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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In a small bowl combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and basil and set to one side.
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.
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.
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.
This is my entry into the Giovanni Rana pasta competition.
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.
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.
Once the cakes have cooled pipe the cream onto the cakes, top with a cherry and grate over some chocolate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
We have visited The Fat Pug in Leamington Spa on a few occasions now and it never fails to disappoint. The surroundings make you feel at home, the staff are friendly and the portion sizes are great – what more could you want?
I just love the little touches like mini milk bottle to hold the milk for your drinks, Jammy dodger biscuits with your coffee and fresh brewed coffee in a mug rather than a teeny tiny cup.
Mr Gourmand thought it would be rude not to try the Fat Pug Breakfast (£7.50) and it didn’t disappoint. We have waxed lyrical about our love of local butcher Aubrey Allen so you can imagine Mr Gourmand’s delight that the two sausages in his frying pan were from our favourite butcher. I have a hatred of plum tomatoes unless they are being used to make a pasta sauce, unlike me Mr Gourmand just loves plum tomatoes with his breakfast so the Fat Pug ticked yet another of Mr Gourmand’s boxes. Not everyone likes black pudding but Mr Gourmand loves it especially a big fat slice of it which was another box ticked – in fact nothing on the breakfast disappointed including the huge slice of freshly cut bread.
I ordered the Veggie Pug breakfast (£7.00) which like Mr Gourmand’s meat filled pan was filled to the brim with delicious food. I love scrambled egg especially when it is laced with salted butter, this was a mammoth portion of scrambled egg so much so that it filled half of the pan. I’m a bit of a picky person when it comes to liking things a certain way and I do often have a bit of a problem with baked beans when they touch other food, had the beans been in the pan and touching the egg I would have been a bit put off (I’m strange like that) so you can imagine my delight to find that my beans were in a separate ramekin. I was so full after eating this that I skipped lunch which NEVER happens.
Bread costs very little, everyone knows this and it really annoys me when places charge extra for toast. When you buy a hot drink at the Fat Pug you can have FREE toast, it’s not supermarket value bread either it’s delicious fresh bread – breakfast providers please take note, it’s the little things like this that make a huge difference.
Would we go back to the Fat Pug? Damn right we would in fact we have been back since sampling this breakfast and have also visited the sister pub The Royal Pug which is equally great.
You can find the Fat Pug on Guys Cliffe Road, Leamington Spa
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) recently asked 5 bloggers to try to create recipes for both farmed and wild salmon the purpose of which was to see what taste differences if any we could taste. I was really excited about this because I don’t think I’d previously ever eaten wild salmon before so I couldn’t wait to try it and relay my thoughts to my readers. The ASMI say “Alaska seafood is counted among the best in the world. All fish from Alaska’s waters are wild and natural providing a wealth of health benefits, not to mention flavours and textures. What’s more all Alaska seafood is 100% sustainable so it can be eaten with a clear conscience that the ocean’s stocks are being preserved for the future”. “In terms of taste and flavour, Alaska seafood is very different to that of its farmed counterparts”. Most people will be familiar with farmed salmon as it’s the one usually found in restaurants and supermarkets, it contains fewer omega-3 fatty acids while the levels of pesticides in farmed are significantly higher than wild salmon and the fat content of farmed ranges between 11% and 20% vs. 7% for wild. Farmed salmon is distinctly oilier and had less fishy flavour as a consequence of the limited movements in its aquatic cages, Mini Gourmand doesn’t particularly like fish that has a ‘fishy’ taste so I can usually get her to eat farmed salmon at home. Wild Alaskan salmon has no artificial colouring, preservatives, pesticides and GMOs and so retains all the goodness from when it is frozen to when it ends up on the dinner plate. Since it lives in the cleanest waters in the world, wild Alaska salmon is firmer, fitter and a more vibrant fish. It is coloured by the natural food it finds in its wild free range environment and people are often surprised to find that some wild Alaskan salmon is more red than orange. When I received the salmon the first thing I did was to do a blind taste test for the family. I pan fried both the farmed and fresh salmon and we all had a taste and gave our verdict. Mini Gourmand couldn’t work out which was which but she did enjoy both pieces of salmon. Mr Gourmand guessed the difference instantly, he found the wild salmon to have a more delicate flavour and different texture to the farmed salmon. I personally preferred the wild salmon, the taste for me was better and I agree with Mr Gourmand that it was delicate. I found the farmed salmon to be meatier in texture and thought the farmed salmon melted in the mouth. My next challenge was to create a recipe using both types of salmon, this was to be a blind taste test again. Both Cajun salmon tacos were cooked the same way and the same ingredients were used but could the Gourmands tell the difference this time? Mini Gourmand thought they both tasted the same, I think my use of spices tarnished her taste buds so she was unable to guess the difference. My Gourmand thought that although they both tasted very similar the wild salmon stood out as the texture wasn’t as meaty and I agree, it was very close but the texture gave it away at first bite. Cajun Salmon Tacos are really simple to make and you can throw any vegetable or salad ingredient into the soft flour taco, I used red onion, avocado, green tomato, sweet corn and coriander. To make the salmon marinade you will need: 4 Tablespoons of smokey Tabasco, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2. Teaspoon coriander leaf, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander. Marinate the salmon overnight and pan fry until just cooked through. My second dish was Teryiaki Salmon which was super easy to make and used very few ingredients. To make this dish you will need Teryaki sauce for marinating the salmon which I left overnight. Soba noodles, pak choi, cashew nuts, sesame seeds and soy sauce. Cook and drain the noodles, add to a hot pan with a splash of oil and pak choi, stir fry for a few seconds until combined, add a splash of soy sauce and a handful of cashew nuts. Add the salmon strips to a hot pan and cook on both sides, the timings will vary depending on how thin your strips are. Place the noodles on a plate and top with salmon, sprinkle with sesame seeds to finish. I enjoyed both types,of salmon but wild salmon will definitely be purchased more frequently in our house from now on. In the past I have sometimes struggled to eat a whole piece of farmed salmon as I’ve found it either too meaty or got bored with the flavour and this is something that I’ve not experienced with the wild salmon. I really enjoyed trying salmon in recipes that I would usually cook with meat, I’ve got three more recipes planned so please do check back to see those. *I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.