To say that the last couple of months have been difficult, would be an understatement. Nan has been unwell, and recently required a couple of emergency hospital admissions, and a close friend has been seriously ill and in and out of hospital.
My parents have been backwards and forwards to the hospital a lot lately and we’ve all ended up throwing away food that went off because we weren’t home to do anything with it, or we were just too exhausted to cook. After a particularly eventful evening on Friday, in which Nan was discharged from one hospital and ended up in another one a few hours later, I thought my parents could do with some help. I decided to make something that could be stuck in their oven and timed to be ready shortly after they got home.
The decision to make a fish pie was based largely on my mother’s tastes (Nan is her mother – she’s having a very tough time and I wanted her to have a decent meal) and the fact that Dad had a couple of fresh salmon fillets that needed using up. I can throw one together without a recipe, but decided to try something slightly less spontaneous, and found this Good Food one. I wouldn’t normally blog about something as mundane as a fish pie, except the reception it got from my parents was unusually positive. I made this ahead of time and then stuck it in their oven to cook, before disappearing into the night like the culinary ninja I imagine myself to be, so have no idea if they’re right, but it sounds positive and even on Sunday they were still going on about it. 🙂
All I did was poach some cheap white fish I had in my freezer with the salmon, in the milk, until it was cooked through. (I omitted the studding the onion with cloves bit – including the onion – as nobody likes them.) I sprinkled in a little dried dill, as I didn’t have any fresh. While it was poaching, I cooked some frozen peas and spinach, to add to the cooked fish, before adding the boiled eggs, which I’d cooked earlier and left to go cold in a bowl of cold water, before peeling and quartering them.
The spinach was my addition, purely because I didn’t have any sweetcorn and it was that or frozen butternut squash – which actually might have worked in small pieces. (Must find time to restock the freezer – or steal more from parents…) I was careful to drain it well to avoid water ruining the sauce and then left that and the drained, flaked fish to cool in the dish. I made the sauce, poured it over the fish and topped with the mashed potato. Obviously a decent layer of grated mature cheddar went on there too.
The recipe calls for the addition of hard-boiled eggs and I didn’t think twice about that when I added them (although I only used 3 of the suggested 4, as it felt as though that would be too much once I started quartering them) because that’s kind of an old-fashioned thing and I thought it might be nice to try. I really love kedgeree (uncurried) and use hard-boiled eggs in that, too, so it made sense. I’d forgotten my dad isn’t a huge fan of fish pies anyway and has a deep and abiding suspicion of eggs which aren’t scrambled. This could have been an issue, except he was extremely hungry, so he got stuck in without paying close attention.
I got various messages raving about how delicious it was, including one from Dad (who’s declared it the tastiest one he’s ever had) commenting that he didn’t think he’d ever eaten a hard-boiled egg before! I must admit to being slightly bemused that they thought it was that good, since I’m not sure I’ve ever got especially excited by a fish pie, but in a sea of not very nice stuff, it was good to know I made them feel a bit better after a very long day.
Nan was discharged again on Sunday morning, and this time she’s stayed home. You can imagine that when she’s up to it, family want to come and see her, so the leftovers proved helpful yesterday. My sister called in to see Nan and hadn’t had the chance to eat, so she had a portion reheated in the oven and thoroughly enjoyed it – although because she knew it was considered tasty, she was careful to make plenty of ‘you’re poisoning me faces’ at me when other people weren’t looking. 🙂
As part of my ninja activities over at their house, I took some stuff from the fridge that was going to go off if someone didn’t use it imminently. There was yet more salmon, which I poached, flaked and will turn into fish cakes with a sweet chilli dipping sauce mixed in with the mash. There’s some steak mince, which I’ll turn into a lasagne and I have a couple of part-baked baguettes in the cupboard, which can easily be made into garlic bread with a pack of ready-made garlic butter I pinched, and wrapped in foil until required for baking. I’ve also defrosted some pork, to make a giant one of these. It’s a brilliant recipe which will give me 7 portions. I very much hope everyone likes that as I enjoy making it.
No photos of my efforts on this, I’m afraid. As soon as I’d assembled the cooled dish I stuck it in the back of my car and drove it across town to get it cooked. There’s an art to taking a ring road without ending up with a footwell full of salmon but fortunately it’s an art I practice, so all was fine. 🙂