Category Archives: snacks

Baba Ganoush

I was busy on the phone disapproving about something missing in the service from one of our feckless utilities, when I was rudely interrupted by a rather strident voice from the kitchen ordering my immediate presence to “enjoy Fanny’s Baba Ganoush”. For a minute I was lost for words, as the worst of all images came to mind in a flurry of hideous technicolor. I ended my call and pondered. Was it time to have Fanny sectioned? She had been taking her pills so I decided on a diplomatic response and tentatively entered her domain. Despite the awful possibilities that could have lain behind the invitation, the reality was much simpler. She had been busy making a dip, – which can also be a side dish or indeed part of a meze. This is really rather a pleasing number and accompanies bread or a main course with equal aplomb. It is of Middle Eastern origin and very flavoursome.

baba-ganoush-side-dish or starter -from fanny and brenda

INGREDIENTS
large aubergine
2tbsp tahini, plus more as needed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 lemons – juiced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes

sea salt, to taste

extra virgin olive oil
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley roughly chopped

METHOD

Preheat an oven to 200°C

Place the aubergine on a baking sheet, prick with a fork in several places, drizzle with a little olive oil and sea salt and bake for about an hour till completely collapsed.

Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, slice open and scoop all the aubergine flesh out into a bowl – using a fork, mash to a paste.

Add the tahini, garlic, most of the lemon juice and the cumin and mix well.

Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, form a shallow well with a spoon.

Drizzle some olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the chilli flakes and parsley.

Serve at room temperature.

Ideal with flatbreads and/or part of a meze

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

Spicy oregano chicken breast roll with avocado and lime mayonnaise

spicy oregano chicken breast roll with avocado and lime mayo

I’d spent the previous day chopping chickens, primarily for another batch of stock – feeling like a latter-day Dr Crippen (although that may have been influenced by Brenda’s “soothing conversation and light badinage”……..)

Anyway, I found myself with a couple of chicken legs and breasts going spare so thought I’d knock us up a quick and tasty lunch that’s partly a salad and partly a warm sandwich.

Ingredients

1 chicken breast
1/2 avocado
1 bread roll – like a focaccia or ciabatta
two pinches of dried oregano
pinch cayenne pepper

2 dsp mayonnaise
juice and zest of half a lime
small handful of finely sliced spring onions (green part)
pinch of red chilli flakes

olive oil
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Method

1) Bash out the chicken breast between two sheets of clingfilm, using the bottom of a pan, until it’s no more than 1/2 cm thin

2) Heat a medium frying pan on the hob while you rub a little olive oil onto both sides of the meat. Sprinkle a pinch of the oregano on each side – also, season with salt and pepper plus a light dusting of cayenne if you’re feeling adventurous but this can be omitted.

3) Slap the flattened breast onto the hot pan and hear the sizzle! Leave well alone for 2-3 minutes which you can use to make your dressing

4) In a bowl, add the mayo, lime juice/zest, finely sliced spring onion tops, chilli flakes and a little salt and pepper.

5) Turn the chicken breast which should be a lovely sizzling golden brown. While the other side fries, cut the roll in half and lightly toast. Also cut the half avocado into fine slices.

6) To serve, spread just under half the sauce onto the cut surface of each half of the roll, fan the avocado slices equally over each half. The other side of the chicken breast should by now also be golden brown and sizzling (having cooled altogether 5-6 mins). Cut it in half and place each piece on each half of the bread roll and spread the final tsp or so of dressing onto the chicken breast portion.

spicy oregano chicken breast roll with avocado and lime mayo

Spanish Omelette

fanny and brendas gorgeous spanish omelette

A couple of Sundays ago  Brenda was sitting there rather bombed out  and, although this may be her usual state when seen through the eyes of a casual onlooker, to those of us who have the misfortune of observing her at close quarters, I could tell she was in a state. Was it the vapid, slack-jawed expression? Or the slumped posture? No, these are quite usual for her.

It was the fact that, with the changing of the clocks, we were now officially into autumn. I hear the cries of “Well that’s her favourite time of year! …and that therefore this ought to have improved her mood – the opportunity to wear even more padding than normal, thereby avoiding the necessity for depilation and plucking; and not bothering with her maquillage because it’s darker, so she doesn’t frighten so many people without it.

In fact the new season meant she had to do some work! One of Brenda’s very few talents is pie-making and it dawned on her that, with Britain’s bounteous harvest of autumn fruits, she had to make one. I thought it was quite normal that she filled herself with her favourite fruits all year round, but she doesn’t like discussing her private life. However you will find details of her gorgeous Blackberry, Blueberry and Apple pie here.

That set me to thinking what equally ordinary ingredients I could transform into a midweek supper. Having initially despaired at a bowl of cold, boiled potatoes, leftover from one of Brenda’s earlier meals (I go on strike a few times a week, forcing her to attempt something, which I nearly always regret). It occurred to me that with a few eggs and some fried onion, this could be transformed into something really delicious, and yet simple and quite quick. Traditionally, Spanish omelette is just five ingredients (potato, egg, onion, olive oil and parsley) but I’ve added a few extra ingredients which I happened to have and which fitted well with the basic recipe.

fanny and brendas gorgeous spanish omelette

Ingredients

about 500g cooked potatoes - sliced about 1cm thick
1 large onion - medium sliced
1 clove garlic – roughly chopped
1 red chilli – finely sliced
sprig of fresh rosemary – leaves stripped and roughly chopped
about 100g chorizo, sliced into rounds about 1/2cm thick
2 medium tomatoes – halved
about 75 ml extra virgin olive oil
small bunch flatleaf parsley - roughly chopped
6 eggs - loosely beaten
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Method

Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium low heat, add the onion and garlic and fry gently with a lid left open a fraction, stirring occasionally. You want them translucent and turning golden but you don’t really want too much colour, so half an hour should be more then enough.

When ready, take out the onions, add the rest of the olive oil and fry the chorizo “coins” and tomato halves for a few minutes each side. The oil will turn fragrant and red from the paprika-spiked chorizo. Remove them and set aside with your onions – and now add the potato slices and rosemary to the same paprika-fragranced oil, turn up the heat to medium high and fry for about 5 mins. After this time, turn them and add the onion, chorizo and tomato – plus the chopped chilli – back to the pan while the other side fries.

Meanwhile, switch on the grill to high and beat the eggs in a bowl to which you add the chopped parsley and a few good pinches of salt and pepper.

Turn the heat on the hob back to low, pour the seasoned egg/parsley evenly into the potato mix and let sit, cooking very gently, for about 10 mins.

Then transfer to the grill for 5 mins max to finish. Put a plate on the top of the omelette and invert, so what was on the bottom, is now on top! Give it ten minutes or so to cool a bit (it’s nicer warm than straight from the heat – and can be eaten cold), sprinkle with some more chopped parsley and serve tasty slices to your eager guests…..

fanny and brendas gorgeous spanish omelette

A Marvellous Steak Sandwich

fanny and brenda's guide to a really delicious steak sandwich

This is a superb recipe for anyone wanting to enjoy a lazy weekend lunch, and doesn’t want to have to resort to a fast food chain. In short, the flavour and taste of this sandwich matches the photograph – how often can we say that about the average burger promotion? Of course, this isn’t fast food; it’s something to mull over, drool over, savour and enjoy. Or to put it another way, this isn’t the motorway pit stop; it’s the destination.

Ingredients

250 g ribeye steak
1 large onion
knob of butter
olive oil
25 g dark brown sugar
60 ml red wine vinegar
sprig thyme or lemon thyme
1 ciabatta loaf
1 tbsp mayo
2 tsp Dijon or grain mustard
1 handful of watercress
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper

fanny and brenda's guide to a really delicious steak sandwich

Method

1) Take the steak out from the fridge and let it sit on the side – this allows it 45 mins or so to come to room temperature, which you want for even cooking.

fanny and brenda's guide to a really delicious steak sandwich

2) Meanwhile, peel the onion and slice into four 1cm-thick rounds. You can reserve the “end bits” for something else.

3) Put the butter, a glug of oil into a frying pan on a medium high heat. Once the butter has melted, place the onions into the pan in a single layer, and cook for 5 minutes.

fanny and brenda's guide to a really delicious steak sandwich

4) Add the sugar and vinegar, sprinkle with a few thyme leaves if you have them, season well with a good pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper and put a the lid on, reducing the heat to low and cook for around 45 minutes. Check periodically it’s not sticking/burning – you don’t need to turn them as you’re looking for the onions to stay in their round shape but have collapsed to a very soft and caramelised state – like Brenda after one too many on the sun lounger.

5) Switch on the oven to 100°C and pop in the ciabatta to warm through.

6) Put a heavy-bottomed pan on a high heat. Once it’s beginning to smoke, lightly oil the steak with olive oil, season well with sea salt and cracked black pepper then put it into the pan and cook for 2 – 2 1/2 minutes on each side for medium rare, but this will depend on the thickness of your steak and how “done” you like it. Also, as always when cooking steak, once you’ve put it down, leave it alone and do not move it at all – this really does make the difference in developing that lovely brown outer crust

7) Remove from the pan to a warm plate, rest for 3-4 minutes, then slice up how you like.

8) While the steak is resting, combine the mayo and mustard.

fanny and brenda's guide to a really delicious steak sandwich

9) To assemble, slice the warm ciabatta in half sideways so you have a lower and an upper half; and spoon/pour onto both pieces any leftover steak juices from the resting plate, then spread about a couple of tsp of the mayo/mustard mix, also onto to each half, followed by lifting the caramelised onions carefully onto the lower half, then the steak strips – and watercress as the uppermost layer. Crown with the top half of the loaf, press down lightly and using a sharp bread knife, divide into two, at an angle.

10) Gobble inelegantly

 

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.

Sesame seed chicken mince patties with intense dipping sauce

fanny and  brenda's chicken sesame balls recipe

Ingredients

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
salt
groundnut/sunflower oil for frying

for the sauce

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

Method

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.

Potted Shrimps

potted shrimps recipe from fanny and brenda

We don’t often say this, largely because we think a lot of quick recipes simply aren’t up to scratch, but this one can be done in a trice and is absolutely delicious. Please see the video which shows that with five ingredients and seasoning, you can have this recipe ready to chill before serving within 15 minutes.

Ingredients

250g butter
2 bay leaves
Half a lemon
Pinch or two cayenne pepper
(about 200g) Brown shrimps (we had enough for 5 ramekins)

Method

Melt butter in pan with a pinch or two of cayenne pepper and bay leaves

Place brown shrimps in ramekins

Pat down and add butter to submerge the shrimps

Decorate with parsley leaf on each ramekin

Place in fridge to chill

How to make delicious mince pies

how to cook delicious mince pies fanny and brenda style

 

Well! I don’t often say it but Brenda has come up trumps with her fantastic mince pies. Like you, I know she’s a ghastly old curmudgeon but underneath that hideous exterior lies an ability to cook well when she makes the effort.

We are now in the run up to Christmas and time is short. The mincemeat is now made and the pastry (see previous post) is ready so it’s really a case of compilation.

Take about a quarter of the puff pastry (about 250g) and roll it out. Roll it pretty thin. We can’t bear thick pastry – it is the case but it’s not the filling too!

Take a greased muffin tin and place the pastry within each holder.

At this point Brenda had a brainwave and added a small ball of marzipan to each pie, placing it in the centre. The marzipan was left over from the christmas cake (recipe forthcoming!) and it’s a delicious addition. Place the mincemeat around the marzipan, and then add the pie topping. Apply some egg wash and then place it in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°c /350°f.

Serve with some lovely double cream with added lemon zest and grand marnier and frankly you will never want to eat a commercial mince pie again!

If you are thinking of leaving mince pies out for some gaudily dressed and rather overweight bearded old man who may want to pop down your chimney then may I suggest leaving a few of these mince pies under the christmas tree. Of course he will probably be unable to go back up your chimney as these mince pies are delicious so if you hear the front door slam in the middle of the night don’t be too surprised.

how to cook delicious mince pies fanny and brenda style

Warm chorizo and quails egg salad

Fanny Klunge's Chorizo and Quails Egg Salad

Warm chorizo and quails egg salad (serves 4)

approx 100g rocket leaves – either snipped,
or more conveniently if slightly less desirably, from a salad bag.
125g chorizo, sliced into “coins” about 3mm thick
8-9 quails eggs

For the dressing

olive oil
white wine vinegar or lemon juice
Dijon mustard
runny honey
sea salt
cracked black pepper

Start by making the dressing by whisking together 6tbsp olive oil to 2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice (or combo thereof, if you like), a tsp mustard, a tsp honey and plenty of salt and pepper. Set aside

Boil kettle

Place chorizo in a dry frying pan and switch on hob to medium high heat – as the chorizo warms, it will start to release its oils and fry. After a couple of minutes, it should be getting crisp in which case, flip over the pieces, fry on the other side for a few minutes until also getting crisp then switch off heat. I also few off a few teaspoons-full of the gorgeous paprika-laden oil and mixed it with the dressing but this isn’t compulsory

Use hot water from kettle to set pan of water on to simmer then carefully put quails eggs in to boil. They’re so tiny they will only need 1 1/2- 1 3/4 minutes to reach a point where they are hard boiled but retain a soft yolk. They can be retrieved using a slotted spoon and then, as they lose heat so fast, can almost immediately be picked up by hand and run under the tap for about 15 seconds which will totally stop any cooking without turning them fridge cold which is not desirable given this is a warm salad!

Peel the eggs.

In a large bowl, dress and toss the leaves

To assemble, gently pile a handful of the glossy leaves onto a plate, scatter some crisp slices of chorizo and two quails eggs, all of which should still be warm.

For those who cant do without carbs, a few croutons are ideal, plus they add extra colour and crunch!