Living alone has rendered me somewhat of a lazy cook, as demonstrated by my lack of posts. I rarely take the time and care to create something overly tempting or complicated for myself, and I certainly never try new recipes out if they are only to feed one. I was delighted therefore to have an opportunity to try a twist on an old favourite for two very dear friends. It was a terribly wet and cold evening and so a warming but informal fish pie was the perfect dish - and something that I would not go to the bother of making for just me. The whole process, from selecting ingredients, to skinning fish whilst my dear friend Peter mashed celeriac, warmed my soul and reminded me just how much I relish the challenge of adapting recipes and nurturing others by providing a meal.
Fish Pie (serves four) adapted from Sophie Dahl's recipe in December's Observer Food Monthly
for the topping
1 large celeriac
salt and pepper
for the pie
700-800g fish fillets (I used a mixture of undyed smoked haddock and pollack)
200g large, cooked and peeled prawns
2 bay leaves
four black peppercorns
one small onion, chopped
2 leeks, white part only, finely chopped
handful of peas, defrosted if frozen
3tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tbp soya margarine (or butter)
3tbsp cornflour or arrowroot
1. Peel the celeriac and cut into chunks. Boil under tender.
2. Drain, return to the pan with a splash of milk and mash with vigour (you can use a blender if you prefer a smoother topping). Season and set aside.
3. Preheat your oven to 200C.
3. Place the fish in a large, flat pan, cover with milk. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns. Poach for four minutes (you may need to do this in two batches). Remove the fish, pour the milk into a jug. When the fish is cool, remove any skin and check for bones, flaking the fish with your hands as you go. Rinse the prawns and add them to your fishy mix.
4. Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan and sweat the onion and leeks without allowing them to catch and go brown. When soft, remove from the heat and stir in the peas and parsley.
5. In a large pan, melt the margarine on a low heat and stir in the cornflour or arrowroot mixed with a little of the milk to make a paste. Slowly pour in the rest of the milk and increase the heat whilst continually stirring until you have a thick sauce. Add the fish, vegetable mix and a good slug of white wine. Season (go steady on the salt).
6. Pour the mixture into a deep baking dish. Cover with the celeriac mash.
7. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes.
And perhaps it's about time that I started to nurture myself a little more frequently. Hmmm.