Surgeon General is an confusing title as it suggests that a general may be in the business of saving lives rather than extinguishing them. This is particularly evident in his stern admonition, printed on each and every packet of cigarettes, that smoking will end badly for those of us foolish enough not to heed his words. We may count ourselves fortunate that fish can’t read for, if that were the case, our palates would certainly be the poorer for it. I can only admire their determination to fly in the face of accepted science and to selflessly carry on smoking for our benefit, albeit after they themselves have attained piscatorial peace in the smokey heaven of Valhaddock, better known to us finless folk as Arbroath or some other such eponym. Smoke and fish were made for each other. It is a rare fish that will not benefit from smoking despite the admonishments of the Surgeon General. Fish and fire would each seem to be both plentiful and affordable but the wonderful changes of flavour, and indeed colour, wrought by the alchemy of smoking come at a price. In the words of the admirable Withnail ” Free to those that can afford it, very expensive to those that can’t”. I fall into the latter category, therefore the piece of smoked haddock that I purchased would have needed a miracle to feed two people let alone several thousand. It has been my experience that dependence on miracles is rarely fruitful so I turned to the bookshelves which, in kitchen matters, have always provided me with more favourable results and so it proved to be once again. This is a combination of recipes which resulted in a very good smoked haddock tart which I believe would be approved by the Sturgeon General.

Smoked haddock tart (adapted from Mary Cadogan’s recipe in “Tarts and Pies”
Pastry (adapted from Patricia Wells’ Pate Brisee in Bistro Cooking)
150gms plain flour
105gms chilled, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
pinch of salt
30cl iced water
Put the flour,salt and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the iced water and process some more until the mix starts to hold together. Don’t let it form a ball. Place the dough on a lightly floured board and flatten into a disc. Wrap in waxed kitchen paper and put in the fridge for half an hour.
250gms smoked haddock
300ml milk
40gms butter
25gms plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
75gms grated Emmenthal cheese
salt and pepper

I/Preheat oven to 200C. Roll out the dough and line a 20cm tart tin. Prick the base, line with aluminium foil and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake for 15 mins. Remove from the oven and discard foil and baking beans, lower the oven temperature to 190C and cook the tart case for a further 10mins when it should have taken colour.
2/Make the filling. Poach the haddock in milk and conserve the poaching liquid. Skin and gently flake the haddock.
3/Make a roux with the butter and flour and slowly add the poaching liquid until a thick, smooth sauce is created. Season with salt and pepper.
4/Let the sauce cool for 5mins and then stir in the eggs, the haddock and cheese (leaving some cheese to sprinkle over the tart). Check the seasoning to your taste.Pour the mixture into the tart case.
5/Sprinkle with saved cheese and bake for about 25mins until the filling is risen and golden brown.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2014, Baking, Cheese, Cookery Writers, Digital photography, Eggs, Fish, fish cookery, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Humour, Mary Cadogan, Patricia Wells, Photographic Prints, Photography, photography course, Recipes, smoked haddock, Smoked Haddock Tart, tart, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Smokin’…

  1. margaret21 says:

    Ooh. You can find smoked haddock in your neck of the woods? I found it only once when we were in France, and not a fine example at that. Keep buying and perhaps it will become more available.

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Beautiful tart!
    You could smoke your own fish – it’s very cheap and easy with a biscuit tin 😉

    • This is something that I always mean to do, MD,….I really must do it…many thanks for the link:)

      • Mad Dog says:

        It’s so easy, but a bit smokey in the kitchen. An outside stove or BBQ can be an advantage. A friend of mine has a bought smoking tin (about £40 on Amazon) which has a self contained burner, so it can be used in the garden or outhouse. His smoked mackerel is fantastic!

      • In the late 80’s I did a story for Country Living on smokers. In those heady days of money for nothing, etc, I ended up with a whole set of smokers. They sat in various different studios and garages as the years passed remaining passive smokers….until they eventually went to a charity shop…or did I forget charity and sell them for profit…one of the two. I’m also very keen on smoked eel, although how that came into my reply I’m not sure:)

      • Mad Dog says:

        Oh no – I hope they didn’t die of cancer!
        Smoked eel is delicious and amazingly delicate. I’m a fan too 🙂

  3. Angeline M says:

    So many wonderful thoughts here….surgeons general, miracles, cook books, smoking, and not the least tarts (of haddock).

  4. Amanda says:

    Beautiful photo and this looks like a fantastic recipe. I love smoked fish. I never thought of putting it in a tart. Wonderful.

  5. catterel says:

    I had neighbours in Brittany who built their own little smoke-house and produced the most delicious smoked mackerel – it was a good excuse for the husband to continue spending time either out in his boat catching the fish or in his garden smoking it. Eventually his wife ran off with a non-pêcheur and he also left. Sadly missed by all the neighbours.

  6. Eha says:

    Hmmm: . . . must admit to loving smoked eel and smoked sprats and smoked salmon [if good!] . . . but I firmly do believe in the Surgeon General’s warnings . . . have a ‘talk’ with the Higher Powers every time I succumb 😉 !!

  7. MELewis says:

    Damn, you beat me to the punch(line) with Sturgeon General! 😉

  8. Thanks for the gift of this recipe and all the others you bestow upon us through your blog. Hmmm – come to think of it the blog IS the gift. Thank you again. Warmest wishes to you and yours through the festive season ~ which in France lasts 12 months anyway, IMHO!

  9. And here I sit. MTM left me alone in the mountains for eight days, and I’ll never be able to cook this myself.

  10. Ok, I am glad it came to it at the end because I read that as “Sturgeon General” from the very first sentence!

  11. Surgeons and Sturgeons, smoking fish and eel – there’s something for everyone here! Love smoked haddock and our local fishmonger in England does an amazing one and naturally dyed not like that nasty bright yellow stuff they sell in the supermarkets which looks like a heavy smoker’s fingertips…yuk 😦 Great recipe, will be trying this one soon.

  12. Nice words, nice tart!
    I need to make that shit – I haven’t made smoked fish tart before. I’ve made smoked fish pie and smoked fish frittata but no smoked fish tart. I gotta do it!

  13. This looks wonderful and perfectly lovely and delicious. Thanks and Happy Holidays.

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