Friday, August 6, 2010

A fish pie for Simon

Okay, explanation time. Where have I been? What have I been doing? Who the fuck do I think I am posting every day for months and then just, pff, effing off like that into thin air? Do I not understand that bloggers must be there at all times, in all weathers, in order to qualify for attention?

So the reason I have disappeared is this: I am pregnant. Up the duff. Knocked up. In trouble. Oh no wait, not in trouble... sorry for a moment there I forgot I was married. And being pregnant has completely and utterly destroyed my interest in food.

Yes, I'm starving all the time, but only the kind of starving that sees me sitting on the kitchen floor eating cheap chocolate mousse, followed by marmite on toast and then perhaps some cheese, just chewed straight from the packet. (I smooth over the teeth marks with my thumb to fool my husband into thinking that I have not been doing this.)
What I don't want to do is read recipe books, or construct any kind of interesting meal, or think about vegetables (Ack! RETCH RETCH RETCH) ever. Ever, ever again. So you see my problem, perhaps.

I also couldn't say anything until 'Ping' 3 months were up because even though I spit in the face of superstition and drop ice cubes down the back of convention, if I had announced that I was suffering from a SPOT OF MORNING SICKNESS and then junior turned out to have five heads, or no spine, or to be a figment of my imagination, it would be really embarrassing.

But it's okay, says my obstetrician, whom I call The Beast, because it is an approximation of his surname and he is the least beast-like person I know.

I would scan the ultrasound picture in here, but I think doing that is really spooky. And it looks like an alien. But anyway The Beast thinks it's going to be okay. He also thinks I'm boring because I'm 30 and I don't have diabetes or Hepatitis C or sky-high blood pressure, which in the world of obstetrics makes me the equivalent of specially slow-drying paint.

Anyway, back to the food: it's been a disaster for it. And, just between you and me, I'm not sure what happens now. Those of you hoping that this blog might become some kind of media sensation so that you could say you knew me back when, you are going to be sorely disappointed.

I did come out of my temporary retirement the other day to make a fish pie for The Pescetarian, whose real name is Simon, because whenever he comes round to my house I always give him some horrible shit thing that I have hurriedly cooked alongside whatever frabjous feast I have made for my other carniverous guests.

So I thought it was time that he got a dinner of his very own. I was going to say something about my mother's fish pie here, but then I remembered that I personally find stories of other people's mothers' cooking staples quite unbearably tedious - so why should I torture you with tales of mine?

Anyway so fish pie is a thing that's nice. I looked up a Jamie Oliver fish pie recipe and he does his without making a white sauce. I  mean, I'm sure it's perfectly marvellous, but I wanted mine with a white sauce, so I sidled away from Jamie, feeling a lot like someone who's just had some advice from Warren Buffet about what do to with £2,000 but decides to go and blow it all on shoes anyway.

I did steal certain elements, like adding chilli, but to be honest I'm not sure how much better that made the finished product.

I'm sorry about the roughness of quantities for this. It really all depends on how big a pie dish you own how much you make.

Top tip: use a bigger dish than you think you need because as this cooks it will bubble a lot and if you fill a dish right to the top with the mixture (as I did) it will bubble over and drip down into the Queen of Puddings you are cooking in the same oven. Yes, I know. What do you want from me? I'M PREGNANT.

A fish pie for Simon

about 250g haddock or any other firm white fish - chopped into chunks
about 250g smoked haddock - chopped into chunks
some prawns (if you eat them... I usually refuse to but I thought I'd put my principles aside this once)
the juice of half a lemon
a quantity of white sauce - about 3/4 of a pint
salt and pepper
1/2 red chilli, no seeds
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
about 5 small potatoes, boiled, skins off

1 Put your peeled potatoes on to boil for about 30 minutes.

2 Meanwhile, make your white sauce - (see white sauce: beginner's only for more on this) - and then add the juice of half a lemon (or to taste, it shouldn't be overpoweringly lemony), your chopped chilli and salt and pepper. When the sauce tastes appropriately salty, creamy and zingy, slide in your fish and and chopped carrot and celery and poach on a gentle heat for about 10  minutes.

3 Add the chopped parsley - about a handful - then leave the fish mixture to stand and then drain your potatoes. I urge you, if possible, to use here a mouli legume or a potato ricer. But if you have neither don't go out and buy one especially: just mash the suckers.

4 Generously butter your pie dish and then flop in the fish mixture, followed by the mashed potato on top. Dot with butter and anything else you fancy (more salt? cheese?!) and then stick it in an 180C oven for about 40 minutes.

Simon said it was nice... but you can never be sure with him.

Here is a picture of France, where I am on holiday (it rained yesterday):

And just so you don't feel sorry for me, here it is today being sunny:

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