In its fourth year, the Bia Bó Finne food festival was on this weekend on Inishbofin. Celebrating island eating at its best, there’s something for everyone, with food trails, cookery demos, beer and wine events and even workshops for the wee ones. All sounds like great fun, just a shame I couldn’t go! But I’m celebrating it from over here in Switzerland with a fish recipe! A dish inspired by one my mom did in the restaurant years ago, it’s great as a lunch or as a tasty starter. The nutty, garlicky spinach at the bottom harmonises well with the simplicity of the fish, and the tomato and melted brie topping which seeps down to the lower layers makes the whole thing positively moreish!
This recipe uses cod, but you could also go with any other firm white fish, like say pollock … which, incidentally, is vastly underestimated. But that’s for another day. The original dish did not have a pastry base; it was cooked instead in little ramekin dishes and was served on the lunch menu with salad and homemade brown bread. It was really tasty and very popular. So why reinvent the wheel, says you? The answer is simple – waste not, want not. I had some leftover filo pastry from dinner one evening and didn’t want to just let it go. And this quiche-slash-ramekin was the result. I suppose it could be classed as a tartlet, no? Yes, I think that’s what I’ll call it! A cod and brie filo tartlet.
Now, working with filo is, admittedly, a bit of a faff, so if you’d rather go with the original ramekin version, just lose the filo and pop the fillings straight into little buttered ramekin dishes. Indeed, it could also be turned into a family dinner by doubling or tripling the rest of the ingredients (minus the filo) and using a larger pie dish instead of ramekins, and then serving with mash, for example. A nice alternative to your standard creamy fish pie.
Cod & brie filo tartlets
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Oven temperature: preheat to 180°C
Baking tin: Individual mini tart tins, a yorkshire pudding tin or a muffin tin
- 6-8 sheets of shop-bought filo (because life is too short to make your own; you’ll need enough to cut into squares for individual tartlets, roughly 5-6 layers of filo per tin)
- 50-75 g butter, melted
- Layer 1
- 100 g spinach leaves, shredded
- 1 garlic clove, pressed
- 40 g walnuts, chopped roughly
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt & pepper
- Layer 2
- 300 g cod
- 6 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 sprig dill, fennel or parsley (whatever you have at hand)
- salt & pepper
- Layer 3
- 3-4 ripe tomatoes, in thin slices
- 200-250 g chilled brie, sliced
– It’s a good idea to prepare all the layers BEFORE turning to the pastry, as filo dries out incredibly fast.
– Start by cooking the fish fillets. If you have a microwave, this will take no time at all. Otherwise, do this in a saucepan on the hob. Put the washed, raw fish into a ceramic dish. Add the milk, blobs of butter, herbs and salt/pepper. Cover with clingfilm and cook for 3-5 minutes (depending on how thick the fillets are) on a high setting in the microwave, until the fish is just cooked. Alternatively, put everything into a small saucepan and cook gently with the lid on. Allow to cool.
– Next, prepare the layers 1 and 3. Lightly mix the shredded spinach, chopped walnuts and pressed garlic in a bowl with the olive oil and salt/pepper. Then slice the tomatoes and the brie.
– Now unroll the filo pastry, leaving all layers together for the moment. Then cut the layered pastry into squares that are slightly larger than the tins you’ll be using, so that the filo will drape generously over the sides of the tins. Melt the butter.
– Using a pastry brush, butter the tins first. Then start layering the filo sheets, brushing each layer with butter as you go. Don’t worry if it looks a bit of a mess at this stage, it’s supposed to!
– Now for the assembly: plop handfuls of the spinach mix into the base of each tin, next add broken up chunks of cod, then a layer of tomatoes and top the lot with slices of brie.
– Bake for 20 or minutes or until the brie has started to melt down into the tartlet.
– Serve warm with a simple green salad for lunch, or with a garnish for a nice starter.