Chef Andrew Carter brings his amazingly rich fish pie from The Oxley to my new television show Market to Table and reveals the secret to its wonderful taste.
Andrew Carter is from the North of England, which means that as a person from the South, English tradition says we should disdain each other. Not in this case. From the first time I met him I found him such a likeable chap, that when I knew we were going to do a food chow, he was the first chef I asked to participate. The day we originally met he was sitting at a corner of the bar in The Oxley on Toronto’s toney Yorkville Avenue, just a couple of blocks north of what they call the Mink Mile, where ladies who shop do just that. It was the middle of the afternoon and we too had been shopping. We were in desperate need for a thirst quencher, and I suppose Andrew was using the lull between the lunch and dinner service to catch up on the paperwork.
Engaging fellow, he and Diane, another Northerner, were soon chatting away, which led by a long route to us having fish pie for lunch on a later occasion. So it’s not surprising that I suggested he make the very same dish when he appeared on the show.
Andrew also liked the name of my blog and that year commanded the bar tender to create an eponymous cocktail. Gentleman’s Portion is no longer on the drinks menu, which I take as a personal failure, especially as I never had the nerve to tell the bartender that I thought he’d mucked up a perfectly good glass of whisky with some questionable, if fashionable, ingredients. Andrew has just opened a third establishment in mid-town called The Wickson Social, so I doubt he has time to sit at the bar and while away an afternoon in pleasurable conversation with the customers.
But he did take the time to come on the show and share not only the secrets to the wonderful flavour of The Oxley Fish Pie and Peas, but how to make all the flavours work and how to put them together for a simple yet elegant presentation.
We had a grand time during the taping and he put me to work on several stages of the meal. Not that he stood idly by and watched. There was plenty to occupy him as we condensed several hours work into 15 minutes of show. One thing that fascinated me was the antique English porcelain plates and dishes he uses at The Oxley. He brought along a set and they perfectly suited the presentation.
The quality of the plates often surprises customers. Andrew told me of the time a waiter came rushing into the kitchen holding a small bowl. The customer was an antique porcelain expert and valued the dish at $400. Andrew laughs as he recalls the moment. “Does he want me to sell it on E-Bay? Put it back on the table,” he said. Occasionally one of these treasures gets broken, always a moment of sadness, but Andrew has a secret stash of plates from a dealer and there are always more to be found in people’s lofts and garages, where they sit unloved and unused by the modern generation. Until they find a home at Andrew’s restaurants, that is.
For the Chef Andrew Carter episode, I shopped at the St. Lawrence Market, named number one food market in the world by National Geographic Magazine.
Market to Table launches on Bell Fibe TV1 on May 16, 2016, and the shows will remain in the video-on-demand store for up to three years. Approximately one new episode a week will be available. Once all the shows have been broadcast, we’ll make them available as links through this website and on YouTube.
THE OXLEY FISH PIE
The Oxley Fish Pie and Peas presented by Andrew Carter, Owner and Executive Chef, The Oxley, The Queen & Beaver Public House and The Wickson Social
Preparation time 3 hours
Cooking time 30 mins
Lobster velouté ingredients
- 1 lb lobster shells
- ½ onion
- ¼ head fennel
- 1 stick celery
- 1 large carrot
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ tbsp fenugreek
- ½ tbsp fennel seeds
- ½ tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 pc star anise
- ½ tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine
- ¼ cup brandy
Step 1 preparation
- Dry roast lobster shells at 375°F/190°C for 20 minutes
- Sweat onions, fennel, celery, carrots, garlic and spices until soft
- Add tomato paste
- Add white wine and brandy
- Add roasted shells
- Cover with cold water and bring to the simmer
- Simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours uncovered
- Separate the stock from the shells by pouring the stock through a sieve
- Reduce stock to 1 cup of liquid by simmering gently
- In second sauce pan reduce 1 L of 35% cream to 1½ cups
- Add lobster stock and bring to the simmer
- Season with salt to taste
Mashed potato ingredients
- 4-5 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
- 1 cup 35% cream
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- white pepper
Step 2 preparation
- Cut potatoes into uniform sizes
- Place in pan of cold water
- Add tbsp salt
- Bring to the simmer and slowly simmer until cooked
- Drain and allow to steam dry for 10 mins
- Bring cream to a simmer
- Pass potatoes through a ricer, or mash by hand
- Add butter and cream
- Season with salt and white pepper
- Set to one side to cool a little
- Fill piping bag and set to one side until needed
Fish mix ingredients
- 1 4lb fresh boiled lobster, remove all meat, retaining shells for future stock
- ½ lb fresh haddock (or grouper)
- ½ lb fresh black cod (sablefish)
- ½ lb large fresh scallops (Andrew calls for U10 size, which is a technical term used in the industry, not a WWII submarine designation)
- ¾ lb Atlantic salmon
Step 3 preparation
- Cut all fish and sea food into uniform 1 inch pieces
- Mix all together and set aside
- Add lobster velouté and fish mix to a saucepan
- Slowly bring to a simmer, stirring very gently to ensure fish does not flake
- Remove from heat and spoon into large serving dish or individual small dishes using all the sauce. NOTE: If you feel you need a little more sauce, a drop of cream can be added at this stage.
- Take a piping bag of mashed potato and liberally apply a crust of mash in an attractive pattern
- Place in pre-heated oven at 375°F/190°C for 12 mins
- Remove from oven and place under hot broiler until golden brown
- Serve with a side of peas. NOTE: Frozen peas work well all year round.
One idea we had for the show was to film the crew noshing on the delicious feast each chef prepared. The lads enthusiastically went along with the skit and enjoyed three free meals a day while we were shooting. It was a nice touch and I think they really enjoyed working on the show. The shots end up in the closing credits for each show, so you can see for yourself that the food was certainly relished in the studio.
I’d also like to add a big thanks to Corporate Chef Michele at the Miele Kitchen for all her assistance and kindness during taping of the show. Not only was the Miele Kitchen wonderful to work in but she supplied all the pots, pans and implements to make our work easier.
NEWS UPDATE: My fully illustrated e-book, Market to Table: The Cookbook started as a project for novice cooks, but after I was picked to host a cooking show featuring food bought at farmers’ markets, developed into a more complete collection of the recipes from the series, including some from guest chefs on the show, as well as those from my well-read foodie blog. It is easy to read, divided into chapters that cover the main mealtimes of the day, and into recipes that are concise and guaranteed to work. Most recipes are accompanied by an entertaining story. Brilliant young Chef Dan Frenette, who now hosts the TV series, has written the Foreword and contributes to the book.
Categories: Market to Table