675g (1½ lb) potatoes, cut into even sized pieces (about 5 medium)
115g (4 oz) cooked ham, diced
340g (12 oz) baby spinach leaves, chopped
28g (1 oz) butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
28g (1 oz) flour (3 tbsp)
150ml (5 fl oz) milk (⅔ cup)
150ml (5 fl oz) hot chicken stock (⅔ cup)
salt and ground black pepper
150ml (5 fl oz) single/table cream (⅔ cup)
85g (3 oz) Gruyère cheese, grated (¾ cup)
1.5 litre/2½ pint (6 cup) ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
Put the chicken, onion, carrot and bay leaf into a pan and cover with water. Bring the water to the boil, then cover the pan and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and discard the water and vegetables.
Blanch the potatoes in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, dice into 1cm (½ inch) cubes.
Dice the chicken and put into a large bowl along with the ham and spinach. Toss to mix, then spread over the base of the ovenproof dish.
Melt the butter over a medium heat. Turn the heat down and quickly stir in the flour and mix to a smooth paste. Gradually add the milk and stock, stirring continuously until there is a smooth sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 2–3 minutes, stirring continuously, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat. Add the seasoning, cream and cheese and beat well.
Pour half the sauce over the chicken mixture. Spread the cubed potato over the top, then spoon the rest of the sauce over.
Bake above the centre of the oven for 40 minutes until the potato is tender and has started to brown.
Have been enjoying the lovely sunny weather. It has been quite hot this week and so we have been walking with Shandy, our labrador, through the woods that lie behind us. It is amazing how much the leaf canopy shields the heat.
The woods are so pretty at the moment. The trilliums have now finished but have been replaced with a number of other wild flowers – blues, purples and white, colour is everywhere. They make the woods look very pretty. I enjoy it because when we lived in England I planted up an English country garden and a lot of the plants in the woods are the same. The most common one, I guess, being the wild geranium.
Recipes we are using now take less time to prepare and cook and here is one of our favourite salmon dishes. Using the centre cut of the fillet makes it easier to slice into portions once it is cooked so I do tend to choose this cut.
A fish dish that is full of flavour and looks very colourful on the plate.
Salmon brushed with butter and lemon juice is then roasted and served sitting on a bed of buttery spinach with buttery tomatoes alongside. Slices of potato are roasted until crisp to complete the dish.
Cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces and place in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 7 minutes. Drain and leave for a few minutes so they can be handled.
Thickly slice the potatoes and add to a large bowl. Season and then coat with the olive oil. Tip into the roasting tin/pan and roast for 30 minutes, turning a couple of times.
For the fish
Lightly oil the ovenproof dish. Lay the fish in the dish, brush with the melted butter and season, then squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
For the tomatoes
Tip the tomatoes into a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat a little and let the juice bubble for 5 minutes to reduce. Gradually whisk in the cubes of butter over a low heat. Add the sugar and season to taste.
For the spinach
Melt the butter in a large pan and add the spinach leaves. Cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir through a dash of white wine vinegar, then tip into a colander and press out the liquid.
Divide the spinach between four serving plates and place a fish portion on top. Spoon the tomatoes around one side of the fish and the crispy potatoes on the other.
450ml/16 fl oz milk, plus extra for creaming the potatoes
60ml/2 fl oz white wine
1 lemon, juice only
salt and pepper
400g/14 oz white fish fillet (e.g. haddock), skinned
400g/14 oz salmon fillet, skinned
50g/1¾ oz baby-leaf spinach
100g/3½ oz Cheddar cheese, grated
A large ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
Put the potatoes in a large pan of cold salted water, bring to the boil and cook for 20 minutes, until soft. Add the eggs during the last 8 minutes to soft boil (saves on another pan!). Once the eggs have cooked, remove them and run them under cold water, this will prevent a dark rim forming round the yolk while they are cooling. Drain and mash the potatoes with 25g/1 oz of the butter and a little milk, until creamy. Set aside.
Meanwhile, melt the rest of the butter in a pan and, once foaming, tip the pan and quickly add the flour. Stir to form a smooth paste and cook over a low heat for 2 minutes (making a roux). Warm the milk (a microwave makes this quick) and slowly mix into the roux until smooth. Stir in the wine. Continue cooking over a medium heat for 5–10 minutes until the sauce has thickened, stirring constantly. The sauce needs to be very thick because once the fish is added and cooks in the sauce, its juices will thin it. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and a good grating of nutmeg. Set aside.
Cut the fish into bite-sized chunks and mix in the ovenproof dish with the spinach leaves and the sauce. Peel the eggs and carefully cut into quarters and scatter them evenly over the dish. Cover with the mashed potato and top with the grated cheese.
Cover the dish and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for a further 10–15 minutes until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.