Tag Archives: starters

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.

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.


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


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

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!

Chick pea cabbage and chorizo soup

This really is a lovely fresh and warming soup with vital flavours that are good for cold days. Nourishing and gorgeous, there won’t be any leftovers when you make this recipe!

chorizo chick pea and cabbage soup


1 large onion, halved and finely sliced
3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
1 chorizo – they’re usually 200 or 225g – cut into fine rings
I small Savoy cabbage finely sliced(although any dark green leafy cabbage will work well – just avoid the almost white, very crunchy versions – the sort associated with coleslaw)
1 tin chickpeas, rinsed.
1 lemon or lime cut in halves
1 litre rich chicken stock
Fresh thyme/lemon thyme
3-4 bay leaves
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
Sea salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
Olive oil

chorizo chick pea and cabbage soup


Gently heat your chicken stock which should take about 20 minutes to start simmering, during which time…

Fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes in several tablespoons of olive oil, fairly slowly. Then add the chorizo and continue to fry for at least another 10 minutes so that the vegetables get really transluscent and also with some edges turning brown although be careful not to burn as the garlic easily goes bitter. The chorizo should be getting some crispiness and also have released beautiful reddish brown oils.

Add a paprika, chilli, thyme and bay leaves and continue to fry for 1-2 minutes until the pan is releasing very rich spicy aromas.

Now add the simmering chicken stock directly to the onion pan and stir together. Then immediately add the chickpeas and lemon/lime halves and simmer for 5 minutes.

chorizo chick pea and cabbage soup

Finally, add the sliced cabbage, simmer for another 5 minutes or so until the cabbage is tender but not mushy. Remove the citrus halves and squeeze any remaining flesh/juice into the soup. Given the saltiness of the chorizo, you should only check the seasoning at this point – adjust accordingly with sea salt and black pepper.

Serve immediately in warmed bowls with an additional squeeze of lemon juice and some finely chopped parsley. You definitely won’t need bread with this as the chick peas and rich, meaty, paprika flavours make for a satisfying, but still quite light and immensely tasty meal.

chorizo chick pea and cabbage soup

Quick and delicious Prawn Pil Pil

Prawn Pil Pil – it’s small, hot and immensely flavoursome. It’s very satisfying and although we have listed it as a starter, it can also double as a light main course for a summer’s evening.

Preheat oven to 200° and put ramekins or small pots in to heat up.
6-8 jumbo king prawns per person
A red chilli per person
A clove of garlic per person
A squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped parsley

Chop dried red chili and garlic
Remove the digestive tracts from the prawns
Fry lightly in 50ml of oil per person
prawn pil pil - a simple but delicious starter
Add the prawns to the pan of chili and garlic until they go pink. (Approx 3 minutes)
prawn pil pil - a simple but delicious starter

prawn pil pil - a simple but delicious starter
Empty the contents into the preheated dishes
Add a quick squirt of lemon juice and some chopped parsley, serve with some lovely fresh bread, and you’re ready to eat.

prawn pil pil - a simple but delicious starter

This should be served bubbling at the table. It’s hot, spicy and outrageously wonderful. The prawns probably don’t agree.

Easy and Quick Pea and Ham Soup

pea and ham soup - photo by simon c bennett photographer

I don’t often tell anyone that my recipes are easy and quick – largely because I believe a lot of the best food is something which has had a bit of time spent on it. That said, there are exceptions and this recipe is one of them.

I large onion
1 large potato
1l ham stock
Small handful of mint to chop
500g petits pois
200g diced smoked ham
4 tblspns of creme fraiche
pea and ham soup

Dice the onion and soften in a saucepan in a knob of butter. Add the potato and pour over the stock. I sometimes use a 50/50 mix with water to dilute the saltiness if the stock is very salty. Simmer the onion till soft.
pea and ham soup

Meanwhile chop the mint finely and add to the peas.

Once the onions and potato are soft add the peas and boil for a couple of minutes.
In the meantime get your blender out and plug it in! I used a hand blender which I just stuck in the soup!
pea and ham soup

Pulverize the peas, onions and potato and add four tablespoons of creme fraiche and stir in.
pea and ham soup

Pour into the bowls required, add some chopped mint and some diced ham. If you’re feeling naughty then another dollop of creme fraiche as it never hurt the postman. Mind you my postman has a nasty habit of leaving “we called and you were out” cards even when I’m in and I can tell you that irritates the vajazzle out of me!

How to shoot yourself in the foot

You may remember that in my last posting re the soup making that I said we were making soups based with vegetable stocks. This wasn’t a complete lie I can tell you, but as ever the minute you commit yourself to an absolute, you find that someone helpfully points out that you’re talking total rubbish. In this case it was Fanny who politely said something along the lines of “are you completely stupid you witless amnesiac?”. I’ve been paid nicer compliments I can tell you. To put matters right here indeed is one of the many exceptions to my last blog – the mushroom soup made with home made chicken stock which I have to say was absolutely delicious.

fanny and brenda's mushroom soup

20g butter + 30g chicken fat *
700ml of chicken stock
350g sliced mushrooms
1 fat clove of garlic
glass of dry white wine
Sprig of thyme or lemon thyme
Creme fraiche or double cream (volume to your taste)
(* the top of the solidified/jellied chicken stock).

Put the stock on to simmer in a pan
Fry the mushrooms in the butter and fat
Let the mushrooms expel their juices then add the garlic
Once the mushrooms are soft and cooked (but not browned), then add them to the simmering stock
Add the (lemon) thyme and white wine to the pot
Simmer for 20 minutes
When all is thoroughly tender, then blitz in the liquidiser
Pour into a clean pan
Swirl in creme fraiche or double cream to your taste
Add chopped parsley, and serve with some hot buttered sourdough bread/toast

We are soup making

It is early summer and for once we have summery weather. It hasn’t improved Fanny’s face much – leathery, wrinkled and now red, but at least it has brought about some cheer. We will be uploading a couple of lovely soup recipes later in the week and these will have  vegetarian appeal. We felt that if there is any time to appreciate this country’s  fresh produce, now is that time and accordingly we will want to share it with all of you – and to ensure that we have made the stocks vegetable based. So what have we learnt so far? Well we have tried a recipe or two and vegetables do not do well en masse- they need to be appreciated for what they are. It’s different if you add meat or fish to the complex, but when they are purely vegetable we think you have to allow the flavours to have their own prominence, which in short means not drowning them in lots of herbs, or mixing them up with too many other vegetables. And why? Well this morning we finished one really rather complex  (and frankly very labour intensive) recipe that had originated from a very established source and it tasted like wet weeds. We tried this recipe twice to be sure that we had got it ‘right’ . Needless to say we are subsequently rather amazed that it had ever been published. We also tried another recipe from the same source that was a effectively a mush of vegetables too. We didn’t need to re-try that one. It is fascinating when award winning chefs put their name to recipes that either don’t work or are just plain miserable, but given that that does happen, it makes us more determined to bring you the best recipes we can.

I know that I am am bound to be questioned on my love of the likes of Gazpacho after a posting like this -there will always be exceptions to the rule. However, that said, give your vegetables the room to allow their own flavours to come through – they are more subtle than meat or fish so recognising that basic difference will help.
fanny and brenda soup making