I was attracted to the recipe for “Fish-A-Leekie Pie,” from thedailyspud.com, because it’s a dish that stands far beyond my food vocabulary. The Irish author romanticizes the “creamy white wine and thyme sauce and a mix of smoked and unsmoked fish.” Hmmm. I could enjoy such a thing -- although I would never have imagined it on my own. I stretched out the preparation of this dish over the course of a whole day -- surely a relaxed, lazy approach. My version turned out to be a unique stew (as opposed to a “pie”), with its creamy sauce, sweet leeks, and slight lemon/mustard/caper tang. We liked this.

I doubled the amounts in this recipe, in order to make 4-6 servings. I also calculated the metric conversions. With that in mind, here are my measurements:

For the sauce:
7 Tbsp. butter
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 medium leeks, white and light green parts finely sliced (about 14 oz.)
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2/3 cup white wine
~1/2 cup plain flour
~4 1/4 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. English mustard (Colman’s)
2 Tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained
8-10 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley, loosely packed
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. malt vinegar

For the rest of the pie:
1 1/2 lbs. potato (about 4 medium-sized spuds – preferably waxy as they will hold their shape better)
17.5 oz. smoked haddock (or other smoked white fish)
17.5 oz. salmon fillet
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan

First, I made the sauce. I used a 2009 Spanish dry white Rioja wine and I did use Colman’s mustard, as instructed. Another British addition was the malt vinegar. To the sauce, I added another 2 1/2 tsp. salt, another splash of lemon juice, and another splash of Colman’s mustard. I chose not to blend/smooth the sauce; we were fine with the soft leek textures within. Once prepared, the sauce stayed covered in a pot, to cool on my stove top.

Next, I boiled my potato slices (1/4-inch-thick slices), then set them aside to drain and wait. Later in my day, I cut my smoked trout and my salmon fillets into 1/2-inch chunks, then finally assembled all the components into my baking dish. Baking temperature was 383 degrees F (180 degrees C). My pie, as I said earlier, was actually a messy stew. It was creamy and hearty and worth savoring. My young child tolerated it, but Dave and I enjoyed it for what it was: a tangy Irish fish and potato stew.

Since the roasting temperature is close enough to that of the above recipe, I also made the “Maple-Roasted Vegetables,” from cuisinerecipes.com, using this recipe as a “freeform guideline” for my own dish. Instead of rutabaga, I used cauliflower. This is one of those forgiving dishes that allows you to heap everything onto a baking sheet, season, and roast. This is the easiest way to prepare a pile of tasty, roasted vegetables.

My vegetables needed only 32 minutes to roast. I seasoned with 2 tsp.salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Everything here was sweetened by its roasting. A sprinkle of fresh thyme is never wrong, and here it echoes its use in the fish pie above, as well.

PRICES
Leeks (4) = $1.75
Yukon Gold Potatoes (1.5 lbs.) = $1.31
Smoked Trout (17.5 oz.) = $13.80
Salmon Fillets (17.5 oz.) = $8.88
Cauliflower (1 lb.) = $2.93
Turnips (1 lb.) = $1.58
Parsnips (1 lb.) = $2.09
Red Onion (1) = .80¢

RECIPES: a grandly comforting meal
PREP TIMES:
I used a whole day to assemble and bake the fish pie; roasted vegetables could be eaten after less than an hour of prep and cooking
TASTES: a buttery wine sauce coats sweet leeks, tangy fish, and smooth potatoes, while carrots, turnips, parsnips, red onion, and cauliflower taste like candy

Still in the mood for cozy food, next time I want to make “The Humble Shepherd,” from allrecipes.com. See my soft and gooey meal when you come back to my site on Monday, October 25.