I mentioned in my last post that we had recently been on holiday – we were staying with old friends in their house by the sea. I’m planning on posting a few more entries on the holiday itself [it was fantasitacular, as was the food!!] but first, I’ve just got to write about the first ever recipe taken out of my brand-spanking new book, which Margie got as a present for me whilst we were up there.
Yesterday, Mother said she had some cod in the fridge and asked me what we should do with it. So I raced upstairs to take a gander in the first new cookbook I’ve ever owned! What treats lay in store, it has a whole section on fish - *gasps*. I chose the traditional fish pie, as we had all the ingredients, and Rick had made a lovely pie on holiday which I wanted to imitate
All the ingredients, that is… except prawns! I had spent the whole day shopping, and now, just when I was finally home and looking forward to doing some cooking at last – I was sent all the way to shirley on my bike to get some gosh-darn prawns. I had to look in 3 different shops before I found the right ones! But it was worth it, they were on offer in aldi And, ofcourse, the fish pie defenitely wouldn’t have been the same without them. They were scrummy! Thank the Lord that Mother found some potatoes at the back of her cupboard, or I would have had to carry 5 kilos worth of potatoes home with me too
I’m going camping in France later today, and as this may be the last half-decent meal I have in over a week, I promised myself I’d bake something worth remembering – but did i succeed?
I think it’s safe to say so! Okay, so it might not look quite so appetizing on the plate as it did when it had just been prepared… but the taste definitely made up for it
450g/1 lb cod fillets, skinned [we only had 300g in the fridge though, so we just added more of the...]
125g large prawns [or 180g, if like us your fridge isn't as full of cod as you'd hoped!]
450ml milk [3 quarters of a pint]
1 small onion peeled and quartered [aka 3 shallots]
salt and freshly fround pepper, to taste
900g/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks of roughly the same size
100g/ 3 and a half oz butter.
2 large eggs, hard-boiled and quartered [these are completely optional! I can't stand hard-boiled egg, but Mother likes it - so I only used one egg, and put it in the right half of the pie And can somebody please comment and tell me how to hard-boil an egg without immediately cracking it? There must be a secret method...]
198g can sweetcorn, drained [what's wrong with 200g, may i ask?]
2 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tbsp plain flour
50g / 2 oz Cheddar cheese, grated.
The first thing I did was prepare the potatoes, place them in a saucepan with some lightly salted water, and put them on the boil. I then measured out all my ingredients and started to hard-boil the egg, before preheating the oven to 200 degrees celcius [which is 400 in Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 6.]
Whilst the egg and the potatoes were boiling, I placed my fish in a shallow frying pan [after pouring in half a litre of water to see if the milk would fit with it in there] then poured over a third of my milk and added the shallotts. I brought this to the boil and simmered for 10 minutes until the fish was cooked, then removed the fish with a slotted spoon and placed it in a baking dish. It was meant to be a 1.4 litre baking dish, but I think we used a slightly different one – ours was square and deeper than the oblong one in the picture. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve it for later.
The potatoes should be soft by now, I got rid of the starchy liquid they were in and mashed them with 40g of the butter [1 and a half oz] and 2-3 tablespoons of the remaining milk, then put them to one side for later.
At this point the prawns went in, or should i say on – you’re supposed to arrange them on top of the fish until it is covered, i think. However, as i have mentioned we were lacking in the cod department, so my prawns sort of filled in all the gaps where there wasn’t enough fish I wasn’t so keen on arranging the egg on top, as the recipe indicated to do at this point, as nobody in my family likes egg. Apart from Mother that is, so I arranged the egg on top half of the pie, so that she could have that part of the pie all to herself, and the rest of us could snack away on the other half. Ingenious, eh? Don’t forget to sprinkle some parsley over, it really makes a difference!
Once I had done that, I melted the remaining butter in a saucepan, stirred in the flour and cooked it gently for 1 minute or so, stirring. I whisked in the reserved cooking liquid and also the remaining milk, [pretty much everything that you have left goes in at this point] which was then cooked for a tad longer than the recommended 2 minutes, as it took it’s time thickening. Pour this sauce all over your fish mixture, making sure that you do so evenly, then leave to cool slightly, before proceeding to the next step…
…Spreading the mashed potato over the top of the pie, and sprinkling over the grated cheese. At this point the pie finally looks nice, especially if you own a potato-mashing machine like the one that Rick uses! Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until it is crisp and golden, after which you can leave to cool in the tray for as long as it takes before you serve it – the heat keeps surprisingly well.
Bring me a fishy on a little dishy, bring me a fishy when the boat comes in