The Ultimate Grill Night At The Star and Garter

I love steak and for me there is nothing better than an Aubrey Allen steak, I’ve waxed lyrical about my love for Aubrey Allen butchers time and time again to the point that my parents who live in Newcastle upon Tyne stock up on their meat when they come to visit me so you can imagine my delight when I heard that the Star & Garter pub in Leamington Spa were going to hold a grill night every Thursday evening.

Grill Night

I went to the opening night with my friend Ms Teacher as Mr Gourmand was babysitting Mini and Baby Gourmand. I hadn’t seen Ms Teacher since last Summer so was looking forward to a catch up alongside some delicious food.

The Star & Garter has had a refurbishment since my last visit and although I liked the décor before it really is a lot more stylish and has a cosier, informal feel to it.

I briefly met Colin Barber who is the manager at the Star & Garter and it was apparent that he is a super friendly and welcoming man which is exactly what you want when you walk into a pub, there is nothing worse than feeling out of place and thankfully the vibe at the Star & Garter couldn’t have been more friendly.

Russell Allen

Russell Allen is a bit of an expert when it comes to butchery, after all Aubrey Allen are butchers to the Queen.  Learning about the different cuts of meat was incredibly interesting and just made our decision about which cut to have all the more harder.

After a lot of deliberating we finally made our steak choices.  I went for the 28 day dry-aged 10oz Onglet steak and Ms Teacher decided to try the 28 day dry-aged 8oz Spider steaks which was a steak neither of us were familiar with.  First things first though, we wanted to try the starters.

Dorset Smoked Duck Salad

Ms Teacher ordered the Dorset smoked duck, orange and almond salad (£7.50) which tasted like nothing we had ever tasted before.  The duck had the most beautiful flavour and it’s something I would definitely order on my next visit.

potted crab and prawns

A creature of habit, I went for the Potted crab & prawns with toasted sourdough (£6.75) which tasted just as delicious as it looks.  It’s always nice to get a decent chuck of bread when you order a dish like this and it didn’t disappoint.  The rocket added a lovely peppery kick to the dish and I was pleased that Ms Teacher had more table manners than Mr Gourmand and only took a small taste rather than half my dish!

Neither myself or Ms Teacher were expecting our steaks to look quite so delicious.  It was one of those moments when you have ultimate envy at the other persons dish even though your own looks amazing in its own right.

Spider Steak

Ms Teacher ordered sweet potato fries and blue cheese sauce on the side of her spider steaks.  She had only expected one of the steaks we were shown and was pleasantly surprised with the sheer amount of meat on her plate.  As steak goes this was delicious, so tender and flavourful and I was told that the blue cheese sauce was one of the nicest she has had.

Star and garter steak

Greed took over when I ordered my sides and I went for triple cooked chips, they don’t call me a gourmand for nothing!  Peppercorn sauce was my accompaniment and I always take a bit of a risk when I order this as I’m always looking for the perfect peppercorn sauce, believe me so many places get it so wrong.  Not on this occasion thankfully.

star and garter steak

There is so much I could say about the steak, I’m not actually going to though because the pictures really do speak for themselves.

onion rings

We ordered a side of beer battered onion rings (£3.50) as I have a bit of a thing for onion rings, we really didn’t need these as we had so much delicious food to munch through and I’m blaming these rings of deliciousness for the fact I couldn’t manage a dessert.

I do want to mention the desserts even though I didn’t actually eat one.  There is an incredible selection of cheese for the cheese board which contains two of my favourites baked golden Cenarth and Brie de Nangis.

When I go out for dinner at a pub or restaurant I look for a couple of things, these things are what makes me want to go back time and time again.  My first request is that the food is fresh and home cooked, the second is that the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming and the third is that the establishment is family friendly.  The Star & Garter ticked all three of my boxes and I can’t wait until my next visit.

If you happen to be in the Leamington Spa area and are looking for a friendly pub that serves delicious home cooked food I really do recommend Grill Night at the Star & Garter which can be found at 4-6 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa, CV32 5LL.

*Meal was provided in return for an honest, impartial review

Fiesta Del Asado Revisited

Fiesta Del Asado has got to be my favourite place in Birmingham for steak or any sort of grilled meat come to think of it.  I’ve never been to Argentina but it’s definitely somewhere I want to visit after sampling the wares of this Birmingham eatery.

Bread and Olives

If you do decided to visit this restaurant next time you’re in Birmingham, be sure to try the bread and marinated gordal olives stuffed with guindilla (£2.99) while you peruse the menu.  The olives are so delicious and have the perfect combination of sweetness, salt and a mammoth kick of chilli and I just can’t get enough of them.

Estofado de ternera

We visited with Grandma Gourmand who likes to accompany us on our culinary adventures when she comes to visit.  You can always guarentee that Grandma will order something that everyone wants to taste and the Estofado de ternera (£19.89) was no exception. Cubed brisket braised for 12 hours in a malbec & salchichon sauce served with crisp potato and blackened corn was so filling that she was happy to share some with us.  The sauce was truly delicious and the beef just melted in the mouth which is exactly what you want from a brisket.

Asado de tira

Mr Gourmand liked the Asado de tira (£21.49) so much during our previous visit that he couldn’t resist ordering again.  16oz 4 bone cross cut beef rib; cooked on the bone for a fuller flavour is the perfect dish for any meat lover.  I ordered wisely as I knew I would get to sample a huge chunk of this!

Pollo a la parrilla

You may wonder why I opted for the Pollo a la parrilla (£14.89) and not a steak?  I love steak and I love the taste of the steak from here so much but the last time we visited Baby Gourmand had the most delicous chicken and  there was just no way I was going to visit without ordering a portion of the grilled 1/2 chicken marinated in garlic & thyme served with tomato, peppers and capers. [served on the bone] for myself, after all I knew I would get some of Mr Gourmand’s steak!

Papas fritas con perejil y ajo

No visit is complete without a portion of the papas fritas con perejil y ajo (£1.99) or fries with parsley and garlic and to be honest one portion just isn’t enough as they are so delicious.

I can’t wait for my next visit to Fiesta Del Asado and hope it’s sooner rather than later as I need my grilled meat fix.

You can find Fiesta Del Asado at 229 Hagley Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B16 9RP

*I paid for this meal myself

Christmas Cupcakes

I love mince pies at Christmas time so make no mistake about that, I do appreciate that not everyone shares the same mince pie appreciation as I do and it’s because of this that I decided to make these Christmas cupcakes.

Christmas Cupcakes

I wasn’t trying to disguise the fact that these cupcakes contain a little mincemeat I was merely trying to convert those who just don’t like the combination of pastry and mincemeat and offer them a cupcake alternative. I’ve seen a lot of recipes where mincemeat was combined with the cake mixture and turned into a mincemeat flavoured cupcake and that’s great but these Christmas cupcakes are a bit more special than that.

Glitter christmas cupcake

For me the cupcakes are Christmas in a case, the sponge is like delicious gingerbread which is then filled with a dollop of mincemeat and topped with a icing star sprinkled with edible glitter, you don’t get more festive than that do you!

Now I do get that there will be some people out there who just can’t stomach the thought of mincemeat but fear not you can just adapt the recipe to suit your tastes and maybe use some fruit compote or jam in replacement but do give the cupcakes a try and you may be surprised.

This recipe will make 12 artisan cupcakes (muffin cases) or 20 cupcakes (fairy cake cases)

To make the cupcakes you will need:
115g softened unsalted butter
100g dark brown sugar
1 egg
120ml whole milk
2 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
167g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Ready to roll icing cut into star shapes
edible glitter

1.Preheat oven to 180°C and line a cupcake tin with cake liners.
2.In a food mixer beat the butter and sugar together until soft and creamy. Beat in the egg a little at a time until combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the milk, syrup, and vanilla extract.
3.slowly pour in the dry ingredients until combined scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
4.Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full and Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
5.Allow to cool completely and scoop a piece of cake from the top centre using a teaspoon. Fill the hole with mincemeat and top with an icing star painted with edible glitter.

The cupcakes are delicious as they are but you can serve them as a dessert with cream or custard once they start to get a little stale.

Christmas cupcakes

Cheese And Pickle Sandwich Revamped

Growing up I loved nothing more than a cheese and pickle sandwich, I’m not sure if my tastes have changed or if too many bad supermarket versions have tainted my taste buds but I haven’t had a cheese and pickle sandwich for years.  English Provender have a grown up range of proper pickle and I was determined to find a combination of cheese and pickle which reignited my love of the humble sandwich.

English Provender proper pickle

I love pickle in all it’s form and luckily for me English Provender offer four different types of pickle, chunky, finely chopped, beetroot and pickled onion.  One good thing about pickle is the fact it can transform boring food into something amazing and you can serve it with more than just cheese although admittedly I do love it with a big chunk of cheese.

English Provender beetroot pickle

After a couple of disastrous combinations I managed to find a dream team in halloumi and beetroot pickle which I served in flatbreads.  The soft salty halloumi cheese worked incredibly well with the crunchy, tangy and slightly sweet beetroot pickle, the runner up in my opinion was a brie, rocket and pickled onion chutney served in a warm baguette.

Cheese and Pickle flatbread

I do like a toasted sandwich and my Tefal Optigrill grilled my sandwich to perfection, the pickle although warmed still retained its crunch and the cheese was soft and squishy just how I like it.

What’s your ultimate cheese and pickle combination?

*This post is an entry into the #ProperPickle challenge with the English Provender Co and Foodies100.

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?