THERE is no time of year better suited to pate than summer. Add a glass of wine, olives, and oatcakes and you have a nibble. Make sourdough toast, toss a salad and you have a light supper.

The first in our series on pates comes from Sheila Parkhill of Belfast, who, along with a second winner, will receive a bottle of Alain Brumont's Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Octobre 1991, a late-picked Jurancon-style wine from Reid Wines, near Bristol.

She writes: 'This is one of the simplest and most delicious pates, adapted from a recipe by Darina Allen of Ballymaloe House in Ireland.'

Ms Parkhill uses smoked mackerel, but other kippers would suit. Though it is not strictly necessary, very light poaching of the fish will take the aggressive edge off the smoking and soften the texture.

Smoked Mackerel and Fennel Pate

Serves 4 as starter

Ingredients: 4oz/120g undyed

smoked mackerel, skinned and boned

2-3oz/60-90g softened butter

1tsp finely chopped fennel feathers

1tsp lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed to paste

salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation: Flake fish and blend all ingredients. If using food processor, pulse gently until you have the texture you want. Adjust seasoning and press into ramekins. Chill slightly.

The second recipe is from Steve Charters of the City of London. He writes: 'Claudia Roden's The Food of Italy has a recipe for walnut sauce for pasta; with a little variation, it makes an excellent cheese and nut pate.'

Cheese and Walnut Pate

Serves 4 as snack

Ingredients: 10oz/300g shelled walnuts

1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced

2 slices good bread, crust removed

150ml/5fl oz milk

2oz/50g freshly grated parmesan

4tbs olive oil

black pepper to taste

Preparation: Soak the bread in 4tbs milk. Crush nuts, but not too finely, because you want some rough chunks. Working by hand, blend nuts, cheese, garlic, oil and bread, and season with pepper. As you do this, add sufficient milk to bind the mixture but not make it too liquid. Press into a mould or terrine and weight slightly. Chill.

Next week, more pates. Entries welcome, stating source; send to Emily Green, Recipe, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.