This is a secret family recipe, handed down from one generation to the next.

Or so I was led to believe by my Grandfather. But then I also believed (until I was about fifteen), that Granpy was bald because a hippo ate his hair when he was training troops during the second world war in Kenya. Pfff.

The pâté is something that reminds me terribly of him. We would often go on fishing trips and part of the picnic would be smoked mackerel sandwiches with cucumber in lovely soft granary bread. Granpy and I would fish, whilst Grannie would paint watercolours of the lakeside scenery. They would be wonderful days out, some of my best childhood memories, and I make this pâté often as it’s delicious and it reminds me of those times. It’s also a firm favourite of Molly’s now, and a great way of getting oily fish down her.

As for the recipe itself, as I got older I’d often ask Granpy how to make it, and he would say it was his secret recipe, whilst he gave me a sly sideways glance. I knew he was a joker, but I believed everything he said.

Once Granpy had passed away, I wanted to make it for myself. I mentioned this to Grannie, and asked if she knew the secret recipe – she said to look it up in Delia in the spare room… Granpy!

The Pâté

3 smoked mackerel fillets

Squeeze of half a lemon

3 tblsp soured cream

4 tblsp cottage cheese

1/3 nutmeg, grated

1 tsp creamed horseradish (I don’t always add this, but it does give the pâté more spice)


Flake the fillets from skin and into a bowl. Squeeze in the lemon, grate the nutmeg and add the cream, cheese and horseradish. Blitz with a handheld food processor, and season well. Check balance of flavours and add more lemon if needs more zing, or cream / cheese if too tart. My recipe is loosely based on Delia’s, as I tend to go on how it tastes as I make it.

I like the pâté best on hot buttered toast, with slices of cucumber. Molly likes it best straight from the bowl.

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