Gratin aux Fruits de Mer

Gratin aux Fruits de Mer (grah-tan oh fru-ee d’ mair) is a delicious dish of various types of fish and vegetables in a cream sauce. The gratin is baked in a rich pastry case, but it will taste equally delicious without the pastry, served with toast or buttered rolls. Serve the pie with croquette potatoes and leeks or cauliflower.

6 oz. flour

½ teaspoon salt

3 oz. butter

1 egg yolk

3 to

4 tablespoons cold water

1 oz. butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 oz. small button mushrooms, wiped clean and halved

15 fl. oz. thick bechamel sauce

5 fl. oz. double cream -½ teaspoon cayenne pepper teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons lemon juice

8 oz. cooked or canned and drained salmon, flaked

8 oz. prawns or shrimps, shelled

8 oz. cooked white fish, skinned, boned and flaked

4 oz. Cheddar cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 375°F (Gas Mark 5, 190°C).

To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the butter and cut it into small pieces with a table knife.

With your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and put in the egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of the water. With your hands, draw the flour mixture into the liquid. Mix and knead the dough until it is smooth and stiff enough to roll out. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water.

Wrap the dough in greaseproof or waxed paper and place it in the refriger-ator to chill for 15 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refriger-ator. Remove and discard the paper. On a lightly floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circle approximately 12-inches in diameter. Lift the dough on the rolling pin and lay it over a 10-inch pie dish. Ease the dough into the dish, trimming off any excess dough with a sharp knife. Prick the dough all over with a fork and place it in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.

Remove the pastry case from the refrigerator and line it with greaseproof or waxed paper. Weigh the paper down with dried beans or peas. Place the pie dish in the centre of the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the paper and beans or peas and continue baking for 5 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned.

Remove the pastry case from the oven. Set aside.

To make the filling, in a small saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for a further 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Drain off and discard any excess juices and set the pan aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, com-bine the bechamel sauce, cream, cayenne, salt, pepper, nutmeg, oregano and lemon juice with a wooden spoon. Stir in the onion and mushrooms, the salmon, prawns or shrimps and white fish. Combine the mixture thoroughly. Pour the filling into the pastry case. Sprinkle on the cheese.

Place the pie in the centre of the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the pastry is thoroughly cooked and the top lightly browned.

Remove the pie from the oven and serve at once.