New Covent Garden Soup

The Gourmand family are all soup lovers, Baby Gourmand likes a chunky soup, Mini Gourmand likes soup with noodles, I like a good homemade lentil soup and Mr Gourmand likes soup anyway it comes which is probably no surprise.

New Covent Garden Soup

I’ve been buying New Covent Garden soup* for a while now as it doesn’t all have to be used in the same sitting, I can serve it to Baby Gourmand for lunch and when Mini Gourmand comes home from school I can heat the rest up for her meaning there is no waste. The soup comes in some great flavours and our particular favourites are the sweetcorn chowder and potato and leek.

If you have bought this soup before you will probably have noticed that each month there is often a flavour combination on offer that you probably will never have heard of before, this month it’s the White Christmas soup which is cauliflower, potato and truffle infused oil.

What do New Covent Garden Soup say about the White Christmas Soup?
“Our Soup of the Month for December is a wonderfully white creamy soup that will bring you Christmas warmth and cheer in a bowl. Our chefs have lovingly blended cauliflower, potato and single cream until smooth and creamy. Then finished off with aromatic truffle infused oil, white wine and a hint of white pepper to bring you this deliciously luxurious soup.”

It does sound good doesn’t it? I know a lot of people are often dubious when it comes to trying new things just in case they don’t like it.  The Gourmands have decided to do a bit of a taste test for you, before filming we didn’t taste it so the reaction you get is as it happens.

The truffle oil is strong I won’t lie so if you’re not a fan I would recommend you trying one of the milder soups, if you are a fan of truffle oil you will love this soup. I have some of the soup left which I’m going to add to a mushroom risotto, I just love the taste of truffle and mushroom.   I would go as far as saying the Winter Christmas soup would be perfect to have as a starter on Christmas day, your guests don’t need to know it came from a carton and I’ll happily keep your secret!

What’s your favourite soup?

*Mixture of press sample and own purchase

Apple And Plum Pie

Apple pie is the perfect autumnal pudding in my opinion.  It’s usually during this time of year that people with apple trees realise they had too good a harvest and can’t find anything else to make with their bounty of apples and I’m always there opened arms ready to take any excess they might have.

Apple and Plum pie

On this occasion I used apples that I received in a vegetable box and teamed them up with some plums that had been left in the fruit bowl.  The result was a satisfying pie with sweetness and spice.

It may surprise you that I don’t use a sweet pastry when making an apple pie, I feel the inside is sweet enough and if you serve it with custard I find the pastry doesn’t need any extra sugar.

To make the pastry you will need:
675g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt
175g vegetable shortening / Lard cut into cubes
225g butter cut into cubes
1 egg yolk

I prefer to make my pastry in a food processor for ease but you can make it by hand if required.  Sift the flour and salt into a food processor. Add the shortening/lard and butter cubes and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  If you’re making this by hand you need to rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolk and pulse until the mixture comes together to form a dough. If the mixture is too dry add a little water and pulse again.  If you’re making this by hand use a wooden spoon and beat in the egg yolk before bringing the mixture together by hand.

Tip the pastry out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly. Bring the pastry together in a ball, wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

To make the fruit filling you will need:
6 cooking apples peeled, cored and sliced
3 eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced
6 plums , peeled, stones removed and sliced
2 tbsp ground almonds
115g brown sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
generous grating of nutmeg

Mix the ground almonds with the sugar, allspice, cinnamon and grated nutmeg. Place in a bowl and add the fruit, mix well and put to one side.

Preheat the oven to 180C
Lightly flour the work surface and rolling pin. Remove the pastry from the fridge and set aside one-third for the pie lid. Roll out the remaining pastry until it is big enough to generously fit the pie dish. Use the rolling pin to help you lift the pastry into the pie dish and gently press it into the sides, leaving any excess pastry overhanging the sides. Return to the fridge to chill for a few minutes

When chilled, remove the pastry case from the fridge and place on a baking tray. Using a slotted spoon, place the cooled fruit into the pastry case, discarding any excess liquid. Place the pie lid on top and trim to shape.

Crimp the edges to seal and cut a small hole in the middle to let any steam escape while cooking.  Glaze the top of the pie with milk and Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp.

Apple Pie

Cook Your Way To A Healthy Smile

When I plan my meals for the week I don’t just have to think about myself I have three other people to consider.  I need to make sure that what I’m cooking is both healthy and nutritious and something my family will like and enjoy – sometimes that isn’t always easy.  Over the past week I’ve been cooking my way to a healthy smile and my family have been eating their way to a healthy smile, I’m going to show you how to eat your way to one too.

healthy smile

So what foods can help our dental health?  I think we all know that tea, coffee, red wine, sugary foods and fizzy drinks are a no no or at least that’s what my dentist always tells me.  I always seem to get told what I shouldn’t be consuming but not what I should be which I would find far more beneficial.


The infographic above lists some great ingredients that are not only healthy but have some great properties that can help your teeth and I’ve included some of them in my dishes below.  I will be publishing all of the recipes during the week so please subscribe if something takes your fancy so you don’t miss it.

celery Soup

The first dish I made was Celery Soup, this is incredibly simple to make and all of my family including Baby Gourmand love this soup.  It might seem strange to have apple in a soup but it adds a sweetness which works incredible well with the heat of the pepper.  The best thing about this soup is you can pop it all in a slow cooker and leave it until you’re ready to blend and serve.

To make this soup you will need:
1/2 bunch of celery including leaves
2 Potatoes
1 Apple
1 Red Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Mixed Herbs
vegetable stock to cover

Roughly chop the vegetables and place in a slow cooker, add the herbs and black pepper, cover with vegetable stock and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Just before serving blend the soup with a hand blender. Adjust pepper to your own taste.


Curried Fish Pie

This curried fish pie is very different to anything you will have eaten before.  I used a mixture of salmon, cod and smoked haddock and added onions, peppers and spinach to the curry to make a very tasty and nutritious dish.

Smoked Fish with Spinach Mash

Spinach featured heavily in my main meals as you can probably tell. I’m very lucky that both of my children love spinach in all of it’s forms but this particular mash always goes down well. The smoked fish is baked in the oven which in itself is quite plain but when served  with a garliky spinach mash it transforms the dish into something special.

Cheese, apple and potato pie

I took a bit of a risk when making this cheese, apple and potato pie,  I wasn’t sure if it would work, I think adding the fresh thyme to the filling really helped and my family couldn’t get enough of this.

Olive and Walnut Bread

Olive and Walnut bread was a huge hit!  I’ve been baking a lot of bread recently and I actually made 4 loaves before finding this taste combination which really worked well together.  I had originally wanted to make a soft top tin loaf but it just didn’t work, this was my final attempt and is probably one of the best loaves I’ve made.

Apple, Cheese and Brazil Nut muffins

Mini Gourmand made these apple, and brazil nut muffins, we decided to pop some nuts in a food processor so that the muffins would be soft rather than crunchy.  They made a great after school snack and Baby Gourmand had a couple as his mid morning snack.

Spiced Sausage pasta

The spiced sausage pasta was made for Baby Gourmand and Mini Gourmand, I used fresh tomato and herbs to make a sauce and added a little green chilli for a bit of a kick.

Apple and Plum pie

The apple and plum pie I made only lasted two days, now I can’t be sure who it was who kept going into the fridge for more but I know it wasn’t me or Baby Gourmand!

I also made fruit and nut stuffed chicken legs but my family are so greedy they didn’t give me a chance to take a picture before delving right in and devouring them.

Everything that I made with the Abel & Cole meat and vegetable boxes was a huge hit with my family.  By cleaver planning I made a pack of sausages, two chicken legs and a whole host of vegetables last for a whole week which I never would have thought possible!  Not only did my family eat some amazing dishes they also ate food which helped keep their smile healthy.

Were you aware that any of these vegetables could help you have a healthy smile?

*Abel & Cole vegetable box was provided by SimplyHealth for the purpose of this post

Meal Planning Monday (9th November 2015)

I was so busy last week that I completely forgot to schedule my Meal Planning Monday Post, we didn’t eat anything spectacular as I was busy with work all week so my slow cooker got a right old bashing.

Meal Planning Monday

I’m really excited for this week, on Tuesday evening I’m going to a new food assembly which has set up in our town where lots of local suppliers will be displaying their wares.  I’ve already pre-ordered some cooking apples and a vegetable box and I’m really excited to see what else is on offer.  Depending on the items I receive in the veg box my meals may change.

This week the Gourmand family will be eating:

Monday: Roast Chicken with Veg / Curried pumpkin soup

Tuesday: Beef Stroganoff

Wednesday: Fish Pie / Celery soup

Thursday: Fruity Haloumi with freekeh salad

Friday: Honey Mustard Chicken

Saturday: Prezzo for dinner

Sunday: Fruit and nut stuffed chicken legs

And that’s our meal plan for this week, pop back next week for Meal Planning Monday.  You can see some of my previous meal plans here and here


Cravendale Milk Challenge

Let me tell you how much I love milk
Far more than fishing for a whilk
How much I enjoy a cold drink of this ilk
But far more than wearing pure silk
And here ends this poem as no more words rhyme with milk.

As you can probably tell I’m not a poet. I do however like milk as do my family especially my little milk guzzler Baby Gourmand.

cravendale milk

Baby Gourmand loves milk, he enjoys it warmed up before bed and would happily guzzle pints of it if he could.  As the picture above shows, a wild Baby Gourmand plus a glass of milk equals a very sleepy child.

milk cravendale

I like nothing more than enjoying a warm glass of Cravendale with a slice of cake or fruit pie.  I think having the warm milk to drink saves on calories from cream or custard with my dessert which is a win win.

cravendale milk and cookie

Mr Gourmand and Mini Gourmand have a favourite way to enjoy milk which is waiting until I have gone to bed and pouring themselves a glass of cold milk and dipping stroopwafles into said drink.  I only recently found out about this little night time treat that has been going on without me and I must say I’m a bit jealous that I wasn’t invited to this milk and cookie party.

Cravendale is ALWAYS my milk of choice, it lasts longer than other brands of milk and it tastes great too.

This post is an entry for BritMums #MilkDrinkersMilk Linky Challenge, sponsored by Cravendale

Spiced Turkey Koftas

When most people think of a kofta their first thought is that it is spicy meat formed around a stick most often found in an Indian restaurant.  A kofta is actually a type of meatball and this particular dish is inspired by a Palestinian dish kofta b’siniyah although that version is usually made with lamb and beef mince.

spiced turkey koftas

I would usually serve this dish on a bed of humus with a chopped salad to the side and some flatbread to scoop it all up but as I’ve changed my usual recipe I figured I would also serve it differently.

To make the spiced turkey koftas you will need:

450g turkey mince
1 medium onion, peeled and grated
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 fresh red chilli chopped
10g flat leaf parsley
30g pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture comes together. If you don’t have a food processor you could knead the mixture in a mixing bowl until it forms a ball in the centre of the bowl.

Divide the mixture into 8 then carefully mould into a oval shape.

turkey koftas

Brush the koftas with a little of the oil then place in a hot frying pan, cook for 8-10 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked.

spicy turkey koftas

I served my koftas with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce, salad and pitta bread and they were delicious.

Are you a fan of koftas?

Fresh Berry Scones

I’ve never made a scone that didn’t work, that’s not me showing off or blowing my own trumpet it’s just that scones are so simple to make and great to experiment with.  I’m a fan of both sweet and savoury scones and sometimes they are so good you don’t even want to cut them and apply butter because you don’t want anything to taint the flavour and that’s how I feel about these fresh berry scones.

fresh berry scones

Don’t get me wrong, these scones are delicious with a bit of butter, jam and cream but you won’t be disappointed if you eat one straight from the cooling rack.

The inspiration for these scones came from some leftover berries that were in the fridge, there wasn’t enough to use in a cake and yes I could have sprinkled them over my porridge in the morning but where is the fun in that?

I used a mixture of fresh raspberries and blueberries in these dainty little scones but you could substitute the berries with plump dried fruit or softened apple if you wish.

berry scones

To make my Fresh Berry Scones you will need:
220g self-raising flour
50g unsalted butter
20g caster sugar
150ml full fat milk
A handful of raspberries & blueberries
1 egg beaten, for glazing to give that golden finish

Pre-heat your oven to 200 °C and lightly grease a baking tray.


In a large bowl, mix together the butter and flour using your fingertips until the butter is all mixed in. Add the fruit but try not to break it up too much as you want it to retain some texture.

Once all the fruit is combined, add 2/3 of the milk and mix very gently with a wooden spoon. Work the dough as little as possible, which will ensure you get light and fluffy scones.

If the mixture looks too dry, add a little more milk, the fruit is quite wet so you may not need to add any extra.  The mixture shouldn’t be sticky or stick to the sides of the bowl, it should  form a nice lump in the middle.

Tip the scone mixture onto a floured worktop and very lightly knead together for a few seconds until it forms a round, don’t overwork it or the fruit will breakup and the scones will be tough. Press down gently till you reach a thickness of about 4cm.

Using a round cutter, cut as many circles from the dough as you can. Gather up the leftover dough and bring together into another round that you can cut more scones from placing the ones you’ve already cut onto your baking tray a good few centimeters apart.

Using the beaten egg a pastry brush, brush the top of your scones with the egg which will give a nice golden top to your scones.

Bake for about 12–15 minutes.

fresh berry scone

Serve as they are or with jam and cream.

What’s your favourite scone flavour?

Curry Crazy with Tilda Rice

Curry is one of The Gourmand’s favourite meals, we like them dry, creamy, spiced or hot served with rice or bread we don’t mind we love curry all ways.


Last weekend Grandad Gourmand was visiting so we decided instead of arguing over the usual Saturday night takeaway we would cook curry at home instead.  Mini Gourmand wanted a Chinese curry and Mr Gourmand wanted Indian so I did what anyone who wants an easy life would do in this situation and I made both.

Chinese Chicken Curry


  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2cm piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, finel chopped
  • 2 tsp corn flour
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 500g skinless,boneless chicken thighs cut into small pieces
  • 100g frozen peas
  • Salt & Pepper to season


  1. Gently heat half the oil in a medium pan. Add the chicken, onion, ginger, garlic and chilli. Season with salt & pepper and cook over a low heat until the onion has started to soften. Add the flour and spices, and stir well.
  2. When the chicken and onion is completely coated in the flour and spices, add enough stock to form a rough paste and stir well, Add the stock a little at a time stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
  3. Bring the curry to the boil, cover, reduce to a simmer and cook until it has thickened and the chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally, and add more water if needed. Add the peas a few minutes before serving.
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Curry with Tilda Rice


Chicken Tikka Masala

500g skinless,boneless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons ghee
1 onion sliced
1 red pepper sliced
2 tablespoon tomato puree
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp grated peeled ginger
1 400g tin of coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon crushed chilli pepper flakes

Place the chopped chicken thighs in a large bowl and add some salt, pepper, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, coriander, cayenne, nigella seeds, cardamom pods and smoked paprika and mix thoroughly.

Brown the chicken in the ghee on a high heat which will toast the spices.  Remove to a plate to rest.

In the same pan lower the heat to medium and add the onion and red pepper and cook for 5-6 minutes until the onion is cooked through.

Add the tomato puree and stir in, cook for 5 minutes until it starts to caramelise. add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute.  Add a touch of water to deglaze the pan.

Pour in the coconut milk and stir in well. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Pop in the chilli flakes and chicken along with any juices.

Tilda Rice

I served my curry with Tilda Basmati rice* which took less than 12 minutes to cook and was incredibly soft and fluffy, curried roast potato and naan breads.  The next day I used some leftover rice and masala sauce to make a biryani style lunch, the rice kept it’s shape which really surprised me due to the softness and cooked really well in the curry sauce until it was nice and dry.

What’s your favourite curry and do you have it with rice or bread?

*PR Sample

Meal Planning Monday (26th October 2015)

It’s Halloween on Saturday which is one of my most favourite times of the year.  We always have a little party in the house and I’ll be spending this week baking things with Mini Gourmand like cupcakes, spooky fudge, jelly, witches fingers and of course a whole range of pumpkin inspired dishes.

Meal Planning Monday

This week the Gourmand family will be eating:

Monday: Tarragon Chicken with butter beans

Tuesday: Kedgeree

Wednesday: Chicken burger with salad

Thursday: Aubergine and Haloumi kebabs

Friday: Pasta with prawns and courgette

Saturday: Halloween Party Food

Sunday: Roast beef dinner

And that’s our meal plan for this week, pop back next week for Meal Planning Monday.  You can see some of my previous meal plans here and here

The Foxlydate Brewers Fayre

We love eating out as a family, not everywhere is family friendly though so when you find somewhere that does good food for both adults and children and is reasonably priced which is one of the reasons we love Brewers Fayre.  We don’t have a Brewers Fayre in the town where we live but there are a good variety within a 45 minute drive, our most recent visit was to The Foxlydate in Worcestershire* and although I was feeling a bit under the weather I was really looking forward to not having to cook for the family.

foxlydiate brewers fayre

Brewers Fayre recently launched a new autumn menu which features a great range of freshly prepared dishes, and as a family it makes a lot of sense to eat from the daytime special menu which is served Monday – Friday from 12-6.30pm where you can pick two dishes for £10 however this just isn’t possible for us as Mr Gourmand rarely finishes work before 6pm during the week so we tend to visit on a weekend.

brewers fayre special menu

When we arrived at The Foxlydiate Brewers Fayre I was surprised at how spacious it was inside, it looked incredibly clean and well set out and the staff were all super friendly and accommodating.  We had already booked a table and it was a good job because this place fills up fast!

Tomato Soup Brewers Fayre

After a quick look at the menu and a chat with our server we quickly decided what we were going to eat.  I really wanted to try the roast dinner but didn’t fancy the soup that came with it so Mr Gourmand agreed to have it so I could pick what I wanted from the menu.  The soup and rolls are self service meaning you can pour as much or as little as you like, as you can see I won’t make a very good waitress as my soup carrying skills are naff.

Prawn Cocktail brewers Fayre

It’s probably not a surprise to hear that I ordered the prawn cocktail (£3.99) which came just as I like it with brown bread cut into triangles and proper butter.

Child's starter brewers fayre spaghetti bolognese brewers fayre

Baby Gourmand went for the 2 courses for £4.49 option which is incredible value for money.  He had a starter of vegetable crudités and dip and a main course of spaghetti Bolognese which he wolfed down.

prawn crackers brewers fayre Thai red curry

Mini Gourmand didn’t fancy a starter on this occasion as she had her heart set on a side order of chips with her main course instead.  The Thai chicken curry was her meal of choice (£8.99) which was served with Thai spiced crackers, basmati rice and sweet chilli dip.  It was a very good sized portion and Mr Gourmand had to help her finish it off.

Roast Dinner brewers fayre

My Roast dinner was a bit special and I was astounded at how fresh everything was, there was no soggy veg here and everything looked and tasted like it had been cooked from fresh although I think the Yorkshire puddings were an exception.

smoked haddock florentine brewers fayre

Finally Mr Gourmand went for the smoked haddock Florentine (£7.99) which was served with cheesy mashed potato and garden peas, served on a bed of spinach, covered with a creamy cheese sauce.

Our meals, drinks and a chocolate brownie to take home came in at under £50, obviously if we had visited during the week the cost would have been even lower.  Brewers Fayre offer well cooked, affordable meals for families and I can’t wait for my next visit!

*Complimentary Meal