Madame Gourmand
27. 07. 2015

This week we only have a couple of days at home before heading up to Newcastle to attend a friend’s wedding.  We will be returning on Saturday though so will only have two days off our meal plan.

I’ve noticed on quite a few blogs that there are some great new additions to the Newcastle food scene since I moved away almost 3 years ago and I’m looking forward to trying some of them out over the couple of days I’ll be visiting.  I never seem to be up there long enough to try out everywhere so I need to be selective about my eating choices I think.  If you have any recommendations for us to try please leave a comment below.

This week The Gourmand family will be eating:

Monday – Sweet and sour chicken with boiled rice

Tuesday –  Vegetable stir fry

Wednesday – Staying with relatives

Thursday – Wedding

Friday – Staying with relatives

Saturday – Takeaway

Sunday – Chicken and spinach pasta bake

 

And that’s our meal plan for this week, pop back next week for Meal Planning Monday.

Meal planning monday

21. 07. 2015

The Royal Pug serves such delicious food it’s surprising we don’t visit there more often but with an abundance of delicious eateries in town you can be forgiven for forgetting about old favourites.

We had eaten an early breakfast so thought it would be a good idea to have an early lunch, well not too early it was 12pm. just.

Neither myself or Mr Gourmand were hungry enough for what we consider to be a proper meal so we decided to just have a sandwich however we hadn’t anticipated that a sandwich at the Royal Pug would not be a small affair.

royal pug

 

Mr Gourmand couldn’t resist the Pulled Pork sandwich with a side of purple slaw.  Served in a brioche bun and cooked with sautéed apple, the pulled pork was most delicious and certainly hit a spot.

Fishfinger Sandwich, Royal Pug

I had the fish finger sandwich which was also served with the purple slaw.  It was around the time the chopping board was placed in front of me that I regretted ordering side dishes.  There was no way I was going to finish the inch thick bread and giant fish fingers.

Chips, royal pug

In true Gourmand style we ordered sides of sweet potato and skin on fries. The sweet potato fries were hands down the winner in the side dish stakes. It was a case of eyes too big for belly for me however Mr Gourmand did manage to polish them off without breaking a sweat.

The only downside about the visit for me had nothing to do with the food it was the serving dishes.  I like plates. I like plates of different sizes and shapes as long as it’s a plate of the china variety.  Chopping boards are as the name suggests for chopping, I don’t have anything against the little dipping pots but the little mini fryers and chopping boards are just a no no in my humble opinion.

 

The Royal Pug can be found at 141 Regent Stree, Lemington Spa, make sure you’re wearing your elasticated pants before visiting though.

 

20. 07. 2015

So last week I ate my meals on completely different days to what I had planned.  I should rename Monday as Meal Planning for the week as I never stick to plan.

I had an Amazon delivery on Saturday which contained a few new middle eastern cookery books so I hope to take inspiration from them over the next few weeks.

The summer holidays have finally arrived which means Mini Gourmand will be working at her Saturday job for more hours during the week, I won’t get any help with Arthur from 4-6  like I usually do so my meals over the next couple of weeks really do need to be well thought out to ensure minimum time is spent cooking.

This week The Gourmand family will be eating:

Monday – Lebanese Meze consisting of pitta bread, salads, olives, possibly marinated chicken.

Tuesday –  Slow cooker spaghetti inspired by a pinterest picture

Wednesday – Chicken and coconut curry

Thursday – One pot courgette pasta

Friday – Asparagus, mushroom and cheese quiche with salad

Saturday – One pot garlic chicken with couscous served with Cheese and garlic crack bread (found on pinterest)

Sunday – Courgette and carrot tart with actifry chips

 

And that’s our meal plan for this week, pop back next week for Meal Planning Monday.

Meal planning monday

17. 07. 2015

vegetable lasagna

I love Lasagna in all of its forms, Vegetarian Lasagna is Mr Gourmands favourite so as a treat last week I decided to try out a slow cooker vegetarian lasagne to save time.  I made it the evening before and in the morning I just popped the crockpot into the slow cooker for 6 hours on low and to my surprise there was no stuck on food that needed to be soaked off after we had finished which is always my gripe when I cook it in the oven.

I was worried that the cheese might not melt on top but it did, I also had a fear that the lasagna sheets would be soggy but they were perfect and my final worry was that the liquid might not reduce but it did.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna
Print Recipe
This dish has a lot of flavour and is a great alternative to it's meat based cousin. The ingredients are simple and can be changed to suit personal tastes. My quantities serve 6 with a side salad and garlic bread or you can keep the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Servings Prep Time
6 People 20 minutes
Cook Time
6 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 People 20 minutes
Cook Time
6 Hours
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna
Print Recipe
This dish has a lot of flavour and is a great alternative to it's meat based cousin. The ingredients are simple and can be changed to suit personal tastes. My quantities serve 6 with a side salad and garlic bread or you can keep the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Servings Prep Time
6 People 20 minutes
Cook Time
6 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 People 20 minutes
Cook Time
6 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: People
Instructions
  1. Start by making your white sauce alternative by mixing the cheese mix, egg, and ricotta cheese in a bowl and set to one side.
  2. Sautee the chopped vegetables in the olive oil with the garlic for about 3-5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, 1 Tbsp herbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a further 10 minutes until it starts to reduce.
  3. Spray your crockpot with a light covering of oil. Take the pan off the heat and spread 1/4 of the sauce mixture on the bottom of your slow cooker. Add 3 of the lasagna sheets, and break them apart to fit.
  4. Spoon on 1/2 of the cheese mixture and layer with the 2nd 1/4 of the sauce.
  5. Add 3 more lasagne sheets broken to fit and the remainder of the ricotta cheese mixture.
  6. Add the 3rd 1/4 of the sauce and 3 more lasagne sheets and top with the 4th 1/4 of the sauce.
  7. sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and remaining herbs on the very top and. You should have a total of 4 layers of vegetable sauce, 3 layers of lasagne sheets, and 2 layers of ricotta cheese mixture.
  8. Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on LOW for 6 hours or until the liquid has been absorbed (ie so it's not runny). Do watch the bottom carefully to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Recipe Notes

It's a good idea to have extra on hand to fill in if needed.

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Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

13. 07. 2015

last weeks meals went down really well however a certain meat loving family member wasn’t too impressed with all of the vegan meals so this week will be a little different.

I’ve noticed a lot of my vegetables at the allotment are almost ready to be picked, some vegetables have been used as baby varieties and I will soon have an abundance of potatoes so my meal planning might change over the next couple of weeks to correspond with the vegetables I have available.

This week The Gourmand family will be eating:

Monday – Bean burgers with beetroot slaw

Tuesday –  Chicken Pho

Wednesday – Tofu Tacos

Thursday – Vegan Lasagna

Friday – Asian garlic tofu with rice

Saturday – Takeaway

Sunday – Roast Beef

 

And that’s our meal plan for this week, pop back next week for Meal Planning Monday.

Meal planning monday

 

06. 07. 2015

After a couple of weeks off from Meal Planning Monday I think I’m finally out of my food rut, I’ve had no inspiration whatsoever and I haven’t even been inspired to eat out which really is saying something.  I think I’m finally out of the funk now and feel inspired to create some delicious meals.

I’ve cleared out my freezer and now that we’re in summer with some fabulously warm weather I’ve decided to cook some summer themed meals which I’ve planned for the next few weeks.  I’ve taken inspiration from some of the vegan and vegetarian cook books I have and hopefully we will be eating a great selection of meat free meals up until the weather starts to turn colder.

This week The Gourmand family will be eating:

Monday – Spicy tofu with rice and steamed vegetables

Tuesday –  Naan bread pizzas

Wednesday – Falafal with pitta bread and salad

Thursday – Frittata and salad

Friday – Rainbow salad with Halloumi

Saturday – Soba noodle stir fry

Sunday – Cheesesteak sandwich with homemade fries

 

And that’s our meal plan for this week, pop back next week for Meal Planning Monday.

Meal planning monday

 

04. 07. 2015

corned beef pie

Corned Beef pie holds lots of memories for me, My late Grandfather made a delicious corned beef pie, I don’t know if this is a dish eaten outside of the North East of England or not?  I’ve never actually seen it elsewhere but I’d like to think that other regions have sampled the deliciousness that is corned beef pie.

My friends all have different variations of the recipe passed down by family members, some people use layers of sliced potato, onion and corned beef, some people add tomato and some people make a kind of gravy but I like mine the way my grandfather made it for me and I’ve tried to recreate it as best I could for you my dear readers.

 

I personally prefer the pie cold, Mr Gourmand likes to eat his with ketchup and Mini Gourmand will only eat it hot.

Corned Beef Pie
Print Recipe
Servings
6-8 People
Servings
6-8 People
Corned Beef Pie
Print Recipe
Servings
6-8 People
Servings
6-8 People
Ingredients
Pastry
Filling
Servings: People
Instructions
  1. Grease a round pie tin and preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt and chopped up butter and lard and rub it into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Add ice cold water to the flour mix bit by bit with a knife and bring it together with your hands until the pastry forms a ball. Don't add too much water, just enough to bring it together. Cover in cling film and pop into the fridge to chill
  4. Put the chopped onion into a pan with boiling water and simmer until softened.
  5. Peel and chop the potatoes and place in a large pan with cold water, cook until tender. Once the potato is cooked and cooled mash with a potato masher or ricer.
  6. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Line the tin with the pastry and put back into the fridge.
  7. Mix the onion, corned beef and potato together and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Remove the pie tin from the fridge and fill with the potato mixture. Roll out the remaining pastry to cover and crimp the edges with a fork. Make two slits in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape and brush the top of the pie with milk or beaten egg.
  9. Cook the pie in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
Recipe Notes

You can make the filling the night before and assemble on the day you want to bake the corned beef pie.

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22. 06. 2015

I feel like I’m in a bit of a food rut, I’m desperately seeking inspiration for my meal planning but can’t seem to find it in the masses of cookery books I have.  I feel an amazon order coming on for some new reading material, any recommendations?

I’m going to spend the next two weeks clearing out my freezer so I can do a defrost and clean of my fridge.  This week is a busy week for me so I’m cooking a lot of meals in my slow cooker as we will all be eating at different times during the evening.

This week The Gourmand family will be eating:

Monday – Fish and Chips (Homemade)

Tuesday –  Chicken Curry

Wednesday – Lamb Tagine

Thursday – Beef Bourguignon

Friday – Tuna Pasta bake

Saturday – Chicken Chasseur

Sunday – Meal Out

 

And that’s our meal plan for this week, pop back next week for Meal Planning Monday.

Meal planning monday

20. 06. 2015

Tomorrow is Fathers day, we plan to spend our day at the Allotment rather than go out for dinner so for a change the Gourmand family decided to go for an early fathers day meal on Friday evening at the Sparrow which is the closest Brewers Fayre to our house in Warwickshire.

brewers fayre play area

This was the first time we had visited a Brewers Fayre and we were all really impressed.  All staff members were incredibly helpful especially the manageress who went out of her way to make sure Baby Gourmand was having a good time as he was a little cranky. The food on the whole was really tasty and we had clean plates all round. We found eating at Brewers Fayre excellent value for money, there were some great offers on meals before 6.30pm and soft drinks were refillable which is great when you have a thirsty teenager.  There was a dedicated outdoor play area for children which was a great way to keep little ones entertained before their meal arrived and a good opportunity for them to burn off excess energy before heading home.

Brewers Fayre mixed grill

As it was a fathers day meal Mr Gourmand decided to push the boat out a bit and order the mixed grill (£11.79) which consisted of A 4oz steak, a Smithfield original pork sausage, half a grilled chicken breast and a gammon steak topped with a fried egg, chips, onion rings, peas and half a grilled tomato with a side of Diane sauce (99p).  Mr Gourmand really enjoyed the steak and said he would probably order the rump steak during our next visit as it was delicious.

Scampi brewers fayre

I ordered the Scampi (£8.29)which was served in a basket with chips and mushy peas.  I wasn’t offered tartar sauce which was advertised on the menu and my chips were quite cold so I was a little disappointed with my meal if I’m honest.

brewers fayre jacket potato

Mini Gourmand really fancied the jacket potato with beans and cheese (£4.79) which was served with a side salad and wanted to try the onion rings so we decided to purchase the extra feast (£3.49) instead which came with battered onion rings, garlic and herb breaded mushrooms and garlic bread.  Mr Gourmand and I shared the mushrooms and garlic bread which couldn’t be faulted.

brewers fayre spaghetti bolognese

Finally Baby Gourmand had his favourite Spaghetti Bolognese (£3.99) which was served with a piece of garlic bread and a piece of corn on the cob.

For 4 meals and 3 refillable drinks our bill came to £40.80 which was incredibly good value for money.  If you’re looking for somewhere to go for a reasonable priced lunch on fathers day I can recommend Brewers Fayre, especially if you have children with you!

*Disclaimer: Our visit was complementary, all views and opinions are my own.

18. 06. 2015

oscars Leamington Spa

Last week I visited Oscars French bistro in Leamington Spa for the first time, I can’t actually believe it has taken me almost three years to pay the restaurant a visit.  Mr Gourmand has visited twice with work and has promised to take me on a few occasions but we can never seem to dine out together on an evening unless we have family visiting.

My date for the Oscars visit was one of Mr Gourmands work colleagues, Mr Gardener.  Mr Gardener had visited Oscars a few times before and had jumped at the chance to accompany me so last Wednesday we made our way there for Dinner.

Oscars leamington Spa

When you enter Oscars you can immediately see that this is a fine dining restaurant and a place to not only eat food but to enjoy it too.  The tables are beautifully set and the whole atmosphere seems intimate and inviting.

Champagne Oscars Leamington Spa

We were handed the menu and given a glass of champagne to drink, I can’t remember the last time I had champagne but it was definitely pre Baby Gourmand.  The champagne was fruity and very easy to drink unlike others I have tried, at least from what I can remember!

olives oscars Leamington

The complimentary olives were delicious, in fact I could have happily had a huge bowl full on my own, they were that good.  The French bread was also delicious however I had to limit myself to just one piece or I wouldn’t have been able to eat my meal.  It’s little things like the complementary extras that would make you visit time and time again.

After quite a long time debating what we were going to order we had finally made a decision, I’m a creature of habit and as soon as I saw that Chicken Liver pate (£6.50) was an option on the menu it was a no brainer that I was going to order it.  I consider myself to be a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to Chicken Liver pate so I was interested to see how Oscars compared to others I had eaten in the past.

Chicken Liver Pate, Oscars leamington Chicken Liver Pate, Oscars leamington

I’ve mentioned before that in my opinion an undressed salad is a huge no-no, this wasn’t a problem at Oscars.  The salad was not only dressed but seasoned, such a little thing that makes such a difference.  The bitterness of the endive lettuce worked so well with the sweet dressing and creamy pate.  It was a very generous portion size, so much so that I couldn’t finish it all for fear of not being able to eat my main course.  I have to say that this was one of the best Chicken Liver Pate I have eaten and I have eaten a lot.

Salmon, Dill and Caper fishcake.  Oscars Leamington Spa

Mr Gardener ordered the Salmon, Dill and Caper fishcake (£6.50) which was served on creamed spinach with a lemon butter sauce.  You would be forgiven for thinking this could have been a main course as it was a monster of a fishcake and served with some vegetables or a salad it would have made an excellent main course.  Mr Gardener thought the fishcake was excellent, he had eaten a similar starter at Oscars in the past which prompted him to order this one and he wasn’t disappointed.

Paredaux tradition pays doc 2013

I always struggle when it comes to ordering wine with my meal, I’m not a connoisseur and usually prefer to get a recommendation from the sommelier as they know their stuff when it comes to pairing so I did what I always do and asked the waitress to select a wine.  As we were both having red meat as our main course a bottle of the Paredaux tradition pays doc 2013 (£16.50) was recommended and what a good choice it was.

Mini Rack of lamb, oscars leamington spa Mini Rack of lamb, oscars leamington spa

I ordered the Mini rack of lamb (£17.50) for my main course and can I start by saying there was nothing ‘mini’ about this dish.  The lamb was cooked to perfection and I couldn’t stop talking about how amazing the lamb was.  Juicy, flavourful, meltingly tender and hands down delicious, for me the lamb stole the show.  The lamb was topped with persillade and served with my favourite bollangere potatoes and if I could only have one more meal for the rest of my life I have to say this would probably be a contender.  Mr Gardener got to sample one of my lamb chops as I was so full and he agreed that it was one perfectly cooked piece of lamb.

Sauteed duck breast, oscars leamington spa

Mr Gardener decided to go for something that he doesn’t cook at home, another perfectly cooked dish – the Sautéed duck breast (£17.50) which was served with a pineapple and ginger compote and fondant potato.  The picture above really doesn’t do this dish the justice it deserves, Mr Gardener cleared his plate which speaks for itself.

panacotta oscars leamington

Mr Gardener and I decided to share a dessert, to be perfectly honest I couldn’t have managed one on my own.  The dessert menu was rather amazing, there wasn’t anything that I didn’t like the sound of but one dish stood out for me which was the Panacotta with rhubarb compote (£6.00) the restaurant had run out of the compote but offered an alternative of a red berry compote instead, after explaining about my strawberry allergy I was told the chef would prepare something for me and what we received was so delicious it really needs to be on the menu!  The raspberries were plump and juicy, the liquor was sweet and worked so well with the slight tartness of the berries and the panacotta was just so delicious I don’t have the words to describe it.

I well and truly have the Oscars bug and I can’t wait for my next visit, preferably with Mr Gourmand so I don’t need to be so reserved when it comes to taking food off my fellow diners plate!

 

Disclaimer: I received a complementary meal for review purposes however all thought, words and opinions are my own.  All photographs taken with iPhone 6