By slavishly following post heart attack dietary advice for over twenty years my late father ate so much smoked mackerel that he came to loath it with a passion. But then my parents always treated even the most casual advice from someone with a white coat and stethoscope as something not to be simply heeded, but rather carved in tablets of stone and set upon an altar. Ironic then that when the family recently gathered at the home the of my eldest brother, for the sole purpose of relocating our dear departed parents’ mortal remains to a dedicated area of woodland in the Lancashire hills, that I should be treated to a lunch of smoked mackerel pate.
The fraternal recipe, borrowed from a farmer neighbour, consisted of just smoked mackerel and cream cheese [with I suspect a fish to cheese ratio of c.2:1] simply blended together. And quite delicious it was too. If you want a more straightforward approach than what follows then I can highly recommend it.
For this version though I wanted to exploit the indulgent richness of the triple cream Delice de Bourgogne, and I couldn’t resist a bit more phaffing about too [as my dad would have called it!]. So the choice is yours, farmhouse or fancy. Either way it’s a piscine treat, just don’t eat it every day for decades if you don’t want to get bored…
Six to eight people will have more than enough
- 280g smoked mackerel fillets, boned, skinned and roughly flaked
- 140g Delice de Bourgogne [or similar such as Jean Grogne or Vignotte]
- 2 tbsps creamed horseradish [as heaped as you like]
- 3 tbsps soured cream
- Juice of half a lemon
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- A good grind of black pepper
To finish [optional]
- Melted butter
- Flat leaf parsley, some chopped and a few whole leaves
- A few capers or a few preserved green or pink peppercorns
- A pinch more cayenne
Remove the delicate bloomy rind from the cheese carefully with a sharp knife so as to minimise any cheese loss. I’d never bother to do this if just eating the cheese but the flavour of the outer layer isn’t what you want here. Then just tip all the pate ingredients into a food processor and give it three or four good blitz pulses. The texture is up to you – for a coarser pate blitz less, for smoother blitz more. Check the seasoning and spoon into one big dish or a number of small ramekins. Chill.
You don’t need to top this but it does look pretty and takes no time at all. Mix the chopped parsley into the melted butter and gently pour or spoon a thin layer over the pate. Add the capers or peppercorns, and press a few whole leaves of parsley artfully into the butter. Once the butter has begun to set [after just a minute or two in the fridge] sprinkle over a little more cayenne pepper. If you do this when the butter is too liquid the little red jewels will all disperse instead of sitting prettily on the top.
Serve with bread or toast, and few more capers or some cornichons or gherkins on the side.
Posted in Easy, Pescatarian, Recipe
Tagged black pepper, bread, butter, capers, cayenne pepper, cornichon, cream cheese, Delice de Bourgogne, fish pate, gherkin, green peppercorns, horseradish, Jean Grogne, lemon juice, mackerel, parsley, pate, pink peppercorns, recipe, smoked mackerel, soured cream, toast, Vignotte
Quick! The sun’s out again and there’s no telling for how long so fire up the barbecue and chill down the soup bowls. We’ll come back to the barbecue, for now it’s beetroot gazpacho time. Sweet and earthy, and resplendently purple, this makes a delicious and eye-catching summer starter. An online search for beetroot gazpacho recipes at the moment will find numerous references to Aiden Byrne’s elegant assembly of soup with avocado sorbet and vodka jelly, and if you’re looking for a full on production number do seek it out. I’ve based this on Aiden’s recipe and added some twists of my own, but it’s a simpler affair, though none the worse for the absence of the bells and whistles in my opinion.
Make no mistake, cooking with beetroot can be a messy business. Their magenta juices will attempt to leave vivid pink stains wherever they can, though these are easy enough to remove from surfaces and implements if you don’t leave them to settle in, and if you wash your hands regularly they should also escape mainly unscathed. That being said, if you’re a hand model about to shoot a commercial for De Beers you might want to wear gloves.
For four starter portions:
- 900g raw beetroot, scrubbed clean
- 1 medium apple
- 300 ml beetroot juice
- 2.5 tbsps sherry vinegar
- 1 slice of stale bread, soaked in water [not part of Aiden’s recipe, but usually found in traditional gazpacho]
- A small bunch of thyme
- The zest of half an orange and 1 tbsp of its juice OR the zest of a lime and the juice of one half
- Soured cream to serve
First take three-quarters of the beetroot and wrap in a loose foil packet with most of the thyme, reserving a few sprigs for the final garnish. Roast the foil package in a 160˚C oven for an hour and a half. Peel the remaining beetroot and the apple and grate them raw into the bowl of a food processor. Once cool peel the cooked beetroot and grate or chop into the bowl, along with any juices from the foil parcel, discarding the thyme. Tear in the bread and add the juice and zest of the orange or lime – or you could experiment here and use the juice of one and the zest of the other. Finally pour in the beetroot juice. Lid on, and blitz the whole to a smooth purée. Now pass the purée through a fine sieve, pushing through with the back of a spoon or ladle.
Start adding salt and tasting as you go, until you feel you have almost added a touch too much salt. No add the sherry vinegar, and a sprinkle of sugar – the acidity and sweetness should balance out the saltiness. Chill for a few at least two hours, more will do no harm.
To serve pour the gazpacho into chilled soup bowls, dot with soured cream and sprinkle with thyme leaves.
If you have more beetroot juice than you need freeze some in ice-cube trays and add two or three to each bowl of soup. If you’re really looking to make a splash, and have the time and freezer space to spare, you could even serve this in ice bowls – but they are a post for another day.
Posted in Recipe, Vegan, Vegetarian [or Vegetarian Version]
Tagged apple, beetroot, gazpacho, lime, orange, purple food, recipe, sherry vinegar, soup, soured cream, thyme