Fish Pie Friday

Finally, Friday and my week with Letta W. Hesse and her What Shall I Serve is over. Here’s her small amount of ridiculous for week’s end:

Friday Night Menu

Tomato juice cocktail, celery, olives, fish pie, baked squash, corn southern style, shredded lettuce with Thousand Island Dressing, lemon sponge, caramelized sugar cake, and coffee

Just throw some olives and celery on a plate. I also didn’t bother with the lettuce and Thousand Island. But, fish pie sounded like just the right kind of horrible fun.

Fish Pie

Open a tin of fresh codfish. (Oh, Letta. How can it be fresh if it’s in a tin? Sadly, tinned codfish does not seem to be in favor at my local market. I went with frozen halibut.) Season with minced parsley, pepper or paprika and sage. To each cup of fish, add 1 C white sauce (I doubled the recipe below), place in pie plate and cover with layer of mashed potatoes. Cover dish and set in moderate oven until pie bubbles and steams. Uncover and brown. Serve at once.

White Sauce

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 C milk
  • ¼ t salt
  • Dash of paprika or pepper

Melt butter in saucepan; add flour, salt, and pepper and stir until well blended; when smooth and bubbling, add milk gradually, stirring constantly; bring to boiling point; cook 2 minutes. (Just to let you know, don’t actually let it boil. Get it to the boiling point and cook it for a bit.)

Baked Squash

Cut small squash in halves lengthwise; remove seed and stringy portion. Spread generously with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Do not use salt and pepper. Bake in shell in slow oven (325°) for 1½ hours. Serve in shell.


Notice how the fish pie really doesn’t have much in the way of time or temperature? I went with putting it in the oven about halfway through the squash recipe and then 10 minutes at a higher temperature for the browning portion.

Fish Pie

I used fresh sage from the garden, so you could really taste the sage in it. Everything else tasted very white sauce, fish, potato globby. Not bad, but not something you’d need to make again—especially considering you can throw a ton of vegetables in the pie and make it a stand alone meal.

The squash was just squash… I think most of us have had some version of this family favorite:

Baked squash

But, I did learn something with these two challenges: Menu planners are idiots. From now on, I’m just going to stick with pulling recipes from a variety of places. I’m also giving Letta’s cookbook a bit of a rest. Maybe I’ll pick it up later for a breakfast of Eggs a la Golden Rod on Buttered Toast or Scrambled Eggs with Calf’s Brains. But, for now, I’m content to just sit back and make my own menus.


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  1. #1 by sybaritica on 11.23.2012 - 4:37 pm

    I like the fish pie recipe … never tried it before!

  2. #2 by Elan Zingman-Leith on 11.27.2012 - 10:21 am

    It strikes me how much the fish pie recipe is like so many others in Victorian self-help books; a slap of white protein in a white sauce. Part of this bland-on-bland style was Nativist. The WASP cookbook authors were part of the women’s movement that included the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement, Home Economics, and the Settlement House movement. They were trying to solve the new problems of urbanization and industrialization in the 19th centur; and one of the ways to do it was to wean immigrants away from their “overstimulating” and “hot” foods. The theory went, if Italians (Sicilians and Neapolitans) could be weaned away from tomato sauce, they would stop getting into knife fights and become Americanized.

    A slap of chicken breast, cod, or cheese topped with bechamel, mayonnaise, or gelatine would calm those sexy Italians down and make them into English/American mid westerners.

    Elan Z-L

    • #3 by e.marie on 11.27.2012 - 5:40 pm

      thank you for sharing! i love the thought of tomato sauce being hot and stimulating… when now, we just think of marinara as something children to serve to the finicky children when out to eat… i’ve also heard that women of the time thought that italian immigrants were off because they didn’t eat as much protein as their WASP counterparts… beef and chicken were good… veggies, not so much…

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