Tag Archives: winter food

Slow Cooked Chicken with Winter Veg Lemon And Thyme

slow cooked chicken and winter veg with lemon and thyme

It just goes to show that the following of received wisdoms too rigidly isn’t always the right way to go – like Brenda’s choices in designer wear. It’s not just her jumble of “bright” (i.e. gaudy) colours and horizontal stripes which she wrongly thinks take off the 10lbs the camera is said to add to everyone’s apparent weight. According to her, life is about balance and so, to make sure she doesn’t appear to completely waste away while co-presenting our famous “Fanny and Brenda” You Tube series on how to make gorgeous food, thinks it’s appropriate to consume a packet of chocolate biscuits and several Eccles cakes prior to the shoot. She’s probably got confused regarding that other received wisdom about not eating carbs after 8pm, perhaps thinking that you can eat as many of them as you like, before 8pm. Oh dear.

Now I’m certainly not suggesting that we, the World’s Most Fabulous Divine Hostesses, have produced anything which could be termed “heavy” or “dense”, but a review of our more recent output did seem to reveal a bias towards what we might call the “hearty”. In one sense, this is completely understandable given the cooler temperatures this country “enjoys” at this time of year. However, whilst Brenda was happy enough to suggest dumplings be included in all our Winter recipes, I said I did not feel that dollops of animal suet and herbs would be suitable in, for example, a coffee and walnut pavlova and therefore, after some negotiation (i.e. me saying no), this idea was shelved.

There are occasions where something truly rib-sticking like beef with beer and root veg totally fits the bill, but frankly, we don’t always feel like ladlefuls of thick, dark stews so, having surveyed the fridge’s contents on Tuesday this week, I was rewarded with a combination that effectively enabled me to adapt a delightful spring like Chicken with Spring Veg and Herbs recipe into this still light, but more December-y Chicken with Winter Veg and lemon and thyme. By the way, speaking of adapting, we often do this to other people’s recipes to make them better – and detail them in full here for your wonderment – so I would repeat the advice that most recipes should be treated as guides only and tweaked by your good selves, dear acolytes, to suit your own preferences and ingredient availability. Due to our (my) exceptional pallet and careful product- testing, with the possible lone other exception of the rather fantastic Simon Hopkinson, this advice should be treated with caution when preparing any F& B recipe…… see what I mean about received wisdoms??

slow cooked chicken and winter veg with lemon and thyme


6 chicken pieces (we used thighs with the bone in and skin on)
about 200g baby leeks, split lengthways and carefully washed
about 200g carrots, split lengthways once for halves and twice for quarters depending on size – also we had “heritage” varieties available which did add a cheery colour variation
about a third of a bottle of dry white wine
about 200ml of chicken stock (although this could be substituted with more wine or, especially as this time the meat was bone-in, water)
2 or 3 cloves of garlic – not chopped or even peeled, just bashed
Small bunch parsley – medium chopped
Juice of a lemon
Few sprigs of fresh thyme – leaves picked
Pinch (or half a tsp) of red chilli flakes
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tsp flour (optional – use only if making a roux for gentle thickening)
knob of butter

slow cooked chicken and winter veg with lemon and thyme


1) If time, pop your chicken pieces into a good glug of olive oil/juice of a lemon/thyme leaves/pinch of chilli flakes, salt and pepper to marinate. I did mine for a couple of hours, but even 20 mins is worth it

2) When ready to cook, switch on the hob to high heat and get a good size casserole dish up to temperature – you may need 3-5 mins to bring it to the point where it’s nearly smoking. If you haven’t marinaded first, add a good glug of olive oil direct to the casserole at this stage to fry the meat off

3) Pop the chicken pieces straight into the casserole dish in a single layer so they brown quickly and evenly. Reserve any leftover marinade. Leave the meat well alone for up to 5 mins to allow a really beautiful golden brown “crust” to develop – also not moving the chicken pieces constantly around at the beginning makes them less likely to stick which in turn makes turning them to brown the other side(s) much easier. Don’t bother to pat them dry first as, even though some lemon juice inevitably goes in, a well pre-heated cast iron vessel will have enough in reserve to quickly boil it off so you won’t have issues with the chicken itself stewing instead of browning . Add your bashed garlic cloves at around the half-way point which should avoid the garlic burning by the time the chicken pieces are browned.

4) Once well-browned, turn the heat down to low and add the veggies and wine (plus lemon juice, thyme, chilli, salt and pepper if you haven’t pre-marinated – and by the way any remaining marinade can be added now if you did pre-marinate). If you’re happy with a thin “soup base” consistency, just add the stock as is. If you want a thicker, but still very light base, heat a knob of butter in a small saucepan and when melted, whisk in the flour and cook for a couple of mins (i.e. make a roux), followed by about half the stock and, once incorporated, the rest. The contents of the saucepan can then be added to the main dish.

5) Simmer gently for about 20 mins until the chicken and veggies are tender. If you just used stock, and not a thickened stock base, add the knob of butter straight into the casserole dish, to give the sauce a nice glossy finish – and of course an even more delicious taste!

6) You can serve up with just a really good sprinkle of chopped parsley and enjoy a light, but hearty winter stew exactly as it is – or, as i did, with some fried potatoes, to which I added some minced garlic and the zest of the same lemon, the juice from which works so successfully in the main dish!

slow cooked chicken and winter veg with lemon and thyme

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

Mexican Shoulder of Lamb for 2 people

Our nights are still cold here in Blighty and a meal like this is most welcome. It is a delicious arrangement of lamb and vegetables with very mild but wonderfully flavoursome spicing. Although we say it’s for two people (Brenda is extremely prone to large portions), we had plenty of leftovers and could have fed four!

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe


1 shoulder of lamb (0.75kg)
Olive oil
1 whole but small head of garlic (6-8 cloves)

2 carrots, peeled and roughly diced

2 onions, peeled and roughly diced

2 ancho chillies

1 chipotle chilli

350ml full-bodied red wine

1-2 tsp redcurrant jelly

For the spice mix

4cm cinnamon stick

1 large branch rosemary, leaves stripped

1 tsp black peppercorns cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 star anise

2 bay leaves 
Maldon sea salt

To serve
spring greens
courgette batons fried
handful of fresh coriander

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

1) Cut off any excess fat or sinew from the lamb. Rub all over with olive oil

2)  Put all the spices for the spice mix in a dry frying pan and heat on a medium flame for about three minutes till things start to pop, the bay leaves are very nearly dry and everything is just starting to smoke and smell really fragrant. To stop the toasting immediately (you definitely don’t want the spices to burn), tip the contents of the pan directly into a pestle and mortar, and grind away for a good 3-5 mins till you have a  powder – I actually sieved the grounds into a small glass bowl so that any stubborn bits of cinnamon or the stalk and central vein in the bay leaves which remained, would be captured in the sieve (and could be discarded), leaving a nice even, chocolate brown and superbly aromatic spice mix, to which I then just added  a teaspoonful of Maldon sea salt.

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

3) Rub or sprinkle the spice mix all over the oiled lamb.

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

4) Break up the garlic head  and bash the cloves to release them from their skins – a few whacks with a rolling pin is fine!! Scatter the chopped carrots and onions into the baking tin along with the bruised garlic, discard the stalk and seeds in both types of chilli and then tear or cut  each chilli into four or five pieces and add to the tray. Put the wine in a jug and stir through the redcurrant jelly and than pour evenly over the baking tins’ contents, place the lamb on top and leave to marinate for four hours or preferably overnight, in the fridge and covered in tinfoil.

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

5) Heat the oven to 150°C

6) If cooking the same day, assuming a reasonably cool kitchen, you won’t need to have refrigerated the dish, but having marinated over night, allow it to come up to near room temperature by taking out of the fridge at least an hour prior to cooking – Brenda hates anything frigid in her oven……and although I know what she means, this is in fact mainly to allow the dish to come up to heat quickly once in the oven. Depending on the size of your joint, steam and braise away under its lovely tent of foil for around 3 1/2 hours, by which time it should be meltingly soft. Confirm this by how it looks and feels – by all means have a quick check at around half time and baste the met/veg with some pan juices if necessary, even topping up with 100ml water if it looks as if it might be getting a little dry, although this is unlikely if the tinfoil hat has been fixed on tight.

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

7)  Lift out the meat, and place, covered, in a warm place to rest. Just before serving, don’t try and carve it, just break apart with two forks so you end up with something like pulled pork  Meanwhile, whizz the contents of the roasting tray with a stick blender (or tip the entire contents of the roasting tray – minus meat - into the blender and process for a minute or two until you have a soft chilli and onion puree which will not be perfectly smooth) Warm through gently on the hob (either in the tray to save on the washing-up, or transfer to a saucepan). Add an extra teaspoon of redcurrant jelly and/or additional seasoning if required. 

fanny and brenda's delicious mexican lamb recipe

8) Serve with modest mashed potato (in other words, don’t go mad with cream and butter as the lamb is quite rich and the contrast will please the stomach) which can be mixed up with steamed spring greens. Best thing is a dollop  (or smear if you’re being refined) of the chilli puree on a warmed plate, next to some neat spoonfuls of the spuds/greens mix, followed by the lamb piled onto the puree and all dressed with some torn coriander leaves. Enjoy!

Fanny’s warming Coq Au Vin

Although it is very nearly the end of February, it is still cold outside. The bulbs are coming up which suggests the gradual onset of Spring and as the nights get lighter so Brenda’s mood improves. This week I made the most divine coq au vin which is a meal to enjoy heartily either for a Sunday lunch or a dinner on a chilly night. Brenda lapped it up like a demented poodle which suggests that you should try it at home as it really is delicious.

fanny and brenda's coq au vin recipe - it is delicious!


olive oil
2 free-range chicken legs
4 free-range chicken thighs
2 free-range chicken breasts
OR substitute the above chicken pieces for a whole large free range chicken, jointed into 8 (2 legs, 2 thighs, each breast sliced diagonally in 2)
100g dry-cured, smoked streaky bacon
12-16 shallots, depending on size
4 garlic cloves, medium chop – neither minced nor big lumps!
double measure (50ml) brandy or Cognac
bottle red wine
150ml homemade chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
sprig fresh rosemary
3 fresh bay leaves
handful chopped flat-leaf parsley

250g chestnut mushrooms, halved if large (or any dark gilled mushrooms like field mushrooms cut into large pieces)
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper


1. Heat glug olive oil and a knob of butter in a large, heavy-based casserole, on the hob and also switch on the oven to 160°C

2. Meanwhile dip your chicken pieces (all should be bone in and skin on) in seasoned flour

fanny and brenda's coq au vin recipe - it is delicious!

3. Fry them off in the by-now sizzling oil – you’ll likely need to do it in batches (I did it in 2 batches) – setting aside in a warm dish once done

fanny and brenda's coq au vin recipe - it is delicious!

4. Snip your bacon into strips of about an inch directly into the casserole dish now vacated by the chicken and fry, along with your little shallots, then after a minute or two, the garlic.

5. As soon as the bacon and onions are going a lovely golden brown (don’t let the garlic burn though), tip in the brandy. It doesn’t matter if it “flames”, just be aware that it might!

fanny and brenda's coq au vin recipe - it is delicious!

6. The alcohol will only take a few seconds to boil/flame away so be ready to pop the browned chicken pieces straight back into the casserole.

7. Now pour in your bottle of beautiful full bodied red wine ( some purists will claim that it needs to be a burgundy – we are more liberal than that!). So long as you choose a rich full bodied wine, you will enjoy the finished dish rather more. However, if you use cheap, thin wine, from whichever country, that will influence the end result and not in a good way….)

fanny and brenda's coq au vin recipe - it is delicious!

8. If, like me, you could not resist a glass or two of the wine that was meant to go in as per stage 7 above, DO NOT WORRY!!! Just top up with chicken stock until the chicken pieces are nicely bathed (not drowning)

9. Now nestle in the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves – you can tie them together and make a bouquet garni which will make it slightly easier to fish the herbs out later but that’s up to you – I didn’t.

10. Once it’s simmering away nicely, pop the lid on and the whole thing into the oven for about 45 mins

11. At this point I took it out, left it to cool and then put it in the fridge for 2 days. If you are too hungry to wait 48 hours to eat, don’t worry, you can fry off the mushrooms for about 5-10 mins in some more oil/butter, tip them into the casserole, test and adjust the seasoning (probably need to add lots of lovely sea salt and black pepper) and continue to oven cook for about another half an hour.

12. Assuming you have done as I suggested and let it marinate (overnight or even better, for 2 days), now fry off the mushrooms as per above, add to the dish and cook at 160°C for 45 mins till bubbling, aromatic and slightly reduced. The sauce absolutely should not be thick, the consistency of single cream is great.

13. Either way (so, whether you eat straight away or have returned to the dish after its “resting” period), serve in warmed dishes with a good scattering of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley and a warm crunchy French baguette and a simple dressed salad.

fanny and brenda's coq au vin recipe - it is delicious!

Economical Eating Part 2 – Our delectable Cottage Pie

fanny and brendas gorgeous cottage pie starts with the meat grinder spong

This is what happens with the leftovers from the roast featured in our previous posting. You need to be aware that for the time and trouble that you go to, the results will be spectacularly worthwhile. In fact you’ll never want to eat shop bought mechanically pelletted mince again.


Leftover roast beef
2-3 sticks celery – finely chopped
2-3 parsnips – finely chopped
couple of cloves of garlic – crushed
fresh rosemary and thyme – roughly chopped
tin of tomatoes
squeeze of tomato puree
splash of red wine
Worcester sauce
2lbs floury potatoes
butter and cream
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
ground nutmeg


1) Hopefullly you’ve got about 3-400g beef left over – anyway simply mince it through your Spong or other meat grinding device and set aside

2) Heat some olive oil in a spacious frying pan and add the finely chopped veg (onions, garlic, parsnips – in my case, but most people would use carrots instead) plus the herbs. Give that chance to get a really good fry, ideally with the veg dice being at this stage quite tender and even starting to brown a bit.

3) Add the mince which, being already cooked, should only take another five mins or so – I got a few crusty brown bits developing which is good – it’s all flavour – although you don’t want it getting too dry.

4) Transfer the meat/veg mix to a very large saucepan or pot and add the tin of tomatoes, tomato puree a good gush of red wine and possibly some water – use your judgement but bear in mind the pot will now gently simmer for the best part of an hour to really meld the flavours. During cooking, test the seasoning and add a few splashes of Worcester sauce. Once done, should have a loose, pulpy consistency, but not be too sloppy.

5) Meanwhile, peel and chop your potatoes and simmer in salted water for 25 mins until very tender. I actually recycled some from the pot roast which meant I was able to slightly cut down on the amount of fresh spud needed. Once cooked, drain and allow to steam off a few minutes then process through a ricer – there really isn’t another such foolproof way of guaranteeing smooth mash! Add butter, cream, salt and pepper plus ground nutmeg to taste (but max half a teaspoonful) and set aside. You do need the mash to be quite firm though otherwise it won’t keep it’s shape as a pie topping, so don’t over do the cream even though I can hardly believe myself for that command to self-control!! Switch on the oven about now, to about 170C if eating the pie immediately.

6) Once the meat sauce has simmered to the state where it looks rich and combined, usually around 45 mins, then transfer to a pie dish, then spoon on dollops of the mashed potato ensuring you leave it nice and rustic – bake, and while it cooks, the “peaks” will go darker and crispier than the rest, providing a very jolly effect!

7) I was lucky enough to have left over gravy from the pot roast, which I topped up with a few tablespoons of the cooking liquor from the meat sauce which seems to separate to the top of the pot in the earlier stages of simmering so is easy to retrieve for that purpose! This, along with a few frozen peas, (they’re done when they’ve JUST boiled) with some butter and seasoning makes for a simply superb winter supper – with the added advantage of hoovering up a lot of leftovers otherwise cluttering your fridge up and generally being wasteful.

fanny and brendas gorgeous cottage pie - there won't be any leftovers! photo by Simon Bennett

Cheap Eats with Fanny and Brenda – Beef Pot Roast

fanny and brendas economical eating part 1- beef pot roast

Economical eating does not mean eating poorer quality food. On the contrary, it can often mean eating better quality food if you have the interest in making your food go further. The results are surprising to many as you can often eat for the same price as those ‘value’ ready meals of stodge and have something far more enjoyable and of much clearer provenance too.

So today we start with Beef Pot Roast. This recipe is a gem and the whole house is filled with this marvellous aroma of beef stewing over a long period. It is one of the reasons why I love winter food as I have a love affair with unctuous stews and casseroles and meat dishes of this type. You will be able to feed a family of four with this dish and then in our next installment we will show you what to do with the gorgeous leftovers.


1kg beef topside or silverside
2 large onions – fairly roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic – fairly roughly chopped
3 carrots – cut into about 3-4 pieces
3 parsnips – cut into about 3-4 pieces
6 medium sized floury potatoes, each cut in halves or thirds
250ml red wine
600ml beef stock
olive oil and butter
sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper


1) Begin by adding a good lug of olive oil to your casserole dish and getting it nice and hot on the stove. Also heat the oven to 160°C. Having patted dry and seasoned your piece of meat, slap it down in the oil and just leave it for 3 minutes or so to get a really good crust. Turn, and do another side the same way until all sides of the joint are browned, which will take about 12 mins. People talk about “sealing the meat” which it hardly does at all – moisture can be lost or gained by the meat similarly whether raw or fried off first! What you are really getting by treating the meat this way, is FLAVOUR – the dark areas of caramelization both on the joint and stuck to the pan are the essential origins of a lot of your dish’s rich meaty savoury taste at the end.

2) Remove the browned meat to a plate and then stir in the chopped onions and garlic into the same vessel as you cooked the meat (obviously without washing it up first!), stirring quite a bit to make sure all those lovely crusty bits I mentioned above get incorporated into the liquid the onions release and they’re transluscent and quite probably also starting to brown a bit too – again, all super flavour!

3) Add the meat and any accumulated juices back into the casserole with the onions/garlic and now you can add your wine and stock. Once these have gone in, scatter some sprigs of fresh thyme and your bay leaves, plus any extra salt and pepper you feel the sauce might need. Place in the oven with the lid on and cook for an hour and a half to two hours.

4) When you take it out of the oven at this stage, you can tumble in your potato, carrot and parsnip (I don’t think parsnips are especially traditional for pot roasts, but there seems to be a great variety of suggestions as to what root veg accompanies the beef and frankly I used parsnips because a) we like them and b) we had some which needed using up).  I recommend about another hour back in the oven at this stage. Although the lid should have prevented most of the evaporation of the sauce, clearly it will be a little more concentrated than it was initially but this is good as again, it means richer flavour – in any case the veg do release some water during the last hour of cooking  – your meat may need longer, it all depends on the exact cut/quality – but what you’re looking for is a state of tenderness where you can just shred it apart with 2 spoons – which indeed  is a great way of serving it, perhaps in the middle of a platter, with the veg arranged round the edges along with some of the sauce spooned over the shredded beef – don’t forget also to take out the remaining twigs from the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves. As a final touch, I also added a knob of butter to the gravy once the meat and veg had been taken out the pot.

This is amazing one pot cooking – though we did add some buttered green beans to ours!

Christmas Cake -Part 3 – The marzipan layer

fanny and brendas christmas cake marzipan layer

So you’ve got your cake, and for several weeks you have been injecting it with plenty of alcohol I hope. There’s no point in a dry fruit cake. Of course the alcohol, be it a brandy or a rum or indeed both, acts as a preservative as well as influencing the end flavour and moisture of the fruit inside.


225g icing sugar
225g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
2 eggs (whole)
Juice of a lemon
Splosh of brandy
Splosh of almond extract
500g of ground almonds


Sieve the sugars into a mixing bowl and add the ehss

Beat them together

Place over a low heat and whisk until fluffy

Cool in a bowl of ice cold water for a minute

Add the brandy, lemon and almond extract

Stir in the ground almonds till stiff

At this point I would leave it for an hour or so. In the filming we continued but giving the almond paste an hour or two in the fridge helps to firm it up.

Roll out like pastry

Brush some egg white to the top of the cake

Place the marzipan over the cake and pat down. Add to sides and fill in where necessary.

Leave for a while and then you are ready for the icing.

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

Christmas Cake – Part 2 -The Bake

Okay so you have macerated your dried fruit and left it for a few days to soften in the licquor. You will find that all the licquor will have been absorbed by the fruit and it will be glowing and shiny. Instead of stuffing it down your mouth (Fanny often gives in to temptation at this point unless I am there glaring at her!) we think that you would be better advised putting it straight into the cake mixture. So why not watch our demonstration on the video to get a good idea of what is needed next.


300g plain flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
300g butter
300g soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
50g chopped almonds
1 dessertspoon black treacle
grated rind of 1 lemon
grated rind of 1 orange

christmas cake by fanny and brenda

Baking Day

Preheat the oven to a 130°C. We cook at a lower temperature for a more even cook. The cake should not be dry.

Place the treacle somewhere warm to increase its runniness as it’s easier to manage that way.

Grease a large cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl you want to sieve the flour and mix in the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixd spice together.

In another bowl cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Make sure it is light and fluffy – this is the cake mix and you don’t want a heavy lumpen cake!

Beat the eggs and add gradually while beating to the cake mix.

Once the egg has been added, add the spices and flour by folding it in carefully.

The add your fruit, nuts, treacle and peel and stir in.
christmas cake by fanny and brenda

Spoon the mixture evenly around the cake tin and then place in the preheated oven for 2 hours.

Do not check on the cake until late into the bake.

Take out of the oven and wrap well in the greaseproof paper .

Once cooled place it in an airtight container.

Some people inject it with more alcohol over its maturing period.

We will come to the subject of icing nearer Christmas.