Smoked mackerel pate


I am feeling in a lazy and self-indulgent mood today so made smoked mackerel pate with melba toast and a crunchy peppery green salad. The recipe is basically from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Express’ cookbook, but she has it as smoked trout pate. Baby-Gusto calls Nigella; ‘Mama Gella’. That is how his toddler head first understood Nigella to be. I did however include 200 gm of light cream cheese instead of the 50 gm Nigella recommends and also added a large knob of melted butter so the thing would set in the fridge.

I skinned and flaked two smoked mackerel fillets. Added 200 gm cream cheese, the juice of half a lemon, a tablespoon of creamed horseradish, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a little bit of water to loosen and lots of cracked black pepper. I blended, added melted butter (about 2 tablespoons worth) then chilled in the fridge for several hours. I served this with toast and a mixed green salad made up of baby rocket and watercress leaves. The most difficult thing about making this pate is washing up afterwards

I also do this with a poached salmon fillet, and if having dinner parties line ramekins with smoked salmon before pouring in the mixture. In order to set though you need quite alot of melted butter. Husband-Gusto finds the addition of smoked salmon in the ramekins too rich for his taste so for him I slice cucumber very very thinly, lightly salt it and use that for lining the ramekins.

Baby-Gusto, my budding food blogger took this photo of his dinner. Bacon and egg pasta with sweet corn on the side.


Finally- it appears that summer is well and truly over and winter is on it’s way. This photo was taken mid-morning out of our bedroom window earlier this week.



Easy Red Pepper pesto. (Vegan)


I was feeling a bit lazy today so whipped up the easiest pesto. I just roasted two red peppers (bell peppers, or red capsicum) in the oven with two cloves of garlic and a bit of olive oil. I added this to a blender, a pack of raw unsalted cashews, a tablespoon of olive oil and a third of a jar of sundried tomatoes in their oil. A bit of water to loosen the mixture and blitz and bingo- easy peasy pesto.

Gorgeous, but gorgeous over pasta, but also as a dip for breadsticks or crudites.

Red lentil pasta


I was interested in this pasta made from red lentil flour. It is gluten free and I thought it might be a good way to get new sources of nutrients into B-G. I simply made up a pasta sauce with onions, celery, chopped tomatoes and courgette. The pasta had a different texture to wheat pasta -slightly more robust and with more bite.  I would most likely pair it with spicy rather than subtle sauces, like a good punchy puttanesca.



Vegan MoFo Day 3 – Quick, easy and delicious. Pasta Puttanesca


Usually Pasta Puttanesca has anchovies in it, but this vegan version just has garlic, diced tomatoes, chilli flakes,  black olives and capers. The most difficult thing about it is opening a few jars (I used Very Lazy Garlic), and waiting for the pasta to boil. Yum.

Today’s link to another vegan blogger. Kittens Gone Lentil.

Red Pepper and Walnut pesto


I have started asking Baby-Gusto to look through my cookbooks and to choose what he would like for dinner in an attempt to get him interested in food and cooking.  So far this week we have had BBQ tofu skewers and mushroom pot pies. Today he chose spaghetti with ‘red sauce’. The sauce in question was a red pepper pesto. I adapted it to our tastes and omitted the parmesan cheese. Simply take a jar of marinated sweet red roasted peppers. Blend with half a cup of olive oil, a fresh raw garlic clove, a teaspoon of salt and 200 grams of walnuts. I also added a quick squitz of maple syrup (about two teaspoons) as the red peppers I chose were marinated in brine. Blend until smooth and leave for several hours for the flavours to develop. This was great with spaghetti but in the subsequent days I also used it as a delicious sandwich spread or lavishly smeared over crusty white bread with olives. Mmmmmm….. simple, so so so good.

Gnocchi Liguria



Some years ago I shared a flat with an Italian girl. The mix of introvert (me) and extrovert (her) meant that our household could be a little volatile, but by heck that girl could cook. She specialised in simple, pure classic Italian dishes that were simply out of this world. I learned from her how to make such delights as mushroom risotto, risotto with radicchio, and last night’s gorgeous supper dish, Gnocchi Liguria.

This is a perfect meal for when you do not have alot of time, or when you are feeling particularly tired. It cooks in approximately 8 minutes and all you need do is open a jar, a packet and boil some water.  Simply boil gnocchi according to packet instructions, add cooked green beans and basil pesto and scatter with pine nuts. Serve with salad. Sacla is my favourite maker of commercial pestos. They do both a vegetarian pesto (using vegetarian hard cheese) and a vegan version without any cheese.

In order to be truly authentic, any pasta with Liguria sauce ought to include boiled potatoes. I can never quite handle the double serving of carbs, so omitting them makes a lighter slightly fresher dish in my opinion.

Cherry tomato and walnut pasta


This is a really quick and easy pasta sauce that despite it’s simplicity tastes wonderful. While the pasta is boiling, put two tablespoons of olive oil into a warm shallow pan. Add 1 crushed garlic clove, being careful to not let the garlic burn. When the garlic is a pale golden colour, turn the heat off and add a couple of handfuls of walnuts just so the walnuts become warm. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the pan. Toss halved raw cherry tomatos, salt and pepper to taste and stir through.

A lovely, quick mid-week dish.