Madame Gourmand
13. 11. 2014

Dark chocolate and Pecan Brownies

 

If I’m completely honest, these brownies were my best EVER! I didn’t think I’d ever be able to beat my stuffed cookie brownies but these were on another level.  I tweaked my usual recipe a little and boom, a taste explosion in the mouth.  The pecans added a bit of texture, the centre was fudgy and gooey and the top was crunchy.  Perfection in a square.

To make these little squares of awesomeness you will need:

 

350g 70% Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces

250g Unsalted butter

3 large eggs

250g  dark muscovado sugar

50g  plain flour

1tsp baking powder

75g pecan nuts, chopped

Put the chocolate and butter into a pan and heat gently until melted. Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes.

While your chocolate mixture is cooling, whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until light and glossy, you mind find this process easier if you use a hand mixer.

Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, stirring it in gently with a large spoon.

Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in with the pecan nuts.

Tip the mixture into a greased and lined  baking tin and bake until firm. I test by inserting a skewer into the middle of the brownies, if it comes out clean I know they are usually done.-

Place the tin on a wire rack and cool then cut the brownies into squares, remove from the tin and cool completely on the rack.

You should get 8 or 9 decent sized brownies from this mixture, of course this depends on the size and depth of the baking tin you are using.

 

 

06. 11. 2014

Lemon drizzle cake is a family favourite, usually I make a loaf cake soaked with lemon icing but on this occasion I made a layer cake filled with a delicious lemon cream curd.

lemon cake drizzle

To make this cake you will need:

200g of caster sugar

200g of unsalted butter

The zezt of 2 lemons

3 beaten eggs

200g self raising flour

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin

Beat the sugar, butter and lemon zest in a mixing bowl until pale and fluffy, using an electric whisk.

Gradually add the eggs, whisking until the egg is incorporated into the mixture. Carefully fold in the flour.

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

To make the filling you will need:

115g icing sugar

40g Butter

4 tablespoons lemon curd

Place the icing sugar and butter into a bowl and mix well until smooth, add the lemon curd and mix well. Split the cake horizontally in half. Spread the base cake half with the mixture and top with the second half of the cake.

To make the topping you will need:

55g icing sugar

lemon juice

Add enough lemon juice to the icing sugar to make a thick icing.  Drizzle over the top of the cake and allow to set.

lemon drizzle cake

 

04. 11. 2014

Yo! Sushi recently opened in Leamington Spa and the Gourmand family went along during the opening weekend to check it out. We’re a family of Sushi lovers and have visited Yo! Sushi branches in Newcastle upon Tyne, Birmingham and London so to have a branch in our town is very exciting for us.

Yo Sushi leamington spa

Situated in Regent Court in the centre of town which is a pedestrianised street filled with a great selection of restaurants and shops, Yo! Sushi offers a fantastic range of hot and cold dishes, it’s not all just about the raw fish!

Decor Yo Sushi Leamington

I love the décor inside this particular branch which has a mixture of industrial and cosmic influences as you can see in the picture above, there is a lot of stainless steel and the orbs hanging from the ceiling really captured Baby Gourmands attention (and mine too if I’m being honest).

Yo Sushi kitchen

As with all Yo! Sushi restaurants you can see the chef’s at work thanks to the open kitchen, the conveyor belt is huge and I love the buzzer noises at this branch.

Table yo sushi

Tables are set as standard and feature all of the usual condiments like Pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.

Miso Soup

We started with some Miso Soup (£2.20) which contains seaweed, tofu, spring onion in a soy bean broth you can have unlimited refills of this soup which is fantastic value for money and incredibly tasty.

Cucumber maki

Mini Gourmand loves to select dishes from the conveyer belt and Cucumber Maki (£1.90) is one of her favourite dishes, Baby Gourmand was quite partial to these himself.

Popcorn Shrimp Tempura

We asked for a couple of recommended dishes and the first of the dishes we tried was the Popcorn Shrimp Tempura (£4.30), this was a new dish for us and incredibly delicious so much so that our chopsticks were fighting for the last piece.

Vegetable firecracker Rice

Mini Gourmand decided she liked the look of the Vegetable firecracker rice (£2.50) which was rather delicious although Mini Gourmand slightly underestimated the heat, Mr Gourmand and myself finished this off for her.  Firecracker by name and Firecracker by nature.

Beef and garlic teriyaki

Our second recommended product was the Beef and Garlic Teriyaki which was by far my favourite dish, the glaze on the beef was so tasty and one piece just wasn’t enough.

fruit salad

Baby Gourmand started to get a little cranky so to keep him quiet we picked a plate of Fresh fruit (£3.40) which he devoured, it’s really nice to see fresh pineapple included in a fruit salad rather than tinned.

Salmon selection

The Salmon Selection (£5.00) was our next dish, this was extremely good value for money and tasted so fresh.  It always surprises me how the most simplistic of dishes can often be the most tastiest.

Teriyaki chicken

Mr Gourmand took a shine to the Chicken Teriyaki (£3.90) which was succulent due to the meat being thigh rather than breast which can often be a little dry.  The sticky sweet sauce really complimented the chicken and the crisp white cabbage was a nice addition to the dish.

Scallop Katsu

Our final dish was the Scallop Katsu which was served with the most delicious wasabi mayonnaise which gave a fabulous kick.  Scallops are one of my most favourite things to eat however I’m often scared to order them when I go out as they are often very overcooked.  On this occasion the scallops were sweet, succulent and cooked to perfection.

plates Yo Sushi

It’s always deceiving how filling the food at Yo! Sushi actually is, between the 4 of us we had 8 plates of food and 4 bowls of Miso Soup and we were stuffed, we didn’t even manage any Mochi which is Mini Gourmands favourite.

baby gourmand

Baby Gourmand loved the futuristic highchairs in Yo! Sushi which were a perfect size for him and had just enough space for his colouring book and crayons.  The restaurant is very child friendly and the staff are great with children of all ages, one member of staff even helped me to secure Baby Gourmand into the highchair and showed me how the straps worked.

During our visit people were queuing at the door for a table, there were a mixture of all ages in the restaurant and it looked extremely popular.  Each time I have walked past since my initial visit it has been bustling so there is no doubt in my mind that Yo! Sushi made a great decision by opening a branch in Leamington Spa.  We will definitely be visiting again as a family and will be using the takeaway service very soon.

Disclamier: All food consumed during our visit was complimentary, our thoughts and feelings about the visit are honest and impartial.

 

02. 11. 2014

Angel Delight Packets

I remember being around 8 and begging my mum to let me make Angel Delight at home, we didn’t have dessert very often as my mum preferred us to have a piece of fruit after dinner so to be allowed to make a packet of instant dessert was a real treat.

 

Chocolate was and still is my favourite flavour, it’s so versatile and super quick and easy to make when you’re in need of a quick chocolate fix.

Angel Delight

 

The new Bubblegum flavour of Angel Delight recently launched in Tesco and I couldn’t wait to whip up some desserts for my family using it.  The bubblegum flavour is made only using natural colourings and is suitable for vegetarians.  Angel Delight is super easy to make, just take a sachet and mix with milk, leave for ten minutes to set and voila you are ready to eat.

Angel Delight Cheesecake Angel Delight

 

 

The first dish I made was a Bubblegum cheesecake which was basically layers of crushed biscuit, chopped strawberries and angel delight folded in to whipped cream.  Mini Gourmand ate two portions of this because she found it so delicious, she didn’t realise that the creamy mousse was Angel Delight.

Angel Delight Dessert

My second dish was Angel Delight made the traditional way topped with strawberries, everyone loved the new flavour including Baby Gourmand.  Mr Gourmand liked it so much that he requested the remainder of the Angel Delight be used to make a milkshake.

Angel Delight is actually very versatile and makes an incredible ice-cream which is how I like to use my leftovers.

 

This post is an entry for #AngelDelightMoments linky challenge.

 

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.

IMG_0693.JPG

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.

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11. 10. 2014

belvita

 

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 http://bit.ly/belVitaUK *

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.

waffles

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
Directions:

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