Thursday, 31 May 2012


There are times when you want something light but comfortingly familiar to have as a starter, particularly on a Sunday when there is a large lump of roast beef coming up as the main course. At times like this I either make a prawn cocktail (and I make no apologies for that) or this - smoked mackerel pate. It's beautifully flavoured but has a light texture so you are left hungry for more food. The addition of horseradish is a classic one and I can lay no claims for this being an innovatory ground breaking recipe - but it's delicious.

I serve it with homemade Melba toast which is crispy and a perfect contrast to the creaminess of the pate. Making Melba toast is quite easy, I always use packaged sliced white bread (we always called it 'plastic bread' when I was growing up). Toast the slice of bread until golden brown, cut the crusts off and slice it in two horizontally ( so that one side is toasted and the other side isn't). Heat up the grill, lay the toast white side up and brown - keep an eagle eye on it as it burns very easily. In my family four bits are required (i.e. two slices of bread).

Serves 4

250g smoked mackerel
125g cream cheese (you can use low fat if you wish)
2 tsp. horseradish - I use English Provender horseradish - it's 83% freshly grated horseradish whereas most sauces are around the 35% mark
Lemon juice to taste
Black pepper

Lemon wedges
Olive oil

Put the mackerel, cream cheese, horseradish and the juice of half a lemon in a food processor and blend.  Taste and add more horseradish, lemon juice, black pepper to taste.

Shape into nice little egg shapes (the cheffy word is quenelles), and serve with sliced cornichons, capers, chopped chives and a tiny dribble of olive.  And lots of Melba Toast!!

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