I made a fish casserole. It smelled wonderful. It looked delicious. It was perfect. Until it fell on the floor. And so I had to make it again, to see if I was right about how good it would be. And it was very, very good, but not as good as I'm sure the original was. Isn't that always the way?
Actually, I seem to have chronic problems with making dishes for the second time. Barrett will remember the second time I tried to make Bearnaise sauce for eggs Benedict. The first time - despite how difficult all the books claimed it was - it turned out perfectly. The second time I went through several pounds of butter and gave up in the end with a split greasy sauce that my supportive roommates told me "tasted just as good" as a successful Bearnaise sauce. (They lied.)
So it was no surprise when the second edition of this casserole didn't turn out quite as well as the first. That said, it was still pretty tasty. It just couldn't live up to the perfection of the one that got away!
Fish, cream and ham: a perfect triumvirate. When I was growing up in the 70s I loved the creamed chipped beef my best friend Ginger's mother made for us on toast. And fish and cream of course make a silky luxurious pairing. The three together are sublime. Oh and then add some leek, yum.
This is a nice quick casserole dinner. I boiled the potatoes and leeks for a few minutes so that they would cook as quickly as the fish in the oven. While they were boiling, I was able to prepare the rest of the ingredients so not a minute was wasted.
400 g white fish, such as cod, cut in large cubes (next time I'm trying monkfish)
2 large potatoes
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
75 g Canadian bacon or English bacon, fat removed
1 leek, washed and sliced in rings
1/2 cup comté or gruyère cheese, grated
grated nutmeg, pepper
Peel the potatoes and chop one in small cubes. Boil the potato cubes and sliced leek for ten minutes. Slice the remaining potato very thinly. Mix the cream and the egg until smooth. Drain the potatoes and leek rings and add to the cream, along with the parsley, the fish and the bacon (cut in strips). Mix well and pour into a greased baking dish. Use the potato slices to cover the fish mixture and grate a little nutmeg over them. Top with the grated cheese and back in a hot oven (200c/400F) until the cheese is browned, the potatoes are tender and the whole dish is bubbling merrily. Remove carefully from the oven and show it to your dinner guests before you serve. It won't look nearly as pretty on the plate!