Chilli Chocolate Crunch

chillie chocolate crunch pudding - absolutely delicious from fanny and brenda

It never fails to amaze me that someone like Brenda who as some would say, possesses the most rudimentary of culinary skills, (and others might more correctly if rather less kindly opine that despite the complete lack of any culinary skills),  has an uncanny ability to occasionally turn out something that is not only worth eating, but is downright delicious.

This particular recipe is very simple to make, yet packs a spicy and sophisticated contemporary punch that will impress any dinner guests that step over the threshold. Serve with a little pouring cream, this simple pud will be the subject of admiring conversation for years!

You will see from the appalling  video demonstration that a total lack of skill or discipline does not necessarily get in the way of a successful result so this should give anyone with no experience of cooking at all, some hope. This really is one to enjoy.

Ingredients

100g of 70% dark chocolate
4 free range egg whites
Juice of half a lemon
10g caster sugar
1/4 tsp of chili powder
200g of chocolate digestive biscuits whizzed into crumbs in the blender
25g melted butter


Method

1) Melt the chocolate in a double boiler on the hob
2) Put the biscuits in the blender and whizz until finely crumbed
3) Melt butter in a pan
4) Pour crumbs in the pan, stir into the butter and add the quarter teaspoon of chilli powder
5) Take about 5 ramekin dishes and grease up with butter
6) Cut discs out of greaseproof paper the same radius as the ramekins and place them in the bottom of the ramekins
7) Whisk the egg whites
8) Add the lemon juice to the egg whites, and whisk the combination until you have stiff peaks
9) Add the chocolate by combining and mix in well
10) Taste the mixture – if sugar is necessary add some to your taste
11) Add shallow layer of biscuit crumbs to the ramekins
12) Add chocolate mousse mixture
13) Sprinkle over the rest of the crumb mixture on the mousse mixtures and pat down
14) Place in fridge to chill for two hours
15) To serve, remove from fridge, and cut round the perimeter of each chocolate crunch in the ramekins
16) Turn upside down and they will release easily.
17) Serve with fine dusting of chilli powder, and some cream.

chillie chocolate crunch pudding - absolutely delicious from fanny and brenda

Sugared Rose Petals

fanny and brendas sugared rose petals

This week I have been able to have some quiet time in the house without Fanny thumping around the place swilling back the alcohol and threatening another house full of undesirables from the wrong side of the tracks. Sorry but it had to be said. Anyway this week she went off to stay with Mrs Clam (see previous postings about the ghastliest landlady in Brighton ) and I had peace and quiet.
I stared out of the french windows and chanced on the abundant roses which are flowering prolifically at the moment.

And that set me thinking. A lot of the shop bought rose flavoured items are just too strong and perfumed for my pleasure. It’s strange because although it must be one of my favourite fragrances, it doesn’t always translate in the mouth. It would seem that the mouth is full of receptors and much more finely attuned to taste and flavour than our nostrils are for fragrance.

So I set about making some sugared rose petals. I snatched some of the more perfumed heads off Fanny’s most precious roses and carefully pulled them apart. Not all roses have the same texture flower head – for instance one of the roses rejected the coating of syrup that I used on the others before the sugar dipping. I wasn’t having any of that so I beat an egg and covered those said same rose petals in egg wash. Funnily enough they were more obedient this time. The roses were then dipped in caster sugar on both sides and then left to dry on some greaseproof paper overnight.

So: just to sum up the process:

Gather your fragrant pesticide free roses and pull the heads apart.
Get a brush and coat them in a simple syrup or egg wash.
Dip them both sides in sugar (I used caster – some people prefer granulated)
Lay flat on greaseproof paper
Leave flat to dry overnight or 24 hours if still sticky
Place in airtight jar and use quickly (within a week)- they won’t last long.

Enjoy the perfumed aroma which is subtle and very beautiful.

Lemony Chard and Lentil Soup

summer lemony chard and lentil soup from fanny and brenda 

Our editor decided to bring some home grown chard with him that he had grown in his front garden. Bursting with freshness it would have been a crime not to have done something with it and bless me because there was soon a hive of activity around the oven.

Ingredients

500ml chicken stock
120g green lentils
1 medium chopped onion
1 courgette cut into cubes
1/2 aubergine cut into cubes
2 fresh tomatoes cut into cubes
1 fresh jalapeño pepper – sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 lemon – juiced and finely zested
1 tsp za’atar or sumac
1 tsp paprilka
1 tbsn fresh flast leaf parsley – chopped
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
olive oil

Method

I would like to say you can use water and a chicken stock cube for this, but you can’t. Or at the very least, I wouldn’t. But there again, I write this from a very advantageous position as the Fates were smiling on me (which I think was the Universe’s way of compensating me for Brenda’s hideous grimace).Not only did i have my own gorgeous chicken stock ready and awaiting me in the freezer, but, upon retrieving it from there, I chanced upon a little dish containing a disc of pure chicken essence (I’d been inspired to recreate an Elizabeth David butter roasted chicken, served it with its own juices, poured from a small jug. The following day, I discovered that underneath the 2 inch thick layer of butter, was a layer of, as I said, pure chicken essence. By the way, it was from a Norfolk Black chicken and you know what they say, once you’ve had black…..)

1) Set the chicken stock onto the heat and bring to the boil, adding the lentils

2) Start frying the onion, aubergine and courgette, then after 10 minutes, sprinkle on the sumac and add the tomato and jalapeño , continuing to fry for another 5 mins

3) Tip the contents of the frying pan into the simmering lentils, add about half the grated lemon zest and all the juice, the chard and the paprika

4) Simmer for another 5 mins or so until the chard is wilted into the soup

5) Serve with a rough chopped fresh flat leaf parsley and a light sprinkle of lemon zest

6) A slice of sourdough goes awfully well too.

Fanny’s Fantastic Fish and Chips

Ingredients

for the mushy peas

350ml chicken stock
100g green lentils
100g frozen peas
small onion finely chopped
bay leaf
pinch of asafoetida
juice of a lime
1 green chilli finely sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

the fish

750g cod or haddock fillets

for the marinade for the fish

thumb of fresh ginger – finely minced
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp chilli powder

for the batter

200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
300ml lager or light beer
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

plus a few tablespoons of flour to dust the fish – plain or self raising.

1kg King Edwards pototoes or any other “good chippers”

fanny's fantastic fish & chips as seen on fannyandbrenda.com

METHOD

Start by getting your mushy peas on as the lentils take an hour to cook – this is perfect as it gives you time to prepare the herbs that will go into the dish shortly before it’s ready – and will also give you time to make the marinade for the fish and to actually let it marinade! And of course, deal with the crux of the whole assemblage which is the spiced batter.

fanny's fantastic fish & chips as seen on fannyandbrenda.com

Simply set your chicken stock to heat in a pan and add the lentils, chopped onion, bay leaf and asafoetida. Chop the herbs and squeeze the lime ready for later.

fanny's fantastic fish & chips as seen on fannyandbrenda.com

You can make the chips the day before (or much earlier) – and just have them in the fridge ready for their final fry. Chip the potatoes first, then par boil them (simmer for no longer than 8 minutes in well salted water) – drain and cool on a tray lined with kitchen paper or clean tea towels. Then, when cold, fry at 130°c for 8 mins or so so that they’re getting really soft but should be taking on virtually no colour. Again, turn out onto a lined tray and cool.

fanny's fantastic fish & chips as seen on fannyandbrenda.com

They’re now ready for their final stage which is to fry them in really hot oil (190°c) for 5 mins or until they’re sizzling and golden. These can be kept warm for the final 15 mins while the mushy peas are completed and the fish fried.

fanny's fantastic fish & chips as seen on fannyandbrenda.com

Turning to the marinade for the fish, simply combine the minced fresh ginger and garlic with the chilli powder and then turn the pieces of fish gently through it, cover in cling film and refrigerate while it marinates.

For the spiced batter, sift the flour and baking powder into a medium sized bowl and start to add the liquid – undoubtedly beer adds a richness and lightness but you can of course use water – or, as I mentioned in the clip on youtube, fizzy water. The first couple of tablespoons should be worked in with a fork which will start to make a paste, which, when more is added, will gradually let down in consistency until you end up with what should be a nice thick, but not gloopy, batter. When this stage is reached, you simply tip in the spice mix and whisk together till combined. Various theories exist which extol the virtues of allowing the batter to “mature” but I challenge anyone to taste the difference between fish fried in batter just made – compared to batter made an hour or more prior to use. The main thing is likely to be that any “resting” between making, and use, will give the chance for any lumps to melt away (although never hurts to give the batter a final quick whisk just ahead of coating the fish).

fanny's fantastic fish & chips as seen on fannyandbrenda.com

fanny's fantastic fish & chips as seen on fannyandbrenda.com

Check your lentils which should be soft after about 45 mins, at which point you can add the frozen peas to the pan.

fanny's fantastic fish & chips as seen on fannyandbrenda.com

Take the marinated fish from the fridge, dust in flour and then dip in the batter. Let the excess drip off for a second or two and plop deftly into the pan of oil which should be at about 190°c (happily the same as the chips’ final fry). Although I was seen putting about five or six pieces into the oil (again, the Youtube clip exists as evidence!), this was probably too many as you really need to maintain that very high temperature all the way through – and since most people’s hobs don’t have gas rings with the capacity of a Harrier on full reheat (if only! My imagination pops at what I could do to Brenda!), this will realistically mean doing two or three at a time and keeping your earlier ones warm in the oven along with the chips.

Just before serving, stir the chopped herbs and lime juice through the lentil/peas mix and season.
I’m not that keen on “twists” normally – but this is truly delightful.

fanny's fantastic fish & chips as seen on fannyandbrenda.com