Friday, 6 August 2010

A fish pie for Simon

Okay, explanation time. Where have I been? What have I been doing? Who the fuck do I think I am posting every day for months and then just, pff, effing off like that into thin air? Do I not understand that bloggers must be there at all times, in all weathers, in order to qualify for attention?

So the reason I have disappeared is this: I am pregnant. Up the duff. Knocked up. In trouble. Oh no wait, not in trouble... sorry for a moment there I forgot I was married. And being pregnant has completely and utterly destroyed my interest in food.

Yes, I'm starving all the time, but only the kind of starving that sees me sitting on the kitchen floor eating cheap chocolate mousse, followed by marmite on toast and then perhaps some cheese, just chewed straight from the packet. (I smooth over the teeth marks with my thumb to fool my husband into thinking that I have not been doing this.)
What I don't want to do is read recipe books, or construct any kind of interesting meal, or think about vegetables (Ack! RETCH RETCH RETCH) ever. Ever, ever again. So you see my problem, perhaps.

I also couldn't say anything until 'Ping' 3 months were up because even though I spit in the face of superstition and drop ice cubes down the back of convention, if I had announced that I was suffering from a SPOT OF MORNING SICKNESS and then junior turned out to have five heads, or no spine, or to be a figment of my imagination, it would be really embarrassing.

But it's okay, says my obstetrician, whom I call The Beast, because it is an approximation of his surname and he is the least beast-like person I know.

I would scan the ultrasound picture in here, but I think doing that is really spooky. And it looks like an alien. But anyway The Beast thinks it's going to be okay. He also thinks I'm boring because I'm 30 and I don't have diabetes or Hepatitis C or sky-high blood pressure, which in the world of obstetrics makes me the equivalent of specially slow-drying paint.

Anyway, back to the food: it's been a disaster for it. And, just between you and me, I'm not sure what happens now. Those of you hoping that this blog might become some kind of media sensation so that you could say you knew me back when, you are going to be sorely disappointed.

I did come out of my temporary retirement the other day to make a fish pie for The Pescetarian, whose real name is Simon, because whenever he comes round to my house I always give him some horrible shit thing that I have hurriedly cooked alongside whatever frabjous feast I have made for my other carniverous guests.

So I thought it was time that he got a dinner of his very own. I was going to say something about my mother's fish pie here, but then I remembered that I personally find stories of other people's mothers' cooking staples quite unbearably tedious - so why should I torture you with tales of mine?

Anyway so fish pie is a thing that's nice. I looked up a Jamie Oliver fish pie recipe and he does his without making a white sauce. I  mean, I'm sure it's perfectly marvellous, but I wanted mine with a white sauce, so I sidled away from Jamie, feeling a lot like someone who's just had some advice from Warren Buffet about what do to with £2,000 but decides to go and blow it all on shoes anyway.

I did steal certain elements, like adding chilli, but to be honest I'm not sure how much better that made the finished product.

I'm sorry about the roughness of quantities for this. It really all depends on how big a pie dish you own how much you make.

Top tip: use a bigger dish than you think you need because as this cooks it will bubble a lot and if you fill a dish right to the top with the mixture (as I did) it will bubble over and drip down into the Queen of Puddings you are cooking in the same oven. Yes, I know. What do you want from me? I'M PREGNANT.

A fish pie for Simon

about 250g haddock or any other firm white fish - chopped into chunks
about 250g smoked haddock - chopped into chunks
some prawns (if you eat them... I usually refuse to but I thought I'd put my principles aside this once)
the juice of half a lemon
a quantity of white sauce - about 3/4 of a pint
salt and pepper
1/2 red chilli, no seeds
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
about 5 small potatoes, boiled, skins off

1 Put your peeled potatoes on to boil for about 30 minutes.

2 Meanwhile, make your white sauce - (see white sauce: beginner's only for more on this) - and then add the juice of half a lemon (or to taste, it shouldn't be overpoweringly lemony), your chopped chilli and salt and pepper. When the sauce tastes appropriately salty, creamy and zingy, slide in your fish and and chopped carrot and celery and poach on a gentle heat for about 10  minutes.

3 Add the chopped parsley - about a handful - then leave the fish mixture to stand and then drain your potatoes. I urge you, if possible, to use here a mouli legume or a potato ricer. But if you have neither don't go out and buy one especially: just mash the suckers.

4 Generously butter your pie dish and then flop in the fish mixture, followed by the mashed potato on top. Dot with butter and anything else you fancy (more salt? cheese?!) and then stick it in an 180C oven for about 40 minutes.

Simon said it was nice... but you can never be sure with him.

Here is a picture of France, where I am on holiday (it rained yesterday):

And just so you don't feel sorry for me, here it is today being sunny:


  1. Congratulations to you both! Hope your appetite returns soon :)

  2. Wahey! Congratulations. Great news.

    Though a blog about crazy pregnant eating does seem the obvious solution. You don't need to write great long posts. Just a daily 'the weirdest thing I ate today' with a photo. THAT could be a sensation.

  3. Oh my god! That's so great! Congratulations.

    It's going to be one awesome baby.

    Hope you're relaxing and having a lovely time enjoying all the food you can using the 'I'm eating for two' excuse.

    Keep us updated!


  4. Congratulations! I thought that was the reason xx

  5. Oh, I am so relieved you are OK I can't tell you! Fantastic news, well done both of you! Now just you pull yourself together and focus on your responsibilities to your loyal followers - no more excuses!

  6. Long time lurker, first time poster. So happy to have a dose of recipe rifle today, thank you! Congratulations!

  7. Brilliant news and enjoy your holiday! x

  8. Challenge: turn your blog into a series on cooking from Jamie and then turning it into baby mush food. All the mothers in Highgate will love you for it!

    Big congrats - hope you get writing again when the morning sickness goes (if it does? i know nothing). Happy holiday x

  9. Brilliant news! Congrats!

    Cadbury choc 'mousse' w/ buttons. :x Always have a strange craving for that. :x :x

  10. Congratulations! Great news!!

    Your fish pie sounds nice, I make mine adding also smoked salmon trims, and if you want also mussels and cockles (optional), and cook the haddock in milk with a coupl of the garden's bay leaves and some saffron. Try it next time you have Simon - or a non-meat eater - and tell me what you think. Francesca

  11. Huge congratulations.

    I wondered if your symptoms over the last few weeks seemed pg related but that's not great detective work, it's nearly always my answer when women between the ages of 15-50 feel off colour. I was obsessed with Baby Bels (sp) whilst pg, so easy to carry that cheese around...I loved all white/pale coloured foodstuffs. Best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy.

  12. I really like this blog. It is one of the best I have seen in a while. There are quite a few things on here that I will definitely try.

  13. I enjoy your blog very much. So glad you are back and warmest good wishes to you on your news. I intend to make your pastry recipe very soon. In the meantime I am cooking a meal for my next door neighbour who is on dialysis. Despite the constraints of her condition she tries to eat everything in moderation. She has a sweet tooth, so for dessert I have made white chocolate blondies with cherries - surprisingly easy.

    Please keep well.

  14. I had a bet on (with myself) that you were going to make some kind of announcement for your lack of posts but I was sure you were going to tell us you were in fact an alien and had been back to the home planet to report... but I suppose pregnant will have to do... just don't let it happen again in a hurry... we missed you x

  15. Hi Esther,

    That is great news. Congrats.

    Nice to see you back on here again. I have today bought the ingredients to prepare your coffee and walnut cake. hope you are having a super time on holiday, and it is not too boiling.

  16. Congratulations - I hope that you get your appetite back as your blog is super!

  17. ooh! congratulations, very exciting news! wishing you a happy and healthy pregnancy

  18. Glad you are enjoying the Baby Belles (how on earth is it spelt?). I also found that crisps held the meaning of life when I was pg. And I was obsessed with sparkling water.

  19. Congratulations! I'd been hoping that you were pregnant as otherwise you were just horribly sick for a horribly long time and thus possibly dying. Which would not be good. (Obviously).
    I echo the other comments which suggest that you just write about what weird crap you put in your mouth whilst pregnant. I love reading your blog, doesn't matter if you can't create amazing recipes!
    Good luck! xxx

  20. Blimey! It's only just dawned on me that the labour pain joke I told you so badly in mid May was way more topical than I could have known. Anyway, make sure they hook GC up to that shared pain machine :) And, once again, congratulations to you both on your lovely news! x

  21. Huge congratulations to you both, this is such brilliant news. I hope you're having a lovely holiday. I am not in the least bit put off by the removal of the food element from your blog. Firstly, I am a food slut, which means that I enjoy marmite on toast/cheese from the packet/chocolate mousse most of the time. Secondly, I know you can write about NOT eating and still make it highly amusing. xx

  22. your blog won a competition i ran for the best food blog.


  23. Hurray for strange pregnant food stories! I've gone from being carb-phobic to indulging a serious toast addiction. Just hoping that's it's going to be easy to kick the toast habit after the baby comes. Gah. Hope you feel better soon, enjoy the blossoming tum :)