Laid Up For Winter

“Dangerous surf conditions, hazardous for coastal activities such as swimming, surfing and rock fishing”. Hmmmm. This seems to be a regular warning from the bureau lately, and crikey blimey is it cold?  I know I’m always commenting on the weather, but really, its the main influencer of how my week turns out at the moment. As winter solstice has arrived boaters everywhere are either hauling their vessels out for off season maintenance or sniffing out tropical anchorages up North. What to do then when the tinnie is laid up? Make fish pie.

Last Thursday I was heading off to the “Scott’s Last Expedition” exhibition opening night at the National Maritime Museum to be an offical “tweep”. A quadruple quantity recipe was in order which could be baked ahead and shovelled into hungry mouths whilst I dashed out the door. This quantity also fits perfectly in my favourite blue pie dish…

Rhubarb waiting in the slips…always happy to help…

When I was a child it was a favourite job when making these kind of pies to plough the fields…

…and scatter…

Which makes for a nice crusty lid on your pie

When I’m eating this pie I imagine I am sitting in a bench seat in the window of The Ship Inn in Porthleven, with a pint of Doombar and a storm raging at the window. Where would you eat yours?

I slightly adapted Jamie’s “Fantastic Fish Pie” recipe from his ‘Return of the Naked Chef” book. Here it is:


5 large potatoes, peeled  and diced

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 free range eggs

2 handfuls of resh spinach (I used green beans instead)

1 onion finely chopped

1 carrot finely chopped

extra virgin olive oil

approx 285mls of double cream ( I used about 300ml and it wouldn’t hurt to have a little more I think)

2 good handfuls of mature cheddar or parmesan

Juice of 1 lemon

1 heaped teaspoon English mustard

Large handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

About 500g white fish of your choice such as flathead or something else sustainable (Jamie says 455  but I think thats a bit specific – who orders 455g of fish when its sold by the kilo?!) slice into chunks

nutmeg (optional)


Preheat the oven to 230 degrees. Boil potatoes in salted water until just soft enough for mashing. Boil the eggs until hard boiled and when cool peel and cut into quarters. Cook your green vegies (such as spinach or green beans) until just wilted or a little crisp, and set aside.

In a separate pan fry the carrots and onions in a little olive oil  for about 5 minutes until soft, then add the cream and bring just to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, lemon juice, mustard and parsley. Put the fish, green veg and eggs into a pie dish and pour over the creamy sauce. Mash the spuds, add a little olive oil and nutmeg (and a little milk if it seems dry) and some salt and pepper and spread over the top of the fish mixture. Make a nice pattern with a fork. I like to sprinkle a bit of cheese on but you don’t have to. Place in oven and cook for about half an hour or until the potato is golden. You can serve with whatever you like. Jamie suggests baked beans, a favourite of mine, and don’t be scared to add some HP sauce or tartare.



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