by Alison Boyd-Savage
If you are hesitant to prepare fish because you fear it’s too complicated and requires a lot of last-minute fussing, then this one-dish supper is for you. You can vary the ingredients to please the pickiest of eaters, while introducing more healthy meals into your diet. The base should always be a firm white fish and cod is perfect. Include 3 or four other varieties, with salmon, shrimp and an optional mild smoked fish providing the best blend of flavors.
While aiming to cut down on food waste, a quick rummage through my refrigerator provided the inspiration for April. I turned up a bag of cooked and frozen Mexican wild shrimp and a package of smoked trout, originally earmarked for a pate. A quick trip to the fish market for some cod, and an impulse buy of late-harvested Peconic Bay scallops, rounded out the cast. The lemon posset for dessert is a light and refreshing ending, with a very short prep time and just three ingredients; lemons, sugar and cream.
Luxury Fish Pie
You can experiment with your own mix of fish and shellfish. Be sure to ask for the thickest pieces of fish, as thinner cuts will overcook. I was lucky enough to snag some fresh Peconic bay scallops before the end of the season, but larger sea scallops, cut in half, are a good substitute. I made my sauce with a mix of white wine and bottled clam juice, finished with a touch of cream. If you have access to some good homemade fish stock, then please use in place of clam juice.
2 ¾ lbs. of floury potatoes such as russet, peeled & cut into large chunks
5 Tbs. unsalted butter
½ cup whole milk
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
½ cup white wine
1 ¾ cup fish stock
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tsp. fish sauce
3 Tbs. Italian parsley finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
1 lb. of thick cut cod filet, skin removed and cut into 1½ inch chunks
12 medium shrimp peeled, tails removed
6 oz. bay scallops (you can substitute sea scallops)
6 oz. smoked trout, broken into large chunks
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbs. finely grated parmesan cheese
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Gently bring to a boil and cook until just tender. Drain thoroughly before seasoning with salt and pepper and mashing until smooth. Set aside.
In a large heavy saucepan, melt 3 tbs. of butter. Add flour and mix thoroughly to form a thick paste. Keep stirring as you cook the mixture for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the wine. Return to the heat and add clam juice or fish stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, continuing to stir, until the sauce is thick and creamy.
Remove from the heat and add cream, fish sauce, parsley and lemon juice. Season to taste with a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Set aside. Gently heat the milk and remaining 2 tbs. of butter in a heavy pan with a hearty amount of salt and black pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the potatoes until well mixed through and smooth. Place the chunks of cod and smoked trout in the bottom of a large heavy ovenproof dish. Arrange the scallops and shrimp around the fish and season lightly. Pour on the warm sauce, making sure to coat all of the pieces. Cover with the potato mixture, swirling the top with a large fork before sprinkling with parmesan cheese.
Place in a 365 degree oven and bake until the mixture is bubbling and top is a golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside for 15 minutes before serving. Both the mashed potato and the fish and sauce mixture can be prepared ahead and refrigerated separately for up to 12 hours before assembling and baking.
This quick and easy version does not need a long boiling time as the traditional recipes require. It creates a soft lemon custard, which is topped with limoncello liqueur cream and candied lemon peel. Serve in your prettiest small glasses or bowls.
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup superfine sugar
Place the lemon juice, zest and ½ cup of sugar in a small heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Do not boil. Place the lemon syrup to one side. Place the cream and remaining half cup sugar in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for one minute before removing from heat and stirring in the lemon syrup. Set aside for 10 minutes before straining the mixture into small serving bowls or glasses. Refrigerate for at least three hours and up to 12 hours.
Candied Lemon Peel
3 tbs. superfine sugar
¼ cup water
Line a small sheet pan with baking parchment. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the lemon peel in thin strips without including the white part. Cut into thin shreds. Dissolve the sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan. Add the lemon peel and simmer over low heat until syrupy but still pale. Pour the lemon and syrup onto the parchment paper. Quickly use a small knife to separate the lemon peel so that it does not form clumps. Set aside to cool. Can be made up to a day ahead and stored at room temperature.
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs. limoncello liqueur
2 tbs. confectioners’ sugar
Whisk the cream together with the sugar and limoncello until thick. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 hours.
Just before serving remove posset from refrigerator and top with a generous dollop of limoncello cream and candied lemon peel.
Alison Boyd-Savage worked in advertising before running a catering business in her native London. After moving to Long Island, she first settled in Bridgehampton, where she worked as a private chef. Five years later, the quiet beauty of the North Fork prompted a move to Southold. On weekends she loves to entertain, and can be found scouting the local farm stands for seasonal produce and visiting the markets for local fish, meat and eggs. Each month, she now shares some of these dishes on the back page of the East End Beacon.