Fish stew

I made this up on the hoof. It was a dark and stormy night, we were back late from school and although I wanted to cook something fast, I wanted it to be a bit special for our weekend guests. A thick, warming fish stew seemed to fit the bill. Served with crusty bread and butter.

I sliced 1 medium brown onion, crushed two garlic cloves and sliced 2 sticks of celery. Added these to a thick casserole dish with a bit of olive oil and sauteed. I then added small diced potato (about two large baking potatoes, a tablespoon of mixed herbs,a tin of chopped tomatoes and a jar of herb pasta sauce. I simmered all this on low for about 30 minutes.

When the veg were all cooked through, I added 2 filets of salmon I had diced into cubes, 3 filets of cod, a pack of frozen prawns and some mussels I found pre-cooked and vacuum-packed at Aldi. I heated this all through until the fish was cooked, and served.

It was LOVELY. And I am planning to repeat it very soon.

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.


Fridge Freezer February- Prawns


Potted Shrimp

2 oz butter

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

100 gm prawns… cut into small pieces

salt and pepper

Melt the butter, add prawns, cayenne and nutmeg and stir until all covered with butter. Pop into ramekins, top with remaining melted butter and chill.

Serve with toast or bread and a squeeze of lemon.


I am not so sure about this. I could almost feel my arteries harden with each mouthful. It was tasty, and will develop nicely in the fridge though. I am a big fan of fish terrines and pates however so next time I will use less butter and add cream cheese and lemon. It will be less traditional, but very tasty.

Fridge Freezer February- Seafood Selection

Seafood selection 001

This is one of my favourite meals from childhood. My mother cooked the seafood mix either curried and over rice, or as stuffed pancakes. I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that the recipe probably originally came from a cookbook dating from the 1970’s.

This is really simple. Sautee half a finely diced onion (and celery if you have it) until soft. Then make a simple white sauce and add a tablespoon of mild curry powder. Don’t worry if adding the powder makes the sauce lumpy- that is what sieves were invented for.

Turn the sauce off the heat and add frozen seafood and leave.

Seafood selection 002

The seafood will defrost slowly. Then when ready to cook, heat, and serve over rice.


I really love this dish. Pure comfort food from home.

Seafood risotto


My idea of bliss is to stand at the stove stirring a risotto or a roux with a glass of wine in my hand listening to the radio. Due to regular day to day busy-ness, we have been eating haphazard meals, and cheese on toast and mystery meals dragged out of the freezer and so today when I dragged a packet of frozen seafoood mix out I immediately thought ‘seafood risotto’ and was delighted to give myself the chance to take a break.

The bonus is that Baby-Gusto loves prawns and squid so I knew that I could indulge myself, while making a meal that we all love.

This meal would be better made with fish stock, but we did not have any so I used vegetable stock instead.


2 cups risotto rice

half a medium onion finely diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 knob of butter

vegetable stock- made up in a litre of boiling water and a cup of white wine

1 pack mixed seafood. (The one we got was heavy on squid and light on prawns so i added half a pack of king prawns as well).

1 large fresh tomato diced small

fresh parsley

I suspect everyone does risotto slightly differently- I have even witnessed people make – perfectly edible- risottos [risotti?] by the absorption method! I do not have the courage to leave it like that, as I do not trust my timing, so I employ the ‘stand and stir constantly’ method. I just add the oil and butter to the pan, add onion and cook until translucent. Then add the rice and stir so that all the grains are covered by the butter and oil. Then I slowly add a ladle of stock at a time, and keep stirring until it is absorbed and continue in that vein. Near the end of the cooking I stir through the (defrosted) seafood so that it is warm. Once it is all ready I toss the diced fresh tomato through it, scatter with parsley and serve.

This is much better with proper seafood stock. Some time ago H-Gusto proudly bore home from Lidls a pack of frozen lobster – 2 for £5. The lobster themselves were not that great, poor things, but we boiled up the shells and reduced that mixture down to a very concentrated half a cup. The resulting risotto we had using that was one of the best things I have ever tasted. I am sure the same effect could result from prawn shells. 

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*** Oh and yes, I still have to buy myself a new camera.