So at about 3.30pm we sat in the conservatory eating the artichoke fritters and drinking the bubbly. It's always nice to surprise someone with English sparkling wine!
Then at about 8.30 we sat down to the fish pie - with purple sprouting brocoli and a lovely Sicilian viognier.
Fish Pie (after Rick Stein)
For the base:
1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh herbs de provence
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
¼ cup white wine
3 fennel, bulbs, outer leaves removed
1 large onion, chopped
2 fresh bay leaves, cut into thin strips or 2 dried bay leaves, crushed
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
50ml/2fl oz olive oil
1 tsp sugar
For the filling:
700g white fish fillets
225g scallops, cut in half
250g green prawns, shelled
1 can smoked oysters
1 lemon, sliced
2 bayleaves, extra
125ml dry white wine
pinch saffron filaments
1tbs plain flour
For the topping:
1tbs crème fraiche
Peel the zest of the orange with a zester or peeler. Squeeze the juice from the orange. Reserve a couple of slices of onion and some of the frondy bit of the fennel. Put all the rest of the base ingredients (including the juice of the orange) in a heavy-based pan and cook gently, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the fennel is soft and all the liquid has evaporated. Spread into the bottom of a large casserole dish (I used a pyrex lasagna dish).
Put the water, white wine, lemon, peppercorns and extra bayleaves in a sauté pan with the reserved slices of onion and fennel frondy bits and bring to the boil. Slip the white fish fillets into the court bouillon. When it comes back to the boil add the prawns. As soon as they turn slightly pink, but before they are fully opaque add the scallops and turn off the heat. When the scallops are starting to turn opaque in the cooling liquid, remove the seafood from the court bouillon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Remove the lemon slices and discard. Add the saffron threads to the liquid and return to the heat. Reduce the liquid down to 250ml, strain and reserve.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. When it froths, add the plain flour and stir until the flour is entirely lump-free and combined with the butter. Cook for a couple of minutes. Gradually add the reserved saffron-infused cooking liquid, stirring continuously, and cook until thick. Taste for seasoning and add salt and white pepper if required.
Flake the fish fillets over the base of fennel. Scatter the prawns and scallops evenly and then distribute the drained smoked oysters (if you don’t like them you can leave them out, but I always like a bit of smokiness in a fish pie and on this occasion I didn’t want the full-on smoke hit of smoked cod). Pour the saffron sauce evenly over the seafood.
Peel and cut the celeriac into chunks. Boil in salted water until tender and then blend with the crème fraiche and butter until smooth. Season to taste and spread over the fish (or buy a tub of good mashed potato if you don’t like celeriac or couldn’t be bothered). Bake in a 200C oven until the edges are bubbly and the peaks of the celeriac are golden brown. Serve with steamed greens.Then we had a bit of a pause before the ginger syllabub. I didn't end up matching a wine to it, because we'd really had quite enough to drink already. I ended up making a few extra changes to the syllabub recipe, and it made masses so I think we'll be having it today for breakfast as well. Pity we haven't got any fruit in, it'd be wonderful with a fruit salad!
Ginger Syllabub (my way)
100g caster sugar
200ml green ginger wine
The finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
3 balls of very finely julienned stem ginger
500ml double cream
1 ½ ginger nut biscuits and 1tbs green ginger wine per person
Combine the sugar, ginger wine, lemon zest and juice in a bowl and stir well. And the cream and whip to soft peaks. Fold in the julienned ginger.
Break 1 ½ ginger nuts per person into wine glasses and drizzle about 1 tbs of green ginger wine over them. Spoon the syllabub into the wine glasses and refrigerate for an hour or so.