Tag Archives: vegetarian

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


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

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)


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


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

Stuffed courgette flowers with a spicy parmesan crust

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust

Serves 2 as a starter


4 baby courgettes with flowers attached

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust

Ingredients  for the flowers filling

100g marscapone cheese (or ricotta – or even Philly!)

50g feta cheese (or goats cheese)  – finely crumbled

2 anchovy filets – finely chopped

green part of a spring onion – finely sliced (or dsp of chopped chives)

leaves from 3-4 stalks of tarragon – finely chopped (or you could use fresh basil)

small bunch flat leaf parsley – leaves picked and finely chopped

zest of half a lemon – finely grated

freshly cracked black pepper

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust

Ingredients for the parmesan crust


1 large free range egg

1 tbsp cornflower

25g finely grated parmesan

1 tbsp breadcrumbs

½ tsn dried red chilli flakes

fresh cracked black pepper

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust

To fry

olive oil

sunflower/vegetable oil

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust

To serve

pinch sea salt

½ lemon

nasturtium flowers if available.

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust


You might find courgette flowers at a farmers’ market (if you live in Dulwich or another trendy location…) but even I have to admit that, unless you grow courgettes yourself, this is going to be challenging. However, it is unbelievably summery and beautiful (like Brenda’s latest frock…) and guests or a paramour, will be bowled over – and in the case of the latter, will definitely make the effort worthwhile in terms of the quality of your evening later on …… Anyway, moving swiftly forward

1)   Gently open the courgette flowers to snip the stamens  off  – they’re not poisonous, but they’re rather bitter (unlike Brenda, who is both…) Wipe all over and remove any insects.

2)   Combine all the ingredients for the flower filling in a bowl and stir/beat until  smooth. Check seasoning although it’s unlikely any salt will be needed due to the feta and anchovy

3)   Combine in a separate bowl (long enough to accommodate the full length of the courgette with its flower attached) the dry ingredients for the parmesan crust (again, careful with salt, due to the Parmesan) ….

4)   ….and in another bowl, similarly long, crack the egg and gently beat

5)   Spoon or pipe the flower filling mix into the courgette flower – you should get 1-2 tsp mix into each one. Carefully fold the petals over the mix and twist the (usually four) tips together to seal

6)   Heat a medium frying pan with enough olive/vegetable oil (you can use which combo you like but some olive oil for its flavour is nice) to cover the bottom of the pan to a depth of about 1cm

7)   While that’s getting up to temperature, dip each courgette (with attached stuffed flower) into the egg and then into the cheesy crumb mix.

8)   Once the oil is at 180C (or hot enough to brown a cube of bread in about  1 minute, if you haven’t got a thermometer), gently lower the courgettes into the oil and shallow fry . After 2 minutes, turn and do the same on the other side

9)   After 4 minutes in total, the courgettes will be a lovely light golden brown at which point they should be removed from the pan and laid on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil

10)   Serve immediately with a pinch of sea salt, a squeeze of lemon and a couple of nasturtiums if you have them.

stuffed courgette flowers with a parmesan crust




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.

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

How to make vegetarian mincemeat

fanny and brendas home-made vegetarian mincemeat for christmas

This year we have decided to make our own mincemeat. Our recipe does without beef suet and instead it uses butter. I am a big fan of home made mince pies and find that most of the commercial ones are okay but somehow lack the feasting element in their soul. They are convenient, but so is my fridge. I want something that says “let’s celebrate”. And believe me when you have to look at Fanny’s face every day a little joy is very welcome.

fanny and brendas home-made vegetarian mincemeat for christmas

We spent the majority of the time finding the right ingredients – ie the ingredients that we wanted in the mincemeat. It’s strange how much time it does take up, and to get ready. This is also half the fun though. We also candied our own peel and I had to show you the candied grapefruit peel- what a colour! And it’s delicious too. Please refer to our candy peel recipe if you want to make it.

Homemade Mincemeat Ingredients

100 g salted butter
250ml juice from citrus
2 large apples, peeled (e.g.. braeburns)
100g raisins
100g sultanas
100g dried currants
80 g glace morello cherries
100g chopped dried figs
100g chopped prunes
200g candied mixed peel (grapefruit, orange, lemon)
Zest and juice of one orange and lemon
100g  dark brown sugar
100ml triple sec
100ml brandy
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

fanny and brendas home-made vegetarian mincemeat for christmas

Get a large pot and place the butter, sugar and spices in the pan on a medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and stir.

Add the rest of the ingredients.

Stir well and let simmer for half an hour or until most of the juice has evaporated.

Switch off hob and leave to cool.

Sterilise a jar by heating to 100°C for twenty minutes; then leave to cool thoroughly.

Add mincemeat to jar.

You can store this in the fridge and it will last for this Christmas period, ready to be used at any time over the next few weeks.

fanny and brendas home-made vegetarian mincemeat for christmas

Halloween Special- Spicy Roast Pumpkin

We have filmed a Halloween special and it is a delicious recipe with origins from Italy. You’ll notice that our make up artist made us look even more witch like than usual, largely on the instructions of Fanny who felt that looking even more gorgeous was quite necessary.

fanny and brenda's spicy herb roast pumpkin - ideal for halloween

Ingredients to serve 4

1-1.5kg pumpkin
350ml double cream
100ml milk
As much garlic as you like (we used 5 cloves)
A handful of red chilli flakes
Fresh thyme
100g fresh strong cheddar/gruyere/parmesan. We used a cheddar parmesan mix
Sea salt and ground black pepper for seasoning


Preheat the oven to 150°c

Cut lid off pumpkin

Scoop out seeds

Squish garlic through a press and add to milk and cream

Add thyme,chillies,salt and pepper

Heat cream,milk,garlic,thyme,chillies,salt and pepper

Bring to boil and allow mixture to thicken

When hot, pour into pumpkin

Sprinkle in half the cheese

Replace the lid of the pumpkin and place in oven

Remove lid and sprinkle with pepper and rest of cheese

Bake for 15 minutes more

Scatter over the remaining thyme

Scoop the pumpkin and cream into bowls

Serve with a wedge of crusty bread

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


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

Crispy Vegetable Fritters (good as Dhal accompaniment)

Pretty much any vegetables can be used for these – aubergine, courgettes, peppers, cauliflower, onion, mushroom etc. We used aubergines and zucchini and they were really quite delicious. They are good accompanied by the dhal.

pakora- delicious vegetable fritters recipe

The idea is to get everything into very thin rounds or sticks, no more than 2-3 mm (cauli into 1.5cm florets)

For the batter

4 tbsn gram flour (chick pea flour)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp kholanji (nigella seeds/black onion seeds)
1tsp baking powder
75-100 ml water

pakora- delicious vegetable fritters recipe
Mix all batter ingredients together till smooth – how much water you use will determine the final consistency with a larger volume producing a thinner version and vice versa. How thin the batter is will determine how easily it slides off your veg pieces – again, a thinner one will stick less so the batter will be lighter.

pakora- delicious vegetable fritters recipe
Heat some vegetable oil in a wok/pan/karai and heat till a drop of the batter sizzles when dripped in. Now start coating your veg and adding to the pan, being careful to turn and do the other side till a pale golden brown and not to overcrowd the pan – it’s far better to do several batches rather then attempting it in one which will likely result in soggy veg/batter! And we don’t want that, do we?
pakora- delicious vegetable fritters recipe
You can season with some salt if you like – I also sprinkled a few dried red chili flakes and a pinch of garam masala.

Frugal tastiness with Dhal

This is a wonderfully tasty dish that is good on a winter’s day or indeed equally on a hot summer’s day. On summer days Fanny wears rather less than she should given her advanced age and I won’t disturb you with the nightmare images she inspires in this state. Suffice to say I am on the tablets.
lentil dhal - absolutely delicious vegetarian recipe
However don’t let me put you off this delicious dish, it really is very moreish and is good eaten with vegetable fritters.


200g red lentils
1 litre water
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 green chillies
1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
3 tbsp ghee
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely sliced
lentil dhal - absolutely delicious vegetarian recipe

Bring the lentils to the boil in the litre of water in a large saucepan and remove any scum

Add the turmeric, cumin and tomatoes and mix in

Lower the heat and simmer for about 40 mins until tender. Add the salt, chillies and coriander and mix in. Remove from the heat.
lentil dhal - absolutely delicious vegetarian recipe

Meanwhile in a medium size frying pan, heat the ghee and fry the onion and garlic until golden brown – pour this over the lentils and serve.

lentil dhal - absolutely delicious vegetarian recipe