Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Christmas and fish pie (again)

I wouldn't say that I was panicking about Christmas - Dr O has put paid to the worst of my anxieties (and at only £120 an hour! Bargain!) - but I would say that it was definitely on my mind.

We are having everyone here. And when I say everyone I mean two sets of parents, two sisters, two infants, two cousins an aunt and an uncle. It adds up to 14 people. The fact that we don't have enough chairs for that many people is the least of my problems. I don't think we have enough glasses, either. Or cutlery.

We're so worried about the food that we are having a practise run on November 30th. We are doing the whole thing - brining the turkey, bread sauce, roast potatoes, the lot. I might even take the opportunity to put up a few Christmas decs to see how they look. I'm going for a very barnyard theme this year - all brown twine and chipped red jingle bells - you know the sort of thing I mean No tinsel, perhaps a bit controversially. I hate tinsel.

So I will report back after November 30th with top tips on how it all went.

For now, because I promised, I wanted to run through a childrens' fish pie recipe for a reader who requested it.

People make a lot of fuss about giving children fish pie - they think it's so marvellous and middle-class; but I do think that some children don't like it. Or at least don't like some elements of it. Very fishy fish, like salmon, is often not especially appreciated. And a proper fish pie is made with smoked haddock, which is very salty - so you might want to leave that out if you're touchy about stuff like that.

Personally, I make mine as bland as possible. When I was little I never, ever had to eat anything I didn't want to. I literally lived on baked beans, alphabites, scrambled eggs and spaghetti bolognese. My mother has a theory that small children can't digest brassicas (spinach, broccoli) very well and so that's why they don't like them. I'm not going to say anything pathetic like "It never did me any harm" because who knows?! But certainly I am very grateful to my mother for not being an "eat up your veg" nag. And I don't have a problem with vegetables now.

Anyway, I'm drifting.

Any fish pie is simply fish poached in a white sauce and covered with mashed potato or pastry and that's it. Anything else you add is entirely up to you and frankly, although it's not for me to tell you what to do with your child, I would be guided by any preference my child shows - eg parsley or no parsley, egg or no egg. I don't think you're supposed to give babies shellfish under a year but thereafter you could chuck in some brown shrimp. Yummy.

So the contents of a fish pie might look like this:

(makes several freezable portions)
1 quantity of white sauce (for recipe see "How to make a white sauce" - on this blog) - about 3/4 of a pint
1 quantity assorted white fish, eg haddock/cod/scallops - smoked fish if you want, salmon if you want
a few mushrooms if you like
2 eggs

1 Make the white sauce.

2 Chop up the fish into small chunks - about the size of dice (depending on child's age of course) and then plop into the white sauce. Let this stew together over a low flame for 15 minutes.

3 Hard-boil and chop your eggs, if using. Dice your mushrooms, if using, and throw those in too.

4 Decant this mixture into your bowls for freezing and top with either pastry or mashed potato. On re-heating defrost and cook for a good 25 minutes.

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