These recipes are from old issues of Gourmet (the fish from 1994, the potatoes from April of 1973). Both were what I would consider overly fussy in preparation and I've tried to simplify the instructions a bit. The potatoes can be made well ahead, except for the frying and this will make it much more pleasant to cook. While we weren't blown away by the potatoes, they were interesting, and would make a nice accompaniment to most dishes.
The fish "pies" are like glorified cod chowder without corn. As my husband put it, "These are elegant and stuff." Well, they certainly strive to be. The biscuit dough is made entirely with butter and if I were making it again I'd go at least half shortening or lard. They weren't too heavy, but they weren't exactly fluffy either.
The recipe made considerably more than it claimed. I filled seven large ramekins, generously. Fortunately, the biscuit dough leaves plenty of extra, so my advice is to have extra ramekins waiting-just in case. You could do this as a casserole, but as my husband also pointed out:
"That wouldn't be elegant, and stuff." So there you are.
We had plenty of potato mixture leftover for another meal-this seems like a better plan than re-heating fried food, which I've never found to work well.
For The Sweet Potato Bouchons:
3 large baking potatoes
3 large sweet potatoes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
nutmeg, salt and pepper, to taste
flour for rolling
1 egg, beaten for coating
dry bread crumbs for coating
oil for frying
In a 400 degree oven, bake the potatoes (start the sweets a good 15 minutes ahead of the baking potatoes as they take longer). In a large bowl, cut the butter into small chunks and place in bottom. Using a food-mill over the bowl, put the flesh of the potatoes through.Mix well with the butter. Add the egg and mix again. Add the seasonings and give a good final mash by hand.
Butter a shallow baking dish, and spread the potato mixture in it. Cover with a piece of buttered waxed paper and press down onto potatoes. Cool, or if making ahead, chill at this point.
Heat about 3 inches of oil in a deep frying pan, heavy pot, or deep fryer.
Form the potatoes into cork-shaped pieces, roll in flour. Dip in beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs. Set aside on a plate until all are done.
Fry, a few at a time until deeply browned on both sides. You need to watch the temperature of your oil and at the first sign of smoking or excessive bubbling (likely from the breadcrumbs) lower the heat, lifting off burner if needed. In other words, keep an eye on it and don't try doing anything else while you fry. Keep the lid to the pot nearby as a precaution.
Drain on a rack over a baking sheet, and serve warm.
For the Cod Pot Pies:
4 shallots, finely sliced
1/2 cup finely diced celery
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 lbs. skinless, boneless cod cut into 3/4 inch cubes
For Biscuit Dough:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
7 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon dried dill
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Cook the shallots, carrots, celery and butter in a heavy pot over moderate heat. Cook until soft (about 10 minutes). Add flour and cook 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. Stir in milk, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook 4 minutes. Remove from heat (sauce is quite thick).
Whisk together in a bowl the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until fine. Add the milk slowly, mixing with a fork until it just comes together in a ball. Roll out into an 8 inch square. Cut 6-8 pieces (depending on your ramekin size) with a round cutter or bottom of glass.
Sprinkle cut pieces of cod with remaining salt. Bring sauce back to a simmer and stir in fish. Spoon evenly between the ramekins and top with a biscuit. Brush with melted butter and bake 12-15 minutes or until nicely browned and the sauce is bubbling.