I always sought the unusual – even in the times where meat and two vegetables were the standard fare. One sunny summer’s day in 1982 I discovered this recipe in a quaint cookbook at a school fair. It was an incredibly modern recipe in it’s day and became the regular favourite way to cook our weekly fish dish. It’s stood the test of time – still a little different and quite delicious with the unusual combination of fish and ham and the souffle topping works well. Serve it with steamed vegetables in winter or a green salad in summer.
1kg (2lb) firm white fish like ling or cod
60g (2 oz) butter
3 Tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup grated cheese
2 cups milk
75g (3oz) chopped ham
2 teaspoons dill or fennel seeds
- Butter a large shallow gratinee or pie dish. Cut the fish into large pieces and lay in the dish in a single layer. Sprinkle with dill or fennel seeds, salt and pepper.
- Pour over the milk, cover the dish with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 400F/200C for 10 minutes.
- Remove fish and reduce oven heat to 300F/150C. Pour the milk off the fish into a separate jug. Add the chopped ham to the fish in the dish.
- Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring all the time. Gradually add milk fish was cooked in, still stirring. Bring to the boil. Add cheese and stir until melted and smooth.
- Cool slightly. Then add egg yolks, one by one stirring thoroughly after each addition.
- Whisk egg whites until stiff and fold into the sauce with a metal spoon.
- Pour this mixture over the fish in the dish. Cook in the centre of the oven at 300F/150C for 30 to 40 minutes until risen and golden brown.
- Serve immediately.
John loves his food and his cooking. He arrives at our New Year’s brunch and produces his pie, warm from the oven, with a flourish. It is spectacularly good. John always has the knack of making it look particularly professional too.
8 rashers bacon
¼ cup chopped parsley
3 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
Quality readymade puff pastry, rolled out thinly
- Preheat oven to 220°C.
- Line a 20cmx30cm deep Lamingtin style baking tin with thinly rolled out puff pastry.
- Chop bacon into 5cm pieces and fry in a frying pan until cooked.
- Sprinkle bacon over pastry spreading evenly.
- Break eggs over, keeping the yolks whole.
- Sprinkle with parsley and cover with thickly sliced tomatoes.
- Cover pie with remaining pastry and trim edges.
- Brush pastry with beaten egg to create a golden glaze.
- Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 190°C and bake for another 20 minutes or until pastry is cooked.
- Serve warm cut into wedges.
This is the family’s most popular picnic and bushwalking food – of course it is wonderful for brunch and a very special treat in a school lunchbox. I used to bake it early in the morning and wrap in foil as it came out of the oven. It would still be slightly warm when we ate it. Nothing tasted better after some exercise – something about simple flavours.
3 rashers bacon, diced
2 sheets puff pastry
- Heat oven to 200°C
- Layer 1xsheet of puff pastry in a 23cm diameter pie dish.
- Cook bacon until crispy in microwave or frying pan.
- Drain all fat and scatter cooked bacon evenly over puff pastry.
- Break eggs over bacon being careful to keep yolks whole.
- Top with second sheet of puff pastry and crimp edges.
- Brush top of pastry with egg white.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is browned.
- Serve at room temperature or cold.
This is large, filling, a dash unusual, delicious and inexpensive to make. The cheese pastry is unbelievably good but I never got round to filling it with anything different. The ingredients are readily available in the pantry so it’s easy to whip up with a salad and bread for unexpected guests at a Sunday lunch or just for a light family dinner. In case you’re wondering, Audrey was mum of one of our family friends, Anthony Holman.
150g butter from the fridge
150g(1½ cups) cheddar cheese such as Coons or Bega
- Use grater blade in food processor to grate butter and cheese.
- Remove grater blade and replace with normal blade.
- Add flour and process until pastry just forms.
- Press into a 25cm greased pie dish -it will be quite thick.
1x484g tin asparagus, tinned works perfectly
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup cream
1t(5ml) bicarbonate of soda
pinch mustard powder
- Lay asparagus and cheese over pastry.
- Mix remaining ingredients and pour over.
- Bake at 180°C for 35 to 40 minutes until filling has set.
When young, the kids wouldn’t eat ratatouille because it was full of vegetables and had tomatoes!!! Now that the kids are grown ups they love it. I have included the basic vegetables required but you can add any other firm vegetables. The addition of the egg is delicious and provides protein for a complete meal.
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1x440g tin whole tomatoes, roughly chopped
¼ eggplant, cubed
1/2 capsicum, cut into 1cm slices
1 zucchini, cut into thick slices
100g green beans, top and tailed
100g button mushrooms, halved
- Sauté onion and garlic in a large frying pan.
- Add eggplant and capsicum. When starting to soften add remaining vegetables and mixed herbs.
- Cover with a lid and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Make two hollows and break an egg into each
- Replace lid and serve when eggs are cooked.
- Serve with good wholemeal bread.
When you don’t feel like shopping, a soufflé is a wonderful dish to fall back on as it is basically eggs, milk and cheese which are usually in every fridge. It looks professional and tastes wonderful. Despite the reputation of being ‘difficult’, a soufflé will work every time if you are careful not to lose too much air when you fold in the egg whites – use a metal spoon, don’t stir – fold, and it’s ok if there are still a few pockets of egg white. In addition you need to make it just before putting into the oven and serve immediately – let your family or guests watch – they will be impressed. The other trick is to get the cooking time correct – you want the top to be firm but still a little wobbly as it tastes so much better when it is still a little soft inside. I think it is the mustard in this particular soufflé that sets it apart from the norm.
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
2ml mustard powder or 1 teaspoon hot english mustard
100g grated cheddar cheese
- Prepare a 18cm diameter soufflé dish. Brush inside with a little melted butter and dust with parmesan, finely chopped walnuts or fine breadcrumbs – or just use flour. Add a paper collar that rises 3cm above the dish to the outside to contain the rising soufflé.
- Heat oven to 180°C.
- Melt butter in saucepan.
- Stir in flour and add milk, stirring all the time until mixture boils. If it gets lumpy, whisk until smooth.
- Add mustard powder and mix till combined.
- Add yolks, one at a time, stirring well between each.
- Add cheese and stir till melted.
- In a large bowl, whip egg whites until firm.
- Add 2T of egg white to soufflé mixture and stir with a large metal spoon to loosen the mixture.
- Now fold in remaining egg white in two batches with a metal spoon.
- Turn into prepared soufflé dish and sprinkle with a little extra cheese.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes till top is just firm – the centre should still be a little soft.
- Remove paper collar and serve immediately before it deflates too much.
- Eat with crusty bread and a green salad.