Author Archives: admin

Chilli Actifry Style

Chilli (1)

When you think of Chilli, cooking it an actifry is probably not the first method of cooking that would come to mind, I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out if I’m completely honest but it was delicious and actually tasted a little bit nicer than my usual stove top chilli.  I would assume that my version could be made in any sort of hot air fryer, you just have to be careful of timings, I gave my recipe to two friends to test because they both have an actifry, one friend found that hers took longer to cook and the other said she had to do her onions twice because they had burnt so use your own judgement ass you know your own machine better than I do.

To make this you will need:

500g minced beef
1 onion chopped
2  garlic cloves crushed
2 chilli peppers
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin mixed beans
1 tbsp of tomato puree
1 tsp Cumin & cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika & Chilli powder


Brown the onion and garlic with 1 tablespoon oil or some frylight and cook for 3-5 minutes.

Add the mince and cook for  a further 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, puree, chilli and spices and cook for 3-4 minutes

Add the mixed beans and season.

Add 400ml water and cook for 20-30min until nice and thick.

Serve with rice and chopped coriander for taste.


It’s as simple as that!  If you decide to make Chilli in your actifry please let me know how you get on.




Moroccan Chicken Gourmand Style

This dish was created after a spice cupboard clear out, spices are fabulous but 9 times out of 10 after opening a jar it goes unused until expired and I realise I need it for a dish.  Don’t you wish that dried herbs and spices came in smaller jars?

I noticed that some of my herbs and spices were getting close to their best before date so figured I would throw them together and thus Moroccan Chicken Gourmand Style was born!

While I appreciate this was not cooked in the traditional Moroccan way and it was not served with any real Moroccan ingredients other than the spices, it tasted good and surely that’s all that counts!

This recipe will serve two people, just double the quantities if feeding more.


2 chicken breasts (make 3 slits so the spices can infuse into the meat)
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Tumeric
2 Cardamon pods crushed
grating of Nutmeg
2 tablespoons fresh Parsley
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 peppers (Any colour)

Place the spices in a bowl with the oil and rub all over the chicken breasts, squeeze the lemon juice over and leave in the fridge for 4 hours for the flavours to infuse into the chicken.

placed the chicken breasts on a bed of chopped peppers in a Pyrex dish or suitable baking dish and cook for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

I served the Chicken and Peppers with a Lebanese style salad of chopped parsley, onion, tomato and cucumber and Sweet potato chips

The dish took 30 minutes including preparation time.

The Marshmallow – Moreton In Marsh


The Marshmallow Restaurant and Tea Rooms in Moreton in Marsh has been awarded the Tea Guild of Excellence for the last four years, which is only awarded annually to the TOP 40 Guild Members in the whole of the UK so when we decided to take a day trip to the Cotswolds there was no doubt that we were going to pop in for a visit.




The tearoom is very traditional inside which I love, you get proper coasters for your plate featuring a drawing of the front of the building, little vases with flowers on your table and a good old fashioned tea tray with timer and tea strainer when you order a pot of tea.



We both decided it would be nice to have tea for a change which came with a jug of hot water to top up the pots/warm the cups or however you wish to use it and delicious shortbread biscuits.  I’ve not seen a doily for ages and after seeing this I think tea should be served on a tray with a doily every time you have it!

Ham and Tomato Sandwich


The lunchtime menu had some rather delicious sounding meals on it but as we had plans to eat out for dinner as well as lunch we thought sandwiches would be the best choice.  Mr Gourmand decided to have the ham and tomato which is something he doesn’t often have.  The ham was carved rather than being plastic slices and the tomato was thick and juicy.


Beef and Horseradish Sandwich


My sandwich of choice was the roast beef and horseradish, I find this a typical British sandwich and as we were in a rather lovely tea room this seemed like the perfect sandwich to order.  The beef was soft and not chewy, the horseradish had a big kick which was so perfect with the beef.  I’m not a purist so I popped some of the tomato from my salad into the sandwich.  Delicious.


I couldn’t have left without trying some of the homemade scones with clotted cream, they were listed on the menu as mini scones but they were certainly anything but mini, Mr Gourmand’s eyes lit up when they arrived as he knew he would be offered one.


Jyoti Indian Restaurant – Birmingham

Jyoti is an Indian ‘pure vegetarian restaurant and sweet centre’ and offers a massive choice of 15 starters and 72 main courses as well as a sizeable list of rice accompaniments and sundries.  We’re not actually vegetarians but we do enjoy vegetarian and vegan meals and try to eat at least two meat free meals a week.  After reading some reviews on the internet we decided that we needed to pay this place a visit to see what all the fuss was about, after a busy day morning shopping at the bullring we made our way to Hall Green.

Situated at 1045 Stratford Road Hall Green Birmingham there is ample free parking outside.

Mogo Chips

Grandpa Gourmand started his meal with Mogo Chips (£2.95) which are deep fried cassava chips with tamarind sauce.  I’d seen Cassava in Asian food stores but didn’t realise how it could be cooked so have always been intrigued to try it and I’m so glad I did as it is rather delicious.  Cassava is a great alternative to the humble potato although it is a bit sweeter and does have a distinctive taste.  We all enjoyed these chips and the slightly sour dipping sauce really complemented them.

Onion Bhajiya

I ordered the Onion Bhajiya (£1.95) to share with Mini Gourmand which consisted of 2 deep-fried balls of onion in spiced gram flour served with salad and chutney sauce.  These were like nothing we had ever tried before, not at all greasy and extremely light in texture.  The spice was on the hotter side of the spectrum so Mini Gourmand was a little put off but myself and Grandpa Gourmand devoured them.

Tarka Daal

Mini Gourmand ordered the Tarka Daal (£5.75) which was a lentil curry which she had served with plain boiled rice (£1.95)  I imagine everyone has their own interpretation of this dish, I make it myself which was adapted from a recipe I saw in the Guardian, I consider Tarka Dahl to be a comfort food however I think my own recipe has tainted Mini Gourmands palate and she didn’t really enjoy this dish which she found a bit lacking and too tomato flavoured.

Vegetable Biryani vegi2

I ordered the Vegetable Biryani (£5.95) which was a mixed vegetable curry served with fried rice.  I love Biryani, it has featured in many posts on this blog and because of my love of the dish I couldn’t resist ordering when I saw it on the menu.  When the dish landed on the table I was a little disappointed, the rice looked like frozen rice with veg and the curry didn’t look that different to the Tarka Daal that Mini Gourmand had ordered.  I know that looks can be deceiving so I ploughed in with an open mind.

The dish was bland and lacked flavour, the rice was as I suspected a bit of rice with some frozen veg thrown in and it left me incredibly unhappy.


Grandpa Gourmand ordered the Paneer Bhurji (£5.95) which was Indian cheese cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, cashew nuts and tomato, this was served with a chapatti.  Like the other two main courses this dish was lacking, it had good heat but the flavour just wasn’t there and to be completely honest the dish tasted incredibly similar to the other two.

We were very disappointed with our first visit to Jyoti, I had read some amazing reviews about the place prior to our visit granted the majority of them were from 2010/2011 and we all know how quickly a place can change but I hadn’t expected it to be quite as bad.  All of the food was lacking flavour in one way or another, we have eaten a lot of vegetarian meals in other restaurants and the taste, seasoning and quality was on a different scale.  I would like to say that the sweets I purchased to take home from Jyoti were incredible and couldn’t be faulted, maybe the same amount of effort should be put into the savoury food.

Have you visited Jyoti?  How did you find it?

Panache – Warwick

Panache Balti in Warwick is hands down our favourite local Indian restaurant, it’s delicious. Fact.  We have visited several times and it’s our chosen restaurant of choice for a takeway (like last Friday night).

We have wised up a bit when it comes to dining out at an Indian restaurant, in the past we would sit and munch our way through several poppadoms followed by starters, mains and sides and always wondered why we could only eat a forkful of our main dish before admitting defeat.  Now we may have 2 poppadoms skip the starters and sides and go straight on to the main course.

The restaurant is situated about 5 minutes walk from Warwick Castle so would be a perfect place to visit if you have popped to Warwick for the weekend.  I love the décor inside, one wall features a huge drawing of the castle and I could just spend ages looking at it.

I’m not sure what it is that keeps us going back time after time, obviously the food is delicious but Panache seem to just take it to another level in terms of flavour.




Panache is a small restaurant and we have been only ever visited before 7pm so have never had to wait for a table, I’d imagine that it gets very busy on an evening so  booking is probably recommended. There is a great variety of dishes and a few things I’ve never seen on a menu before like Mini Gourmand’s favourite dish of Paradise Chicken (£8.50) which is basically chicken tikka pieces cooked in a rich sweet creamy sauce flavoured with mango puree, dry mint, bay leaf, almond, coconut powder & mint sauce, if you like korma or chicken tikka masala then you will love this.


I’m a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to Panache as I always go for the mixed Biryani (£10.75), my answer when questioned about this is always “Why wouldn’t you?”  If it’s not broken don’t fix it.  It’s a simple dish consisting of chicken, lamb, prawns, king prawns, mushrooms & pan fried omelette and depending on the chef you sometimes get pieces of pineapple.  It’s far to big a portion for one person so we usually share it or take a container of food home.



We usually alternate between a Peshwari Naan or Keema Naan (£2.50) depending if Mini Gourmand is with us or not, Baby Gourmand is partial to either.  The Naan bread is always hot, filled throughout and huge!


Grandma Gourmand is quite partial to a lot of heat from her curry and can quite often be found ordering a Naga curry (£8.95) which is cooked with aromatic flavoured spicy hot ghost naga from Bangladesh.  I do have to admit that although it’s spicy it really is always delicious, it seems to have different levels of both flavour and heat which I’ve not found in a curry before.

Don’t get me wrong I do love some of the other Indian restaurants Warwickshire has to offer but Panache is just a little bit special to me.  You can find Panache Balti on Just Eat for takeaway food or the restaurant is at 5 Saint Johns, Warwick CV34 4NE

Chicken Biryani Actifry Style


Chicken Biryani is a family favourite in the Gourmand household, I find it’s a great way to use up rice and any leftover vegetables that you have in the fridge, I designed this recipe while going through a stage of making one pot meals however if you don’t happen to have any leftover rice you will need two pots.  As I’ve said before with my actifry dishes, timings do vary and you should trust your own instincts when it comes to your actifry.

To make this you will need:

1 Tablespoon of Oil

1 onion diced

2 Cloves garlic, crushed

1 Tsp Ginger grated

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp ground Cumin

1 Tsp ground Coriander

1/2 Tsp Chili powder

2 plum Tomatoes chopped finely

1 Small pot of Plain Yogurt

4 Mushrooms chopped

8 Green beans cut into 3

2 Chicken breasts chopped

Coriander to serve

Leftover rice


Put the oil and chicken into the Actifry and cook until lightly browned 8-10 minutes.

Add the vegetables and spices and cook for 2-3 minutes

Add the yoghurt and cook for 8-10 minutes until everything is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

Add the rice and cook until the  rice has started to soak up the sauce 8-10 minutes.

Sprinkle with coriander and enjoy.

This is a lot wetter than a traditional Biryani but it is incredibly delicious and very satisfying.  Do let me know if you make this in your actifry.


Tefal Fresh Express Max

tefal grater


I relised today that I’ve had the Tefal Fresh Express Max for a long time now but have never shared an actual review of the product or shared my thoughts and feelings about it so I’m going to take this opportunity to do just that.

So what is the Tefal Fresh Express Max?  The best way for me to describe it is to say it’s a little bit like a food processor without the ability to whisk or mix if that makes sense? It basically takes the hassle out of food preparation as it can grate, shred, slices and dice fruit, vegetables, cheese and even nuts.

I found the Fresh Express Max a little tricky to use at first, I spent a long time trying to follow the instructions and I’m still not convinced I’ve been using it right, it’s quite difficult to get the cones and green and white clamp to fit into the spout which is a little annoying.

I love the fact there are two speeds as it allows you to feel more in control, I have a problem processing some ingredients like courgette, onion and cucumber so I’ve stopped using the device for these vegetables.





The wide feeding tube is good as you can insert ingredients without having to cut them into lots of pieces, I also like the fact that you can pop your fingers into the spout to help items that can become stuck without hurting your fingers as the blades are on the outside not the inside.

It’s very easy to clean the Fresh Express Max and the removable parts are all dishwasher safe. All of the attachments can be stored on the appliance meaning that it takes up less room than a food processor, the cord can be stored inside the machine making the Fresh Express Max easy to store in your kitchen.




If I’m being completely honest I use this mainly to grate cheese because I’ve had so many problems trying to dice and slice vegetables, my vegetables either end up as a pulp or things like carrots seem to slow the machine down.  it’s awesome as a grater and the only fault I have with this function is that cheese gets stick between the cone and the chute, it does clean well though so it isn’t too much of a problem.  I have only ever grated the same type of cheese so have no idea how it would manage with anything a little softer or harder.




I did want to love this so much,  I saw this in action at Tefal UK head office and I had visions of the beautiful salads I would be making and the diced vegetables I could put in my casserole but unfortunately we just don’t get on.  I won’t give up though, I’m determined to make this eventually work for me.

tefal fresh express max


If you own a Tefal Fresh Express Max I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, how do you find it?  Have you encountered any of the problems that I have?

*press sample




Fat Pug Breakfast – Leamington Spa

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.


fat pug coffee


Grandpa 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 Grandpa 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 Grandpa Gourmand just loves plum tomatoes with his breakfast so the Fat Pug ticked yet another of Grandpa Gourmand’s boxes.  Not everyone likes black pudding but Grandpa 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.


fat pug breakfast


I ordered the Veggie Pug breakfast (£7.00) which like Grandpa 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.


fat pug veg breakfast


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.


fat pug toast


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

Homestyle Nandos

homestyle Nandos

As a family we love Nandos but when 3 of you are eating adult sized meals with sides it can become quite expensive so to quench our desire for spicy chicken I started to experiment with spices and ingredients to recreate our favourite Nandos dishes at home.  I’ll admit that they don’t taste exactly the same, how could they? I don’t own the fancy kitchen equipment that Nandos does but both myself and the rest of the Gourmand clan seem to like my cheats Nandos and it costs a fraction of the price which is always a bonus.

I use chicken thighs to create my Nandos chicken as I find it has more flavour, the trick I think to get the authentic taste is to leave the chicken in a marinade overnight.

To make the marinade you will need:
2 red chillis
The juice of one large lemon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked Paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp mild chilli powder
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp black pepper
Pop everything into a pestle and mortar and crush to release the flavours, pop into a freezer bag with the chicken and chill overnight.
Remove the chicken from the marinade before cooking and place in an ovenproof dish, cover with foil and cook for around 15 minutes, remove the foil and continue to cook for around a further 10 minutes .
The spicy rice is really tasty but not as authentic as the Nandos version because I add sweetcorn to mine to give it a bit of crunch.
To make the rice you will need:
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped green pepper
2 spring onions sliced
1 green chilli finely diced
1/2 tin of sweetcorn
1 tbsp vegetable oil
enough cooked rice for 4 people cooked in chicken stock
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce
Tabasco sauce to taste
Fry the peppers in the oil until softened, add the green chilli and spring onion and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the sweetcorn, rice, lime juice and soy sauce and fry until the rice is cooked through.  Add the tabasco sauce to taste.
The mash is a basic mashed potato with added butter and cream to give it a creamy taste, I find it’s always better to make it in advance and heat up just before serving.

nandos_Home Style

Quorn Pizza

I love Pizza.  I love eating pizza and I love making pizza but quite often after a very busy day I really don’t have the time or energy to make pizza dough which doesn’t help me at all on the days that I really fancy a pizza.  I managed to find a great alternative to my much loved pizza which requires only 3 ingredients, on this occasion the ingredients were purchased from Tesco and can be seen below.


By using a cheese and Tomato flatbread I already have my base ready, a few slices of quorn pepperoni and mozzarella and it’s ready to bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes not the 12 that I left mine in for on this occasion.



This is the perfect quick meal that goes from fridge to table in less than 10 minutes and even the busiest of person has 10 minutes.  I’ve tried lots of different taste variations including using left over chilli, pasta sauce, chicken and sweetcorn, anchovy and olive, goats cheese and red onion and Chinese chicken and beansprouts.  You can swap the base for crumpets, muffins, wraps, naan bread or even plain bread. Who doesn’t love Pizza toast?