We had friends for lunch at the weekend whose diets covered a range of different requirements, from vegetarian to Keto to dairy free.  As specialist diets become more mainstream, finding a dish that suits everyone can be a challenge.  I often think the most relaxed lunches are buffet style ones – they are easy to prepare ahead of time, are an affordable way to feed a crown and give people the freedom of choice without feeling awkward about dietary requirement.  We went for a Scandinavian style buffet lunch at the weekend that worked well and would transfer well to the holiday period if you are starting to think about Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year.

So here is my menu, with recipes below:

  • Smoked mackerel pate with crostini
  • Rye, Oat and Ale Bread
  • Oven baked salmon steaks
  • Red rice salad with goats cheese and toasted pecans
  • Roast beetroot salad
  • Cucumber and fennel salad
  • Horseraddish cream
  • Roasted anya potatoes

Smoked Mackerel Pate

Smoked mackerel pate works well for both canapes and starters, as well as part of a wider buffet.  It keeps well so can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge.

1 packet smoked mackerel (about 3 – 4 fillets)
150g cream cheese
50g sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1/2-1 lemon
optional: 1 tsp horseraddish sauce
optional:1/2 tsp dijon mustard
optional:1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
optional: 1 tbsp chopped capers


  • skin and flake the mackerel fillets, removing any bones.  Place 3/4 of the mackerel in a bowl or blender.  Roughly mash the remaining mackerel with a fork and set aside (this will give the pate some texture, otherwise it can feel to smooth)
  • add the cream cheese and sour cream to the mackerel in the blender, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and blitz until smooth (a handheld blender works really well too)
  • stir through the horseraddish, mustard, parsley and capers if you are using them and adjust the seasoning with extra salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste
  • cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve.  *You can make the pate a day ahead

Rye Oat and Ale Bread

I made this recipe by Paul Holly which can be found on the BBC website.  I added seasalt and fennel seeds to the crust but otherwise followed the recipe.  If you are new to bread making, rye flour, ale and treacle will all have an effect on the rise so be patient with it – it may take longer than you are used to for it to rise and prove but be patient – it is worth it. It also freezes well so can be made ahead, defrosted and then just refreshed in the oven at 180*c for 10 minutes


Oven Roast Salmon Fillets

Oven baking salmon fillets is one of the easiest ways to cook fish.  Preheat the oven to 180*c.  Place the fish skin side down in a shallow roasting dish and top with some olive oil, a knob of butter, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Cook in the oven for around 10 minutes (by way of a guide, fish takes about 8-10 minutes to cook per inch of thickness).  The fish will be cooked when if you gently push on the fillet you can feel the flakes start to separate slightly.

Red Rice Salad

Camargue red rice makes a really nice, colourful winter salad.  Using rice as a base, you can change the ingredients that you add to the salad depending on what is in season and what you have in the cupboard – just think about texture and colour – it is great to add some crunch and some freshness.  Dried fruits work really well as do different nuts and seeds.  Oranges also work really well.  You need a strong, flavoursome salad dressing to give the rice some umph, otherwise it can taste a but bland.

100g camargue red rice or wild rice
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp white wine or apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 chicory hearts, finely chopped
handful chopped toasted pecans or other nuts
75g dried cherries or other dried fruits
optinal: handful chopped fresh parsley

  • cook the rice according to the manufacturers instructions then spread it on a large dish or tray to cool it quickly.  *You want to cool down your rice as quickly as possible to avoid unwanted bacteria
  • stir through the lemon juice, vinegar and olive and season with salt and pepper
  • stir through the celery and chicory, followed by the nuts, dried fruit and parsley, setting aside some to finish the salad.  Arrange the salad in a serving dish and top with any leftover nuts and parsley.  Cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve

Cucumber and Fennel Salad

This is a really light salad that works well as an accompaniment to meat or fish.  For a creamier version you can stir through a couple of tablespoons of sour cream or greek yoghurt.

1 cucumber, halved, deseeded and sliced
1 fennel bulb, cored and finely chopped
handful chopped dill
salt and pepper
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sugar
optional:  handful raisins, handful sliced almonds

  • halve the cucumber then run a teaspoon down the centre to remove the seeds.  Chop into fine slices
  • halve the fennel, cut out the thick core at the base, then chop into fine slices
  • place the cucumber and fennel in a bowl, then add the remaining ingredients and toss until well combined.  For a creamier version stir through 2 – 3 tbsp sour cream or greek yoghurt
  • cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve

Roast Beetroot Salad

I love roasted beetroot, especially in winter, as it adds colour and a lovely earthy flavour to dishes.  Find the recipe for a really simple roast beetroot salad here