I wrote this post before the weekend, intending to publish it before we went away. Unfortunately it was not quite completed on time so it is a little out of date! Apologies. Thank you so much for your lovely comments on my Ripple Reveal – you’re all wonderful! x
On Friday hubby went back to work. How sad (probably even more for him than me, but I will miss having him around). He’d been off for what seems like ages because his annual leave was up in September so he’d taken it all in a couple of chunks over the Summer. The majority of these weeks were taken up with gardening but it is the last few days that I have really enjoyed. We haven’t done anything much, fixed a few jobs around the house, caught up on some sleep, but mainly we’ve just had some low-key family time.
Thursday was an unusual day for us because we spent it doing something that we do not do very often – shopping. I am not a big shopper. Don’t get me wrong, I can spend money with the best of them but I am not very interested in clothes and find going into town a bit of a bore, an opinion confirmed when the excursion is accompanied by a 5 month old! There is one sort of shopping that I do enjoy though and that is food shopping. What is more, this particular grocery shop was gearing up to an exciting event that will be happening this month – weaning. Yes, the time is approaching when the little man will begin to supplement his daily milk ration with solid stuff. Exciting!
This event has been heralded by an avalanche of junk mail from what feels like every supermarket and baby food manufacturer in Britain advertising their wares. Now I understand why people use ready-made infant food but I have been looking forward to preparing food for my little ones for years so will not need shelves of glass pots. However, all of these magazines came with strips of vouchers and I thought, what harm can there be in getting in a few packets to use in emergencies? Even more exciting, this meant I got the opportunity to frequent my favourite supermarket that is located near my parents’ house. All good.
I say we spent it shopping but in reality I mean the whole day was gearing towards the final event. By the time we finally arrived at my mom’s we decided it was lunchtime (smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, yummy). Cue 90 minutes of soaking up the sun whilst all parties were fed, watered and changed. Procrastination supremos, that’s us!
Our final purchases were not anything particularly noteworthy but they have led me to pondering food and the family. When I was younger we always ate together. Even when we return home now all meals are eaten around the table and the TV is never on. I cannot wait for the little man to join us for dinner and love to plan what foods we shall share. Family favourites, those suppers that are guaranteed to please, and new ideas.
I made of one those crowd pleasers last week – Fish Pie. My mother was making fish pie for us before I can remember but, over the years, our recipe has adapted to include new foods and flavours. The basics, however, have always remained the same – fish, parsley sauce and creamy mashed potato. So, without further ado, let me share the secrets of our family’s fish pie.
Let’s start with the base ingredients. I am not going to give amounts because that depends on personal taste. For example, I use a lot of onions and veges etc. compared to chefs’ recipes because it’s healthier and cheaper but it depends what you like. So I begin with onions and chorizo. The latter is less conventional and optional but I find it gives an extra depth of flavour and, let’s face it, chorizo’s always wonderful!
For me, the vegetable portion of a fish pie is always carrots, peas and sweetcorn. I do sometimes use peppers as well, but these were earmarked for a curry so were omitted this time. I think the secret to chop up the vegetables into small chunks because nobody wants giant chunks of carrot taking centre stage.
Anyway, now’s the time to start cooking! Fry the onions and chorizo until the onions are soft and the chorizo has released its delicious oil.
Stir in the vegetables and leave on the heat for 15 – 20 minutes.
Whilst this is all going on it is time to talk fish. For this pie I used salmon and kippered mackerel (I do not understand how a mackerel is ‘kippered’ but essentially it was smoked!). I chose these because they were plentiful and good value at the time but it is up to you. I recommend that you include some smoked fish because this adds flavour, but really there are no rules!
Place the fish (filleted) in a pan with a bit of water and cover. Leave it on the heat until it is nearly cooked through but the centre has not quite turned opaque. It will be cooked again later so this time just needs to be done enough to work with. Transfer to a plate to cool but keep the water for stock.
When cool, remove the skin and flake the fish, checking for bones as you go.
A fish pie would not be complete in our house without seafood. Now I live just about as far from the sea as it is possible to be in the UK so fresh seafood is not free-flowing. I therefore make life easy and buy the frozen ‘seafood selection’ packs from the supermarket. If you live in an area where good seafood is plentiful then go wild!
Next up is the Parsley sauce: Melt 40 g butter then stir in 20 g plain flour. Take off the heat and slowly stir in 250 ml cold milk and 200 ml of stock (add a stock cube to the fish water from earlier – voilà!). Return to heat and stir til simmering. Add plenty of chopped parsley (dried parsley works well too).
Place the vegetable mixture, fish and seafood in the bottom of the dish and cover with the parsley sauce.
Top with mashed potato (make relatively soft so it can be spread easily) and a little grated cheese (strong cheddar or blue cheese gives good flavour but you can use less). For an alternative topping, cook a whole potato for 10 minutes. When cool, peel and slice before layering on top.
Cook in a moderate oven until piping hot and brown on top.
Serve with veges and tuck in! 🙂
Let me know if you try this recipe – I hope you enjoy it! x