Using up leftovers – Plum Vodka Pudding

plum vodka pudding -using up leftovers

I have worked my way through our plum vodka which we made last year. The recipe is on the blog but having now enjoyed the plum vodka I was left with the plums which had been sitting in the base of the jar. As I had emptied the jar of alcohol it seemed obvious that the plums could now be thrown. Then I ate one. Oooohh! I quite liked its addled steeped lusciousness. Now I could have eaten them on their own and been quite happy but I thought “why not turn it into a pud?”. And do you know this one is quite decadently delicious, – but economic too. Try it with a splash of cream it really will give you a smile! And let’s face facts I have to face Fanny Klunge every morning so I need something to smile about.

plum vodka pudding -using up leftovers

Ingredients

50g butter
1 dst spoon of vanilla paste
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs separated
50g self raising flour
150ml milk
Decanted and de-stoned plums from the plum vodka kilner jar

 

Preheat oven to 180°C/340°F

Method

Place the sugar, butter, vanilla, and yolks into a mixing bowl and whisk up

Add the flour with the milk

Butter up a baking dish

Place the plums in the base

Whisk up the egg whites till stiff and add to the yolk mixture

Pour the whisked up mixture over the plums

Cook for 40 minutes until it has a light brown topping

Leave to cool for half an hour and then serve with a small drop of cream!

plum vodka pudding -using up leftovers

 

Asparagus with Hollandaise

asparagus and hollandaise sauce from fannyandbrenda.com

Given that asparagus has a fairly short season – and April is its peak – I thought it would be remiss of Brenda and I not to show you something made with these perky green spears. This is this quick to make – and feels like a quite exotic dish.

I’ve adapted this from Delia – so you know you’ll be in good hands, if further reassurance is required. This serves 4 and like virtually all other recipes, can be halved/doubled etc, to suit. Allow about 125g asparagus per person. By the way I have roasted the asparagus as I think it keeps in more flavour and is also easier to manage timings-wise; although you can steam or boil yours if you prefer (in which case do it at the end of the process, instead of towards the beginning, as per below)

Ingredients

500g asparagus – just gently bend, and the spears will snap off at the natural divide between the woody “end” which you discard and the tender part you use.
2 large eggs – separated with the yolks in one medium glass bowl and the whites in another
1 dstspn white wine vinegar
1dstspn lemon juice
100g butter
pinch sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
 

Method

Switch the oven on to 200°C and place a knob of butter into an oven dish or tray with sides, just big enough to hold your asparagus spears in a singe layer. Season lightly.

In a small pan, place the 100g butter on the heat and begin to melt gently.

Using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites till light and fluffy – the soft peaks stage is great (you’re not making a meringue so don’t go mad but don’t worry if you do, it won’t really matter…). Leave momentarily to one side.

Place a medium pan containing just an inch or so of water on the hob which should reach no more than a gentle simmer. Place the glass bowl containing the yolks over the pan – season with a pinch of sea salt and a little ground pepper and whisk using the same beaters that you’ve just done your egg whites with. After not much more than a minute, the mix will have turned lighter and already be quite foamy, so you can now go ahead and add the lemon juice and vinegar – continue whisking for another 30 seconds or so.

asparagus and hollandaise sauce from fannyandbrenda.com

By this time, the butter should have completely melted (take off the heat if done before as you don’t want it going brown or burning). If you need to enlist a friend, great, but the idea is to add the butter fairly gradually (a bit like making mayo) so it doesn’t all split. So long that you’re fairly deft about it, start with a few tablespoons of the butter and whisk in immediately. Keep going adding butter and whisking in – I suppose I combined all the butter into the yolks in about 5 cycles over around 2 mins.

Continue whisking for another 30 seconds or so and take the bowl off the pan of simmering water.. Take about a quarter of the egg whites and whisk into the yolk/butter mixture for just a few seconds, then again for half of the remaining egg white and then the other half (i.e. 3 cycles). You should have a gorgeously smooth, pale yellow, light but creamy and foamy sauce ready to apply to the asparagus. The bowl containing it can be placed back in the pan of  water to keep warm (but the water pan should itself be off the heat)

All of the above takes around 12 mins which is the point where you need to check the asparagus for doneness. It should still be bright green and tender, but not soft. Return for another 2-3 mins if it’s still a bit firm.

Turn out onto a warmed serving dish and coat generously with the sauce and sprinkle with black pepper. Yum.

asparagus and hollandaise sauce from fannyandbrenda.com

Olives Taste Test

olives taste test

I went to buy “some olives” the other day. Now you would think this would be a relatively straightforward task, with the choice whittled down from a few broad categories such as “green” or “black” “with pits” or “pitted” and perhaps a couple of stuffed options.

But no – I’ll save you the full rant but there was choice beyond what could be considered reasonable – I’m not advocating the return to the days when, within mine and Brenda’s lifetime, olive oil was procured from the chemist’s (being sold as a means to loosen ear wax). I expect actual olives also were similarly “exotic. However, 192 “versions” available at one well-known supermarket does seem unnecessary. We are, after all, discussing olives.

So, rather than getting bogged down with ensuring I got the “right” olives from the “right bodega” – I went for 2 options whose main distinguishing factor was price. The fact that the Moroccan “cheap” ones were merely moistened with oil (sunflower, at that) where the “deli” ones came swimming in a lake  of extra-virgin olive oil, further widened the already yawning price chasm. In fact nearly a quarter of the net contents of the ‘Olives Et Al’  jar was oil. Turning to the taste, while these things are nearly always subjective, Brenda and I both preferred the Moroccan ones – richer, tangier, saltier, denser. But we always had a soft spot for a Moroccan!

So £1.30 plays £3?  We’ll take the the Moroccan thank you – and for the price of  the ‘Olives Et Al’ we’ll enjoy more like 3 times the amount of olives in the process…

 

 

Rather lovely Chicken Cacciatore

chicken cacciatore recipe from fanny and brenda

I was mulling what to cook for dinner one evening, as I so often do, when I came across Brenda who was engrossed at her computer. “What are you looking at that’s so interesting?” I enquired, nosily. She clearly hadnt heard my approach as the flustered look and speed with which the lid was slammed down (not in time for me to miss a flash of nudity though) told me a quite different story to the “I might be considering Internet Dating” reply I received.

Now don’t be fooled – behind Brenda’s stately facade, ls the soul of an alley cat. She therefore requires younger friends, with the stamina to keep up with her needs. Since it had also been her birthday, and a landmark one at that (for which I had bought her nothing), I thought what better than to make it up to the old chicken-chaser than with the reward of a Hunter’s Chicken – or as it is more pleasingly rendered in the Italian, Chicken Cacciatore

chicken cacciatore recipe from fanny and brenda

Ingredients

8 chicken thighs – boned, but skin on
1 tbsp flour (heaped – around 15g)
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
olive oil
80g pancetta lardons or smoked bacon lardons
4 fat cloves garlic, peeled and well chopped
2-3 sprigs rosemary – I left mine as sprigs with good results but nothing to stop you stripping the leaves and finely chopping them
200-250g preferably wild mushrooms – I should have had Glistening Ink Caps and Horns or Plenty seen it was for Brenda but I used a mix of Forestiere and large flat field mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms, chanterelles and morels are other common wild mushies.
Good splash of dry white wine (about 50-100ml)
1/2 litre chicken stock
2tbsp tomato puree
small handful of dried red chillis – mine were Kashmiri which are not very hot – as always, use your discretion
10g dried porcini mushrooms – but soak them a for a good couple of hours (or overnight) in about a scant cupful of water and KEEP the soaking liquid.
Handful of chopped parsley
Approx 25g roasted pistachios, roughly chopped

Served with lentils

Method

chicken cacciatore recipe from fanny and brenda

1) Glug a few tablespoons of olive oil into a large casserole dish and set it over a high heat

2) Meanwhile, dredge your check thighs in the flour – plus season with salt and pepper.

3) When the chicken pieces are all coated and the pan hot, pop them in and fry for 6 -7 mins or however long yours take to go nice and golden.

4) Once this happens, set them aside, lose most of the oil (but keep any nice caramelised bits stuck to the bottom) and add the pancetta, rosemary, fry for s minute or two to give them a head start then the garlic which you don’t want to burn while the bacon and woody herbs turn darker and release their fragrances!

chicken cacciatore recipe from fanny and brenda

5).Now add the fresh mushrooms – chopped randomly depending on size but not too small – and the wine to cook and absorb for a few minutes – and follow that with the dried porcini and their soaking water.

6) Now switch the oven on to 180C (fan) and while that’s pre heating, return the chicken pieces to the pan, add the tomato paste to the stock, stir to combine, then pour the mix over the chicken dish, add the dried chillies and bring up to the simmer.

chicken cacciatore recipe from fanny and brenda

7) By this time the oven should be up to temperature so transfer the dish from the hob into the oven now,  Check after half an hour but it’s meant to slightly “catch” on top – which could be reminiscent of pots of food being cooked with an open fire. It looks attractive and gives the dish that extra layer of taste – you’ll probably need another ten mins which is just time to pour yourself a drink, roast off the pistachios for 4-5 mins and chop the parsley – add a sprinkle of the latter two as a final garnish when serving and apply as many mouthfuls of the former as you feel like/are necessary.