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Here are a couple of recipes that are perfect to have in reserve over the festive season. Both can be made in advance and brought out when needed, whether that is when everyone wants a simple, homely meal when they arrive home for the holiday or for when you have all the family to visit and want to make something delicious for those that choose not to eat meat ~ Merry cooking and a very happy Christmas. E.L.

Fabulous Fishcakes (Serves 4-6)

These are the best and simplest, crispy, oven-baked fishcakes! They can be made with any flaky fish and are also a great way to use up left-over poached fish. Easy to make in advance, they can be frozen and defrosted before cooking or made a day ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to cook.

500g floury potatoes, peeled
400g fresh salmon fillet
a handful fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 cup plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1-2 eggs
100g white bread, made into coarse crumbs
75g butter
2 tblsp olive oil


Boil the potatoes until soft then drain. Allow to cool slightly then mash without butter or milk. Set to one side until completely cold. Meanwhile season the salmon fillets. Grill, bake or poach the fish until the fish is firm outside but still a little pink on the inside.

Transfer the cooked fish to a mixing bowl, remove any skin and bones and break up the flesh very roughly with a fork. When cooled, add the mashed potatoes, chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together with the fork - do not over mix or you will lose the pieces of fish.

Shape the mixture into cakes, any size you choose. Prepare 'a conveyor belt' of three shallow dishes, containing the seasoned flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs. Dip each cake into the flour followed by the beaten egg and finally a generous coating of breadcrumbs. Lay the fish cakes on a board or plate, cover loosely and chill until ready to cook.

To Cook:Heat the oven to 200ºC / 190ºFan / Gas 6. Heat the oil and butter in a small pan and pour a little of this onto a baking tray. Place the fishcakes on to the buttered tray then drizzle over the remaining oil and butter. Place in a hot oven and bake for 10 - 20 minutes, or until browned and crisp - there is no need to turn the cakes over. Serve with homemade tartare sauce - see below - and a crisp salad.
Cheese and Walnut Savoury Rolls (Makes 24 bite-size or 6-12 lunch time-size rolls)

These bite-size, sausage-less, vegetarian rolls are really tasty and great to have ready for Christmas catering. They can be frozen before cooking and can be cooked from frozen - just add an extra 5 - 10 minutes to the cooking time.

320g pack ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
For the filling:
150g fresh white breadcrumbs
50g crumbly cheese such as Wensleydale, Lancashire or Feta, crumbled
50g strong Cheddar cheese, grated
50g walnuts, chopped
2-3 spring onions or one small red onion, very finely chopped
A handful of finely chopped parsley
½ tsp English or wholegrain mustard
a pinch of chilli powder, optional
1½ tblsps double cream or crème fraiche
A good pinch of salt and black pepper
2 small eggs, beaten


Preheat the oven to 200ºC / 190º Fan / Gas 6. Combine all the filling ingredients, using only half the beaten egg and reserving the rest for glazing the rolls. Chill the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Lay the pastry out and cut in half, lengthways. Taking a handful of the mixture at a time, squeeze each into a blunt-ended sausage-shape. Make enough of these to line, end to end, along the length of each strip of pastry - to make a continuous sausage.

Brush one edge of the pastry with beaten egg and fold the other edge over the filling. Press gently along the edge to seal. Cut into bite-size (2.5cm) pieces (or larger if you want to make these for a lunch time meal) and transfer to a greased baking sheet. Brush the remainder of the egg on the tops of the rolls and bake for 20 -25 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

Tartare Sauce

Mix shop or homemade mayonnaise with equal quantities of chopped shallot, gherkins & capers. Add a handful of chopped parsley and season with lemon juice and black pepper.