Tag Archives: brenda’s cooking

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

Brenda’s Plum Vodka

From about the end of November through to mid January, Fanny spends herself enjoying the finer aspects of the season. I trail along barely able to keep up with her considerable consumption. However I am taken to parties with her because she has to show she has at least one good looking pretty and intelligent friend. It would be a tragic situation but for the fact that like her I enjoy a good drink. This year we have had a plum glut – our two old trees produce what we believe are Early Rivers plums. They aren’t the greatest ‘eaters’ if I’m honest, and they are better cooked. They make lovely stewed plums for instance. However I now have a freezer full of them so time to move on. This week I bought some Russian standard vodka and decided to merge the plums with vodka to be enjoyed leisurely at Christmas. I am storing this in a 2 litre kilner style storage jar which has been sterilised beforehand.

plum vodka makde using russian vodka and our own home grown plums


1l 40% Russian standard vodka
300g of sugar
Plums to fill the jar once the vodka and the sugar have been poured in.


Pour in vodka
Pour in sugar
Add plums
Seal lid
Place somewhere cool for three months, occasionally shaking it up to dissolve the sugar.
Test 1 month before using that you like the sweetness. If it needs more sugar, now is the time to add it.

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.


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


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

Beetroot Dip

fanny and brenda's cocktail party beetroot dip

Beetroot Dip

Tired of the same old guacamole? Bored of ready chilled tzatziki? Me too! And don’t get me started on supermarket humus . If I have to hand around another plateful of taramasalata I think I will scream. So it’s time for a refreshing alternative, and a ready mixed one from the supermarket chillers won’t cut the mustard. The dip here is a tasty, creamy, and quite rich beetroot dip, informed with flavours from the chives, orange and garlic and it’s quick to make. It’s rather lovely and a good excuse for a cocktail party actually.


2 beetroots cooked, peeled and diced ready for the blender
Juice of 2 large oranges
1 garlic bulb squished
Handful of chives cut fine ready for the blender
400g soft cream cheese
A splash of single cream
Seasoning to taste


Put the beets into the blender and add the soft cream cheese

Add the chives,garlic,orange juice, and a splash of cream

Blend for two minutes

Pour out into small serving dishes

Serve with biscuits/toast/pitta. The dip works well with a crunchy accompaniment so if you use pitta, toast it first. Celery (remove the skin as it’s stringy) and carrot batons are also equally good.

Orange and Ginger Sponge Cake

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

I was awoken this morning by the sound of some appallingly obtrusive snoring from the next bedroom. I had never heard such disgusting sounds, at least not within the realms of civilised humanity. I poked my gracious head around the door and saw an elephantine lump breathing and belching flatulently, a vision that might have been redolent of a particularly nasty pyscho horror film. Fanny was on her back under the duvet, her head wrapped in her lacy bonnet, her substantial red nostrils flaring with every intake of breath dreaming no doubt about her latest Brazilian. It was a sight that few could have withstood without mental damage, but magically I survived.

I will have you know however that it was too damned early, and Ruby the cat was annoyed by the unnecessary sleep interruption. Desperate times call for desperate measures and frankly I felt like eating a large and sumptuous cake as compensation for the rude awakening. I stamped downstairs and decided on making a refreshing stimulating and quite fabulous orange and ginger sponge cake. Here is the recipe.

Zesty Orange and Ginger Cake

Preheat oven to 160°c

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

For the cake
• 250g butter
• 250g self-raising flour
• 1 level tsp baking powder
• 125g golden caster sugar
• 125g soft brown sugar
• 4 large eggs
• finely grated zest of 2 oranges
• 2 heaped dessert spoons glace ginger

For the butter icing
• 75g butter, softened
• 75g icing sugar, sifted
• 1 dessert spoonful of glace ginger pieces
• finely grated zest of 2 oranges

For the glaze topping
• 100g icing sugar
• juice of an orange (approx 100g)
• zest of 1 orange


Grease two loose bottomed cake tins and place a sheet of baking paper on the base of each. This will help later when you have to extract the cake from the tins.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

Put all of the dry cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and combine them with the butter and the zest till you have a rather lovely fragrant doughey mixture.

Add the eggs, and whisk to blend giving a soft cake mixture.

Stir in the glace ginger dispersing it well.

Split the mixture between the two loose bottomed greased cake tins

Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Check with skewer that the cakes are cooked. If still slightly gooey in the centre give them another 4-5 minutes.

Take out and place on a rack to cool.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

Sandwiched buttercream icing

Once the cake has cooled mix the softened butter and the icing sugar in a large bowl.

Add half the grated rind.

Take one of the cakes and add a layer of icing to it.

Add some of the glace ginger to the layer that will be in the middle of the cakes.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

For the topping

Mix the icing sugar and juice of half an orange

Add the zest

Pour the thin liquid over the top of the cake allowing it to overflow down the sides

Leave to set for a couple of hours – giving you a slightly crispy topping!

Lemon and Ginger Marscapone Tart

fanny and brendas lemon and ginger marscapone tartThis fabulous recipe is one that has been developed after several trials. It concentrates on lemon with influences of ginger to inform the flavour, and also uses lemon zest to give those momentary experiences of pure lemon in the mouth. There are no distracting flavours and this is a recipe that I highly recommend. It is equally good as an alternative at Christmas, or to finish off a midsummer supper.

Use the rough puff pastry as illustrated on this blog: it’s much better than the packaged pastry. (If you plan to make one tart then halving the measures listed in the puff pastry recipe will suffice.) http://fannyandbrenda.com/blog/quick-puff-pastry/


Preheat the oven to 180°c

4 large eggs separated
200g caster sugar
200ml double cream
300g marscapone cheese
Juice from two lemons
Zest from two lemons
50g candied lemon peel
150g puff pastry – using our recipe!
1 tbsp of candied ginger


Flour your board and roll out the puff pastry thinly.

Get you tart case and grease. Place baking paper over it. (If you are using a pop out baking dish then ignore this instruction – I add it purely for the ease of removing the tart after it has baked and cooled!)

Now add the pastry

Cut to size and shape and add another (2nd) layer of baking paper.

Add the baking beans and place in oven for 10 minutes to blind bake the pastry

lemon and ginger marscapone tart
Take out and remove the baking beans and baking paper and replace in oven for ten minutes.

Remove from oven and reduce the heat to 150°c


For the lemon mix:

First cut up your candied ginger quite finely

In a large mixing bowl add the marscapone, cream, 100g of sugar,lemon juice, egg yolks, zest and combine them.

lemon and ginger marscapone tart

In another large mixing bowl add the egg whites and the other 100g of caster sugar and whisk together till it forms little peaks.

Add the egg whites to the first mixture and stir in.

Take the candied ginger and sprinkle it on the base of the tart

lemon and ginger marscapone tart
Now pour the mixture into the cooled tart case and cook for about 20-25mins. You want the top to still have  a lemony colour, and once it starts to brown at the edges, you know it is cooked. The middle will be wobbly but that will set. Leave to cool.

Serve with some cream.*

(* Our cream was whipped with about 50ml of lemon juice and 50ml of limoncello. A superb combination that complements this tart awfully well!)
lemon and ginger marscapone tart

Black Forest Trifle

I am a model of gorgeousness all year but sometimes I have the need to do something really quite disgraceful. This is a good time of year to be disgraceful as one is not wearing quite so many skin tight clothes, thereby revealing less of my beautiful athletic Amazonian figure for all to see. This of course, is a truly saddening situation, so something needs to be done to make this better.

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle

Earlier this week as we all enjoyed Christmas I was having a wistful moment of nostalgia, and I thought about something chocolatey. However I guess I required something more outrageous and frankly indulgent. I settled on the idea of a marvellous trifle. And believe me when I make a trifle it is just fabulous – even Fanny agrees! I needed one with both that luscious sweetness, but laced with something tart to cut the richness. Talking about tart, Fanny was very helpful on the subject of cherry brandy, and spent her time ensuring that my cherries were macerated well before we started.

This particular trifle would make a good party pudding, and would also be very popular on dark cold nights. It is rich, and a small portion will satisfy the most demanding appetite.

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle
So here we are.


2 425g black cherries
4 tbspns of cherry brandy to macerate the fruit
200g sour cherry conserve (we used aldi jam)
3g of gelatine/vege-gel

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle
Choccy sponge

100g butter
3 large free range eggs
200g vanilla sugar
4 level tspns baking powder
200g almond flour
225g decent quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa would be ideal)
Preheat oven to 150°c
Grease up a baking dish ready. (we used a 10″ cake dish).

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle

Choccy custard

4 egg yolks
150 ml double cream
150 ml full fat milk
100g caster sugar
30g cornflour
100g chopped up plain chocolate

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle

For the topping
150ml double cream whipped
100ml of creme fraiche


For the fruit

Place the cherries in the cherry brandy and allow them to infuse for a couple of hours.

fanny and brendas black forest chocolate cherry trifle

For the choccy sponge

Add the butter and dark chocolate to a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water and leave to melt, stirring occasionally. When it is smooth and melted, let it cool.

Then place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and whisk together for several minutes until pale and stiffer.

Then gradually pour the melted chocolate mixture onto the egg and sugar mix and fold in gently.

Add the almond flour and fold in lightly. Pour into the greased cake tin and add a few of the delicious macerated cherries

Stick it in the oven and cook at 150°c for about 50 minutes until the cake is reasonably cooked. You can tell if you stick a skewer in to the centre of the cake mix and you just get a small mark suggesting a slightly gooey interior- this is correct.

Take it out and leave to cool.

For the custard

Place the cream and milk in a pan and heat until just before boiling point. Take it off the heat. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour and pour the hot milk/ cream mix onto the eggs and whisk until smooth. Add the chopped up chocolate. Stir on a low heat, and cook until all the chocolate has melted and the custard has thickened. Remove from the heat, pour into a jug and cover the surface of the custard with cling film (which prevents a skin from forming). Leave to cool completely.

Back to the cherries and the cherry juices

Place the cherries and the brandy into a pan and reduce,creating a syrup. Reduce on a simmer expecting to lose about a third of the liquid.

Take your gelatine and follow the instructions on the packet. In short, it usually has to be brought to the boil before it is effective so place it in a small amount of water and bring it to the boil for a few seconds.

Now with the reduced fruit syrup, add the gelatine and stir in and allow to cool slightly.

rich indulgent chocolate trifle for cold winter nights

To assemble the trifle

Take the cooled cake and cut out the centre. Fanny used a bowl which she pushed into the cake giving an immaculate round shape. This was removed and you will be left with the ring – the outer part of the cake. Cut this up into cubes.

Douse them with some cherry brandy and place them at the bottom of the serving dish.

Add some of the cherries

Now add the jelly mixture

The next layer is the chocolate custard. Try not to eat it all before you put it in the trifle.

Add the last of the cherries

rich indulgent chocolate trifle for cold winter nights

Top with a mixture of whipped double cream and a couple of tbspns of creme fraiche.

The beauty of this recipe is that you get a free chocolate cake (from the cutout earlier) as well!

Do you know -I really am sometimes always quite fabulous!

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

Candying peel

It’s strange how the last days of a warm summer have passed and how quickly Christmas is now approaching. On the train today I saw two glittery ‘snowmen’ on a city roof along with some other festive decorations. The build up has begun and while it’s easy to complain about it all, actually it is a useful prompt to start some of the preparations for the food to be enjoyed at that time.

mixed candied candy citrus orange lemon lime peel

Today I have been candying citrus fruit peel – 3 oranges.  I am intending some of this peel to go into the Fanny and Brenda Joyous Christmas Cake and some of it to go into my really very delicious mincemeat.

mixed candied candy citrus orange lemon lime peel

Now wash the fruit. Cut off the ends. I did the same with the oranges, lemons and limes. Make sure all of them are unwaxed.

Cut the skin into quarters as it makes the peeling a bit easier.

mixed candied candy citrus orange lemon lime peel

Peel off the skin and cut into narrow slithers

Place them in a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil.

Tip the water out and repeat twice. This will tenderise the skin.

mixed candied candy citrus orange lemon lime peel

Meanwhile in a bowl whisk up 400g of caster sugar in 200g of water.

Now tip into a small pan and turn on the heat. Let it simmer for about five minutes and then add the peel

Cook on a slow simmer for about 50 minutes.

When soft strain them and place them in a tray to cool down.

(I keep the resultant syrup for using in tarts and dribbling on ice cream….)

Once they have cooled you can use them in the fruit mix for the christmas cake or mincemeat or they can be covered in caster sugar and enjoyed individually.

I have found that  different citrus types cook slightly differently. Please check out my blog about candying lemon peel.

mixed candied candy citrus orange lemon lime peel

To bake blind or not?

Very soon I will publish the recipe of some tarts that I have been working on. I have seen several recipes for them and tried them. However strangely, given the filling is cream based very little was mentioned about baking blind or pre baking. Do not underestimate the value this will bring to your pie or tart. Accomplishing that “gosh that was delicious how did you do that?” reaction in your friends can sometimes be something as simple as a quick pre bake before the filling is added. In the photo you see two tart cases that I made with puff pastry, one that had used baking beans and the other which hadn’t. You can see that the one on the left, which was left au naturel, shrank while the one with baking beans kept its shape and size.

The end result is quite different; it looks different and it chews differently. To some extent this will be a matter of taste, but for that crispier pro finish, I recommend the added step of baking beans.

More on the subject click here

blind baking, pre baking, baking beans for tarts pic by simon bennett