Lemon and Ginger Marscapone Tart

fanny and brendas lemon and ginger marscapone tartThis fabulous recipe is one that has been developed after several trials. It concentrates on lemon with influences of ginger to inform the flavour, and also uses lemon zest to give those momentary experiences of pure lemon in the mouth. There are no distracting flavours and this is a recipe that I highly recommend. It is equally good as an alternative at Christmas, or to finish off a midsummer supper.

Use the rough puff pastry as illustrated on this blog: it’s much better than the packaged pastry. (If you plan to make one tart then halving the measures listed in the puff pastry recipe will suffice.) http://fannyandbrenda.com/blog/quick-puff-pastry/


Preheat the oven to 180°c

4 large eggs separated
200g caster sugar
200ml double cream
300g marscapone cheese
Juice from two lemons
Zest from two lemons
50g candied lemon peel
150g puff pastry – using our recipe!
1 tbsp of candied ginger


Flour your board and roll out the puff pastry thinly.

Get you tart case and grease. Place baking paper over it. (If you are using a pop out baking dish then ignore this instruction – I add it purely for the ease of removing the tart after it has baked and cooled!)

Now add the pastry

Cut to size and shape and add another (2nd) layer of baking paper.

Add the baking beans and place in oven for 10 minutes to blind bake the pastry

lemon and ginger marscapone tart
Take out and remove the baking beans and baking paper and replace in oven for ten minutes.

Remove from oven and reduce the heat to 150°c


For the lemon mix:

First cut up your candied ginger quite finely

In a large mixing bowl add the marscapone, cream, 100g of sugar,lemon juice, egg yolks, zest and combine them.

lemon and ginger marscapone tart

In another large mixing bowl add the egg whites and the other 100g of caster sugar and whisk together till it forms little peaks.

Add the egg whites to the first mixture and stir in.

Take the candied ginger and sprinkle it on the base of the tart

lemon and ginger marscapone tart
Now pour the mixture into the cooled tart case and cook for about 20-25mins. You want the top to still have  a lemony colour, and once it starts to brown at the edges, you know it is cooked. The middle will be wobbly but that will set. Leave to cool.

Serve with some cream.*

(* Our cream was whipped with about 50ml of lemon juice and 50ml of limoncello. A superb combination that complements this tart awfully well!)
lemon and ginger marscapone tart

Sesame seed chicken mince patties with intense dipping sauce

fanny and  brenda's chicken sesame balls recipe


1 slice stale bread, crust removed or about 75 g breadcrumbs
500g minced chicken
1 medium onion – grated
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 thumb fresh ginger, grated (you should end up with 2-3 tsp grated ginger)
1 egg
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chilli  flakes
small bunch fresh coriander, chopped
groundnut/sunflower oil for frying

for the sauce

3tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
3tbsp shaoxing rice wine
3tbsp chinkiang rice vinegar
1tsp Chinese 5 -spice


This is a light course and recommended as a lunchtime special! If you are using cooked chicken, minced yourself, you’ll need to reduce the amount by about 20% as there’s a lot less water in that than found in raw chicken, so you’ll have the same amount of actual meat. Therefore I actually started with much nearer 400g which is an amount usually salvageable from the Sunday roast and is a great way of using up some frozen leftovers  (or indeed fresh from only a day or two back if you dont want to freeze any leftover chicken, and so have fresh cooked chicken available – moreover  in a really professional-looking, authentic tasting and unusual way.

1)  Put the chicken mince in a medium size glass bowl, soak the bread in water (or even a few mls of chicken stock if, again, you had a bit left over that wouldn’t quite fit in the containers when you made your last batch.  I have found it easily lasts a few days in the fridge so long as you leave it alone and covered), squeeze out any excess and mix into the chicken along with the grated onion, ginger and garlic.  If you are using cooked chicken mince, you will certainly need to crack the egg in – even more so if using your own breadcrumbs, which will of course make the mixture intrinsically drier than an equivalent starting point with shop bought ready-minced chicken and/or soaked bread. You can further add a few tsp sesame oil, which not only gives a more authentic, rich flavour, but will likewise help to bind the mixture. You really want to end up with a ball of mix with the consistency a bit lighter/looser than Play-Doh

2)  To this, you now add the chilli flakes (and you could certainly use finely chopped fresh red chilli too although remember you’re giving it a background heat and flavour, and not the full-on Phall curry experience measured in millions of units on the Scoville scale!  Then in goes a handful of chopped coriander (not too fine, you dont want to turn your fresh green herb into something akin to Pesto!) plus a tbsp or thereabouts of light soy sauce (that’s the saltier one compared to dark soy sauce which is more added for colour). Form the mixture into little patties about 2cm thick and a bit smaller than the palm of your hand. You’ll get 12 or so usually, depending on the exact size.

3) Some advise frying them off like this then rolling the fried patties in sesame seeds  straight afterwards, but I found the chicken mix was moist enough to protect the sesame seeds from going too brown (ie burning) so I rolled the patties in the sesame seeds before cooking and shallow fried for around 2-3 minutes on each side, turned out onto several layers of kitchen roll and the exterior was beautifully crisp with that gorgeous toasted sesame taste that would have been heightened by the frying process,

4)  While you’re frying the patties off, mix all the sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan and boil rapidly till it’s reduced by as much as a quarter by which time it will be syrupy. Strain it through a small sieve or tea strainer into a tiny bowl (like a salt cellar – which is a good example since it’s a powerful condiment) and serve as a dip for the hot and crisp patties. Maybe for colour, texture and some counterpoint for the very intense flavours from the patties with the dip, you could serve with some sliced cucumber – and even rice too if you wanted to make a main meal of it rather than a starter or snack.

Mexican Shoulder of Lamb for 2 people

Our nights are still cold here in Blighty and a meal like this is most welcome. It is a delicious arrangement of lamb and vegetables with very mild but wonderfully flavoursome spicing. Although we say it’s for two people (Brenda is extremely prone to large portions), we had plenty of leftovers and could have fed four!

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe


1 shoulder of lamb (0.75kg)
Olive oil
1 whole but small head of garlic (6-8 cloves)

2 carrots, peeled and roughly diced

2 onions, peeled and roughly diced

2 ancho chillies

1 chipotle chilli

350ml full-bodied red wine

1-2 tsp redcurrant jelly

For the spice mix

4cm cinnamon stick

1 large branch rosemary, leaves stripped

1 tsp black peppercorns cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 star anise

2 bay leaves 
Maldon sea salt

To serve
spring greens
courgette batons fried
handful of fresh coriander

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

1) Cut off any excess fat or sinew from the lamb. Rub all over with olive oil

2)  Put all the spices for the spice mix in a dry frying pan and heat on a medium flame for about three minutes till things start to pop, the bay leaves are very nearly dry and everything is just starting to smoke and smell really fragrant. To stop the toasting immediately (you definitely don’t want the spices to burn), tip the contents of the pan directly into a pestle and mortar, and grind away for a good 3-5 mins till you have a  powder – I actually sieved the grounds into a small glass bowl so that any stubborn bits of cinnamon or the stalk and central vein in the bay leaves which remained, would be captured in the sieve (and could be discarded), leaving a nice even, chocolate brown and superbly aromatic spice mix, to which I then just added  a teaspoonful of Maldon sea salt.

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

3) Rub or sprinkle the spice mix all over the oiled lamb.

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

4) Break up the garlic head  and bash the cloves to release them from their skins – a few whacks with a rolling pin is fine!! Scatter the chopped carrots and onions into the baking tin along with the bruised garlic, discard the stalk and seeds in both types of chilli and then tear or cut  each chilli into four or five pieces and add to the tray. Put the wine in a jug and stir through the redcurrant jelly and than pour evenly over the baking tins’ contents, place the lamb on top and leave to marinate for four hours or preferably overnight, in the fridge and covered in tinfoil.

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

5) Heat the oven to 150°C

6) If cooking the same day, assuming a reasonably cool kitchen, you won’t need to have refrigerated the dish, but having marinated over night, allow it to come up to near room temperature by taking out of the fridge at least an hour prior to cooking – Brenda hates anything frigid in her oven……and although I know what she means, this is in fact mainly to allow the dish to come up to heat quickly once in the oven. Depending on the size of your joint, steam and braise away under its lovely tent of foil for around 3 1/2 hours, by which time it should be meltingly soft. Confirm this by how it looks and feels – by all means have a quick check at around half time and baste the met/veg with some pan juices if necessary, even topping up with 100ml water if it looks as if it might be getting a little dry, although this is unlikely if the tinfoil hat has been fixed on tight.

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

7)  Lift out the meat, and place, covered, in a warm place to rest. Just before serving, don’t try and carve it, just break apart with two forks so you end up with something like pulled pork  Meanwhile, whizz the contents of the roasting tray with a stick blender (or tip the entire contents of the roasting tray – minus meat - into the blender and process for a minute or two until you have a soft chilli and onion puree which will not be perfectly smooth) Warm through gently on the hob (either in the tray to save on the washing-up, or transfer to a saucepan). Add an extra teaspoon of redcurrant jelly and/or additional seasoning if required. 

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

8) Serve with modest mashed potato (in other words, don’t go mad with cream and butter as the lamb is quite rich and the contrast will please the stomach) which can be mixed up with steamed spring greens. Best thing is a dollop  (or smear if you’re being refined) of the chilli puree on a warmed plate, next to some neat spoonfuls of the spuds/greens mix, followed by the lamb piled onto the puree and all dressed with some torn coriander leaves. Enjoy!

Triple sec taste test

choosing between de kuyper and tesco triple sec

De Kuyper is probably the best known brand for Triple Sec in the UK. That said there are one or two others including the Tesco one featured here.

Tesco’s own is 38% alcohol while the de Kuyper is 40%. Does this make a difference?

We conducted a blind taste testing. Both scored well but one is noticeably more aromatic, with powerful floral orangey notes on the nose.This corresponded with a flavour that was more robust.

Don’t get us wrong – these are both rather delicious drinks. But if we have the choice, the de Kuyper wins and by quite a margin. The choice may therefore be down to cost rather than preference – there is a considerable difference. That is Tesco’s advantage.

De Kuyper Triple Sec Price 50cl £14.00 (Sainsburys)

Tesco Triple Sec 50cl £9.00

Prices correct on 9th March 2015