. The giveaway closes today so get your entries in quick!

Lemon tart is such a wonderful way to end a meal. Its tart flavour (forgive the pun!) is light, delicious and palate cleansing and my version really could not be easier to make.  I’ve used a no-roll pastry which means you can simply press it into the pie plate or tart dish. However, if you really, really want to roll the pastry out, by all means feel free. You will achieve a slightly tidier edge to your pastry and the tart will look a little less rustic, but that is not necessarily a bad thing!

250 grams plain (all purpose) flour
125 grams white sugar (caster for preference but granulated is okay)
125 grams unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
a pinch of salt

Blend all these ingredients together in an electric mixer.  Roll into a ball and then press into the pie plate or tart dish, bringing the mixture up the edges nicely.  Pop in the fridge for a few minutes while you mix up the filling.

100 grams unsalted butter, melted (and cooled a bit so it doesn’t scramble the eggs!)
200 grams white sugar
(again caster for preference but granulated is okay)
4 large eggs
finely grated rind of two unwaxed lemons
150 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (that’s the juice of about 4 lemons)

Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork.  Set aside.  Wash the electric mixer bowl that you used to make the pastry and dry thoroughly.   Put the slightly cooled melted butter, sugar, beaten eggs and lemon rind in it.  Beat until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and beat until smooth.  Remove the pie plate or tart dish from the fridge and carefully pour in the filling. 

Place the tart in the oven and bake at 160 (325) for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the filling is set and just beginning to take on a golden tinge.  Cool on a wire rack. 

This tart is delicious but not really very beautiful, so before serving decorate with a few sliced strawberries or some raspberries and sieve some icing (powdered) sugar over the top.  This is lovely served with cream or some very good vanilla ice cream. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

National Baking Week - Pear and Walnut Bread

In honour of National Baking Week, I’m posting a recipe each day this week to inspire you to get baking and sharing. Check out the National Baking Week website for lots more recipes and ideas and even a downloadable recipe book. And don’t forget to enter the 21st Century Housewife’s National Baking Week competition to win a selection of Pyrex non-stick bakeware and prepware worth £50! Click here for more details.

Now, on to my recipe. This is a lovely Autumnal bread, which tastes fantastic served with a bit of butter spread on top. It is quite savoury, but the maple syrup and pears give it an echo of earthy sweetness. It makes a delicious breakfast bread but also tastes lovely with a cup of tea in the afternoon or even with a piece of cheese (especially Brie!). The addition of whole wheat flour and wheat germ mean it is healthier than many other sweet breads and the walnuts it contains are rich in B vitamins, magnesium, Vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acids. 

To make one loaf, you need:-

50 grams butter, melted and allowed to cool slightly
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
One 284ml container buttermilk
(Buttermilk comes in 284 ml containers in my local grocery store, but if your sells containers of a different size, simply measure out 280 ml.) 
175 grams plain flour
175 grams whole wheat flour
25 grams wheat germ
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
75 grams of walnuts, roughly chopped
2 large pears ( or three small ones), peeled, cored and grated
(wait until the last minute to do this so that the pears do not brown)

For the topping:-
1 tablespoon Demerera sugar
1/4 teaspoon ginger

Preheat the oven to 375 or 160. Grease and flour or line a large loaf pan with greaseproof paper or a liner.

In a large jug, mix together the butter, maple syrup, egg and buttermilk. 

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, wheat germ, salt, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and nutmeg.  Stir in the walnuts. Grate the pears into this mixture and stir them in thoroughly. 

Pour the wet ingredients from the jug over the dry ingredients in the bowl and fold in until thoroughly mixed. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. 

Mix together the topping ingredients and sprinkle over top of the loaf.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until the loaf is beginning to turn golden brown and is cooked through. (You can check by inserting a piece of dried spaghetti into the middle of the loaf.  If it comes out without any batter clinging to it, it is done.)

Remove the loaf from the pan as soon as you can do so without burning yourself, and cool on a wire rack. Wait until it is almost completely cool before attempting to slice it.  In fact, this loaf benefits from some time to rest and tastes even better if you wrap it in foil after it has cooled and keep it until the next day.

The loaf will keep in a cool place for a couple of days or longer in the fridge.

Ralph Lauren's New UK Website

Finally, Ralph Lauren’s designs are available to those of us who live in the UK at the click of a mouse! His new UK site, which you can visit by clicking here, is absolutely beautiful, easy to navigate and makes ordering a breeze. You can shop all his collections - womens, mens, children’s - even shoes, accessories and the home collection are available online.

And even if you are saving your pennies, the site is a delight to peruse. Beautiful video clips, access to the Ralph Lauren online magazine and the latest runway shows are all there for you to view at your leisure. There is even a wish list facility available.

I am loving Ralph Lauren’s new UK site, and I know other UK fashionistas will feel the same way. His ready-to-wear collection has always figured prominently in my wardrobe, but it was only because I often travel to the US that I found it easy to keep up to date. Now we are only a click away from the latest designs, enjoying the best of Ralph Lauren’s collections just got a whole lot easier!

The 21st Century Housewife has not been paid for this post.

Catching Up Again on The 21st Century Housewife

In addition to everything that has been going on here, there's also been lots happening at my main site, The 21st Century Click on the links below the photographs to catch up!

I posted a Sweet Potato Soup for Meatless Monday.

Sweet Potato Soup

And joined in some of the Tuesday recipe link parties with these recipes.

Auntie Irene's Christmas Squares 

Aunt Dorothy's Butterscotch Bars
I also posted a recipe for an easy and impressive roast dinner for the recipe linkup at Raising Homemakers
Easy Roast Dinner

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

National Baking Week - My Raspberry Almond Tart

It’s National Baking Week in the UK, the aim being to get Britain baking and sharing. There’s lots of ideas and inspiration on the National Baking Week website, and you can keep up with what is happening on a day to day basis on their blog. The 21st Century Housewife got a mention there today, thanks to a great competition we’ve got going here on the site. Click here to find out more!

I’m planning to post one of my recipes here every day over the next few days to inspire you to get into the kitchen and do some lovely home baking. This is one of my old favourites, originally posted here on the site back in May 2009. It’s well worth repeating, and perfect for sharing!

For the crust:-

125 grams cold butter, diced in small cubes
200 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
50 grams ground almonds
2 tablespoons caster or granulated (white) sugar
(vanilla sugar is lovely if you have it)
2 - 3 tablespoons milk

For the filling:-

2 - 3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam

40 grams butter, melted
100 grams white sugar
90 grams ground almonds
10 grams plain flour
1 egg, plus one egg yolk, lightly beaten together
3 tablespoons half fat crème fraîche
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
1 teaspoon almond flavouring
1 cup fresh raspberries, washed and drained

For the topping:-
1/4 cup flaked almonds
1 - 2 tablespoons white sugar

To make the pastry, blend together the butter, flour, ground almonds and sugar until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  You can do this in a mixer or food processor or with a pastry cutter.  Now gradually add the milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the mixture just begins to cling together and you can form it into a ball. (You may not need the whole 3 tablespoons of milk.)

Dust your hands with a little flour and press the mixture into a fairly deep 10 inch (25 centimetre) round pie plate, working the pastry up the sides until you have formed a proper crust. (There is nothing to stop you rolling this pastry out if you want to, but I’m not a big fan of rolling pastry out, so I simply press it into the pan.) 

Place the raspberry jam in a microwaveable bowl and very carefully on a low heat setting microwave the jam for about thirty seconds or until it is of an almost pourable consistency. Using a pastry brush, brush the jam over the bottom of the crust, covering it completely. Set the pastry case aside.  

Blend together all the remaining filling ingredients except the raspberries until smooth. At this point you have a choice. You can very carefully fold the raspberries into the filling mixture and then very carefully pour the filling into the pie plate OR you can pour half the filling mixture into the pastry case, arrange the raspberries over top, and then pour the remaining filling mixture over the raspberries.  The latter is the fiddly, time consuming option but it gives much better results as the first option can cause the raspberries to fall to pieces leaving the resulting tart delicious, but not very pretty to look at. 

Mix together the flaked almonds and sugar and sprinkle them over top of the tart. Bake at 160 (fan oven) for about twenty minutes and then turn the oven back to about 150 and cook for another five to fifteen minutes, depending on your oven. The filling should be well set when the tart is cooked and it should be a lovely golden colour.  You have to really watch this tart to make sure it does not over brown. I also always turn the pie plate half way through cooking to ensure it browns evenly. 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before serving. This is delicious served with good vanilla ice cream. 

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for about twenty-four hours.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's National Baking Week!

It’s National Baking Week here in Britain this week, the objective of which is to get Britain baking and sharing! You can bake and share at home, bake and share at school or bake and share at work. Of course, here at The 21st Century Housewife it doesn’t take much encouragement to get us baking, but I love the idea of an initiative to take the mystery out of this wonderful home craft and provide loads of inspiration for great ideas on how to get started.

I’ll be posting lots of baking recipes on the site this week, and referencing other sites where you can find even more ideas and inspiration. And of course, the National Baking Week website is a great place to start. There are articles, recipes, games, ways for you to Bake a Difference, and even competitions.

Speaking of competitions, the nice people at Pyrex have offered to sponsor a giveaway just for readers of The 21st Century Housewife and The 21st Century Housewife’s Kitchen. You could win a selection of Pyrex non-stick bakeware and prepware worth £50! All you need to do to enter is email me by clicking here with the words ‘Pyrex Giveaway’ in the subject line of the email. The giveaway closes on Thursday so get your entries in quick!

After you have entered, head on over to the National Baking Week website, grab your apron and get started baking something yummy to celebrate. Baking is a wonderful stress reducer and a great way to treat family and friends - so come on, let’s get baking and sharing!!

The 21st Century Housewife was not paid for this post. Pyrex and the National Baking Week website are supplying the giveaway prize. Contest is open to UK residents only and closes Thursday 21st October. Winner will be drawn at random on Friday 22nd October.