Smoked fish pie
Fish pies -casseroles, in truth -are a week-night staple in Ireland and England. The original recipe calls for smoked haddock- you can use a good-quality smoked white fish instead, making sure to get rid of the small bones.
For the filling
680g potatoes, peeled and cut into same-size chunks
900g smoked fish, such as haddock or white fish, skinned and boned (see headnote)
1 bay leaf
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 small onion, cut in half (peeled)
1-2tbsp unsalted butter
1- 2tsps full cream milk or heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten, for the potato crust
For the sauce
16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter
110g (slightly less than a cup) flour
1 cup whole or low-fat milk
½ cup heavy cream
2 small onion, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
3 tomatoes, cored and chopped
3 large hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
1tsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Use cooking oil spray to grease a large, deep pie plate or a 33 x 23cm baking dish. (Depending on the size of your pie plate, you might also need a few ramekins for baking any excess mixture.)
Filling: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and reduce the heat to medium; cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender.
Place the smoked fish in a large saucepan along with the bay leaf, a few of the lemon wedges and the onion.
Cover with cold water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
Strain through a fine-mesh strainer; transfer the fish to a plate and reserve at least 2 cups of the cooking liquid in the saucepan. Discard the remaining solids in the strainer.
Drain the potatoes, then mash them with the butter (to taste) and the milk or cream.
Season lightly with salt and pepper; this mixture will be the topping for the pie.
sauce: Melt the butter in a separate large saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2minutes to form a roux.
Add the milk and cream to 1 1/4 cups of the reserved cooking liquid (from the smoked fish), then pour that mixture gradually into the roux, whisking to create a thin sauce.
Increase the heat to medium-high; cook just until the mixture begins to boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onions.
Cook, stirring, for a minute or two; the sauce will thicken. (If it thickens too much, add some of the remaining cooking liquid.) Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Stir in the tomatoes, hard-cooked eggs, teaspoon of parsley and the drained smoked fish, then pour evenly into the baking dish.
Pipe or dollop a border of the potato mixture at the perimeter of the pie, then brush the piped border with the beaten egg.
Bake for 30 minutes, until just golden brown. Sprinkle with parsley.
Serve hot, with the remaining lemon wedges. Makes 8-10 servings.
Here’s a quick and easy way to present the good-for-you-greens as a side dish or light lunch. The recipe dates back three generations in the family of Mary Fitzgerald, a gardener who lives in Wexford, Ireland.
Adapted from Irish Country Cooking: More Than 100 Recipes for Today’s Table, from the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (Sterling, 2014).
600g fresh baby spinach, rinsed
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
280g low-fat cottage cheese, preferably small-curd
280g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼tsp freshly grated nutmeg
edible flowers, for garnish (optional)
Heat a wide saucepan of water over medium-high heat; seat a steamer basket above the water level.
Place half of the spinach in the steamer.
Cover and steam until just wilted, then drain and coarsely chop.
Press with paper towels to remove as much moisture from the spinach as possible, then transfer to a large bowl.
Repeat with the remaining spinach.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Use cooking oil spray to grease the tartlet pans, then arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet.
Add the onion to the spinach, along with the eggs, cottage cheese, Parmesan, pepper and nutmeg; stir to blend well.
Divide evenly among the tartlet pans.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until barely browned on the edges and set at the centre.
Wait 5 minutes before dislodging from the tartlet pans.
Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with the edible flowers, if using.
Makes six servings.
The original recipe called for John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey and Dolin blanc vermouth, but any Irish whiskey and white vermouth will do. Remember that white (or blanc or bianco) vermouth is not the same as dry vermouth.
60ml Irish whiskey
30ml white vermouth (see headnote)
15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
7ml simple syrup
Mint sprig, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the whiskey, white vermouth, lemon juice and simple syrup.
Shake well, then strain into an ice-filled high ball glass.
Top with the club soda as needed, then garnish with the mint sprig.
NOTE: To make simple syrup, combine ½ cup sugar and ½cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Bring to a slow, rolling boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes.
Transfer to a glass container and let cool to room temperature.
Cover tightly and refrigerate until chilled before using; store indefinitely. Makes one serving.
Frozen ‘Irish coffe’
You’ll need a blender; you may wish to serve the drinks with straws. Inspired by the Erin Rose bar in New Orleans.
½ cup vanilla ice cream
2 cups ice cubes
120ml chilled coffee
60ml coffee liqueur
¼tsp coffee grounds,
for garnish (optional)
Combine the ice cream, ice cubes, coffee, brandy and coffee liqueur in a blender.
Puree on high until the ice is completely broken down and the mixture is the consistency of a milkshake.
Divide between two high ball glasses, then sprinkle a pinch of coffee grounds, if using, over the top of each.
Reserve any leftovers for topping off. Makes two servings.