Smoked haddock quiche, Christopher Reid poem and visiting sparrowhawk

All summer, I’ve been threatening to make a quiche but somehow never getting round to it. There’s another version of a smoked haddock quiche on this blog – see here.  I wanted something different and found a Nigel Slater recipe online. I adapted his recipe as I wanted to include leeks and not watercress. I bought some ready to use short crust pastry and baked it blind in the quiche tin for 10 minutes and, as per the Slater recipe, I forked the pastry and brushed it with beaten egg and put it in the oven for 5 minutes. For the filling, I sweated the leeks and a shallot for a few minutes until they were soft. I put the haddock into a pan with milk and cooked it for c 5 minutes. The Slater recipe recommends 10 minutes but, in my experience, this is far too long and the fish breaks up and is overcooked. I added cornflour to the leeks and stirred for a minute and then added the milk from the fish to make a sauce. I added the flaked fish to the sauce and then added the beaten eggs, having removed the pan from the heat. The mixture was poured gently into the pastry case and I put on a generous topping of parmesan cheese. The quiche was cooked in a 190 degree oven for 25 minutes. I used 2 pieces of naturally smoked haddock, a good-sized leek, one shallot, 2 eggs beaten, 300ml of semi-skinned milk and a knob of butter. The only seasoning I used was pepper as the fish can be quite salty. Here is the result and (modestly) I have to say that it was delicious. We had it with new potatoes and a mixed salad. It was also very tasty the next day when we had it cold for lunch.

Smoked haddock and leek quiche

Smoked haddock and leek quiche

In the Summer Bulletin of the Poetry Book Society, the Choice is Deep Lane by the American poet Mark Doty. I haven’t ready any of these poems yet but one of the poetry books recommended is Christopher Reid’s The Curiosities  and one of the poems from the book is included in the PBS Bulletin (the magazine you get with your quarterly book if you are a member). The Cafe begins “Newspaper readers/ outside the sunny café:/ a becalmed regatta./ Tall, indolent palm trees/topped with shuttlecock feathers/ Breast pocket balconies up to roof level…”. Reid is associated with the Martian school of poetry and this is demonstrated in “shuttlecock feathers” on the palm trees, and “breast pocket balconies”. Further on in the poem is a further example “I watch you tear/your breakfast croissant,/then dress its fresh wound with butter”. I’m tempted to buy this book.

A couple of days ago, my wife alerted me to a bird of prey on our decking. The bird was trying to jump up and fly over the balustrade but couldn’t make it. I gently eased it along past the gate in the balustrade, opened the gate and gently eased it back to the opening, where it launched itself over the grass and out to the sea. Before moving it, I got my camera and took photos. I’m pretty sure that this is a sparrowhawk. We bought some wooden puffins which hang on a string on our conservatory door. Last week, I heard a thump on the door and a bird flew away. It’s possible that the sparrowhawk may have done the same i.e. mistaken the wooden puffins for real birds. I like the reflection in the glass in the first photo below – enlarge the photo for best effect. This is a powerful bird with a piercing eye and threateningly sharp claws.

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

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