Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fantastic Fish Pie!

Nancy and I lived in London for a while. Until you do, you cannot begin to understand how different they are from us. Some easy examples:

  1. Their newspapers have pictures of nude women on page three.
  2. Snooker is a prime time television event.
  3. At the grocery, the chips aisle is full length on both sides.
  4. They serve baked beans at breakfast and corn on their pizza.
  5. They congregate outside their pubs and drink in large groups on the sidewalk.
  6. Both men and women wear black suits to work, every day, but their shirts are every hue of the rainbow.
Nonetheless, we adapted and learned to enjoy any number of things. I miss Biggles, the sausage shop we patronized. I wish I could find a local Borough Market substitute - an open air twice weekly market that featured the finest produce, meats, fish, cheeses, and wines you could imagine. I want to go back to the Kew Gardens during azalea season!

One thing we learned to love were the British versions of cooking shows. Not nearly as Hollywood as what you see here in the US. The people actually cooked. The showed local prices for the ingredients. They actually drank spirits on the show. Among those we watched were Gary Rhodes, Anthony Worrall Thompson, Nigella before she was here, and a young chef from the River Cafe in London called Jamie Oliver. Before he came to the US, he really was charming and innovative.

One show of Jamie's that we watched featured a kind of shepards pie made with smoked haddock. We tried it at our home. It was fantastic. We make it regularly to this day. Unfortunately, here in Arkansas we can't get smoked haddock. Instead I use walleye I catch in Tablerock Lake across the street.

My name is Randolph Stainer, and I endorse this recipe:


5 russet potatoes, peeled and diced in 1 inch cubes
2 eggs
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 large double handful fresh spinach
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 to 1.5 cups of cream
juice of 1 lemon
1.5 teaspoons English dry mustard (optional: plus .5 teaspoon curry powder)
1 handful parsley, finely chopped
1 pound of bite size pieces of walleye, cod, or smoked haddock (optional: half fish and half shrimp; half fish and half smoked salmon)
fresh grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil for frying and for mashing with the potatoes

They were small and had bad spots so I did extra.


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rack at middle shelf level.

Add the potatoes and eggs to boiling, salted water and bring back to the boil. After 10 minutes, remove the eggs and plunge in ice water to stop the cooking (This also prevents that nasty purple outside of the yolk from forming.)

While the potatoes and eggs cook, put the spinach in a colander and pour a teakettle of boiling water over it. When the spinach cools, squeeze the water from it and chop it.

Check the potatoes, and if done, drain them and put them back in the hot pan to steam. Add salt, pepper to taste and two tablespoons of olive oil. Mash the potatoes, adding olive oil and dairy as need. Do not whip the potatoes. 

After 10 minutes in the ice water, peel and quarter the eggs.

Fry the onions and carrots in a Tablespoon of olive oil until they soften but do not turn brown. Stir in the the dry mustard and lemon juice and then add the cream. Bring to cream to a simmer (not a boil) and add the spinach and cheese. Gently melt the cheese. Adjust the mixture for salt and pepper.

Use spray grease to coat your casserole.

Place the fish and eggs in the casserole and cover them with the hot cream and cheese mixture. Grate the nutmeg on top of the mixture. Cover the casserole with the mashed potatoes. Place the casserole on a try in case of overflow and place, uncovered, in the oven. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.

Nancy did not want any of the potatoes to go to waste!

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