On Sunday we did another of our trips over the Rimutaka Hills to Martinborough, lunching as usual at The Village Cafe, having our usual smoked salmon sandwich (Karl) and Caesar Salad (me). Naturally, being in wine country (I still think it is amazing I live an hour’s drive from vineyards), we returned with a couple of bottles, a pinot gris from Stonecutter and a rose from Ashwell.
I’ve had the pinot gris at The Village Cafe and it is really good. We haven’t tried the rose, just waiting for the right meal and occasion.
Dinner on Sunday was one of my favourites, fish pie. It’s creamy, fishy, tasty and perfect for a winter weekend dish. Everyone has their own one, here’s one version – some people add hard boiled eggs, and it is even better made with a smoked fish if you can get it where you live. First of all, peel potatoes and put them on to boil. You need ones that make a good mash. Then make the sauce. For this you need: 70g butter; ½ cup flour, a good half teaspoon of mustard powder, a wee pinch of nutmeg, 3 cups of milk and salt and pepper. Melt the butter, and when it begins to foam add the flour. Stir over heat for about a minute until it forms a nice ball of butter and flour – a roux to be precise. Add mustard powder and nutmeg. Here in NZ you can get the same mustard powder as I grew up with in the UK, though am not sure just how world wide this product is. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring until a thick, smooth sauce is produced. This used to be my job as a child – that moment when the sauce begins to thicken, when you take it off the heat and add whatever comes next, in this case some lemon peel, lemon juice, finely chopped parsley and some frozen peas.
Roughly chop about about 500g fish – whatever is on offer that day, but make sure it is a good, firm white fish. Pour in a bit of sauce, top with fish, add more sauce. Mash your potatoes in your usual way – as well as butter and milk, I add black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Cover the fish and sauce mixture with the mashed potato and top with some grated cheese. You can add hard boiled egg to the fish mixture if you like, or peeled prawns, or mix the fish. Bake at 220C for 25-30 minutes, when the sauce should be bubbling and the potato is golden on top.
A blurry fish pie
Fish pie and salad
It is a great dish that can be expanded for guests, fills up hungry folk and that can be adapted to personal tastes – add what takes your fancy. In Swedish, it is called ‘fiskgratin’.
And so, moving swiftly on to the new experience as to the old one of fish pie. A long standing issue with my shoulder has sent me to an acupuncturist. It was the first time I had been and found it interesting, coming out feeling both physically exhausted like after a good massage yet mentally energised. I can already lift my arm 1cm higher.