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Lenten substitute

13 March 2015

by Simon Walsh


LENT calls for some invention with fish. This year, inspiration comes from a carb-heavy dish of cheese and potato. My Smoked haddock tartiflette uses, instead of the usual bacon lardons, fish, and Brie cheese.

750g (1.5 lb) new potatoes

300ml (10 fl. oz) crème fraïche

90g (3 oz) butter

320g (11 oz) smoked haddock

2 leeks, and 1 stick celery

handful of chopped chives

white pepper

175g (6 oz) Brie cheese

First, heat the oven to 400°F/ 200°C/Gas 6, then halve the new potatoes to about 1.5cm or half an inch in size, keeping the skins on, and parboil in salted water.

Put the crème fraïche, half the butter, and the haddock into a pan, and heat gently for 5 minutes to poach the fish, leaving it to cool.

Place a flameproof casserole large enough to take all the ingredients on the hob, and heat the butter with a glug of olive oil. Peel off the outer layer of the leeks; top and tail; wash; chop, along with the celery; and fry together in the casserole until soft. Drain and add the potatoes, giving everything a good stir. Increase the heat a little, and brown the vegetables, which will take a few minutes.

Flake the fish (discard the skins), and add to the casserole potato mix. Stir in the crème fraïche, the chopped chives, and a dash of white pepper. Slice the cheese in half, horizontally, and place the two wedges on top of the potatoes, rind side up. Bake for 20 minutes, until brown and bubbly. Serve with peas.

Before the trend departs entirely: Salted caramel meringue pie.

120g (4 oz) wholemeal flour

120g (4 oz) unsalted butter

60g (2 oz) golden syrup

60g (2 oz) soft light brown sugar

120g (4 oz) caster sugar

250ml (8 fl. oz) single cream

1 dessertspoon sea (not table) salt

1 teaspoon cornflour

3 eggs, separated 

Make the pastry: whizz the flour and half the butter together in a food processor to resemble breadcrumbs. With the motor running slowly, add 1 tablespoon or so of very cold water to make it into a ball. Roll in flour, then cover with clingfilm and chill for at least an hour in the fridge. Roll out, and line a 22cm (9 in.) tart tin, and chill for a further 30 minutes. Bake blind at 400°F/200°C/Gas 6 for 15 minutes, then uncover for a further 10. Reduce the heat to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.

In a pan, melt together the remaining butter, syrup, brown sugar, and half the caster sugar, simmering and swirling for a few minutes. Take off the heat, add the cream and salt, and stir to settle. Whisk together the egg yolks and cornflour, pour the caramel sauce on top, mix, then pour into the pastry case.

Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, then add one third of the remaining caster sugar, then another third. Spread them over the filling in clumps, sprinkle with the last of the sugar, and return to the oven for about 20 minutes, until brown and crunchy on top.

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