In October, I had the good fortune to go to a little town in Connecticut to celebrate my favorite TV show. I saw many wonderful people and had a great time, despite the cold incessant rain. Bone chilling rain. All. Weekend. Long.
Needless to say, soup was definitely on the mind.
How can this be? Elegant comfort food. Brisket, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, brownies. Sure, they are all comfort foods but I wouldn’t go so far to say that they are elegant. It takes some pretty fussing piping and arranging to make them look nice. And there is seemingly little point as you will soon demolish them while sitting on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, watching Netflix.
This, like so many of my other recipes, came from a point of necessity. A sad eggplant. An enormous container of mashed potatoes. A few rogue mushrooms. And FMFK’s (future Mr. Fictional Kitchen) burning desire for something called potato cakes which he has never eaten nor has any idea how to make. Since I have a tendency to read cookbooks cover to cover, I did have an idea.
This recipe is the Best Stew with Olives winner according to Food52, and I certainly agree it is delicious. The next few weeks are going to bring about many changes: moving in with my fiance, moving to a new state, starting a new job, still trying to plan a wedding from another state.
Naturally, this has brought about a need for comfort food. I often to turn British food when I want comforting. Mashed potatoes and onion gravy. Crispy-skinned sausages. Toad in a hole. Chicken tikka masala.
Amongst some of the less fun things I did while in Italy was helping clean out my grandparents’ house. While they live in the city, they kept my grandmother’s parents’ home in the country. We would go there to play in the garden or learn to ride our bikes. It was where I learned to eat raspberries from the vine and made myself sick eating too many kiwis which grew over the garage.
Sometimes, when my family came to visit, we would all live down there for a week or two. While the church bells tolling through the night can be annoying, the day-long bike rides through the risaia were well worth it. Now the house is up for sale and we must remove the furniture, clothes, books, and knick-knacks which have accumulated over the years.
It was in a used book shop that I stumbled upon Kate Jacobs’ second work, Comfort Food. I had just finished reading Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots and so the cover appealed to me.
The book follows the life of food television star, Gus Simpson. Simpson found solace and employment in cooking after she was unexpectedly widowed at a young age. She has achieved star status, a comfortable house in the Hampton, and two beautiful daughters. Now it seems that her world is under attack.
Look at those crispy peaks!
As you will soon realize, I love anything in pie form. Almost as much as I love recipes in grams. This fish pie wins on both accounts!
As the weather cools down, I’ve been making more and more pies, sweet and savory. I was afraid that this, with its smoked fish and milk poaching liquid, would be a very fishy dish indeed. But, if you like clam chowder than you will love this dish. It does require a lot of work, but you can break it up into smaller tasks over a day or two.
This morning before work I was able to boil and mash the potatoes. I was using frozen fish and left it in the fridge to defrost all day. When I came home, all I had to do was poach the fish for a few minutes and make a white sauce.