November 3, 2009, 4:39 pm
Filed under: making nice, yummy in the tummy



I love to read.

So of course, once upon a time I belonged to a book club.  Admittedly, it was not the most serious of book clubs — though the one I was in before this one was.  But alas, a few babies and new jobs amongst our members later, and fewer and fewer of us can commit to reading the same book every few weeks anymore.

But, we still want to see each other and drink wine.  So what were we girls to do but make a little trade — the book club has now become a supper club.  Well actually, its trial run was for Sunday lunch — even better than supper in some ways.  It’s OK with me, it means more opportunities to cook for a crowd AND a chance to make my way through the stash of books on my shelf that never seemed to make it to the book club list.

The idea of the new club is that each time we meet, the host chooses a theme and cooks the main dish.  Everyone else brings a complementary side or dessert, and that’s that.  Oh, and boys are allowed now too, when we want them.

I was the first host and thought, what better way to usher in a busy autumn but with a comfort food theme?  So we were comforted by fish pie, cauliflower cheese and carrot cake – YUM.  I didn’t eat till the next day’s lunch!

From Tana Ramsay’s Family Kitchen


For the pie:
300g cod, skinless and boneless
300g Salmon, skinless and boneless
400ml Milk
1 large Onion, finely chopped
6 baby Leeks, finely sliced
1 tbsp Olive oil
5 large Potatoes
2 tbsp double cream
knob Butter
4 tbsp Cheddar cheese

For the white sauce:
45g Butter
45g Flour
450ml full-fat Milk

1. Put the fish in a pan and cover with the milk. Bring to a gentle simmer and poach the fish. This takes about 10 minutes. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon.
2. Fry the onion and the leeks in a little olive oil until softened. Remove from the heat and flake the fish into the onion and leeks, and mix gently together.
3. Peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks and put in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain and put back into the saucepan. Add the cream and a knob of butter, season and mash.
4.    For the white sauce: melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour, mixing to a paste, then stir for 1-2 minutes over a medium heat taking care not to let it catch on the bottom. Add the milk gradually, and whisk constantly until it starts to simmer. Leave it to cook over a very low heat, stirring every couple of minutes until it thickens.
5.    Preheat oven to 190C/Gas 5.
6. Mix the white sauce with the fish, onion and leeks and put this mixture into the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Spoon the mash over the top of the fish and vegetables and sprinkle with the cheese.
7. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until bubbling, then put under a preheated grill for a couple of minutes to crisp and brown the top. Serve.

I also add chopped carrots (2-3) in with the onions and leeks in step 2.  And a cup or so of frozen peas in step 6.  You can use semi-skimmed milk where it calls for full fat/cream.  And you can mix up the kinds of fish you use.  Frozen fish works beautifully here — I promise — particularly if you are feeding a crowd.  I used a mix of frozen cod and haddock.

I served this in individual pie dishes, sourced on one of my favourite “off the beaten path” resources, Nisbets Catering, which I learned about in this lovely book and is great for bulk entertaining needs.


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