Tag Archives: quick to make

Tomato and Watermelon Salad

tomato and watermelon salad from fanny and brenda

This is one of those lusciously cooling and fresh dishes that also looks lovely and is very easy to make.

Dare I say it, this fabulous platter of salad will invariably elicit general enthusiasm, nods of approval and even a little ripple of excitement – why do you think I chose it, living with Brenda?!

INGREDIENTS (makes for an intimate two but will obviously double and double again very easily fi you have a larger party to cater)

250g multicoloured/heritage tomatoes, halved or quartered dependent on size, but small bite sizes is the overall effect
250g watermelon – in cubes about the same size as the tomato pieces
30g pitted black olives – torn into a couple of bits each
1/4 red onion – sliced as finely as possible with a mandolin
small bunch basil
extra virgin olive oil
sherry vinegar
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

METHOD

Gently tumble the watermelon and tomato together in a bowl, along with the finely sliced onion, olive pieces and a little salt and pepper. Tear most of the basil leaves into the bowl, stir once to combine.

At this point it can be left for a few hours or even till the next day to marinate and allow the flavours to meld. When ready to serve, turn out the salad onto a platter where it can be finished with a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of sherry vinegar and the last few basil leaves.

refreshing and delicious watermelon salad

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

 

Luxury Toad In The Hole

fanny and brendas toad in the hole recipe

Let’s face it, each of us has their own idea about what “luxury” is – and perhaps few will see at this moment in time, the possibility of a fine-dining version of something which is basically sausage in batter.

However,  even if the starting point is just a few simple ingredients, by “making it the best you can” you’ll hopefully see how something quite everyday can be transformed into something rather stunning!. The Italians have a phrase for it which is  “bella figura” – something Brenda had never heard of (which I didn’t have the heart to tell her was self-evident…)

Hopefully you’ll see what I mean and enjoy this special edition toad.

fanny and brendas toad in the hole recipe

INGREDIENTS

140g self raising flour
4 large eggs
Eggs

300ml semi-skimmed milk

1 tbsp mustard – Dijon or wholegrain
handful of herbs – leaves picked and chopped. To enhance the leek and onion in the sausages I used thyme and chives, plus sage. Rosemary would have also been good.
4 tbsp vegetable oil plus some goose or duck fat if you have it. Or use a bit of extra oil.
6 sausages – any variety – we used nice herby Lincolnshire ones.
2 red onions – each cut into 6
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper

METHOD

Tip the flour into a bowl and crack in the eggs, one at a time, whisking as you go. Pour in the milk and keep whisking until you have a smooth batter. Finally, whisk in the mustard, herbs and some seasoning and set aside for 1-2 hrs. I’m not 100% sure why this seems to work – and you will see plenty of debate about it – but in any case, making the batter in advance gets it out the way!
Heat oven to 200C. Put the oil (and goose fat or equivalent – I did say this was the luxury version!) in a roasting tin or baking dish, roughly 30 x 22cm, with reasonably high sides. After a few minutes heating up, add the onion wedges and sausages to the dish, place back in the oven and cook for around 20 mins until getting nice and brown. You can turn everything half way through this if you like. For the last few minutes of this stage, increase the heat to 220C.

Now you can add the batter – ideally by opening the oven door and pouring the batter round the sausages/onions, in situ, using a jug. But if you don’t want the extra washing up or just feel more confident doing it on a surface, the key thing is to ensure you work quickly so that when the batter hits the fat, there’s a good sizzle. If you’ve achieved this stage outside of the oven, get the dish back in ASAP, leaving enough room overhead for it to rise, closing the door nice and smartly to keep as much of the heat in as possible.

The main advice to getting a lovely rise, a crisp golden brown finish while retaining a soft, mallow-ey base, is don’t open the door before 25 minutes. Depending on your oven, it may need a few more – I deemed 27 minutes perfect.

The eggy, light crispness of the batter, puffed to perfection by the roiling goose fat – further enhanced with the herbs and mustard – is a masterwork. If you have some leftover gravy, serve that with it, along with some greens perhaps. You probably won’t need potato as the batter takes care of the carbs! I hope having tried this, you’ll be reluctant to return to the “standard” version any time soon….

 

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.

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

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.

Zucchini Linguini

fanny and brendas delicious zucchini linguini

This is one of those pleasing quick to make light tasty dishes, that is just so satisfying. And if you have vegetarian friends they will just love this recipe.

Ingredients (to serve 2)

2 courgettes
small tin of anchovies
handful of pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
tsp chilli flakes
1 lemon
200g of linguini
Fresh grated parmesan
Fresh chopped parsley to decorate

Method

fanny and brendas delicious zucchini linguini

Take 2 courgettes and peel them with a potato peeler lengthways.

Meanwhile heat several good lugs of extra virgin olive oil and when hot, not smoking, fry strips of courgette.

fanny and brendas delicious zucchini linguini

Boil kettle full of water

After a few minutes, add crushed garlic to courgette pan, finely snip in the anchovies, scatter in the pine nuts and chilli flakes.

Once boiled, put hot water from kettle into roomy pan, add salt and tbsp olive oil – place linguine in water and cook as per packet instructions – probably 6-8 mins.

Meanwhile juice the lemon using a lemon squeezer, grate the parmesan and chop parsley (keeping an eye on your courgette pan!)

Drain pasta and immediately add to the courgette pan.

Add most of the lemon juice and parsley and toss everything together, removing from heat after 30 seconds.

Serve in warmed bowls with final sprinkle of parsley, the last of the remaining lemon juice and parmesan

Enjoy with a glass of fresh zesty white wine.

fanny and brendas delicious zucchini linguini