Grandma Syrett’s New England Oyster Stuffing (as made by her son’s step god-daughter Rosy).


Our dear friend Rosy is a gifted writer and blogger and has years of experience inviting hordes of people to massive Thanksgiving meals. One mainstay is her now-famed oyster stuffing. Despite the name, the stuffing is not actually cooked inside the chicken or turkey, but is prepared in a pan and then baked in the oven alongside of it.  I have been agitating for some time for Rosy to share her recipe, because if you are not a vegetarian, this is truly one of the most extraordinary and unexpected dishes that you will come across. Combining smoked oysters, bacon and cream with rice does not sound like it will result in anything so heavenly. But the flavours come together in a way that is outstanding.

Rosy did not host a Thanksgiving meal this year but very kindly agreed to share her recipe with the Gustos this week. This can be served on it’s own with a salad, or alongside a roast.

Oyster stuffing
1 onion diced
1 or 2 garlic cloves,  diced
1 tin oysters john west in sunflower oil
I tablespoon Sunflower or canola oil.
Half pack lardons or six slices streaky bacon chopped into chunks
1 cup cooked white rice. (ready cook instant rice works well)
1 good handful of chopped flat leaf parsley.
3 tablespoons double or single cream

Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Sauté garlic and onions in oil
Add lardons when onions softened
Add lots of cracked black pepper
Cook lardons until cooked through but are still pink.
Add the cooked rice

Stir mixture through the pan so that the oil coats the mixture lightly.
Open tin of oysters and put all the oysters and the oil into the mix. Leave the upturned tin on the top so all the oil can drip out. Keep stirring the mixture lightly so it does not stick.
Drink wine
Put half the bunch of chopped parsley into the mix
Add cream
Call coronary specialist
Stir through
Taste again
No, put the spoon away now
Season with more black pepper
Put the cream away into the fridge as you will need it for the pumpkin pie
Place mixture into an oven proof dish

This will take about 20 minutes in the oven until is lightly browned on top.

Then serve with turkey or chicken or just with a side salad
Drink more wine





This is even better the next day. Newbies to Rosy’s feasts tend to be unaware of just how good this stuffing is, and so bypass it. All the more for us.


Fiakergulasch- Viennese Cab-Driver’s Stew


A rare departure from our predominately vegetarian diet. Husband-Gusto offered to cook a nostalgic favourite at the weekend. The weather has turned wintry again and it is cold, windy and wet. Fiakergulasch was a favourite meal back in the days before Baby-Gusto was born and we tried to spend a few days in Vienna before Christmas each year. Glorious Vienna.  The Christmas lights, the Christmas markets. The gluh-wein and the rum-punch. Hot roasted chestnuts.  I believe the word ‘Fiaker’ is the word for the horse-drawn hackney cabs that have operated in Vienna since the 1600s and Fiakergulasch is a dish reputedly beloved of their drivers. Whatever the reason behind the name, this is a delicious stew. Perfect with a glass of red or a very great deal of beer. The stew is traditionally served with a fried egg,pickled gherkins and a frankfurter.


1 kg diced beef

1 kg onions thinly sliced

1crushed garlic clove

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1tablespoon white vinegar

4 cups hot beef stock

2 level teaspoons mixed herbs

1 teaspoon ground caraway

1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste

1 egg per person

1 frankfurter per person

1-2 pickled gherkins or cucumbers perperson

Cook onions in the olive oil on the hob. Add paprika, vinegar and beef stock. Add beef and herbs. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 90 minutes.Keep checking that the stock is not boiling off, add more if you need.  After 90 minutes, uncover, add tomato paste and simmer on a very low heat for another 20 minutes or so. Add salt pepper to taste.

Serve topped by the fried egg with the gherkin and cooked frankfurter on the side. Boiled potato dumplings round off this meal beautifully.

Christmas leftover vegetables- Parsnips and Garlic


I did not feel very inspired about this soup as I am not a big fan of parsnips, but the taste ended up being absolutely incredible. Rich, velvety, slightly sweet. My frugal soul did not want to waste anything leftover, but this will be a soup that in future I will make by choice.

Parsnip and Roasted garlic soup.

2 large parsnips, peeled and sliced lengthways

2 large ribs of celery diced

1 medium onion diced

1 whole bulb of garlic

2 medium potatoes peeled and diced

olive oil

vegetable stock.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Put the sliced parsnips and the entire unpeeled bulb of garlic onto a baking tray and cook for 45 minutes, taking care not to burn the parsnips. Dice and the other vegetables and saute over a low heat in the olive oil.

When the 45 minutes are done, put the parsnips into the soup and cut the bulb of garlic in half lengthways. When cool, press the roasted garlic out of their skins into the soup. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, cool and blend, adding more water if necessary and salt and pepper to taste. This was delicious with a dollop of creme fraiche on the top.


Christmas Leftover Vegetables- Beetroot





Finely chop an onion and a clove of garlic and sautee in olive oil. Add 4 raw grated beetroot. Add a finely diced carrot, one grated potato and vegetable stock. Squeeze in the juice of one lemon and simmer slowly for an hour or more. The lemon will make the colour stay a vibrant red. When ready to eat (always better the day after making) serve with a spoonful of sour cream and chopped parsley or dill.




Although I am pining already for summer, the cooler weather has given me a great excuse to cook soup.

There is no set recipe for the classic Italian soup, Minestrone. Traditionally whatever vegetables were in season were used. Some recipes I have read include beans or rice. Others include cubes of beef. This is my recipe based on what I had to hand and what vegetables needed to be used up.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion diced

1 large carrot chopped

2 little courgettes diced

1 leek

Tin plum tomatoes

1 box passata

3 cubes vegetable stock

1 tablespoon mixed herbs (oregano, thyme, basil)

2 cups spirelli pasta


I find it is best to add the pasta 10 minutes before eating otherwise the spirals go too soggy. If eating the soup over several days leave the pasta out of the main pot and add when re-heating.

Is there are a nicer instruction in the cooking world than ‘Parsley. Sprinkled’. ?


Roasted Vegetable Soup with Cashew Cream


It is hard to believe that just two weeks ago we were at the beach and enjoying the sun and sand.

Autumn is on its way, and this morning was crisp, sunny and cold. Perfect  for dog-walking in the forest.


After a lovely walk, roasted vegetable soup with cashew cream fit the bill for lunch. Whenever I make a roast, I always put in extra vegetables and use the leftovers to make a rich, velvety soup. On Friday however I roasted vegetables with no other aim in mind but soup. I sprinkled potatoes, sweet potato, carrots and butternut squash with olive oil and chilli flakes and roasted in the oven at 200 for an hour. The vegetables were then added to a saucepan with sauteed onions and celery and simmered, then blended.


For the cashew cream I blended 3 cups of cashews with a good squeeze of lemon juice, enough water to make a creamy paste and salt to taste. This was lovely dolloped on the roast vegetable soup, and stored in a jar will keep for a few days in the fridge.

The summer this year was glorious, but Autumn definitely has its charms.


Red Lentil and spinach dahl and coconut rice


Red lentil dahl

1 cup red lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 finely chopped onion

1 clove garlic crushed

1 knob fresh ginger grated

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 litre vegetable stock (may need more as the dahl cooks)

I bag fresh spinach

(I added a chopped carrot that needed using also).

fresh lemon juice

fresh chopped coriander

sautee the onion, garlic and ginger in olive oil. When soft, add spices and stir, add lentils and vegetable stock and simmer until mushy. Add entire bag of spinach and heat through until spinach is wilted. This is best made in the morning or the day before so the flavours can meld. Before serving, squeeze juice of one lemon over.


Coconut rice

two cups cooked rice

1/2 finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon madras curry powder

1/2 tin of chickpeas

1/3 tin light coconut milk

saute onion in olive oil. Add curry powder, cooked rice, chickpeas and stir until warm. Add light coconut  milk and heat gently. Serve!


We ate this with yoghurt, mango chutney and poppadums. It was delicious!