A good friend is of the opinion that a cookbook has proved its worth if you get 5 recipes from it that turn into regular things that you cook. Given how small a repertoire of regular dishes most home cooks have that’s a pretty good rule of thumb, although I’d almost go so far as to say the Avoca Cafe Cookbook: Bk. 1 justifies its place on my bookshelf on the strength of its chicken and broccoli gratin recipe alone. Having made that gratin several times I felt I needed to try another family meal from the book and went for their fish pie. Many cookbooks have a fish pie recipe and they are all variations on a theme but this was great I’ll definitely be following this one again. It is simple flavours using good ingredients and not very difficult to make. I’ve seen people debate the merits of hard boiled eggs in a fish pie, I come down in favour not least because at least during spring, summer and autumn we always have an abundance of eggs from our chickens to use. I agree with their assertion that too many different additions confuse the taste buds in this pie. The final winning part of this recipe for me is the use of breadcrumbs to top rather than mashed potato, (despite growing up in an Irish household I have a great aversion to some forms of potato hate mashed potato the most).
I served this as suggested, with green salad, and baked potatoes for Jon and the boys. The quantities would serve 6 easily and 5 generously. We enjoyed it so much we ate the lot between 4 of us but were aware it was rather more than we should be eating. I’d make it with approx 500g of fish next time and reduce some of the other ingredients a little if I was making it for four.
- 700g smoked haddock
- 2 onions peeled and chopped
- 600ml/1 pint full cream milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 black peppercorns
- 110g/4oz butter, plus extra for the topping
- 50g/2oz plain flour
- 4 eggs, hardboiled, shelled and halved
- A bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 200g/7oz frozen peas
- 6 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- Put the haddock in a saucepan with the onions, milk, bay leaf and peppercorns. Place over a moderate heat, bring slowly to the boil and poach the fish for 5mins, or until it flakes easily.
- Remove the fish and set aside to cool, reserving the cooking liquid (I put the onions aside with the fish so that they would be in the finished pie).
- Gently melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour making a roux. Strain the reserved milk from cooking the fish and gradually stir it into the roux. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes stirring all the time. Season with salt and pepper.
- Break up the fish into large chunks and place in a shallow oven proof dish. Add the hardboiled eggs, parsley and peas and pour the sauce on top.
- Scatter over the breadcrumbs and dot with butter
- Bake in an oven preheated to 180C/Gas 4 for 30-40 minutes until brown and bubbling.