Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Guest Post - Dave's Fisherman's Pie

I love twitter it connects you to so many cool people, one is Dave Evan's - UK Expat Particle Physicist Computing & Software dev in Chicago. Rugby, Physics, Food, Cooking, interesting discussion on pretty much anything

We immediately hit it of both having a British humor and a love of good food. I started to read his blog and was so impressed by his cooking ability and passion for inventing new recipes like this one, a healthy version of the beloved fish pie. With a tomato based sauce and seasonal carrot, sweet potato and butternut squash topping. I love this as a dietitian as its healthy and packed with flavor. 

This is on Dave's blog - I would like to create the online equivalent of a dog eared, pencil-note scribbled, post-it note and notepaper stuffed cookbook that lives in the bottom of the kitchen drawer and someone one day finds, and possibly craps themselves with nostalgia. If not, then bugger it, it works for me.
I love this and still want chow and chatter to be about finding cool blogs and promoting them, as they deserve to be read and enjoyed by many just my opinion ;-)

This dish started with a bit of a dilemma:
I recently bought a copy of the new Pieminister Cookbook, A Pie For All Seasons (and a very nice, pie-centric book it is too!) and naturally wanted to dive straight in and start new adventures in pastry wrapped meat in gravy. However, my wife is on a pretty strict diet limiting calories and fat intake on a daily basis, so I had to try and reconcile something healthy with the fantastic stodge one usually associates with a pie.

One of the recipes in the book is a fish pie called the Pietanic, which is a nice take on the classic creamy béchamel and mash topped fisherman's pie. Given the lack of pastry and presence of fish as opposed to meat, it seemed like a pretty easy target to tweak and make it a bit healthy.
Firstly, if there is a way to make a healthy, creamy béchamel sauce, then I don't really want to know about it, because it's quite good as- is. So the sauce morphed into a tomato based sauce that would be easy to make a bit lighter and would work with fish because things like cioppino and bouillabaisse are tomato based and also rather tasty.  This also made sense from the point of the view that the garden is producing a lot of end of season tomatoes at present, so I had plenty of very ripe, tasty cherry and currant tomatoes that I planned on roasting for sauce anyway.

For the mash on the top, slow absorbed starches like sweet potatoes are generally a bit better for you that plain white potatoes, but I am not overly keen on just plain mash. Having done a rather nice root vegetable mash with sweet potatoes recently, I decided to revisit that and combine roast butternut squash, garlic and sweet potatoes with some boiled carrots, which combined with end of season tomatoes really bought a fall feeling to the whole thing.

The first step for this recipe was to fire up the oven (to 375ºF) and roast two medium sized sweet potatoes and a halved butternut squash for an hour.

At the same time I took a large roasting tray and filled it with:

  • 1 Carrot, diced
  • 1 Celery stick, diced
  • 1 large Shallot, diced
  • 2-4 red and yellow bell peppers, sliced.
  • 4-6 cups of fresh cherry and currant tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

and threw that into the oven for an hour, occasionally stirring and finally giving it a bit of a mash.

For the root mash topping:

  • 1 roasted butternut squash
  • 2 roasted sweet potatoes
  • 2 large carrots, sliced and boiled until cooked through
  • 4-6 cloves of roasted garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1-2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • Few splashes of vegetable stock

Put all of the above into a bowl and give it a good thrashing with a potato masher, adding the stock to get you a smooth mash texture to top the pie with.

For the sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp Flour
  • 2 cups of roast tomato mash from above
  • Approx 1/2 L vegetable stock
  • Salt & Pepper

Melt the butter and oil together, add the flour and cook to make a roux. Once the roux starts to bubble like a honeycomb and turn a nice golden brown, add the tomato mixture and stir well. Then you start adding in the vegetable stock until you get a nice thick béchamel-texture sauce. Check the seasoning & adjust as needed.

I wanted a mixture of shellfish, oily fish, white fish and smoked fish in this and used (more because of what I had at hand than any great science) the following:

  • 4oz fillet of Tilapia
  • 6oz fillet of Salmon
  • 4oz smoked Salmon 
  • 6oz cooked shrimp

The fish was all chopped into pieces about the same size as the shrimp for even cooking, mixed and seasoned and placed into a casserole dish. The sauce was poured over the top and stirred in, and then I spread the mash over the top.

Into the oven for 45 mins at 350ºF and served with some baked broccolini with lemon zest, and job done!

What cool blog have you found lately?

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