Friday 18 November 2011

Smoked Mackerel Pâté

I've made this pâté well over a hundred times during the last twenty years or so and I'm still making it!  I think it's lasting appeal has something to do with it's speed and simplicity,  not to mention the taste!

Many mackerel pâtés contain a long list of ingredients such as cream, cheese, capers, horseradish etc. but this one doesn't. I can't see the point of adding lots of other flavours to something as distinctive as smoked mackerel.  Just freshly squeezed lemon juice, some dairy free margarine and seasoning are all you need. Serve with some crispy granary baguettes or freshly made toast and a colourful salad for a fabulous lunch or starter.

I've actually never weighed the ingredients before writing the recipe today and it's always turned out fine so just use the recipe as a guide and be your own judge of flavour!

Ingredients                                                                  Serves 4

Approx. 260g Smoked Mackerel Fillets 
75g Dairy Free Margarine, such as Pure
Juice of 1 small lemon (or half a large one)
Freshly ground pepper


Remove the skin from the mackerel and any little bones that run down the middle of the fillet.  Transfer to a food processor and add about three quarters of the lemon juice and a good grinding of black pepper.

Place the margarine in a small dish, microwave for a minute or so until just melted, then add to the other ingredients.

Process until smooth. Check for taste and add more lemon juice and seasoning,  if necessary.

Turn the mixture into a serving dish or individual ramekins and use a fork to swirl the top if you like.

Chill for several hours to set.   Serve with some hot toast or warm crispy bread and salad.


Tuesday 1 November 2011

Winter Tabbouleh with Roasted Vegetables

I've always loved making tabbouleh as it's such a quick and easy salad. You may have seen the recipe I posted over the summer - with my own special ingredient!  Now that this year's tomatoes and cucumbers are coming to an end, I've been looking for ideas to make a winter version.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do! 

The basic ingredients are just like any tabbouleh i.e. bulghur wheat with a mint, parsley and lemon dressing.  To me, colour is just as important as flavour.  It's got to look good as well as taste good which is why I chose a home grown butternut squash and some freshly picked green rocket and added bright red and yellow peppers and a red onion too.  Other roasted vegetables such as aubergines or courgettes could be used instead and baby spinach leaves used in place of rocket.

Ingredients                                     Serves 4 - 6 

125g bulghur wheat
1 butternut squash
2 peppers (red and yellow)
1 red onion
A generous handful of fresh rocket
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + extra oil for roasting
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper


First put the bulghur wheat in a bowl, pour over plenty of boiling water and leave to soak for about 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.

Peel the butternut squash, then cut in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.   Cut into pieces approximately ½" (1 cm) square and place in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper. 

Mix well,  then transfer to a large baking tray.

Slice the peppers and mix in a bowl with olive oil and seasoning as before, then  spread out on the baking tray alongside the squash (or on a separate tray). 

Repeat with the red onion, then place on a separate baking tray.

Now roast the vegetables in the oven until tender, turning occasionally to ensure they are evenly cooked.  The onions and peppers will probably take about 20 to 25 minutes whilst the butternut squash will need longer, usually 35 to 40 minutes.  The vegetables should be tender but not brown and crispy.

Meanwhile make your dressing by whisking together the olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl. Then add the finely chopped parsley and mint and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. 

Drain the bulghur wheat through a sieve and press with the back of a large spoon to remove excess water.

When your bulghur wheat has drained thoroughly, place in a large bowl and stir in the dressing.   Add the roasted vegetables and mix together gently.  Check seasoning. 

Finally, just before serving,  tear up the rocket leaves and stir into the salad.

This salad can be made well in advance. I often soak the bulghur wheat,  add the dressing, then leave in the fridge till needed.  I think the flavour improves with keeping and then you can roast your vegetables sometime when you've got the oven on.