Fanny and Brenda’s Halloween Feast


Bleeding Hearts Stuffed Red Peppers by Fanny and Brenda


4 red peppers – 3 of them cut in half lengthways and 1 chopped up
2 red onions – finely chopped
8 cloves garlic – minced
250g minced beef
100g rice
1tsp red chilli flakes
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tin tomatoes
olive oil
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
250ml dry white wine
good handful of medium chopped flat leaf parsley
Baked garlic bulb – optional

Bleeding Hearts Stuffed Red Peppers by Fanny and Brenda


Heat two medium size frying pans and add the mince to one and the onions to the other

Brown the mince for about 5-10 mins and then add half the onions (from the other pan), to the mince

To the mince pan, now add the chilli flakes, cumin, nutmeg and half the minced garlic and continue frying for a couple more minutes, then switch off. Season with some salt and pepper.

Add the chopped pepper to the onion pan and continue to fry for another 5-10 mins until the onions are translucent and beginning to turn golden and the peppers are starting to caramelise. Add the other half of the minced garlic, fry for a further minute or two then add the tin of tomatoes, the wine and season. Simmer for 20 minutes then season with salt and black pepper .

Meanwhile, if you don’t have any leftover cooked rice, now is a good time to cook some fresh.

Switch on the oven to 180°C

By now, the mince has cooled quite a bit so you can now drain the rice (if cooking it fresh) and stir it through the mince along with a good handful of chopped parsley.

Once the tomato and pepper sauce has simmered, blend it for a few mins till fairly smooth – it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth like tomato soup but neither do you want chunky. If it needs thinning, add a small glass of water and blend this in.

Lay out the 6 pepper halves in a baking dish which should provide a snug fit. Spoon the mince and rice mixture into them. Then carefully pour round the sauce (there should be around a litre of this) so that the level just about reaches the height of the pepper halves. Drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil and bake for 45 mins.

Serve with a little more chopped parsley – and some baked garlic if you want your bleeding hearts to have extra Brenda- scaring, I mean vampire-scaring Hallowe’en properties!

Bleeding Hearts Stuffed Red Peppers by Fanny and Brenda



It takes a furtive if not macabre imagination to suggest a graveyard for a pudding, but that is Brenda Gateway for you. However her thinking was in line with a gory Halloweeny feast so why not? It is an involved recipe that would be good for a dinner party and is a festive dish for this time of year. It is relatively simple to make and as you see from the picture Brenda’s gravestones weren’t that lifelike thank goodness! Sometimes her complete lack of technical skill pays dividends!

Lime Graveyard Mousse with Chocolate Gravestones - delicious!


Chocolate Gravestones
150g plain chocolate
150g salted butter, softened
1 avocado
125g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
5 free-range eggs, separated
100g ground almonds
50g plain flour, sieved
300g of white chocolate for the gravestone coating

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F
Ideally you will have a square cake tim with a pop out base.
Grease this and the line with baking parchment / greaseproof paper
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water
Meanwhile beat the butter till soft and add the sugar till well mixed in
Cut up the avocado and whisk into the mixture
Add the chocolate and stir in
Add the egg yolks and stir in
Fold in the ground almonds and the flour.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites till you can see stiff peaks
Add a couple of tablespoons to the chocolate mix and stir in.
Fold in the remaining egg into the chocolate
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake dish and place in oven for about 45 minutes
Leave to cool in dish for a couple of hours.
Then pop out of its tin and place on a board with some greaseproof paper
Cut the cake into strips. These are the gravestones!
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over some simmering water and dip the gravestones into the melted chocolate
Leave to cool and harden.

Graveyard Mousse


4 eggs, separated
180 – 250g caster sugar depending on how sweet/tart you like it.
3 limes, zested and juiced
50ml hot water
2-3 tsp powdered gelatine depending on how set you like it
300ml double cream
Three parts of natural yellow food colouring
One part of natural green colouring


In a medium size bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has lightened in colour and thickened – a few minutes with an electric whisk. Then whisk in the lime zest and juice.

Dissolve the gelatine according to packet instructions although sprinkling into a small cup of hot water and leaving for a few mins, then stirring with a fork usually does it.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the cream until soft peaks form. Use a hand whisk because it allows much more control and you can feel when it’s ‘just right’.

Stir the melted gelatine into the cream and fold this into the egg yolk mixture.

Whisk the egg whites in yet another bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.

Briefly whisk in about a third of the whipped egg whites into the yolk/lime/cream mix and then gently fold in the rest

Pour into your sundae glasses or ramekins and chill for at least a couple of hours but easier to make them the day before so they chill overnight.

Once you have let the mousses chill, and the gravestones white chocolate coating has hardened the pud is ready to eat. Take the gravestones and place them into the mousse. Sprinkle with some candied lime zest if you have it and serve!

Blackberry Blueberry & Apple Pie

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

I spend most days having to look at a dilipdated Fanny which is the equivalent of looking at a sad old pie. A rather fatty pork pie I may add. However despite her unfortunate looks, (which are considerably worse before she cakes on the makeup), I am not put off by such horrors. This week to compensate for my pain, I have made the most delectable Autumn orientated fruit pie in the world and one thing pleases me in particular; – that I am so modest about it! I’ve said it before and I will say it again (because I have a nasty habit of repeating myself despite the doctor’s prescription), Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year due to the colours and the harvest. This year I have some apples which I located in someone’s garden, and some recently picked blackberries found in someone’s hedge, so I thought I would add some blueberries to the mix as well. And if I may say so, this delicious combination of fruit will keep young and old very happy indeed!

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda


350g blueberries
350g blackberries
350 apples
4 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 beaten egg

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

Shortcrust pastry

160g plain flour
100g butter
A large pinch of sea salt
1 tsp of caster sugar
Approx 2 tablespoons of water


1) The rich shortcrust pastry

Take a mixing bowl and combine the sugar salt and flour.
Now take the butter in small lumps and add it to the flour mix.
Blend it till you get a crumbly texture.
Add enough water to the dough to get the mixture to combine.
Now: the odd part, which isn’t odd once you get used to it- the fraisage.

Take the bottom of the palm of your hand (the heel) and take a small amount of the pastry and literally smear it down a well floured pastry board. Put that smeared pastry to one side, and then add another and repeat. Wrap it all up into a ball and then repeat the process again. This process is ‘fraisage’.

Now take the ball of pastry, wrap it and refrigerate it for an hour.

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

2) The pie

Roll out the pastry
Take a pie dish and grease it
Lay the pastry in the dish
Blind bake it for twenty minutes (10 minutes with the beans and 10 minutes without) at 150°C
Take out and leave to cool

Place the blackberries in a bowl. Drain off the juice if they have been frozen.
Add the blueberries
Add two table spoons of sugar and leave to macerate for half an hour
Meanwhile peel and core some apples and stew for quarter of an hour in a pan. Add sugar to taste
Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Add the apples to the fruit mix,and stir in.

Add the fruit mix to the pie
Rollout some pastry for the topping.
Baste with some beaten egg
Add a scattering of caster sugar to the topping
Bake in oven at 200°C for about thirty minutes or till golden brown on top.

Serve with cream or custard

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

It’s the weekend! Time for a Lavender Martini…

fanny and brendas gorgeous lavender martini

Because we know how sophisticated you are (and not because you’re secret boozers, except Brenda of course!) – and because I had some lavender syrup I thought I might reward you with this delightful cocktail. It isn’t really a martini in a particularly accurate sense but I won’t bore you with the reasons why and besides, it sounds nice.

The exact quantities of each constituent part are unimportant – clearly this can be scaled up (-let’s be honest, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to scale it down) - so long that the ratio of each stays the same. The measures given below should serve two, but it depends how thirsty you are!

120ml vanilla vodka – this is available from pretty much all drinks outlets or you can make your own by steeping a split vanilla pod in a bottle of vodka at least overnight.
40ml fresh lemon juice
20ml  Lavender Syrup - bring 100g sugar and 100ml water to the boil in a small saucepan then drop in 4 fresh lavender flowers and set aside for at least an hour before straining. The rest can be kept for a good few weeks in the fridge in an airtight container.
1 fresh lavender sprig


1) Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
2) Add the vodka,lemon juice and lavender syrup and shake well
3) Strain into a chilled martini glass
4) Garnish with a lavender sprig and serve.

fanny and brendas gorgeous lavender martini

Chicken & Tarragon Pie

fanny and brendas filo chicken and tarragon pie


500g rough puff, or filo pastry
400 g cooked chicken – chopped or shredded roughly
300g mushrooms – button are fine, but obviously more flavour is to be found in the black field mushrooms – or chestnut mushrooms
2 medium onions – fairly roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic – finely chopped, but not minced
small bunch flat leaf parsley – de-stalked and the leaves roughly chopped
small sprig fresh thyme – leaves taken off
few stalks of fresh tarragon – leaves taken off stalks and very roughly chopped
1 level tsp ground nutmeg
1 bayleaf
1 heaped tbsp flour
large knob of butter
150 ml chicken stock
150 ml dry white wine
150ml full cream milk
glug of olive oil
1/2 lemon or lime
1 lightly beaten egg
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

fanny and brendas filo chicken and tarragon pie

As I compiled the above list, I felt, frankly, a little bit of a dweeb – the reason for which is that really, quantities are largely superfluous, certainly where the main ingredients are concerned. Just use what you have left on the carcass (within reason – if you are unfortunate enough to have teenage children, you may find yours stripped bare and useful for nothing more than the stock pot). In my case, I had a nice plump breast and an equally fetching thigh salvaged from a large chicken and that, after de-boning, getting rid of any tendons and other gristly bits, happened to give me 400g. If it had been 250g or 500g, great, no problem – you could always add a bit more mushroom – or vice versa if you’re strong in chicken and weak in mushroom.

Likewise, if you haven’t any chicken stock, just use a bit extra wine and/ or milk – or even water. This ends up a very tasty dish almost whatever you do, so you probably don’t need to deploy the standby block of hydrolysed vegetable protein and salt, aka a stock cube.


1) If you’re making your own pastry – well done! If you are using shop-bought then fine but do check out our puff pastry recipe on this blog which is quick to make. Either way, roll it out around 2-3 mm thick and to give you enough area to line your pie tin which, with the quantities above, should be big enough to take around a litre of liquid. Butter and flour it before lining and do remember to cut a separate piece for the lid. If you wish to create “artistic” motifs, please feel free to do so if you have leftover pastry – we didn’t bother as Brenda’s attempt at a chicken shape looked more like a pig. It was a good self portrait though I have to say.

Switch on the oven to 200°C fan assisted

2) Make the sauce. Start off with a roux, in other words allowing a knob of butter to melt in a saucepan over a low to medium heat, then adding the flour and cooking it for 2-3 mins until it’s light golden brown and smelling toasty. Then whisk in your milk, wine and stock which should, after another few minutes, give you a smooth glossy and fairly thin sauce, about the consistency of double cream. Season with salt and pepper and the chopped parsley, bayleaf, tarragon and nutmeg (if using) – and finally a squeeze of lemon or lime. Set aside.

3) In fairly large frying pan, heat a glug of olive oil and another knob of butter and then add to the pan the onions, mushroom and garlic and thyme. When the mix has released its water and is starting to go from translucent to beginning to pick up some light, golden colour, tumble in the chicken pieces. Stir in thoroughly and fry for a couple of minutes more – you’re not really looking to add any more colour at this point, it’s really a combining and warming-through exercise.

4) Combine the two pans together (so, the sauce and the chicken/mush/ mix – it doesn’t matter which you add to the other) and pour into the lined pie dish. Brush the edges with the beaten egg and skilfully lay the pastry lid over the top. Crimp together by going round with a fork and finish with a brushing all over the lid with the egg wash. Don’t forget to make one or two steam holes.

5) Bake for around 30-35 minutes until the crust is a delightful golden brown and should be light and crisp. It makes enough for 4 people so Brenda and I enjoyed it two nights running, both times accompanied by creamy mash and, on evening 1, some runner beans from the garden and evening 2, some olive oil and chilli fried courgette rounds, also from the garden. A winner.

fanny and brendas filo chicken and tarragon pie

Nectarine Galette

nectarine galette by fanny and brenda

According to wikipedia a “Galette is a term used in French cuisine to designate various types of flat round or freeform crusty cakes” It can also be a buckwheat pancake and around the world it has its variants. This particular recipe concentrates on the French crusty cake version, and I have used some ripe nectarines to use within its crust. The base is an almond affair and the whole thing is really quite sumptuous. It makes for an ideal weekend treat when reading the Sunday newspapers. It is designed for children and adults to get their teeth into, and only takes about half an hour to prepare. You will need some of our rough puff pastry – recipe on the blog. However you can make a job lot of that earlier in the week and use some of it with this recipe.


For the pastry
150g butter
150g plain flour
75ml cold water
sprinkle of salt

For the filling
A handful of ripe nectarines cut into quarters
100g ground almonds
2 eggs beaten
100g caster sugar
1 splash of almond extract


nectarine galette by fanny and brenda

Preheat oven to 200°C

Pastry recipe as found here

Roll out the pastry and place in a well buttered baking dish. Do not worry about cutting off the edges, (the pastry that is outside the pastry case will be folded in later). Set aside.

In a mixing bowl place the butter and beat till soft and creamy

Add the sugar to the butter and beat

Add three quarters of the egg and whisk into the mixture

Pour in the ground almonds and mix until  even and smooth

Place in the base of the galette and spread evenly on the base

Place the nectarines on top of the almond mixture

Cut the pastry (with regular slits around the perimeter) which is overhanging the pastry dish and fold in roughly creating a rough edge. Fold in against the baking dish.

Brush the pastry with the rest of the beaten egg

Sprinkle with flaked almonds

Cook for about thirty minutes or until browned (and make sure the almond filling has cooked – if not leave it in the oven at about 140°C for about a further ten minutes).

When cool glaze with melted apricot jam, and leave for an hour or so till set, and then serve.

nectarine galette by fanny and brenda