Smoked mackerel pate on crostini and red onion confit (Serves 6)

Christmas can be a stressful and an expensive time of year when it comes to having the family round for Christmas dinner (not to mention what to feed them on Boxing Day as well). I've created a menu which is slightly alternative to the traditional Christmas dinner whilst still creating a truly great meal the family will enjoy. I'm fed up of turkey, trying to squeeze a big expensive bird into a domestic oven only to achieve dry breast meat as the legs take longer to cook! And do you really want to get up at 8am to get started on the cooking?

So over the next 3 weeks I'll be showing you a starter, a main, a dessert and what to do with the leftovers for a family of six all for £7.49 per person and some of it can be prepared in advance. This week the starter...

Smoked mackerel pate on crostini and red onion confit (Serves 6, total cost £6.85 - £1.14 per person)


  • 600g of smoked mackerel (£4.48)
  • 5 large red onions (84p)
  • 1 lemon (23p)
  • 300ml of crème fraiche (93p)
  • 1 fresh baguette (37p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, horseradish sauce and red wine vinegar.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco, where it came to £6.85 - that's £1.14 per head!


  • The pate can be prepared on Christmas Eve. Start by flaking the mackerel into a large bowl (discarding the skin and watch out for the bones!). Now mix in the crème fraiche, the juice of half a lemon, two teaspoons of horseradish sauce and season with salt and pepper. Place in the fridge overnight.
  • You can also make the red onion confit the day before as well. Slice the red onions and place in a thick bottomed pan with a little olive oil, sauté off until the onions are translucent and you have a little colour on the bottom of the pan - probably about 6 to 7 minutes. Now add salt, pepper, a big pinch of sugar, three tablespoons of red wine vinegar and one tablespoon of water. Reduce down on a very low simmer for about 1 hour until all the liquid has evaporated and you're left with a sticky red marmalade consistency. Cool down and this can also be placed in the fridge overnight.
  • On Christmas day morning you can make the crostini. These really are simple. Slice the baguette on an angle about ½ an inch thick - you'll get plenty of crostini - I would serve 2 or 3 per person. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place in the oven at 200C for 5 minutes. Let them cool before serving.
  • When ready to serve just place a little pate on each crostini and serve with a wedge of lemon and good dollop of red onion confit on the side.
  • Happy eating!

The rest of the Xmas recipes

Next week I'll be looking at our main dish - roasted pheasant (with garlic and bacon), caramelised sprouts, rosemary roasts, bread sauce and peach, sausage and thyme stuffing - while you also have recipes for lemon tart (with fresh vanilla mascarpone) and pheasant massaman curry to look forward to.

To help you get prepared, I've put together the ingredients you'll need for the rest of our Xmas menu!

Ingredients - The main

  • 2 x 250g packs of unsmoked streaky bacon (£3.28)
  • 2 x 398g of Porkinson sausages (£3.60)
  • 3 x whole Gressingham pheasants (£15)
  • 1 can of Tesco value peaches (27p)
  • 1 pint of whole milk (45p)
  • 500g of Brussel sprouts (£1)
  • 1.5kg of Bartlett organic potatoes (£1)
  • 25g of fresh rosemary (79p)
  • 25g of fresh lemon thyme (79p)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (25p)
  • 1 large onion (16p)
  • 1 loaf of Tesco crusty white bread (65p)

The cupboard staples...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, cloves, butter and a splash of white wine.

Ingredients - The dessert

  • 4 lemons (92p)
  • 250ml of double cream (73p)
  • 250g of Italian mascarpone (£1.18)
  • 6 Tesco medium free range eggs (£1.42)
  • 1 fresh vanilla pod (£1.44)
  • 1 pack (500g) of caster sugar (68p)
  • 1 block (500g) of sweet shortcrust pastry (89p)

The cupboard staples...

Icing sugar and a dash of milk.

Ingredients - The Massaman curry

  • 1 large white onion (16p)
  • 1 lime (20p)
  • 2 cans (400ml each) of coconut milk (98p)
  • 1 105g Bart Massaman paste (£1.75)
  • 500g of Tesco easy cook rice (64p)

The cupboard staples\leftovers...

Salt, black pepper, olive oil, peanut butter, brown sugar, fish sauce, potatoes (leftover from Christmas day) , pheasant legs and wings and the carcasses.