Category Archives: kitchen thoughts

Southern (London) Fried Chicken

south london fried chicken - great food  and a favourite yummy recipe from fanny and brenda

I was feeling a little faint from my recent little bit of calorie counting and it’s at that point  I realised I was in danger of purchasing fast food.  Now most of us live near at least  one purveyor of such edibles but in south London, the choice is very wide, 24/7. This was an emergency – so I made what I thought was on balance a good decision; namely, I knew I was going to cave, but at least I thought if I made it myself, I could mitigate the harm both in terms of what I was swallowing (and who hasn’t done damage control there I ask you?) – and to my reputation in terms of being seen in curlers and Brenda’s stained bed jacket. Long story. Not a good week.

When you factor in the improved quality and taste  – not to mention the cost advantage – it’s well worth a go, particularly once you’ve done it a few times and are “set up” for it. Be warned though, you may find it so addictively good that you regularly exceed the Government’s recommended limits on consumption of “the good stuff”……..

 

INGREDIENTS

4 chicken breasts – each cut into two, 4 thighs, 4 drumsticks -  I had this number as I’d just cut up 2 chickens to use the carcass for stock. This quantity should easily feed around six people.

600ml (around a pint) of buttermilk. I couldn’t get this on the day, so I used sour cream – or could have used creme fraiche or even yoghurt, let down with a bit of water to make it a bit more liquid.

1 onion – finely diced or sliced. You could easily cheat here and use a dessertspoon or so of onion powder. In fact it would probably be better.

1 or 2 cloves garlic – crushed (or, as per the onion above, about a tsp of garlic powder)

Hot chilli sauce – like Tabasco or Encona

About 100g self raising flour – but you can get away with plain if that’s all you have – although half a tsp baking powder added in that case, would be nice.

2 medium eggs (or one extra large one)

splash of milk

good couple of big pinches of salt

around 1 1/2 litres cooking oil – veg, sunflower, peanut, canola etc – your choice.

south london fried chicken - great food  and a favourite yummy recipe from fanny and brenda

(FOR THE SEASONING/SPICE MIX)

2 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 tsp paprika (I used half in half hot- and smoked-)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme

METHOD

Ideally, if you have time and the power to predict 24 hours in advance when you will have a craving, please do feel free to “brine” your chicken pieces overnight. The acid in the dairy tenderises the meat, helps keep it juicy after frying and really works the wondrous spicy flavourings well into the chicken. Because, also, the buttermilk both provides flavour itself to your crispy coating and a means by which your spice mix can stick to the chicken pieces, it’s absolutely fine to do this stage immediately before cooking. The chicken Brenda and I used for the video, had been marinating for 2 days. It’s up to you.

south london fried chicken - great food  and a favourite yummy recipe from fanny and brenda

So, in a medium to large size bowl, pop in your chicken pieces, buttermilk, onion and garlic (slice, dice, or powder – up to you), salt and loads of hot pepper sauce – maybe a third or half a small bottle (I’d say around 50-75ml) It may seem excessive but don’t forget the vast majority will be drained off the chicken pieces. It’s messy, but massage in thoroughly with clean hands and leave while you carry out some of the next stages if you’re cooking immediately – otherwise cover with cling and refrigerate over night.

If expecting to accompany your chicken with some fries (or chips, to us Brits), now might be an idea to make them.  By the way a good tip for those is keeping them in submerged in water (even better if it’s from a just-boiled kettle) with some salt and sugar added – stops them going brown before you’re ready to fry them, draws out some of the water which makes them fry to a crispier state – and if you’ve used boiling water, pre-softens them a bit before frying. Pat dry on kitchen paper before doing so. Or just use frozen bought ones.

south london fried chicken - great food  and a favourite yummy recipe from fanny and brenda

The question of accompaniments aside, now is definitely the time to get your dish of flour ready and make your spicy seasoning mix. If you don’t mind cooking your own “fast food” and enjoy the results (at least more than the offerings from whichever vendors you have previously sourced), to streamline this stage in future, you can always make up a big batch so you have spare mix pre made.. Should last OK for up to 6 months if stored in a cool, dark place in a sealed jar.  It’s Ok to simply mix up all the seasoning ingredients as they are and voila – but I wanted to make sure that the mix ingredients could incorporate thoroughly together/with the flour and stick super-well to the chicken pieces so I put the salt (Maldon sea salt crystals are quite big), cracked pepper, oregano and thyme into my spice grinder and whizzed to a fine powder. A mortar and pestle would do this too.The paprika, cayenne and garlic are already finely ground so even if, like me, you’re wanting a nice even powdery blend, these can be used as they are.

The quantities listed above are about right for the stated amount of chicken so just put the spice mix in a bowl or small oven tray ready for use and, in another dish, beat the egg(s) with a splash of milk, a few more dashes of hot chilli sauce and a few pinches more or garlic powder.

Now put the oil on to heat up on the hob, in a big spacious pot which should ideally allow the 1 1/2 litres of oil to come up to around a third – but definitely not more than half – full. While this is heating up,take the chicken pieces out of their creamy bath and allow to drain on a wire rack. Even on a high flame, it may take up to ten minutes to get to temperature but, depending on the size of your chicken pieces, you may need to fry cooler for longer or hotter for a shorter time – this is both to avoid over-cooking the coating while under-cooking the chicken. Generally, 160C seems to provide a fairly moderate simmer, you definitely don’t want the oil smoking hot and burning everything, If no thermometer to hand, test after about 8 mins with a cube of bread which should just sizzle nicely and go golden brown in about a minute.

So, to get that finger-licking coating, first lightly sprinkle some of the seasoning mix all over the chicken pieces, then add the rest of it to the flour. Now thoroughly dredge the chicken pieces in the  (seasoned) flour, then through the egg mix and then once again back through the flour. This will give you a fabulously crispy carapace to bite through! At this point, all that remains between you and that crunchy, spicy satisfaction is to fry the chicken off. You’ve got this far so do be patient and do therefore fry in batches as there’s no way you’ll be able to fit this much into even a big (4 litre) pot – so have the oven on low (like 60C) and a tray lined with kitchen paper so you can keep the completed batches warm. Lower each piece in carefully using tongs or a slotted spoon – I reckon 3 big pieces or 4-5 smaller pieces max. When the chicken goes in, make sure the flame is turned down to medium low as any higher and it goes too fast. You’re looking for a core temperature of 75C or, in the absence of a food probe, for the juices to run clear – test cut a piece when you think it’s ready and return if there’s any pink juice which comes out. Another helpful hint is that the pieces float to the top when they’re done and the sizzling sounds of the frying has become quite quiet.

PS, As well as making fries, I steamed and buttered a corn on the cob to serve!

south london fried chicken - great food  and a favourite yummy recipe from fanny and brenda

Pistachio and Plum Cake

Whilst we are, of course, normally far too busy being exceedingly fabulous hostesses to stop for afternoon tea, there are just occasionally times when the planets align and we are able to let our mascara run and our reinforced under cladding sag (well away from public view, obviously), kick off our court shoes and spark up a Capstan Full Strength while the kettle boils.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Seeing as though also we are trying to reintegrate into high society once again, this uniquely English institution is a remarkably civilised and uncomplicated step to take on that journey. One thing it does require, though, is cake – and this is a slightly exotic version of a Victoria Sandwich. I hope you enjoy its rich denseness and alluring pale green and amaranth colours, just not quite in the somewhat literal sense Brenda seems to have done by the look of the stretch marks in her Spanx and the jangling palette of her maquillage…..

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

INGREDIENTS

for the cake

200g unsalted pistachios – shelled and skinned
275g butter – in approx 1-2cm cubes and at room temp
275g icing sugar
7 large eggs
375g ground almonds
110g cornflour
2tsp baking powder

for the filling

stewed plums – we had these in the freezer. Don’t worry if you don’t, you can use a neighbour’s – or just use plum jam.
sugar to taste

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180°C while you shell and skin the pistachios – if you buy pre shelled, excellent. Rub most of the skins off but don’t overly fret if some get left on, making a cake should be a pleasure, not turned into an afternoon of purgatory.

Place the pistachios in a metal pan and roast for 5 mins, perhaps briefly taking out half way through to give the pan a small shake.

Once hot and fragrant, take out and blitz in the food processor until they’re forming a paste.

Now lower the oven temperature to 150°C while you grease with butter and line a 22cm cake tin.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Add the ground almonds, the butter, icing sugar and eggs (I popped a couple of extra yolks in too which I had in the fridge left over from making a meringue!). Whizz for up to 2 mins or so till well combined, add the cornflour and whizz on slowest speed for a few seconds till just combined.

Pour the mix into the cake tin and slot into the oven on the middle shelf for an hour or a tiny bit longer if not quite yet cooked. I also turned mine half way through to ensure very even cooking.

Meanwhile, take about 300ml of the stewed plums, pressed them through a sieve into a small pan and heated gently on the hob. Then add just enough sugar to take off the sour edge but not cause the fruit to get too sweet. Allow the puree to just simmer for about 15-20 mins so that you end up with something quite jammy in consistency. Set aside to cool.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Once the cake is done, turn out onto a wire rack to cool which may take a good couple of hours. With a long, thin blade, slice horizontally in two, and on the lower half, spread a fairly thin layer of the plum puree – as if to spread jam on toast. Replace the top half of the cake, dust with icing sugar and serve with cups of tea using your best china!

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

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.

Fanny and Brenda’s quick Beef Curry

fanny and brendas quick beef curry

Now I know “we don’t do slumming it” and are “the most gorgeous party ladies”. But even belles of the ball like us need to have some slightly simpler, set pieces which can be put together simply. Brenda likes simple things, which explains a lot really.

Again, it may surprise you to learn that we do have occasional days off from our whirl of social engagements although most of the time I am trying to find ways of having Brenda permanently sectioned. To date I have failed, largely because Brenda invites herself on my jaunts as she did recently when there was fun to be had at Mrs Davida Clam’s, – Brighton’s ghastliest landlady (who some of you may remember from our recent visit there making seaside-appropriate fish pie), who on learning of Brenda’s self-invitation then had to cancel her “ladies macramé gathering” at her high class brothel, otherwise more widely understood to be a boutique premium AirBnB-listed luxury apartment. Brenda’s face simply wouldn’t have been acceptable at Mrs Clam’s that night, and I completely agree.

Meanwhile, with my evening at the macramé now ruined, all I can think about is a taste-bud twanging curry even though I’ll be far too resentful to stand there peeling and micro-dicing fresh ginger and roasting off and grinding individual spices to create  a home-made garam masala. And yet we’ll still want something which will be quick to prepare and cook which will be a step up from virtually all other “Curry in XYZ minutes” recipes you may have seen elsewhere. Anyway this is a recipe that is great for a cold spring night after work.

The secret is using a tenderer cut of beef which won’t need a lot of cooking, although you can use cheaper cuts if you’re prepared to simmer it longer – which achieves at least as good results but obviously nibbles away the time-saving. Here’s what you need and how to make it

INGREDIENTS

600g top rump – cut to 1” cubes. ‘Ready cubed’ saves time, although I cut up a joint.
2 medium onions – sliced or cut medium
4 cloves garlic – bashed, peeled and chopped medium. You could also use 4 tsp garlic puree but fresh is better and only takes 1 min
3 good tbsp ghee
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp ground coriander
1 heaped tsp ground turmeric
1 heaped tsp ground black pepper
1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder
1 level tsp ground ginger
5 cloves
3 cardamom pods – lightly bashed
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
1 regular can chopped tomatoes
3 or 4 dstspn  natural yoghurt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt
chopped fresh coriander to serve

METHOD

Heat a medium size deep frying pan which has a lid – or a medium casserole dish, add the ghee and once melted, fry off the beef cubes. Don’t worry about doing them in batches, just try to get some light browning – about 7 mins. Remove the cubes and set aside for now.

Into the same pan, but with the heat turn down to medium low add in the onions and garlic. Fry fairly gently for a good ten, but nearer 15 mins is better – so that you end up with lovely intense golden brown onions. At the point where the onions are nearly done, add in all your spices, turn the heat back up to medium high, to continue cooking out the onion/garlic/spice mix, about a further min or so.

Now add the can of tomatoes plus a bit of water if you don’t like your curries too rib-sticking – although careful with this as some yoghurt is about to get mixed in, plus it will in any case thicken naturally as the sauce cooks down.

When the mixture comes up to the boil, add the yoghurt and vinegar, test for seasoning and add salt as required, turn the heat to low and simmer for half an hour with the lid on.

Once the curry is tucked away, wash and set going your rice and chop up the coriander. Serve a bed of lightly buttered fluffy rice with good dollop of curry and a handful of the chopped coriander. Apart from perhaps a blob of your fave chutney or pickle and maybe a crisply fried poppadom, this really is a complete meal, easy to scale up for larger gatherings and will stand being made ready in advance to allow you to shine at your function – rather than developing one toiling in the kitchen while others enjoy.

Beer Cheese Philly Steak

philly beer cheese steak from fanny and brenda

I’d got some steak in the other day but despite it being a nice ribeye (don’t forget folks, your beautiful hostesses never do slumming it….) I just couldn’t face another large slab of meat, which is not something you’ll ever catch Brenda saying.

It was midweek, so it didn’t need to be elaborate (and neither, frankly, did I have time as I was expecting a gentleman caller later that evening) – so it was just the two of us and although the lights had been dimmed as much as the switch would allow I could still make out Brenda chewing, even in the half light which is a sight for sore eyes.

philly beer cheese steak from fanny and brenda

As it so happened, I’d set out to make enough for three but we ended up finishing it between us which must mean the end result was gorgeous! Give it a go folks, and let us know how you get on…

Ingredients

1 green peppers, sliced
1 large onion, sliced thin
350g rib-eye steak, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
garlic powder
1/2 loaf ciabatta or similar, cut into 1 inch cubes
75g butter
40g flour
350 ml beer
hot pepper sauce
bunch of fresh parsley – finely chopped
paprika
Worcestershire sauce
soy sauce
250 g strong cheddar cheese – grated
100g medium (“nutty”) cheese like gruyere or Comte – grated

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C

Heat splash of olive oil in a largish frying pan over medium-low heat; add the green pepper and onion to it along with some sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper and about 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder - cook until soft, about 20 minutes; set aside.

Raise the heat to medium, add another small splash of oil and add the sliced steak. Season exactly as above (salt, pepper and garlic powder) and cook for about 5 minutes, till beginning to brown. Set aside.

Meanwhile, arrange the bread cubes in the bottom of a 8×11 (approx) dish. Layer the steak on the bread and then layer the pepper and onion mixture over the steak layer; set aside.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, whisk in the flour to make a roux and once it’s cooked out a bit, pour in the beer, whisking continually. Season with salt and black pepper plus add garlic powder, about a tsp paprika and splashes of Worcestershire, hot and soy sauces to taste – stir to combine. As the mixture thickens, add the cheddar and stir till melted, at which point you can stir through the chopped parsley. Now pour the mixture over the meat/peppers/bread assembly in the pan. Top with your Comte or Gruyere cheese.

Bake for about 15- 20 mins or until the top layer is golden and bubbling.

philly beer cheese steak from fanny and brenda

Lemon braised chicken thighs in white wine with mushrooms and peppers and chive mash

fanny and brenda's chicken mushrooms and white wine with mash

I know many of the womenfolk out there will sympathise greatly when I say I was struggling for inspiration as to what to give Brenda for dinner yesterday – it’s not so much that she’s got a refined palette (she doesn’t), nor has the memory of an elephant such that she would remember if a dish I did in 1979 was presented to her again (she doesn’t) – even if other elements of her could be considered elephantine. Not that I’m saying that she or any aspect of her (hips) is of course, but some may think so. And they would be right.

No, it was more the case of not allowing Brenda to find any reason for complaint, in turn meaning I can continue being in a position in being untouchable during our many disagreements…

fanny and brenda's chicken mushrooms and white wine with mash

As always, this little creation came partly from what I know tastes good and doesn’t take forever – and partly from what I had available in the fridge. Do feel free to leave out the peppers if you don’t have them – and substitute aubergine, onion, asparagus etc, whatever you have.

You could also toss in a small handful of chopped capers with the parsley towards the end of the cooking time.

fanny and brenda's chicken mushrooms and white wine with mash

Likewise if you didn’t have chives, normal mash is just fine – for this version I simply changed my usual butter and cream for some olive oil and finely chopped chives

fanny and brenda's chicken mushrooms and white wine with mash

INGREDIENTS

4 chicken thighs (on the bone makes for a tastier sauce)
200ml dry white wine
250g mushrooms – sliced
1 red pepper – sliced
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
juice of a lemon
small bunch of flatleaf parsley – roughly chopped
olive oil
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper

fanny and brenda's chicken mushrooms and white wine with mash

METHOD

1) Set a spacious casserole on high heat, allow to get hot, add a splash of olive oil and fry the chicken pieces for 10 mins, allowing to brown all over

2) Add the sliced mushrooms which will create water and ensure you gently start to scrape any brown gooey bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Arrange the sprigs of thyme around the dish.

3) After a further 5 or so mins, add the white wine and lemon juice and make sure your chicken pieces are at least half submerged. Turn the heat right down, put the lid on and leave to bubble gently for 15 mins.

4) Check to ensure the liquid level is still OK and add the peppers – these will also bring water to the dish as they cook down.

5) After another half hour of gently simmering, the chicken should be tender and falling off the bone – at this point add half the chopped parsley and contiunue to cook on the lowest possible heat for five more mins while you ready the mash and any other veg you’re serving with this – in my case today, just some olive oil fried courgette slices with fresh green chilli and dried red chilli.

Linguine Carbonara

The Italians can understandably be somewhat protective over their food – they have after all been doing it rather well for over 500 years. I have not veered far from the traditional here, just refined it to our taste, which means it’s fabulous of course.

fanny and brenda's delicious linguini carbonara

Ingredients

50g pancetta or smoked, streaky bacon – cut into small cubes or strips. Plus 2 strips separately for serving
Pancetta

40g any soft, creamy blue cheese like St Agur – crumbled
40g Parmesan cheese – finely grated
Parmesan

40g strong cheddar – finely grated
150g chestnut mushrooms (or button)
2 egg yolks
200g linguine
2 cloves garlic – minced
50ml double cream
knob of butter
olive oil
Maldon salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 nutmeg – freshly grated

Method

1) Put a large pot of salted water on to boil

2) Set a frying pan onto a medium heat, add the butter and fry the mushrooms, adding the minced garlic towards the end of the 5-10 mins

3) In a separate frying pan, fry the bacon/pancetta pieces in a little olive oil. Put the bacon in with the mushrooms but reserve the oil/bacon fat

4) Once boiling, add a glug of olive oil to the water and add the pasta which should take about 6 mins

5) Meanwhile combine most of the parmesan with the other cheeses, the egg yolks and the cream. Grate the nutmeg into this mix and a good pinch of black pepper

6) In the frying pan with the reserved bacon fat, gently re-heat and sizzle the two separate strips of pancetta/bacon

7) When the linguine has cooked, pull the pasta out of the water with tongs and place directly into the frying pan containing the bacon/mushroom mixture. It is perfectly fine, indeed necessary, for some of the pasta water to go in along with the pasta itself.

8) Switch on to a low heat and then gently combine the cheese mix into the mushroom/bacon/pasta pan. It should start to gently simmer as you stir and turn into an incredibly smooth, glossy sauce – it should not curdle or scramble.

9) You will probably need to add more pasta water as the linguine continues to absorb moisture and will tend to go thick and gloopy. Not elegant.

10) Serve into the awaiting warmed bowls, with a nice twist from the pasta tongs – you may even need to add a few more tablespoons of pasta water. Ensure you end up with a fairly thick but still very “saucy” consistency. Garnish with the reserved Parmesan and the crisped bacon.

Snowy New Year Cocktail

snowy mint chocolate cocktail

Although we are aware that many people will expect to eat something over the Festive Season, we reviewed what we did last year, which was Christmas lunch for a singleton, and decided that despite all the dating applications at their fingertips and self-help group therapy, that self same singleton would probably have descended to full-scale alcohol dependency with the passing of another year – and so we’ve decided to provide more helpful advice accordingly.

Besides, if I have to endure another bout of a plumply coiffed Nigella spreading warm sauce on her bundt, I think I’ll have to fast forward to next year’s advice to the hapless singleton (that we’re stalking) and book that one-way flight to Switzerland straight away….

Trendy bartenders have a habit of describing a 16-phase construct using ingredients available only in the former Soviet-bloc countries as simple. Which somewhat glosses over the vegetable-carving skills and hand-blown apothecary’s distillation equipment that you’ll also inevitably need.

Please trust me that when I say this is simple, it really truly is. You simply take one of granny’s old sherry/liqueur glasses (the ones you gave to the charity shop and then bought back again when “retro” became cool, start with some mint liqueur (a shot – 30ml), then carefully layer over a slightly smaller shot of white chocolate liqueur in the manner of finishing an Irish Coffee with cream – namely, over a spoon to avoid mixing the layers. Because these are the only two ingredients they have to speak for themselves, so you should avoid the horrors lurking at the back of your drinks cabinet and buy really good versions of these. We used Briottet Menthe Verte and Coole Swan Irish Cream Liqueur which is an unbelievable concoction of whiskey, Belgian white chocolate, cream and real vanilla. This wintry cocktail was inspired by one of Bebe Von Boom Boom’s recipes we showed last year and is also delicious!

The end result looks like a virgin snowfall on the pine trees growing up the slopes of your fave ski resort – so it’s as festive as a freshly stuffed Norfolk Black (and we all know how Brenda loves a good stuffing). As a final bonus, who doesn’t love mint-choc and you could probably quietly ask for this little gem of a cocktail as a dessert instead of a pudding….

Happy New Year from your two Fabulous Hostesses, that’s us, Fanny and Brenda. We hope you make it through the holidays unscathed and with the same number of children/boyfriends/girlfriends/husbands/wives that you started with – and we’ll see you in 2016 for more of our unique take on food and drink. We are beautiful!

xxx

Christmas Grapefruit

christmas grapefruit fizz from fanny and brenda

You didn’t think for a minute I was advocating sitting there in your brushed cotton (in Brenda’s case Stay-Press polyester) jim-jams attempting to dissect a deeply acidic and outsize hemisphere of citrus fruit? Who possesses grapefruit spoons any more, anyway?

No, this is our incredibly simple way to breakfast bliss (and brunch battles if you’re not careful, but we’re not ones for adhering to rules of family etiquette….).

If you know how to make a Kir Royale, you can do one of these, except you substitute the Creme de Cassis in that classic cocktail, for Creme Pamplemousse Rose – literally out with the blackcurrant liqueur and in with the pink grapefruit liqueur. Now, honestly speaking, you won’t be able to pick this up this from you local supermarché, but a brief search on the ‘net will reveal quick convenient sources, no doubt for convenient home delivery.

A dessertspoonful (10ml) is a good place to start in terms of the quantity of grapefruit loveliness in a bottle you pour into you champagne flute to get things going – then pour a about the first third of the fizz you’re going to top up with smartish, to mix properly with the grapefruitiness at the bottom of the glass (champagne or sparkling white – we used Cava). Then fully top up carefully, as you would any sparkles, to avoid it all frothing over – which is not cool, a drag to clear up, wasteful and leaves the part that stayed in the glass flatter than necessary. I assure you a few seconds care exercised here, and you’ll create a beautiful drink which will elicit many more genuine oohs and aahs than the opening of acres of scruffily wrapped, panic-bought “designer” tat posing as “thoughtful gifts” which you’ll have to endure later….

Hot Toddy

fanny and brendas hot toddy

I love December. The year is virtually over and the Christmas lights are going up. There is that feeling of festivity in the air. Fanny looks more and more like Father Christmas every year due to her billowing white facial hair that she usually clips out before we start filming. It’s like a fairy tale.

These days the shopping takes place online. As some rather short sighted retailers now have aggressive parking practices that enable them to make money twice by employing moronic parking management companies I no longer bother, so everything comes to me – without the parking tickets.

After a strenuous day unpacking my latest gifts to myself I usually need a cocktail to improve my weary state. A favourite of mine is the Hot Toddy. I once had a boyfriend called Todd who was quite hot and I think of him with a wry smile before I click my fingers at Fanny and she makes one for me.

So, the ingredients are below but really, I’m going to let your imaginations run wild with the proportions as these are totally up to you.

Ingredients

Whisky or rum
Runny honey
Lemon juice
Cinnamon stick
Couple of cloves
Hot water

Fanny’s Method for a fabulous Hot Toddy

Take a little hot water to loosen around a tsp of the honey to a thin syrup – you won’t need a lot.

Put your tot of whichever spirit you are using into a glass, add some honey syrup and lemon juice (again, as much or little as you like so you get a drink where the sweetness/tartness is balanced how you like it – and Brenda prefers hers tarty, quelle surprise…

Drop in your cloves and cinnamon stick, then top up with hot water – leave the kettle for 20 seconds or so after coming up to the boil to reduce the likelihood of cracking your glass, although the other ingredients already there should help prevent this.

Stir with the cinnamon stick, check it is to your liking, adjust with more of any of the ingredients if necessary – then drink when it’s still hot but not burning your mouth. You get a much more satisfying result when you can pretty much fit the whole lot in at once………