Cote Brasserie Leamington Spa

Cote Brasserie is the newest addition to Regent Court which is becoming Leamington’s go to place when you want a catch up with friends, cocktails or a great family meal.  We’re great fans of French food so when we had the opportunity to spend a rare child free evening chatting over a glass or two of wine accompanied by some great food we decided to spend it at Cote Brasserie.

An evening at Cote Brasserie Leamington Spa

The interior reminds me of some of the lovely little restaurants I’ve visited in Paris, simple comfortable furniture, traditional décor featuring lots of wood and mirrors, low lighting and beautiful glazed tiles.  Even though this is a chain you quickly forget this as soon as you step through the door.

Some little touches really stood out for us during our visit, for me I liked having two hooks on the back of the toilet door so you could hang a jacket or cardigan and your handbag, the toilets were spacious with good lighting which is always needed when you have a restaurant that can take a lot of covers.

The tables were spaced very well, you know they can be moved together if you’re with a large party but they are far enough apart so you’re not imposing on anyone.  If you’re celebrating a special occasion there are some lovely little booths for a more intimate dining experience.

One thing that stood out for both of us was that Cote Brasserie had one member of staff who carried the food from the kitchen to the waiting staff, placed the food down then walked away leaving the front of house member of staff to go through the dish and answer any questions.  Both Mr Gourmand and I have worked in restaurants before and we know how difficult it can be to be out front and in the kitchen, you don’t want food standing but you don’t want customers to be waiting on tables for dishes to be moved so having this member of staff who acts as a go-between is a genius idea.

The interior of Cote Brasserie Leamington Spa

The restaurant had a great atmosphere and even though it was a Monday night when we visited which is usually a quiet night there were families, work colleagues, friends and couples all enjoying a meal in this vibrant eatery.

Kir Royal at Cote Brasserie

We were given a complementary glass of Kir Royal £4.95 to drink while we perused the menu which of late has become a task taking well over 15 minutes as I’ve become incredibly indecisive when faced with a menu which has several dishes I would like to eat.

Mixed olives at Cote Brasserie

As I had ordered duck for my main course I decided to have a glass of Cotes Du Rhone £5.75 and Mr Gourmand went for the Sauvignon Blanc £5.45 to accompany his fish.  While we waited for our starters to arrive we tucked in to some of the mixed olives marinated in garlic, olive oil and herbs £2.50 which were incredibly delicious and highly recommended.  The green olives had a mild garlicky flavour to them and the black olives had the most incredible woody/earthy flavour that I’ve never tasted before.

Chicken liver parfait at Cote Brasserie

It’s probably no surprise to regular readers that my choice of starter was the Chicken liver parfait £5.95 which was served with toasted brioche and spiced apple chutney.

Chicken Liver Parfait at Cote Brasserie

I say this all the time but there is nothing worse than ordering a pate or parfait and finding you have run out of bread/toast/crackers before you have finished.  There was a really good sized portion of parfait in the glass jar and thankfully there was the perfect amount of brioche to go with it.  Having said that I would have been more than happy with the pot of parfait and a spoon on this occasion, it was so incredibly delicious that I wasn’t really happy about offering a taste to Mr Gourmand.

Mr Gourmand didn’t surprise me with his choice of starter, torn between the Boudin Noir £6.50 and the Prawn Gratinee £7.50 the Boudin Noir prevailed.

Boudin Noir at cote brasserie

Sautéed French black pudding served with caramelised apples, a frisee salad and topped with a poached egg, this was food heaven for Mr Gourmand.

Both starters were incredibly good value for money unlike some restaurants where they believe less is more (it isn’t).

Roast Duck breast with gratin potato and griotinne cherry sauce

I very rarely order duck from a menu but while we were chatting we were talking about this blog in it’s current form and I spoke about one of the first dishes I ever published which was Duck in a port and cherry sauce I remembered that it had been a long time since I’ve had duck cooked really well and couldn’t resist the opportunity to order it.

My Roast Duck breast £14.50 was served pink and accompanied by gratin potato which is one of my all time favourite ways to serve potato.  The cherry sauce worked incredibly well with the duck which was cooked to perfection.

Roast seabass with braised fennel and a champagne beurre blanc

Whenever there is fish on the menu there is an 85% chance that Mr Gourmand will order it so you can imagine my surprise when he mentioned that he quite fancied a salad. Say what? A salad? You have all of these delicious meals on the menu and you want to order a salad? Not that there is anything wrong with salad and I’m sure the salad that Cote Brasserie serves is delicious but we have salad at home 3-4 nights a week.

Thankfully Mr Gourmand saw the error of his ways and decided to order the Roast Seabass £13.95 which was served with braised fennel and a champagne beurre blanc.  Mr Gourmand isn’t the biggest fan of fennel as it’s flavour is usually very overpowering but on this occasion the flavour was just right, not too strong and went incredibly well with the fish.

Cheese board at Cote Brasserie

I’m a savoury girl and to be honest would much rather have another starter at dessert time which is a bit odd I know but that’s just how my taste buds work.  Don’t get me wrong I do like sweet puddings but I prefer to eat them hours after a main course or just have a mouthful of someone else’s dish.  After explaining to the staff about my blue cheese allergy I was presented with the most delicious looking cheese board £6.50 which was served with French bread, grapes, Reblochon and Comte cheese.  Like the starter I would have been happy to sit with a plate of Reblochon and a knife and I would have been in my element, it’s one of my favourite cheeses, so mild, creamy and nutty – Delicious.

Creme Caramel at Cote Brasserie

There was only one contender on the menu for Mr Gourmand, Crème Caramel £5.50 is his favourite and it wasn’t surprising to see that it was also the Cote Brasserie speciality dessert.  I did have a little spoonful and the dessert was spectacular, no guesses that it didn’t last long on the plate!

Pear Digestif cote brasserie

Mr Gourmand and I have been on a bit of a health kick since December and we have changed the way we eat alongside incorporating fitness into our lifestyle so we can lose weight, eating rich food like this can make you feel incredibly full very quickly so when the Manager of the restaurant Joe offered us a complementary pear digestif it was most welcomed.

Madame Gourmand

I think this picture says it all about our visit! Mouth-watering delicious.

If you’re thinking of paying the Leamington Spa branch of Cote Brasserie a visit you can find them at 3 Regent Court, Livery Street, Leamington Spa, CV32 4NG.

*Meal and drinks were complementary

Olive And Walnut Bread

We love bread in all of its forms but artisan bread that is cooked without a tin is one of our favourites.  This olive and walnut bread was made to go with a mixed tomato and mozzarella salad and boy was it good.  I’m not great at writing down my recipes as my best dishes usually come from throwing in a little bit of this and a little bit of that so you may need to slightly adjust the measurements to get something that works for you.

Olive and Walnut Bread

To make the olive and walnut bread you will need:

400g Very strong wholemeal bread flour
250g Strong white bread flour
2tbsp light muscovado sugar
100g Walnuts chopped and toasted
100 mixed olives chopped
1½tsp Salt
1 yeast sachet
3tbsp Olive oil
450ml Warm water


I used a kitchen aid mixer with dough attachment to make this bread but you could also do it by hand if you don’t have a mixer. Combine the flour, salt, rosemary and yeast in the mixing bowl.  Add the water and oil, mix on low speed until a rough dough forms. Cover with cling film and let it rest for 10 minutes.

After the dough has rested, add the chopped olives and continue to mix until it is smooth.

Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and place on a floured surface, flatten it out with your hands, and sprinkle it with the walnuts. Knead by hand until all of the walnuts are incorporated.

Rub a clean mixing bowl with olive oil, place your bread dough in, and cover with cling film until it has doubled in size.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into two equal portions. Knead each portion and form into loaves.  Place your dough balls onto an oiled baking sheet.

Allow the loaves to rise for about 1 hour; preheat the oven to 180°c.

Slash the loaves 3-4 times with a knife before putting them in the oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until well-browned and hollow sounding when you knock on the bottom. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.

Let me know if you decide to try this recipe.


Five Ways to Make Your Kitchen the Social Hub of Your Home

When the kids get older, it can be hard to keep a sense of family in your home – especially with conflicting schedules and teenage angst. I find that being a parent of both a toddler and a teenager means that life really does get in the way of you spending quality time with the ones you love even though you live in the same house. But bringing the clan together could be easier than you think…

Here are five ways to use the busiest area in the home – the kitchen – to get the family socialising together, spending some quality time.

Curry with Tilda Rice

Food, glorious food

There could be no better place to start than with food; the true focal point of the kitchen. The promise of a big, family meal is the best catalyst for getting everyone in one room. There’s also something very satisfying about everyone eating the same meal, taken from big sharing bowls in the centre of the table.

When looking for some simple meal ideas that could provide to be tasty as well as worthy of a gathering, you can find inspiration from Jamie Oliver – including a yummy veggie chilli recipe – and a great selection from Netmums that keep to a strict budget. You don’t have to spend a lot to get a family meal together, and cooking in batch can provide a selection of meals for the next week or longer if you freeze.

Cosy vs open plan

If your home has a garden or yard off the kitchen, you have the option of creating a transitioning space. Bifold doors offer the option of keeping your kitchen as a cosy haven filled with warming foods – especially good in winter – or you can open up the doors to create an open plan space where your garden and kitchen become one large area. Wrap up warm and you could have a BBQ for the family or even enjoy a small fireworks display, with enough room for extended family and friends to join in on the fun.

The ability to change up your living space is a great way to ensure that kitchen is the go-to place for the family congregating.  We have a balcony off our lounge that backs on to the kitchen window which means that in the warmer weather we can just pass dishes through the window and enjoy some alfresco dining.


Making the most of breakfast

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not make this the consistent, steady meeting time for your brood? With so many after school/work activities going on throughout the year, having a family breakfast could be the easiest option for quality family time.

Going all out with pancakes or a full English could be a little ambitious, but simply having your dining table packed full of cereals, toast and jams will be enough to entice them out of their beds and into your kitchen to fuel for the morning ahead.

And remember, time is your friend so try to prepare as much as possible in advance, especially if you fancy mixing things up a bit. This article from Buzzfeed is great for some time-saving ideas and unusual breakfast ideas.

philadelphia whipped

Gatherings to remember

It may seem as though this article is attempting to get you to bribe your children with food and fun to spend time with you, but these ideas are merely a starting point to getting everyone in one room communicating and enjoying themselves.

The fourth tip is to have regular gatherings that establish your home and your kitchen as a place to socialise and relax. You can mix it up with tea parties, garden parties, themed food nights – Mexican, French, Italian etc – or even drinks and nibbles for a cheap Saturday night in. Another great idea is to have a small buffet that leads to the main event: the dessert station. The idea of ‘make your own’ is so appealing to children and adults alike, and can be as simple as offering three or so desserts with a selection of accompaniments and toppings. A little glutinous, but definitely a crowd pleaser!

Mini Gourmand Tiramisu

Whipping up a storm

Even though we’re back to food (it is the best use of a kitchen after all), cooking, baking or learning the ropes is a great excuse to get the family together. Teach the little ones how to make cakes, or work with the older children to try out brand new recipes that excite the whole family. An afternoon in the kitchen together will provide an opportunity to make lasting memories, whether they be of burnt cupcakes or casserole triumphs!

This activity will also provide your children with the cooking skills that everyone should have when they leave home and begin feeding themselves. A few key recipes can be the difference between healthy eating and a constant dependency on the local takeaway…

*Sponsored Post

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

Grandpa 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 Grandpa 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 but will happily eat it 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