Thursday, 28 January 2010

Shortbread



As it was Burns Night on Monday I decided I needed to do something "festive" (regardless of the fact that I have not a bit of Scottish blood in me). Now, I don't do haggis. I really don't. I think I had a bad experience at a haggis-eating contest at college once so my haggis days are truly over. I settled on shortbread. It's easy, classic and everyone loves it, including Mr M and it's highly unlikely to make me want to yack.

I pondered over which recipe to use - whoever knew there could be so many different ways of making shortbread?! and finally plumped for a recipe from Nigella Lawson, from her How to Eat book.

I must admit, above I have said shortbread is easy, and it is really but heavens above I got into one hell of a sticky mess! The shortbread mixture seemed a bit dry and didn't really mould together very well so I dampened my hands slightly which was a bit of a mistake but it did work so all was good in the end. I'm thinking it probably needed a bit more butter to pull it together. The recipe also didn't really seem to make a lot and trying to make it into a cylinder was interesting but I persevered and got there in the end (before frantically wrapping clingfilm around it in a vain attempt to stop it all falling apart).

Shortbread

Ingredients

100g butter, very soft
100g plain flour
50g icing sugar
50g cornflour

Method

Cream the butter and sugar in the food processor, stopping every now again to make sure the mixture is all pushed down and combining properly. Add the flours and a pinch of salt and process to combine, again checking that it's all pushed down from the sides of the bowl.

Remove and knead into a cylinder shape. Cover with clingfilm and chill in fridge. At the same time preheat the oven to gas mark 3/160c. After about 20 minutes, when the cylinder feels hard to the touch, slice into half-centimetre thick discs (or thinner if you like) and put onto a greased baking tray (dredge with caster sugar if you want a sweet crunchy edge) and bake for 20-30minutes.

The biscuits will continue to firm up once out of the oven - just check the top is dry and the base is not doughy. Remove from the baking try and cool on a wire rack.

So it looked a bit dodgy but it tasted wonderful. Seriously, the best shortbread I have ever tried, even the raw mixture was a beautiful thing. I won't ever use a different recipe again however I will spend some time trying to perfect this one!

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Screen Actors Guild Awards 2010

I hear you. "Oh Mrs M. With all these awards, you are spoiling us". And yet, there is so much more to come...the Brits, BAFTAs, Oscars and the cream of the crop - the Inside Soap Awards. Ahem.

Anyhow, yay for more pretty dresses!

Hits

Anna Kendrick looking beautiful in purple. I'm a big fan of purple at the moment, this is lovely.



Sticking with my purple love, Tina Fey looked blummin' gorgeous.



Nicole Kidman has actually been slated for this dress but I quite like it and I LOVE her hair like this again, just like it was years ago.



Marion Cottilard looks white hot alright.



Kyra Sedgwick looks a bit bridal here but I like it.



Christina Applegate - beautiful woman, beautiful dress.



Diane Kruger - wow! Certainly not a colour I'd pick myself but she totally pulls this off.



Lea Michele, hmmm I wasn't entirely sure but I love the colour and she looks beautiful.



I wasn't sure what to do with Toni Collette either. After a long deliberation I've decided she's a hit.



Mariah Carey looks altogether better than at the Golden Globes, she looks nice so I'll let her slip in here.



Jane Krakowski is working the Marilyn/Hollywood glamour look here and she does it well.



Helen Mirren is one of those people that make me twitch, but she does look very graceful and elegant here.



Carey Mulligan looks lovely again, I don't really know who she is but I am fast becoming a fan.



Penelope Cruz. Okay, she looks fabulous I know, that's why she's a hit but it doesn't mean I like her.



Misses


Anna Paquin. I'm sorry, I know everybody likes her but she just always looks so awkward.



Christina Hendricks is going firmly in my MISS section this time. Sure, she's nice looking and people are raving about her outfit again but it just doesn't do it for me. I also don't think it fits her very well up top.



Ariel Winter. I dunno, in a kind of theatrical way I like this but it's a bit OTT.



Kate Hudson in long, white, bridal chic again. Apparently she was the hit of the night but I don't like it. So there.



I love Drew Barrymore, she's quirky, that's her thing but this dress and hair combo are making me gurn slightly.



I have no idea who Julia Louise Dreyfus is. All I know is she looks like she is wearing a sausage skin and that is never a good look.



Yowsers. Sophia Loren could really use a decent up-to-date stylist. The hair is so old-fashioned.



Why did Sigourny Weaver pick something so dull and shapeless? It does her no favours whatsoever.



I don't think I really have a stand our favourite this time but if I was held at gunpoint I think I'd plump for Diane Kruger in her mustard frock for being quite bold with colour and managing to pull it off. She has a lovely shape and the dress is extremely elegant. Love it.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Friday, 22 January 2010

Apple Flapjack Crumble



(Copied from old blog...originally posted 20th April 2009)

I made this crumble a few weeks ago and almost forgot to blog about it which would have been a terrible shame because it was immense! I was lusting after a rhubarb crumble but Tesco let me down big time on that front so I searched the BBC Good Food website for an alternative and stumbled across this recipe for Apple Flapjack Crumble. It had rave reviews so I thought I'd give it a go.

It's a long time since I made apple crumble so I had forgotten just how boring and labourious peeling and coring apples was, so I enlisted the help of Himself and put him on peeling duty as I was working my way through the ton of apples so slowly I was worried they were going to go brown. Hindsight is a wonderful thing as I really needn't have used so many apples. Either this recipe was for giants or my Mason Cash dish was way too small. Either way, I only ended up using half the apples because Himself and I believe that the crumble to fruit ratio should be calculated with great care. There should always always be more crumble than fruit and this recipe produced a poxy amount of crumble mixture compared to the mound of apples so therefore I adjusted it to suit.

Apple Flapjack Crumble

Ingredients

1kg eating apples
3-4 tbsp apricot jam
juice of 1 large orange

For the crumble;
140g porridge oats
100g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100g butter
100g light muscavado sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup

Method

Heat oven to 190c/gas mark 5. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and mix with the jam and orange juice. Spread evenly over a buttered 1.5 litre ovenproof dish, not too deep.

Mix the oats, flour and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the butter in small chunks and rub in gently. Stir in the sugar and rub in again. Drizzle over the syrup, mixing with a knife so it forms small clumps. Sprinkle evenly over the apples and bake for 30-35 mins until the juices from the apples start to bubble up.

Cool for 10 mins, then serve with custard, cream or ice cream.

So glut of apples aside, this was a major hit with everyone in the house, including the outlaws and not a bit went to waste. The topping was scrumptious, the Golden Syrup really added something and worked really well to give it that flapjack taste. I'd definitely recommend this recipe - just go easy with the apples!



love & kisses
Mrs M x

Shopping: Etsy Love



What is not to love about Etsy? Beautiful, unique and often handmade items - art, stationery, jewellery, toys (you name it, you can probably find it on Etsy) sold by some of the most creative and friendliest people on the planet! It's the perfect place to shop for a unique card or gift for someone you love or perhaps a cute pair of earrings to treat yourself - there is a good chance you'll never see them on anyone else.

I've had nothing but good experiences shopping on Etsy - the quality of the items I have received has been amazing and whenever I have entered into conversations with sellers they have been pleasant and keen to help. A lot of the sellers are based in the US but this is never a problem. The majority of them are ecstatically happy to ship to the UK and most certainly do not thrape you with high postage charges a la Ebay.


I was browsing Etsy yesterday and thought why not blog about some of my favourite items/sellers - there is so much stuff on there, the "add to favourites" certainly comes into its own.


First up - gorgeous hand cut greeting cards from
Storeyshop made here in good old blighty. I think these cards are amazing, and I've never seen anything like them before. I'd love to receive one of these and am going to be certainly purchasing some for some upcoming events this year.



I love the Valentines one above! So cute!

Next, I actually bought one of these custom ringbearers bowls from Paloma's Nest. We didn't use it at our wedding, I've got it more as a keepsake but it's just so lovely and came in gorgeous packaging too! A gorgeous item from a really nice seller. If you know anyone who is getting married I think it would make a lovely gift. We had ours stamped with our names and wedding date but you can basically have anything you want (within a character limit I should imagine) hand stamped.



I'm having a bit of a bird-loving phase at the moment and these sweet little clay bowls from Tasha McKelvey really caught my eye. She has a whole array of pottery and jewellery in her shop.



Oh my eyes. MY EYES! The cuteness is unbearable. Sadly, my two children are past the stage where they look cute in crocheted beanies (not sure the little fella would ever suited one to be fair) but these from Two Seaside Babes are lovely.



I'm a big fan of wall graphics. I am sure it's just a phase like wallpaper borders and stenciling but for the moment I love them and Urban Expressions has a really good selection. My problem is always choosing one.





I have been meaning to purchase these bookplates from Oiseaux for years, literally. I think they were the first thing I added to my favourites so if I only do one thing today (apart from blog) and I am going to order some and when they arrive I will place them in my most precious books.



Is it a cupcake? No it's a bathbomb! In the past few years cupcakes seem to have become very popular and nearly every shop you go in has something cupcake themed. These bathbombs from Candied Beauty are so sweet and perfect for the cupcake lover in your life!




If you've not checked out Etsy yet, you should. That's an instruction. (And if you're really bored, try pouncing. It's my favourite way of discovering new things). Let me know what you find!

All products and images are the property of the individual sellers.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

Thursday, 21 January 2010

National Television Awards 2010



It seems only fair that as I featured the fashions of the Golden Globes yesterday I should do the fashions of the very important National Television Awards, where the shock of the night was not the Jedward and Vanilla Ice combo (which was inspired) but Loose Women winning Best Factual Programme.

My favourite outfit? Dannii Minogue. Without a doubt, I think she looked amazing.



Hits

I thought Lacey Turner looked really pretty, simple and classy.



Amanda Donoghue looked lovely too, I liked her simple and elegant dress.



Davina McCall looks gorgeous here, so fresh and youthful. I think she is my second favourite of the night.



Kym Marsh. Proof that you can in fact polish a turd.



Amanda Holden. I can't bear the woman but have to admit she looks quite good here.



There will always be room in my heart for Cheryl Cole. She looks stunning as usual.



Tess Daly. I wasn't sure to start with but she has to go in the hit section really. She looks pretty cool and classy.



Fearne Cotton almost made it into my miss section too but she looks pretty beautiful here so I'll let her stay.



Holly Willoughby looks pretty here, the dress is okay but I wish she'd dress a bit younger.



Misses

Heather Mills. Dress looks cheap and boring and ever since she's had her haircut like that I think she looks really harsh.



Mylene Klass, probably because I don't really like her, but I also don't think that this dress does her much justice.



Kara Tointon. She just looks odd.



Barbara Windsor looks more and more like a pantomime dame every time I see her. God love her.



I don't even know what to say about this pair. Michelle Heaton and Katie Price looked, well, a bit bargain basement to be quite honest.



Who were you hits and misses of the night?

love & kisses
Mrs M x