Sunday, September 7, 2008

Nursery Fish Pie For A Rainy Night

The weather this week has been abysmal. September started on Monday with one day that felt like Spring, a much-wanted gift for our first actual day of spring. After the coldest winter in 65 years, you could see everyone visibly relaxing to feel the warm weather was on its way. And then from Tuesday onwards it was all downhill; by yesterday it was gloomy, cold, rainy and revolting. Netball and football was cancelled and the malls of Sydney were packed with people hiding from the weather - pity the poor souls selling at farmer's markets yesterday. Weather like this makes me think of pies, and one of my favourites for the family is fish pie. I make a few different fish pies depending on who I am serving and how fancy I want to be. This fish pie is definitely not overly fancy - it is a good one dish meal for the family.
Some of my friends are squeamish about cooking fish, but I think that is a misplaced concern. Most fish is available already filleted, and cooks so quickly and easily, and as anyone who cooks it often will know: fresh fish doesn't smell fishy. This recipe comes from the Annabel Karmel "Baby and Toddler Meal Planner", but don't let that put you off. The whole family likes this pie, and it feels delicious, healthy and comforting. I have spoken of the Annabel Karmel books before. They were the first recipe books that I got for feeding my children once they started on solids. The books begin with suggestions for fruit and vegetable purees, before progressing onto recipes for older children. I always give these as gifts to new mothers.
Nursery Fish Pie
adapted from "The Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner" by Annabel Karmel
600-700g perch fillet (or other mild white fish), skinned and boned
300ml milk
1 bay leaf
50g butter
2 tbl flour
4 tbl grated cheddar
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
100g frozen peas
a squeeze of lemon
500g potatoes, peeled and chopped
Cut the fish into pieces, then put it in a saucepan with the milk and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. While the fish is cooking prepare the mashed potato for the topping - boil the potato until it is tender then mash with butter and milk to taste. Season the mash.
Remove the fish from the milk, saving the milk, and discarding the bayleaf. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the flower and cook for a minute, stirring. Slowly add the milk to the flour, stirring and simmering gently until it is the consistency of a thick sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese until it is melted, then fold in the fish, boiled egg and peas. Add the lemon juice. Place the mixture into a pie dish and top with the mashed potato. Bake for 20 mins at 350C, then grill the top for a couple of minutes until it is crispy.

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