Avoca Fish Pie and a day off work.

The weather here has been terrible.  It hasn’t been very cold, but it’s been very dark and very very wet, it has felt almost like night time all day long.  Unusually however the weather gods decided to save up the sunshine for the weekend which was nice!  And even nicer it spilled over onto Monday which was a holiday (for some of us!).

I sit in my office today (Tuesday) and it’s grey, dull, and wet outsite, also our heating is broken so I’m freezing.

But the weekend was lovely, it was cold, bright, sunny and full of autumn colours.  Yesterday was 11th November and was a public  holiday in Belgium, although as many of my friends and loved ones work for one or other of the various European Instituions who do not have the day off it was a bit of an odd holiday!

I had a lovely day though, after a run in the morning, a bit of toast with the last remnants of Sylvia’s Ginger and Rhubarb Jam I went and met her for a coffee and then we took a stroll down to Bois de la Cambre where we walked for about 2 hours.

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After that we stopped in Cafe de la Presse for some lunch, which was lovely and warm and cosy.  We spotted a friend and his son strolling by so we strolled home with them.

By the time I got home the cold had run through me so no better way to warm up than spending some time in the kitchen.  My Mam had sent me this recipe the week before so I gave it a bash and it turned out very tasty!

Avoca Fish Pie
Serves 4 to 6

  • 300g cod fillet
  • 150g smoked halibut
  • 150g smoked makarel

(the original recipe called for 600g fish – I think you can probably use any combination – but smoked fish gives a really good flavour – I used the above combination because it’s what I had in the freezer)

  • Small glass dry white wine
  • 250 ml cream
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • Approx 400-450ml of fish cooking liquid (milk)
  • roux  made with 50g flour and 50g butter
  • 1 lemon halved and zested
  • Tablespoon chopped parsley, stalks speerate
  • tablespoon of chopped dill (I didnt have this so used chives instead)
  • sea salt
  • freashly ground black pepper
  • 100g of grated mature cheddar cheese (optional)
  • creamy mash
Method
  1. Start by preparing the fish, remove the skin and all pin bones then dice into squares.
  2. Make the roux (melt butter and add flour and cook a little).
  3. Zest the lemon.
  4. Cut the grated lemon in half and place in a shallow saute type pan along with the diced fish, some of the parsley stalks, the white wine and just enough liquid to cover.  I used milk here – it worked out fine in the end though initially it looked a bit curdled probably because of the wine! I’d do the same again as the wine gave a lovely flavour but if you prefer you could either use water and wine to cook it in, or if using milk add the wine at a later stage while making the sauce.
  5. Simmer the fish gently for 6 – 8  minutes, no longer, dont worry if its not totally cooked it will be cooked in oven later.
  6. Using a slotted spoon gently remove the fish from the stock and place in an earthenware dish.
  7. Remove the lemon and parsley stalks from the stock and continue to simmer until it has reduced to around 125 ml if using stock.   ( I didn’t do this I just cooked fish in milk added parsley stalks then the lemon and removed them and used the milk for the roux) it was grand.
  8. Cook carrots and celery in a little water until al dente 6 to 8 minutes. Simmer liquid and allow to reduce.  Remove veg and add to fish, reserve the cooking liquid and add it to sauce later, to lighten the sauce if necessary.
  9. Place both types of stocks in a large saucepan and add the cream and lemon zest and heat gently.  Once the liquid is hot start whisking in the stock cook until sauce thickens.  Add the chopped parsley and chives. 
  10. Now pour the sauce over the fish and veg in the ovenproof dish mixing it gently between pieces of fish, sprinkle with the remaining herbs.   Sprinkle grated cheddar on top if using.
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  12. Then pipe on the mash.
  13. I cooked for 25 to 30 minutes at around 180degrees or until the mash is crisp and golden
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