I’ve been experimenting with fish pies recently, with the memory of a great fish pie cooked for me by an Englishman who clearly knows his pies and his fish. Thank you Ken, for your inspiration!
My version is quite simple – smoked fish fillets and poached fresh fish, with some braised leeks, in a white sauce. Topped off with creamy mashed potato and a liberal scattering of grated cheddar. Great on the day, and even tastier reheated the next day, too, when the flavours have developed.
These quantities make a very substantial pie for two, or would serve four with smaller portions too. Double the quantities for a really big pie!
4 large potatoes, good for mashing
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon butter
300 mls full fat milk
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
100g white fish
150g smoked mackerel
150g hot smoked salmon
1 tablespoon plain flour
75g cheddar cheese, grated
Wash the potatoes thoroughly and place whole into a large saucepan. Cover completely with water. Bring to the boil and cook on a medium heat until the potatoes are cooked through. Be careful not to overcook – you don’t want the potatoes breaking up. Remove from the heat and strain in a colander.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel quickly and place the still warm potatoes in a bowl.
Add 2 tablespoons butter and 50 mls of milk. Season with salt to taste. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes really well with the butter and milk, making sure there are no lumps.You can of course adjust the butter and milk amounts to personal taste and because potatoes do vary, requiring more or less butter/milk to get the right consistency.
Cover the mashed potato bowl with aluminium foil to keep warm.
Wash the leeks well and slice into ½ cm rounds. Heat 1 teaspoon butter with the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the leeks and cook over a low heat until the leeks are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Just make sure temperature is low and the leeks don’t brown. Once cooked, remove from the heat.
Heat the remaining 250 mls milk in a wide saucepan until just at a simmer. Place the white fish fillet into the milk, and continue to simmer and let the fish cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Check if the fish fillet is cooked by putting a skewer into the thickest part of the fish. If the skewer goes in easily and is also easy to remove, it should be cooked.
Remove the fillet carefully with a slotted spoon. Roughly break into chunks. Strain the poaching milk into a bowl or jug.
There’s no need to cook the mackerel and salmon, just break into chunks.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
To make the white sauce, melt 1 tablespoon butter, over a low heat, in the saucepan in which you poached the fish. Add the plain flour, and mix together to a smooth paste, making sure to use a wooden spoon. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the poaching milk, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, combining the paste with the milk. Turn the heat to medium, bring to the boil, then reduce to low and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened, stirring regularly. Season generously with salt and cracked pepper.
To assemble the pie, place the leek slices and fish chunks in a baking dish. Gently stir through the white sauce. Top with the mashed potato, roughing up the potato with a fork for a little artistry. Scatter the grated cheddar over the pie.
Cook the fish pie in the preheated oven for a 20-30 minutes or until the potato is brown and the mixture underneath is bubbling.
Serve with a green salad and chunky sourdough, or just on its own. I had some beautiful young garlic from a spring harvest market, so I roasted those with the pie. Really delicious!
I’m a huge fan of marmalade, and I’m always willing to try different citrus fruits in search of something a little different. I have to admit though, that my traditional marmalade using seville oranges, is not as good as some of my other marmalades and jams. Seville orange marmalade is clearly a work in progress..
Ruby Sunrise Marmalade is so named because of its rich orange-red hue, a little like a beautiful Sydney sunrise. It’s surprisingly simple – just three different kinds of fruit – blood orange, ruby grapefruit and mandarin. I only make small quantities at a time, so this batch was made with one each of the blood orange and grapefruit and two mandarins.
Great with toast, or adds a touch of tangy citrus to desserts.
1 ruby grapefruit
1 blood orange
3 mandarins (thin skinned preferable)
Water to cover fruit
Cut the grapefruit in half. Using a vegetable peeler, remove as much of the peel as you can from the fruit minus the pith. Cut the thick pith from the grapefruit halves and discard. Chop the flesh into segments. For the blood orange and mandarins, chop the fruit into segments, peel and pith included. Remove as many pips as you can.
Put all the fruit into a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Cover the fruit generously with water, making sure you have enough in the pan so that the fruit does not boil dry. Bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit is tender. This should take from between 30-45 minutes.
Measure the pulp and the remaining liquid. Return to the pan adding 1.5 cups of sugar for every 1 cup of pulp. Bring to the boil, making sure the sugar is dissolved. Cook until setting point is reached – 20 to 30 minutes. I use the saucer test* to check for setting point. Leave for 10 minutes before stirring gently. Pour carefully into sterilised jars and leave to cool.
* Testing for setting point Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the bubbles to subside. Take out a small saucer previously placed in the freezer, and spoon a little liquid onto the saucer, then return to the freezer for 1 minute. Push the marmalade along the plate with your finger. If setting point has been reached then the marmalade surface will wrinkle slightly and the marmalade won’t run back straight away. If it’s not at setting point, return to the heat and boil again for a few more minutes (maximum 5 minutes) before re-testing. Repeat until setting point is reached.
Everyone likes bread and butter pudding. It’s not difficult to produce, so long as you have the requisite bread or a richer equivalent like panettone or croissants. Pouring a custard mixture over the bread/panettone and baking is about it. Adding yummy things like fruit, marmalade and rum makes for a delicious pudding. And yes, there is butter in it too!
make this version with my own marmalade, a combination of blood orange,
ruby grapefruit and mandarin, but any good marmalade works. The raisins
and sultanas drenched in alcohol
are great too. You can do a quick soak, but I usually use my supply of
raisins and sultanas that have been macerating in rum for a few months…
the rum soaked fruit is delicious served over ice cream too!
50g raisins and sultanas
2 tablespoons rum or an orange liqueur
50g butter + extra for buttering the dish
1/2 panettone – approximately 10 slices
5 tablespoons marmalade
2 large free-range eggs
2 tablespoons caster sugar
300mls full fat milk
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced or 180 degrees non fan forced. Put the raisins and sultanas into a small bowl with your alcohol of choice and leave to soak for half an hour – or longer if you have the time.
Butter a baking dish big enough to hold all the panettone slices snugly.
Make 5 sandwiches with the panettone, butter and marmalade, being pretty liberal with the filling. Place the sandwiches side by side in the baking dish so they fit snugly into the dish. If some of the sandwiches are too big, cut them in half.
Scatter the raisins and sultanas and any of the alcohol rum that remains in the bowl.
Whisk the eggs together with the caster sugar. Pour in the milk and stir well. Pour the mixture over the panettone sandwiches and leave to soak up the liquid for 10-15 minutes.
the Demerara sugar over the sandwiches. Place the baking dish onto a
baking tray, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the custard has puffed up
and the sandwiches are golden brown.
Remove from the oven and sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Serve with more of the marmalade and something creamy – I like Greek yoghurt – whipped cream, custard or ice cream are all good too. And a few blueberries also goes well.