Hermione Gingold’s Emergency Store-cupboard Salmon Pie

“To call him a dog hardly seems to do him justice, though inasmuch as he had four legs, a tail, and barked, I admit he was, to all outward appearances. But to those of us who knew him well, he was a perfect gentleman.”

Hermione Gingold

The inspiration for this useful recipe for salmon pie comes from the Delicious Dames chapter of Frank DeCaro’s The Dead Celebrity Cookbook. I’m not sure how reliable this book is in terms of the actual ownership of the recipes, or even if any of the celebrities have ever actually cooked the dishes associated with them. But the beauty of the book, at least from DeCaro’s point of view, is that none of them are likely to spill the beans if they didn’t!

I’ve changed this recipe quite a bit from the original which was said to be a favourite of Hermione Gingold. Gingold was ‘quite a gal’ – famously admitting that she’d tried everything “except incest and folk dancing”. She played the courtesan mentor to Gigi, in the eponymous film – co-starring with Maurice Chevalier (see the clip at the bottom of this post), but is perhaps best known for playing another courtesan, Madame Armfeldt, in A Little Night Music.

tinned tuna pie recipe
Co-starred with Maurice Chevalier. Image courtesy Estudiontin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Her career took a while to take off, and I can easily imagine her in her early days, getting back late after a performance in some shady seaside town, and conjuring this up in some seedy digs…no doubt washed down with liberal quantities of fizz, and aided by a bevy of hungry young men.

The great thing about it is that it is a complete store-cupboard meal – if you keep the tins of salmon on tap in your larder. You could substitute the fresh milk for tinned evaporated milk; and the sour cream for crème fraiche, or mascarpone.

Hermione Gingold’s Emergency Store-cupboard Salmon Pie

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 50g/2 oz butter
  • A few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 x tins 210g/7 oz salmon
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 ml/½ cup milk
  • 150 ml/½ cup plus a couple of tbsps. sour cream
  • 1 tsp smoked salt
  • Generous grinds of black pepper
  • 325g/11 oz all-butter (ideally Dorset Pastry) puff pastry sheet (you won’t need all of this – roll the rest out with whatever cheese you have to hand to make cheese straws to nibble at with your pre-prandial.

Serve with

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 210ºC.
  2. Peel and chop the onion and fry gently.
  3. When it starts to turn translucent, snip in the parsley and add the drained salmon. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.
  4. Meanwhile beat the eggs (first take off and retain in an egg cup a tbsp for glazing), first with the milk, and then the sour cream.
  5. Mix in the cooled salmon mixture.
  6. Fill the pie dish with the salmon mixture, put a pie bird in the centre, cover with pastry (you won’t need it all – see the introduction for what to do with the rest). Glaze with the retained beaten egg.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180ºC, and cook for another 20-25 minutes – the pastry should be a gorgeous gold colour.
  8. Serve with the hollandaise sauce.
tinned tuna pie recipe
salmon pie
“I don’t want to alienate half my readers, but to be honest, I find that women who tend to be brilliant career women reduce me to awed silence; that housewives speak practically a foreign language; and that actresses only want to talk about themselves, and that’s precisely what I want to do.
However, I do feel women are here to stay. Also, I’m delighted England has a woman Prime Minister. I wish America would elect a woman President.” – Hermione Gingold writing in 1989

A couple of YouTube clips

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