Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Nursery Fish Pie

Disclaimer: I don’t really like fish. I like sea bass and prawns and calamari but the rest of it, as far as I’m concerned, can stay in the water and off of my plate. But, I’m a very good girlfriend you see and when the man indoors wants a fish pie for dinner, I deliver. What I’m trying to say is that this recipe is great if you don’t really like fish but for whatever strange reason you kinda have to eat it.

We all know how much of a Nigella fan I am and she is my go to woman when in need of a recipe. This fish pie was featured in Feast, otherwise known in my house as the ‘Every Occasion Bible’. I used to rent this from the library almost constantly before I got my own copy, it’s such a great book. The recipe is also on Nigella’s site, which you can find here.

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I had no need to cook for 8 people so I halved the recipe and made a few changes so the instructions below are inclusive of my amendments.

First things first, peel and chop enough potatoes to make the mash. I didn’t weigh my potatoes, but used about 5 regular sized ones. Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are really soft then mash them with a splash of milk and a big chunk of butter.  At the same time, hard boil two eggs (Delia says 7 minutes, and Delia knows her eggs so trust in Delia) and boil about 80g of peas for a minute or two.

In a large pan, lay roughly 250g each of cod and smoked haddock, top with a couple of bay leaves, a tablespoon of peppercorns and half an onion then pour over 250ml of milk. Bring this to the boil then reduce to a simmer and gently cook the fish for about 5 minutes until it starts to flake. Remove the fish to a plate and drain the milky liquid into a jug.

Now to make the sauce. Melt 40g of butter in a saucepan and stir in the same amount of plain flour. Cook down for a minute or so, then remove from the heat and whisk in the fishy milk. Yes, that’s right, fishy milk. Lovely. Put the pan back on the heat, add a pinch of grated nutmeg and heat through until thickened. Remove from the heat again and stir through about 100g of grated cheddar cheese.

To assemble, flake the fish into the bottom of an ovenproof dish, keeping it quite chunky. Next, add 150g of cooked king prawns, then pour over the cheesy sauce. Use a spatula to spread out the sauce and ensure even distribution. Sprinkle the peas onto the sauce and fish layer then lay slices of hard boiled eggs on top. Add a bit of chopped parsley. Dollop your mashed potato on top then use a fork to rough it up, before adding a good handful of grated cheddar cheese. Pop the fish pie into the oven for 30 minutes on about 190°c. It should come out bubbling and creamy.

I must admit, this was rather lovely, even as a non-fish fan. Good old Nigella delivers again. But, I do have two issues. One: There is an absolute f**kload of washing up. That’s even more than a shitload. Two: My kitchen smelt of fish.

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Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Nutella Cake

Forgive me for another Nigella recipe but I recently had a birthday (fun fact – it’s Jan 6th, the same day as Nigella’s!) and I wanted to bake myself a cake, so who better to turn to for a fabulous recipe than our Nige? This Nutella cake is from ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ and is referred to, rather fancily, as Torta Alla Gianduia in the book. You can see the online version of the recipe here.

The cake was easy as peas to make and it made the most fantastic birthday breakfast (it’s once a year so back off diet police) and continued to be enjoyed by guests for a couple of days after. It is very rich so you only need a slither. Note the word ‘need’….necessity should always be overtaken by sheer greed when it comes to birthday cake.

To make it, you start by whisking 6 egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff(ish) peaks. An electric whisk is best for this.

You then need to beat together a whole 400g jar of Nutella (I omitted a spoonful or so as it accidentally fell into my mouth instead of the bowl) with 125g soft unsalted butter in a separate bowl. I found this quite a workout so I hereby give permission to skip arm day at the gym if you make this cake. Add in the six egg yolks that were previously separated from their whites, a tablespoon of water and 100g ground hazelnuts. Confession – I used ground almonds as I couldn’t find ground hazelnuts and did not have the time nor patience to grind any whole nuts myself. It worked just as well, though I admit it loses a little of its authenticity. Next, fold in 100g of dark chocolate that you have melted and allowed to cool.

Now two bowls must become one. Add a dollop of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and beat well, then add the rest of the whites one third at a time, folding gently, until you have a coherent mixture. Without eating too much of it, scrape the batter into a cake tin that has been greased and lined and bake at 180°c for 40 minutes or so until the cake is coming away from the edges of the tin. Mine actually needed an hour. Leave to cool on a wire rack until it is completely cold before un-moulding from the tin. For the love of Nigella, do not ice it whilst it is still warm.

To make the icing, heat 125ml of double cream with 125g of dark chocolate and a tablespoon of water until the chocolate has melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until you achieve a thick mixture that will sit on top of the cake without running down. I never quite reached this consistency by whisking alone so added a tablespoon of icing sugar to thicken it up and this worked a treat. Top the cake with the icing then scatter over 100g of whole, peeled hazelnuts that have been toasted in a dry frying pan and are completely cool. And voila, you have got yourself one fine looking cake that is everything you want from a chocolate cake. It’s rich, gooey centred and full of calories. Happy Birthday to me (and Nigella!)

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The Verdict: An easy cake to make and more interesting than a conventional sponge. The crunch of the whole hazelnuts was a welcome addition to the chocolatey gooeyness of the cake, especially after it had been sitting for a bit and the sponge and icing were becoming one.

Washing Up Score: 8/10 – So.Many. Bowls.