Allow me to give you a bit of background. My mum is approaching the end of her year as Lady Captain of her golf club and has a celebratory dinner tomorrow which yours truly is attending. I thought I might buy myself a new gúna deas to wear to it, so off I toddled on Monday to one of the few shops I actually like the clothes in to try some on. Unfortunately, said shop has apparently decided to buck the trend of vanity sizing and adopt a policy of "take you down a peg or two" sizing instead. Having had to buy size ten trousers and shorts in the last few places I bought clothes; I thought I'd be whistling dixie by opting for size 12 dresses. This was not the case. Think of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in a sparkly frock and you'll be some way towards visualising how I looked. Deflated (in spirit, anyway, clearly not in body), I left the dressing room and trudged towards the exit. However, just at the door, I spotted another dress that looked like it might be cut a bit more, generously, shall we say. I grabbed it and returned to the dressing room. Pulling it over my head, I will admit that the thought that it was a bit tight across the chest crossed my mind. I got it on though, and stood back to have a look. It was rotten. Baggy and saggy around the hips, and absolutely bet onto me around my chest. "Bleurgh," said I, and went to take it off. It came as far as my rib-cage, and stopped. "Ah for Jaysis sake," says I, and tried again. It went maybe an inch further, then stuck fast again. I'm starting to panic a bit at this stage. Not only is the dress apparently spot-welded to my skin, it's made entirely of sequins and the bastards are taking the back off me. I pull it back down. I take a few deep breaths. I tell myself that if I got the dress on, I can get it back off. I exhale as deeply as I can in an attempt to shrink my ribcage a few millimetres and try one last attempt. I nearly get my elbows trapped inside it this time. I realise that the only way I'm getting out of this dress is by standing with my arms straight up over my head while someone else pulls it off.
I should mention at this juncture that I had taken off my bra so I could properly see how the dress, a racerback, would look.
Let this be a warning to you ladies: never shop alone lest you fall afoul of a recalcitrant dress and have to flash your boobs to a complete stranger who is probably being paid minimum wage.
Thankfully, the dressing room assistant was one of those middle-aged, salt-of-the-earth Dublin mammies who has probably seen far worse in her time. I called her in, sheepishly explained the situation and asked her to help me. Thus commenced a frenzied kind of tug-of-war with her at one end, pulling like bejaysis and me at the other like the back end of a panto horse. "I don't want to hurt you!" says she. "I don't care, just get the shaggin' thing off me!" says I. "Jaysis, but this is a terrible cut," says she. "Who are you telling?" says I. Then, like the cork coming out of a particularly stubborn bottle of champagne, out I popped. The relief! She legged it, probably to get on to head office and tell them they needed to recall such a faulty item, while I got dressed in a hurry and hung the dress back on its hanger. Where I spotted the hidden zip running the full length of the side seam. The. Full. Length.
Not one of my prouder moments, ladies and gentlemen.
Anyway, I'm sure there's some kind of "who ate all the pies?" joke I could use here to segue into the recipe, but I just can't think of one, so sue me.
Fish Pie - serves 4
300g salmon fillet 300g smoked white fish fillet
1kg potatoes 1 large carrot
2 sticks celery 150g good cheddar cheese
1 red chili 1 lemon
4 sprigs flat parsley, chopped 2 good handfuls baby spinach leaves
Olive oil Salt & pepper
1. Peel and cube your potatoes and bung into a large pot of boiling, salted water for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through. Drain and allow to steam-dry in the colander.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, stand a box-grater in a casserole dish and grate the carrot, celery and cheese on the rough side, then zest the lemon and grate the chili on the fine side. Cut the fish into chunks and add to the casserole with the parsley & spinach. Juice the zested lemon and add this to the dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with lots of salt & pepper, then mix the whole lot together with your hands until it's all evenly distributed.
3. Return the potatoes to the pot and mash with another glug of olive oil and a bit more salt & pepper. Spread on top of your fish mixture and bake at 200C for about 40 minutes, or until lovely and golden and crispy on top. Serve with green beans or a salad.
I will admit, this was right at the upper limits of my fishy tolerance, but Emmet absolutely demolished it. I might try it with just fresh white fish instead of the salmon next time, because I really loved all the other flavours. This is a really nice change from the usual "white sauce" fish pies. Thank you, Jamie Oliver.