Drinks Party!

The recent months have been pretty busy Chez Gusto. I have been retraining which involved returning to University. Baby-G is growing and started Junior school. And then I returned to the world of full-time work. So all in all we have shamefully neglected our hospitality and entertaining skills and have not hosted any of our friends for quite some time.

In early January we decided to host a very small drinks party. We invited just a few friends…. enough that we knew we could fit around the fire on a cold dreary January afternoon.

Husband-Gusto suggested making the affair even easier by buying ready made canapes. But I decided to do a mix and match and bought some ready-made an others I made myself. Pottering in the kitchen making fiddly bite-sized edibles is definitely my idea of fun! The above was the laden table. It was nice to keep some of our Christmas decorations for a while longer!

These were simple tortilla wraps. The non-vegetarian version I spread tortillas with cream cheese, layered smoked salmon drizzled with lemon and then cut into finger-sized pieces. The vegetarian version was cream cheese layered with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil.

This was a pre-made potato spanish omelette that I cut into handy cubes.

Italian and German salami platter

Easy skewers. feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and a basil pesto dipping sauce (take a jar of basil pesto and add a bit of olive oil).

This is, in my opinion, the best branded hummus available. Sabra (and they do an amazing Baba Ghanoush also).

Finished off with a great hunk of Stilton and fruit.

It was a lovely afternoon. So nice to host our friends and very relaxing. We decided we definitely have to have a small drinks gathering again in the very near future!



This was a funny weekend where I started various blog posts in my head and never finished them. On Sunday I made a peach compote (above) using gorgeous-looking but rock hard peaches. After simmering in butter, a splash of water and a dash of sugar for a while it made a lovely topping to breakfast cereal.

Baby-G and I also made chocolate chip cookies. They turned out flat and very light, and we ate them all before pictures were taken. Baby-G has never really expressed an interest in cooking (or eating for that matter) and so we have not done alot of cooking together. But he was distraught to have missed out on an after-school cooking club and so he and I decided we will cook together and the choices will be his. He chose cookies and crumble for his first foray. We went bramble-picking among the hedgerows on Sunday and bramble crumble is on the agenda for this week.

Out for dinner at the ever-good Coast. I like this place more and more and we had a delicious meal.

Sea bass and vegetables

Mushroom and blue cheese linguine






Sunday Supper- Baked eggs and spinach

This was a perfect Sunday supper. The entire meal took about 15 minutes and most of that was spent waiting for the half-baked bread rolls to cook while flicking through magazines and listening to The Archers on Radio 4.

I heated up some oil in a frying pan and tipped in a whole bag of fresh spinach.

Wilted this down on a medium heat. Then added single cream, grated nutmeg and simmered until a nice gloopy mess. Cracked two eggs and cooked through, added a handful of grated cheddar cheese and served with warm rolls.

B-G had eggs with beans as spinach is slightly too strong a flavour for him.

Christmas2016 – Getting hygge with it


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!