Butternut squash and honeyed walnut tart.

This was a dish that came about when I had a session of rummaging through the fridge to see what needed to be used up.

I had shortcrust pastry leftover from christmas. (Originally an onion tart). And butternut squash that I had forgotten about almost entirely and some boursin cheese and walnuts.

First I diced the squash into small pieces and roasted them in the oven until tender. I blind baked the pastry for about 8 minutes. Then sliced the boursin cheese ontothe pastry and topped with the squash. Cooked in the oven at about 180 degrees for 20 minutes. While this was cooking I put a small amount of olive oil in a pan and on a very low heat cooked the walnuts. Once they get a bit black they taste very bitter so the aim was to warm them through without burning. Towards the end of the cooking time I added a teaspoon of honey and coated the walnuts innthe honey olive oil mixture. When the tart was cooked I topped it with the walnuts and honey mixture and then added a further drizzle of honey over the entire tart.

This was (according to Husband-G) absolutely delicious. It was incredibly rich though so he ate about 75% of it and left the remainder for the next day. I was really pleased with this. It was really simple and certainly fancy enough for a dinner party vegetarian main or as a small tartlet starter.

Christmas2016 – Getting hygge with it

A look back at Christmases past…… 2016.


If you do not live in Great Britain, you may be (sadly) missing out on the ‘hygge’ craze. Hygge is apparently a Danish word, pronounced ‘Huh Gah’ (Or something like that).  It is generally described as ‘coziness’.An entire industy has sprung up to sell the concept of Scandinavian style and contentment (and fuzzy socks) to the Brits, but at its essence hygge seems to mean promoting a feeling of contentment with life. Fostering family, friends, and living well.

I am all for living well.  I tend to think that as life can often be difficult, stressful or uncomfortable, taking a conscious decision to celebrate anything- big or small – can only be a good thing.  If that means sitting in a cozy chair covered by a blanket while knitting and calling out tv quiz answers while Baby-Gusto plays board games then that is a good day. If it means getting together family and friends for Christmas drinks then even better. It is about celebrating – no, relishing- the small.

Christmas has to be the ultimate in hygge. In it’s best incarnation Christmas is about spending time with loved ones.

This week this is what I have celebrated.

This simple, gorgeous Christmas wreath. Not my house or door, but one in the Old Town of Cowes. I love the pale, pure, icy feel to this wreath.


Studying with candles. I am a sucker for candlelight, and lamps. We DO have overhead lights, but thankfully both H-G and I are big believers in diffusing the light by having chandeliers. When we first were married some 9 years ago we went a little overboard buying chandeliers from ebay. We still have more chandeliers than rooms- I joke that every decent bathroom needs a chandelier. Actually, that’s not a joke.


Clearing the junk from the hall table, and finally finding a place for the gilt mirror that H-G was a bit [hmm] about.


Christmas days out with the family.


Why have one wreath at the door when you can have 3?


My dog snuggled on her favourite chair is definitely hygge.


Christmas Eve dinner of baked ham, potato dauphinoise, peas and cranberry jelly.


Putting out on the mantlepiece the mince pie and sloe gin for Santa and a carrot for the reindeers.


Christmas day meal of roasted goose, apple sauce, roasted vegetables, bread sauce and gravy


Boxing day cosy dining room


Boxing day light lunch of cheeses (brie and stilton), apples, pears, walnuts, cucumber, tomato and crusty bread



This is our first ever crop of home-grown walnuts.


Followed by a good book in front of the fire.


Merry Christmas everyone!



Thursday suppers

A starter of diced cucumber, sour cream and fresh mint for H-G and I. Plain cucumber and cherry tomatos for Baby-G.

Pasta with tuna and peas.

Red Leicester cheese with crackers, apricots, grapes and a turkish delight for us. Crackers, cheese dip with breadsticks, turkish delight and sliced apple for B-G.

Six serves fruit and veg for the younger member of the household. [punches air]

All British, All The Time – Toad in the hole (vegetarian version)

This was excellent. Toad in the Hole is a classic English dish and yet is one I rarely to never make. It is simply sausages baked in yorkshire pudding batter. Bliss.

I made this today with vegetarian sausages. This meant that the total cooking time may well have been shorter than would be desirable with meat sausages and so I would recommend keeping a close eye on your sausages when you cook it. There are a plethora of recipes online and I expect Mary Berry’s recipe for a meat version(see link at the end of the post) would be as close to perfect as possible.

We have never tried these vegetarian sausages before. Husband-G is not a huge fan of mock meats, but these were very tasty. They certainly worked really well in my Toad in the Hole.

The first step was to put the frozen sausages and about 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pyrex dish. Cook in the oven at 200 degrees celsius for 15 minutes.

While this was cooking I made the yorkshire pudding batter. 100 gm strong white flour; 2 eggs and 150 ml of milk whisked together.

Then pour the batter over the sizzling hot sausages and oil and return the tray to the oven. The key to crispy fluffy and light batter is that the oil must be absolutely hot.

I then cooked this for around 25 minutes and it came out like this;

Served with buttered cabbage; sweet corn; peas; dijon mustard and some apple sauce (just because I like apple sauce with anything roasted in the oven). I also made a super easy onion gravy. Sautee onions, add water, a tablespoon of flour and some vegetable stock. Stir until the gravy is smooth and then I added a spoon of fig jam for a slighty sweetness. I would have also added a splash of soy sauce which would have deepened the gravy colouring, but the soy sauce was upstairs and that was literally a step too far. (14 steps to be exact).

This was a delicious meal. Everyone enjoyed it. Baby-G really liked the vegetarian sausages. He said they tasted quite meaty, but were not greasy and fatty like regular sausages which pretty much summed the situation up perfectly. So a win and a meal to repeat sooner rather than later.

Start of the week supper.

I have found myself with slightly more time this week, yet still wished to use up store cupboard goods and the vegetables that are at risk of going manky in the fridge. In addition I am attempting (yet again) to get more vegetables into the child of the family who is resistant at best.

On Monday we had a starter that I made up on the hoof and was surprisingly tasty. Shredded carrots, with green olives, pumpkin seeds and a dressing made of olive oil, grainy mustard and balsamic. Baby-G loves carrots but prefers them both raw and plain so this was his starter which he wolfed down.

I consoled myself with the thought that a grated carrot starter (albeit with a vinaigrette dressing) is apparently standard and respectable fare for the French.

The small one then had a beef burger with sweet corn and potato croquettes which he largely rejected despite apparently liking them only weeks ago. Now I need to figure out what to do with the leftover potato croquettes, although a deconstructed version of colcannon may well be on the agenda….

We had an easy shakshuka. I love this dish as it requires very few ingredients (although there are some pretty awesome more complicated versions out there) and for today’s version I just sauteed onions, green peppers, some dried chilli flakes and a tin of chopped tomatoes. I made this in the morning so the flavours could meld and then it was a simple matter to poach the eggs in the sauce before serving.

Then cheese and fruit to finish with some Greek yoghurt for Baby-G who loves it. The cheeses of the day were again cambenzola and a cream cheese with apricots and almonds. Baby-G had spreadable plastic cheese which I also secretly adore.

As I am a doting Mater Famiilias (or else just a sad person without hobbies) it amuses me to count up the serves of fruits and vegetables in any given meal. Four serves for Baby-G assauges my concerns about what he is buying for himself in the school canteen (sausage rolls and oreo cookies).

Saturday simple

Saturday was all about using up what we had in the fridge, the freezer and the cupboards. An easy starter of sliced tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and walnuts. Baby-G had sliced tomatoes with a tiny bit of salt as he is not the biggest walnut fan. Then a main of French onion soup with (slightly blackened around the edges) cheesy toast for the Husband and I and battered chicken fillets with sweet corn and bread and butter for Baby-G.

Baby-Gusto was slightly horrifed at the dollop of mayonnaise next to his chicken but that was the only thing he left on the plate which made for a nice change.

This was then followed by crackers with cheese (cheddar for Baby-G and cambonzola for us) and grapes, apples and natural yoghurt.

I was pleased with how this meal went down. Everyone ate everything (even Baby-G who also had a chocolate mini muffin as well) and that has to be a win. We chatted for a while about school returning after the half term and all in all it was a quiet and happy evening.

Dorchester vegetarian

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Dorchester vegetarian

A delicious bruschetta with fresh tomatos and basil from Pizza Express. This was really lovely. Packed with flavour and freshness.

A vegan mushroom and root vegetable pie with a sage and onion pastry at The Junction.


This was a really lovely pub and hotel. The people were unfailingly cheerful and friendly and the atmosphere was good. Plus a pub that produces a decent vegan, never mind vegetarian dish is to be applauded. The pie was filled with taste and it was possible to identify the component vegetable parts. I shall recreate this at home for Husband-G sooner rather than later I think.

Dorchester – Half term trip

A short trip to Dorchester for the half term. We are still not prepared to travel abroad due to Covid so Baby-G and I are continuining on with our trips around the UK.

After arriving in the afternoon we had lunch at Zizzi. Baby-G’s requirements for a lunch location were that they had pizza. Mine was only that they did not ONLY have pizza.

Zizzi had a really nice childrens menu that was very good value. Starters of vegetable sticks, then pizza or pasta then ice cream or fruit salad followed by a chococino. Baby-G (I should start calling him Tweenie-G) could not even manage pudding or the chococino. They also had a very cheap option for ‘tiny tummies’

Just £3.00 and I thought this concept was inspired.

I did not want a large meal for lunch so I chose their ‘avo caesar’. It was excellent. Baby gem lettuce, kale, tomoatos, balsamic, marinated artichokes, avocado and nigella seeds. Most satisfying and large enough that I could not actually finish it.

This ticked all the boxes. Zizzi is a chain but they do what they do really well. The location (In Brewery Square) was attractive and the service was excellent.