I’m pretty sure that we’re all busy – busy doing whatever it is that we do, and filling all the busy moments in our busy lives with busyness. We live in a world where, much of the time, being busy is considered to be a good thing, but I don’t know about you … I don’t always want to be busy and I DEFINITELY don’t want to be busy all the time.
Our particular family life has its own pattern to its busyness. On most weekdays the busyness starts very early with swimming, followed by school – and on most evenings, swimming means it’s late when we are all at home. The weekends have their own pattern of early swimming, a bit more swimming, some ballet and a touch of piano. It’s what we do. It’s how our family works but it means there’s not often a chance to take stock, to kick back, to recharge our batteries. Holidays are great, but it’s the regular moments of calm that get us through the intense weeks. Over the summer, I tried my hardest to re-jig our schedule to give us at least Saturdays free of activities but timetables just didn’t allow and I failed to make any changes.
But STOP PRESS, we have found our regular moment of calm – we have found our part of the week where we aren’t too busy. It’s one evening a week when we are all home by 5.30pm, when we can put on our PJs early and all go – aaaaahhhh. It’s our family time in the middle of our ‘Sunday to Thursday’ Dubai week and we’re calling it ‘The Power of Tuesday’. Joe likes to think of it as his mid-week weekend. I like that.
Sometimes we go to bed early – sometimes we don’t – but however we choose to spend it, The Power of Tuesday is about easy, relaxed, family time. Often dinner is leftovers, but when I do cook, it needs to be something tasty and comforting, but most of all it must be quick and easy, and it must look after itself. It can spend a while in the oven, but I don’t want to spend ages getting it there.
Bring on Smoked Mackerel Dauphinoise. This is the perfect mix of creamy, layered potatoes and smoky, peppered mackerel. It’s heavy on the cream – there’s no denying that – but tonight’s dinner is about cosy, indulgence … so that works for me. And this is not a recipe that’s about precision techniques. No need to spend ages carefully layering this dish – don’t bother peeling the potatoes; slice them; throw them into a shallow, ovenproof dish (something like a lasagne dish); break up the mackerel into bite sized flakes and bury it under the potato slices letting some pieces peep out of the top; mix the cream, milk and mustard together in a jug and pour over the potatoes and fish; then let the oven do the magic.
It’s a rich dish, so balance it with something green and fresh – green beans maybe or a crisp salad. Something that can be rustled up with minimum fuss that’s for sure.
The Power of Tuesday is our way of acknowledging the need to make a bit of sanity space, to find time to recover, to create some calm in the madness. It’s never a long down time but sometimes a snippet of sanity is enough.
And even if today is a crazy one for you – find a moment or two to treat yourself to this indulgent dinner. You deserve it.
- 450g floury potatoes, something like King Edwards or Maris Piper
- 225g smoked mackerel fillets - I like the peppered ones
- 300ml double cream
- 200ml milk
- 1 tablespoon grain mustard
- a baking dish - something like a lasagne dish would be good
- Preheat the oven to 190ºC, 375ºF (gas mark 5).
- Slice the potatoes, about as thick as a one pound coin - no need to peel them. Put them in a shallow, ovenproof dish.
- Remove the skin from the mackerel fillets and break them into bite sized flakes. Now bury the mackerel flakes under the potato slices letting some pieces peep out of the top.
- Mix together the cream, milk and mustard in a jug and pour over the potatoes. You probably won't need any seasoning - especially if you use peppered mackerel.
- Bake in the oven for about 1 hour until the cream is bubbling and the potatoes are tender.