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Potted Poisson

October 22, 2009

Sometimes I dream up dinner party menus for dinner parties I am not going to have. It’s a good way to hold parties; the food, company and location are limited only by your imagination. The starter for my latest little soirée is something I’m particularly proud of; a delicate and refined version of a delicious mackerel pate. Not a complicated potted poisson, but the way I am serving it in The Daydream Kitchen is, I think you’ll agree, a little special.

The pate (smoked mackerel, cream cheese, yoghurt (for tang), paprika, butter, salt and pepper) is prepared in a wide, shallow dish – four centimetres thickness of pate with a clarified butter cap. To serve it, the refrigerated pate is cut with a hot knife into perfect sided cubes – somewhat more delicate than rather cliched miniature kilner jars. 

Accompanying the pate is a melba toast from seeded bread (poppy and sunflower seeds, I made it the day before to improve the toast) and a beetroot salad which thinks it’s a pickle. If you want to make it, slice shallots finely, and seep in cider vinegar. Julienne a cooked beetroot and chop plump raisins finely. Drain the shallots from the vinegar, and combine with the beet and the raisins. Add olive oil, muscavado sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and leave for an hour to let the flavours develop. 

The acidity and freshness from the shallots and vinegar help to cut through the oily richness of the fish, but the raisins and sugar soften the mouth puckering zing of cider vinegar. The mellow silk of the beetroot accompanies the smoke of the fish well, and the toast is the perfect vehicle to, and a welcome texture in, the mouth. 

And for the main course? Take your pick, I have imagined a selection: wild mushroom risotto (finished with parsley and butter), rack of lamb (served blushing pink) or a roasted squash lasagne.

More wine?

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