Madame Gourmand
21. 10. 2014

Autumn is here with a bang, I could have been forgiven for thinking we were having a bit of an extended summer as the weather in Warwickshire has been glorious apart from the odd day of rain. I’ve not had to wear a coat yet this morning and I’ve noticed that trees and flowers are also a little unsure about what season we’re in.

Yesterday there was no mistaking that it was Autumn, cold, windy and dull. I had the heating on for most of the day and by 3pm it was so dark in my lounge that I needed the light on to see. I don’t know about you but on a cold, wet and windy day I always crave some sort of baked goods which can sometimes prove to be difficult when you have a toddler preventing you from doing anything that doesn’t involve him.

I had enough bread so didn’t want to make that so I made the next best thing which takes very little time to bake and very little time to cook and I suppose it also takes very little time to eat too. Cheese Scones.


Not blowing my own trumpet or anything but these scones were delicious and to make them you will need:

225g Self Raising flour
1tsp baking powder
55g salted butter
100g cheese
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
80 ml of milk
Egg for glazing

You can choose to top with extra cheese but I only had 100g so couldn’t on this occasion.

Preheat your oven to 200c. Pop all of the dry ingredients into a bowl, cut the butter into cubes and mix into the dry items with your fingertips until everything resembles breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in the grated cheese and mix in. Make a well in the centre and pour in enough milk to give a soft but still firm dough using a little bit at a time.

Flour your surface and roll out the dough until 2cm thick and using a scone cutter cut out your scones. Glaze the tops with a beaten egg and bake for 15 mins or until golden brown and cooked through.


11. 10. 2014



Breakfast time is probably the most hectic time of the day in our household especially for me, I’m usually rushing around trying to get Baby Gourmand dressed and fed, making Mini Gourmand’s lunch and making sure Mr Gourmand eats breakfast and has everything he needs for work which leaves very little time for me.

It’s usually way after 9am before I even think about grabbing something to eat and usually by that time I’m either getting ready to leave the house or have housework to do.

A third of people in Britain skip breakfast, we’re always told it’s the most important meal of the day but in reality very few of us actually have time to eat breakfast.

My idea breakfast which very rarely happens now would have to be a great selection of pastries, cheeses and a full English with beef sausage and turkey bacon, copious amounts of sweet coffee and a chocolate muffin to finish.

Belvita breakfast comes in a range of ten flavours and I was recently sent three of the newest ones to try, Choc Chip, Apricot and Hazelnut.  Baby Gourmand helped me polish off the Choc Chip ones before any of the family had a chance to give them a try, I thought they were my favourite until I tried the Hazelnut which are just delicious and my new go to breakfast of choice.

Belvita biscuits are clinically proven to regularly and continuously release carbohydrates over four hours which help to keep you going. Each box of Belvita contains individually wrapped portions containing 3 biscuits meaning you can enjoy your breakfast on the go with your drink of choice.

So how can you eat Belvita breakfast biscuits and still get a balanced diet? To be honest eating the biscuits alone have to be better than eating nothing but to make it more nutritious you can add a portion of dairy, a portion of fruit and a drink to wash it all down.

* This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at *

29. 09. 2014

Mini Gourmand is now 14 and very eager to get into the kitchen to cook, I’ve recently allowed her to cook dishes for herself and Baby Gourmand to give me a chance to give the bathroom a clean or get on with some ironing without having a toddler pulling at my leg every five minutes.

I personally like to meal plan ahead of time but quite often things pop up which are out of my control, usually it’s because Baby Gourmand has been very trying and I’ve not had a chance to get into the kitchen to prepare dinner.  This is where frozen ingredients come in handy.

Mini Gourmand has been an afterschool chef this past couple of weeks and her best dishes so far were Waffle Pizzas which she cooked for herself and Baby Gourmand and Fish with Rice which she cooked for me and Mr Gourmand.


To make Waffle Pizzas you will need to cook waffles until they are almost cooked, top with sliced tomato, sliced peppers and grated cheese.  Return to the oven to finish cooking.

waffle pizza

Mini Gourmand served her waffle pizzas with a side of broccoli and there was clean plates all round.  I would never have previously thought to use waffles this way and I’m actually sad I didn’t get served them myself as they really did look amazing.

birds eye

Mini Gourmand cooked a dish of fish with rice for myself and Mr Gourmand which again is something I wouldn’t normally cook for myself but I’m really glad I tried it as it’s a new favourite.  We don’t own a microwave so couldn’t steam the rice but Mini Gourmand was able to cook the rice in a pan with a little water and I’m sure the end result was just as good as if it had been microwaved.

fish and rice


The fish had just the right amount of black pepper and the dish as a whole was extremely filling and delicious.

I’m definitely going to let Mini Gourmand lend a helping hand in the kitchen in the future, I need to make sure I have my freezer stocked up with quick teatime solutions and allow her to use her artistic flair with them.

This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Challenge sponsored by Birds Eye.  Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook Page.

24. 09. 2014

This was actually the first time I’d even seen a Spaghetti Squash never mind cooked with one so I had no idea what to do with it when it arrived in my vegetable box a couple of weeks ago. A quick look on google told me that the Spaghetti Squash was watery but could be used as a replacement for pasta and was great when stuffed so I decided to cook a similar filling that I would use with a marrow as they can also be very watery.

squash plated up

To make the Stuffed Spaghetti Squash you will need:

1 Spaghetti Squash

1 small tub of ricotta cheese

2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1 tbsp chopped basil

1 pack of  mozzarella cheese cut into slices
For the sauce:
1 tsp olive oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic chopped

6 herbed chicken or beef sausages

250g chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp chopped basil

Preheat oven to 180º. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membrane. Season lightly with salt and black pepperand  bake on a baking sheet, cut side down until soft.

ricotta mix

In a small bowl combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and basil and set to one side.

sausage mix

In a large pan, heat the oil and add onion and garlic; sauté on a medium heat until soft. Chop the the sausage into chunks and cook until browned and cooked through. When the sausage is cooked, add the chopped tomatoes and cover, reducing heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, remove from the heat then add in the basil.

When the spaghetti squash is cooked, let it cool for about 10 minutes keeping the oven on. Use a fork to remove the flesh into a muslin lined sieve reserving the shells. Drain the squash soak up any excess liquid, then toss with the sauce. Layer the shells with the sauce and ricotta mixture and place on a baking sheet.

Top each squash with the mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

11. 09. 2014

We love pasta especially Baby Gourmand who would probably eat if for every meal given the chance so when we found out about a competition that was being run over on Tots100 to win a chance to win a place at an Italian cookery masterclass I couldn’t say no.

To win a place entrants had to create and share an original Italian recipe on their blog, incorporating Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence pasta.

My vouchers arrived quite late, in fact just before the closing date but thankfully a second competition was created to give those who didn’t have time to enter the first one a chance.  I spent a full week scouring shops looking for somewhere that sold both the pasta and the sauce, none of my local stores sold both so I ended up visiting one for the pasta and one for the sauce.

Giovanni Rana

I decided to combine two of my children’s favourite pasta dishes, bolognese and pesto, I cooked the pasta for 1 minute in boiling water, drained it and added the pesto stirring until all of the pasta was coated.

Baby Gourmand had his served with chopped cucumber, pepper, celery and radish and the rest of the family had a chopped salad made up of lettuce, celery, radish, pepper and cucumber dressed with a creamy dressing of sour cream, parmesan, dried basil, garlic, pepper and lemon juice.

baby pasta Giovanni Rana pasta

This is my entry into the Giovanni Rana pasta competition.


07. 09. 2014

Black Forest Cupcakes

Black Forest Gateau instantly reminds me of my grandfather, we often used to have it for dessert on a Saturday afternoon when I was younger after eating one of his mammoth dinners, I haven’t eaten it for years so when I was cleaning out one of my kitchen cupboards last week and came across a bottle of kirsch that we got for Christmas I had a huge urge to eat a black forest gateau.

I wondered if I could somehow transfer the black forest flavours of the gateau to cupcakes instead as they seem to go down much better in the Gourmand house than a huge cake and thus my black forest cupcakes were born.

My recipe made exactly 12 delicious cupcakes (made in muffin cases) and if like me you’re a fan of the retro black forest gateau you might like to give these a try.

70g unsalted butter

170g plain flour

250g caster sugar

50g cocoa powder

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

201ml whole milk

2 large eggs

12 tinned cherries

a good glug of Kirsch

300ml whipping cream

12 glace cherries

1 square of dark chocolate for grating

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a muffin tray with muffin cases, I pulled my 6 hole tray out first so made two batches.

Beat the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt together in a mixer until they form a crumb consistency. In a jug mix the eggs and milk.  With the mixer on slow gradually add half of the liquid into the crumb mixture and speed up the mixer to medium to ensure the mixture has no lumps. Turn the speed back down and add the remaining liquid until the mixture is smooth.

black forest cupcake mixture

using an ice cream scoop place a small scoop of the mixture into the muffin cases, pop in a cherry and half a teaspoon of kirsch, add another small scoop of the mixture to cover the cherry and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until springy to the touch.

When the cakes have cooled, remove from the oven and place the cakes on to a cooling rack.

Pierce the cakes with a skewer and carefully pour about a teaspoon of the kirsch over each cake.

black forest cupcakes

Once the cakes have cooled pipe the cream onto the cakes, top with a cherry and grate over some chocolate.

Black Forest cupcakes Black forest cupcakes

This post is my entry for the Betta Living competition

03. 09. 2014

You may recall that back in July I took part in a collaboration with Alaska Seafood and was sent some delicious Salmon to compare the taste of.  I advised in my blog post that I would be sharing the recipes with you that didn’t make the actual post and this is the first of these recipes.

The lovely warm summer we were enjoying was the inspiration for this dish, I’ve never actually been to Greece but I’ve eaten in quite a few Greek restaurants and wanted to recreate a meat kebab I’d had with fish.

Salmon kebab


I started off by placing my salmon and vegetables in a bowl with some olive oil, black pepper, garlic, thyme and rosemary and left it for an hour to let the flavours infuse.



While my fish mixture was basking in it’s fragrant mixture I started on the Tzatziki.  I’m not sure how authentic this sauce was but it tasted pretty good to me.  To make this you will need 350g plain yoghurt, 1 large cucumber seeds removed and chopped finely, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 3 crushed garlic cloves and a handful of chopped fresh dill.  Combine in a bowl and pop in the fridge until you need it.

greek salad


I made a Greek salad to serve as a side dish, again I have no idea on the authenticity of this but it tasted delicious.  To make this you will need a handful of tomatoes chopped, 1/2 a cucumber sliced, 1/2 a red onion finely sliced, a handful of black olives and 150g feta cheese diced.  I mixed in a small handful of freshly chopped mint.

The kebabs were cooked under a grill until the fish was cooked through but you could also pop them in the oven or even barbecue if the weather is nice.

salmon kebab


I served my kebabs on warmed pitta bread and if I do say so myself they were delicious, so much so that I had 3! They don’t call me a gourmand for nothing.


31. 08. 2014

crisp crumbed mackerel

This month, the people at Seabrook Crisps are celebrating National Crisp Sandwich Week, and as they were looking for favourite crisp sandwich recipes I thought I would share mine.

My favourite crisp sandwich is the Crisp Crumbed Mackerel sandwich, it has to be made with fresh Mackerel, the smoked stuff just doesn’t work.

To make a sandwich for one you will need:

2 Slices of white bread

1 Mackerel Fillet

4 Green Beans

1 handful of crisps and extra to serve

1 spoonful of sweet chilli sauce

Crush a handful of crisps with some sweet chilli sauce and apply to the Mackerel fillet.  Pan fry the fish until cooked.

Par boil the green beans and allow to cool, slice each bean into 3-4 pieces.

Break up the fish with a fork and place on a slice of the bread, scatter over the green beans and add some extra crisps for crunch. Place the second slice of bread on top and slice.

 This recipe is an entry into the National Crisp Sarnie Week competition with Seabrook crisps

18. 08. 2014

We first visited The Moorings 2.5 years ago when Mr Gourmand was contemplating taking a job in Warwickshire, not knowing the area at all we had asked someone for a recommendation of somewhere nice to go for lunch with an interesting view and was told that there was no better place than The Moorings.

I’ve lived in Leamington Spa for two years now and The Moorings is still one of my favourite places to take visiting family and friends, I love to sit outside and look at the canal and on a colder day it’s just nice to sit and chat inside enjoying the comfortable surroundings and of course the food is pretty special too.

Grandma is currently visiting us and at the weekend we decided to take a stroll along the canal which of course just happened to take up to The Moorings. Mr Gourmand swears this wasn’t pre-planned but I’m not so sure.



Once we had ordered and received our drinks and had finally decided what we wanted to eat we were presented with a fabulous bread and olive board which was compliments of the house.  I’ve spoken on numerous occasions about how little touches make you want to return somewhere for food or drinks and this little touch was one of them.  A couple of wedges of bread and a spoonful of olives doesn’t cost much at all and it always surprises me how many places charge for such a small thing.  In many of the European countries we have visited, a small bread board, bowl of olives or plate of cheese and mustard is standard.



The first time we visited The Moorings Mr Gourmand had ordered the Ploughmans (£9.50) and he enjoyed it so much that he ordered it again this time.  A couple of things really stood out for all of us, first of all the boiled egg had a runny yoke which doesn’t happen often enough for Mr Gourmands liking, secondly the slices of pork pie and Wookey Hole cheddar were certainly not scrimped on which again is unusual.  The ploughmans comes with a choice of chips or soup of the day which during our visit was mushroom and tarragon.  This is the second time Mr Gourmand has ordered soup as his side and each time it has been creamy and delicious.

Although I don’t eat pork I would be tempted to order the ploughmans for the pickled onions alone which for me are the best thing about the whole platter, next time I might just order a bowl for myself.

Beef Burger Bacon Relish


Grandma ordered The Moorings homemade cheeseburger (£10.95) which was served with bacon jam, pickles and chips.  Grandma was asked if she would like her burger pink or well done which I’ve only seen happen once before, the pink option was selected because let’s be honest if you’re eating good quality meat you want to be able to enjoy it don’t you and not have to eat through an inedible piece of charcoal.

Grandma declared that this was probably the nicest burger she had eaten, she loved the addition of bacon jam which added a whole different flavour level to the burger.

Crayfish sandwich Crayfish Sandwich Doorstop


I wasn’t really in the mood for something huge as I had eaten quite a large breakfast so I thought a sandwich would be a good option. How wrong I was.  I ordered the Crayfish sandwich (£7.50) which like the ploughmans came with a choice of Chips or soup of the day, I picked the chips.

I’ve taken a side view just so you can see how huge the sandwich was!  I managed to eat half of this mammoth doorstop and had to ask for the other half to be wrapped up so I could take it home.  I don’t think I’ve ever been defeated by a sandwich before and even Mr Gourmand agreed that he probably would have struggled too.

The sandwich was actually really delicious, the lemon mayonnaise really complemented the rocket and crayfish and gave a lighter taste to the filling, I could have done without the chips if I’m honest but I doubt I would have finished the other half without them.

If you’re going for a stroll along the canal in Leamington I would definitely recommend popping in to the moorings for a drink or bite to eat, you can find The Moorings on Myton Road in Leamington Spa.

14. 08. 2014

I’ve featured a few quiches on this blog in the past, it’s something I love to eat and to be honest I don’t mind making them either it’s just the pastry I have an issue with.  I have a love/hate relationship with pastry, I love to eat the stuff but I hate to make it and I always struggle with all aspects of the process.  I find the initial making of pastry tedious, I hate how sticky my hands get, it always seems ages to make and I just don’t get it when people talk about how much satisfaction they get from making pastry. My second hate when it comes to pastry is rolling it out and turning it into the base of a dish, I always end up with splits and cracks and my third and final hate is the cooking of the pastry specifically the blind baking.

Ok. So I’ve spent far too long talking about my pastry hatred, I usually just buy ready made but on this occasion and because I would like to get over my phobia I made my own pastry and I’m so glad I did because it turned out to be the most tasty pastry I’ve ever made.

To make the pastry you will need:

225g Plain Flour

150g Butter

115g grated cheese

Soft the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Mix in the cheese and enough cold water to bind the mixture together.  Wrap the dough in cling film and pop in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and use it to line a tart tin or in my case a Tefal Ingenio pan as I’d misplaced my flan dish and chill for 30 minutes.

Line the pastry with baking paper and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes


My weekly Abel and Cole vegetable box provided me with a great selection of green vegetables to use in the quiche which I sautéed until just cooked through. You will need 500-550g of vegetables in total to make a good sized quiche.

To make the custard for the quiche you will need:

4 free-range eggs

200ml/7fl oz double cream

100ml/3½fl oz whole milk

Beat the eggs, cream and milk in a large bowl and season well.  Place the vegetables in the pastry case and pour over the egg mixture.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the filling is set.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the tin.


plate quiche