With the end of Week Two of temporary ‘lockdown’ fast approaching, we are starting to get the hang of it. This week we should have been in Warwickshire and had planned to meet some friends for lunch – instead we had afternoon coffee and buns and a surprisingly satisfactory chat via Zoom.
At the beginning of the week, some of our more tech-savvy neighbours from Kaş set up a Zoom meeting for a whole crowd of us who are stranded in various places around the world – we all brought our own drinks to the party and didn’t let the fact that we were thousands of miles from each other stop us talking our usual nonsense for two hours. At this rate, I may never have to leave the house again, though of course we all had to get our lippy on for our ‘evening out’, which is probably a good thing, as it’s quite tempting not to get dressed some days.
The weather has been really kind to us and we are getting out for a good walk every day, watching the buzzards nesting and trying to socially distance from inquisitive dogs that we meet en route (which is not going quite so well of course).
I now have so much flour that I won’t have to buy any for months – I had ordered some online, but received a message that it wouldn’t be with me for four to six weeks, so in desperation I ordered some masa harina and durum wheat flour, which was all I could get. I then found plain flour in the village shop and some rye flour in Waitrose. Now the other stuff has arrived this morning, many weeks earlier than promised, so I feel like I have unintentionally stockpiled. I am assuaging my guilt by baking some bread for other people.
Anyway, to business. On a whim last week, I bought some smoked mackerel fillets, then couldn’t decide what to do with them. I made this paté, which is very simple to throw together, and goes really well with cucumber which has been briefly pickled. I had made a rye version of my 33p sourdough, which was perfect with the paté. If you want to try the rye version of the sourdough, simply replace 25% of the flour with rye flour and add a tablespoon of malt extract, black treacle, maple syrup or honey (or pekmez if you are in Turkey). Failing any of those, a tablespoon of brown sugar and a tiny bit of extra water would do the job.
We had a little of the paté left over, so the next day we had it spread on toast, scattered with cheese, then grilled – a kind of fishy rarebit affair, which I can highly recommend.
If you have stockpiled canned fish, this paté could also be made with drained canned tuna, salmon or sardines.
Smoked mackerel paté with quick-pickled cucumber
40g soft butter
1 tablespoon very-finely-chopped red onion
1 – 2 tablespoons chopped capers (if using nonpareil capers, you can leave them whole)
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 teaspoons horseradish sauce (or to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or a mix of parsley and dill)
200g smoked mackerel fillets (or approx equivalent of drained canned tuna, salmon or sardines)
Zest of 1 lemon, plus the juice of half of the lemon
1 tablespoon double cream, sour cream or crème fraiche
For the cucumber:
Approx one quarter of a cucumber, halved lengthways, then sliced into half moons
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar (or you can use rice vinegar if you prefer)
Chopped dill to serve (optional – I didn’t have any!)
For the cucumber:
Put the cucumber half-moon slices into a small strainer and sprinkle over the salt. Place the strainer over a bowl or jug to catch the drips, and leave for 15 – 20 minutes (I usually just leave mine to drip while I am faffing about making the paté).
Tip the cucumber (no need to rinse) into a serving bowl and stir in the sugar, vinegar, and dill if using. Serve with the paté.
For the paté:
Put the soft butter in a small mixing bowl with the onion, capers, pepper, horseradish and parsley, then mix with a fork until well combined.
Pull off the skin from the smoked mackerel, then flake the fish into the bowl with the butter mixture. Add the lemon zest and juice, and the cream, then mix until the paté is the texture that you like – I use a fork for mixing, then you can kind of mash the mixture a little if you wish, though you do want to retain some texture. Scrape the pate into a serving dish, and serve the rest of the lemon alongside, so that people can add more if they wish.