Low-Fat Fish Pie

fish pie

Fish pie is a bit of a struggle in my house because Mr B doesn’t like prawns or smoked haddock and will not countenance the inclusion of peas or hard boiled eggs. If it were up to me, I would include all those things. You, of course, can do if you wish. Instead I include spinach, which goes very nicely with fish, and have peas on the side.

This is a good low-fat version – no cream or cheese, but very tasty nevertheless.

Serves 4

About 700g mixed uncooked fish – choose from cod, haddock (smoked or unsmoked), Pollack, salmon, John Dory. Include prawns if you like them.
½ pint milk (skimmed milk for lower fat)
1 leek, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
A large bunch of spinach
2 tablespoons cornflour
A small handful of parsley, finely chopped
A knob of butter

1kg/2lbs floury potatoes like King Edwards or Desiree
Some more milk
Salt and pepper

The Cooking

First peel and potatoes and put them on to boil in some salted water. This should take about 15/20 minutes.

Meanwhile you need to poach the fish in the milk. In a non-stick pan, heat up the ½ pint of milk and the mixed fish (excepting prawns if already cooked) and let it simmer on a low heat for about 8 minutes or until the fish breaks up and flakes easily. Drain the fish, keeping the milk. Break up the fish into chunks – but be gentle, you don’t want to mash it up.

Put the oven on to pre-heat at 180C/360F.

In the same pan as you did the fish (you could use another pan, this just saves on washing up), melt the knob of butter and gently fry the leak and onion until they are soft but not browned (takes about 4 minutes).

Pour a little of the milk into a mug and mix it with the cornflour. Mix together the fish, leaks, onions and all the milk including the cornflour bit. Add a little salt and pepper and the parsley. Pour the mixture into your pie dish. Scatter the spinach on top of the mixture.

By now the potatoes should be done, so drain and mash them with a little milk (and butter if you like). Don’t make it too wet as it will absorb liquid from the pie filling. Once mashed, spoon it over the spinach-topped pie mixture, covering it evenly. Using a fork, drag the tines along the top of the potatoes in rows to make ridges – this is so that it crisps up nicely in the oven.

Pop the whole lot in the oven and in about 10 or 15 minutes the top will have hopefully gone a nice crispy brown. It’s ready! Serve with peas.

fish pie


Mussels in Cider and Cream Sauce


As you can see, I served my mussels in cider with linguini. You could too, or just have it on its own with some bread to mop up the sauce. It’s not pretty food, hence the rather messy composure of the photo – sorry – but I assure you it tastes amazing. And I find it’s not worth trying to get the mussels out with a knife and fork – dive in and use your hands. It’s hands-on food. Rar.

Serves 2

About 300g mussels, alive
A knob of butter
1/2 an onion, or a couple of shallots
1 clove garlic
About 100ml cider
2 or 3 tablespoons double cream

The Cooking

First, clean your mussels. Wash them and throw away any that don’t close when you tap them sharply. Pull out their “beards”. I always used to assume that this “beard” was trapped seaweed but it turns out it’s actually called the mussel’s byssus, and the mussel manufactures it itself in order to attach itself to rocks. Pretty cool.

Chop the onion/shallots and garlic finely. Melt the butter in a saucepan large enough to accomodate all the mussels. Gently fry the onions for a couple of minutes and then add the garlic. Fry for another minute or so, and then pour in the cider. Once the cider is bubbling away, put the mussels in and put the lid on tightly.

Give it a good shake every minute or so for 3 or 4 minutes, by which time the mussels will probably all be open and cooked.

Drain the mussels, reserving the cooking liquid. Put the cidery cooking liquid back into the pan and turn up the heat. Add the cream and simmer the liquid until it’s reduced and thickened a little.

To serve, pour the creamy liquid back over the mussels and mix with cooked pasta if you’re having it with that. Eat eat eat!

Fish and Chips

fish and chips

How great is fish and chips? The perfect Friday night supper. The perfect anytime supper. This is a low-fat baked version which is just as tasty as the stuff from your local chippie and half the price.

Serves 2

Two fillets of fish. It can be haddock or cod or hake or plaice or any white fish you like, but please get sustainably fished fillets.
Breadcrumbs – a small plate or bowlfull
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

2 large potatoes
1tbs olive oil

The Cooking

Pre-heat the oven on to 180C/350F.

You don’t need to peal the potatoes, we don’t. But feel free if you want to. Cut them into chips and then put them in a pan of boiling, salted water for five minutes. Drain them, arrange them on a baking tray in one layer and drizzle over the olive oil, sprinkle on some salt and shake them about a bit and make sure they’ve all got some oil and salt on.

Put the tray of chips into the oven. I like my chips just slightly brown and a bit floppy, as in the picture above. If you prefer yours crisper, wait 5 or 10 minutes before starting on the fish.

Now break the eggs into a bowl and whisk them together with a fork. Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper. Take a fish fillet, dip it in the eggs, then dip it into the breadcrumbs. Roll it about a bit so it’s got breadcrumbs all over, then dip it back into the eggs and then back into the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over any parts of the fillet that look a bit bare. I double-dip the fillets because if you only do it once it can be a bit scanty and doing it twice means you get a proper covering all over and it goes nice and crisp.

Repeat the double-dipping with the second fillet and put them onto a baking tray. Put them into the oven with the chips. Give the chips a bit of a shake to make sure they’re browning evenly.

After ten minutes, give the chips another shake and turn the fillets over.

After another ten minutes, the chips should be done and the fish will be ready. I like mine with peas and plenty of nasty, cheap, wonderful ketchup.

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Low-fat Smoked Haddock Chowder

Haddock Chowder

I’ve been making this soup for years. It’s low-fat, filling and incredibly tasty. It’s also a one-pot dish and only takes about 1/2 an hour to make.

Serves 4

175g smoked haddock
1 pint skimmed (lowest fat) milk
400ml vegetable stock (I use Marigold powder)
70g sweetcorn
70g peas (frozen is fine)
100g prawns/shrimp (cooked, pealed)
1 medium/large potato, peeled and cubed
1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons cornflour + a little water

The Cooking

Put the fish and milk into a largish pan and bring to a simmer. Poach the fish for about 4/5 minutes until it breaks up easily. Drain the fish, reserving the milk. Break up the fish gently with a fork (don’t mash it).

In the same pan, sweat the onion and potato in a little oil or butter until the onion turns translucent. Add the stock and simmer until the potato is tender (about 10 minutes, maybe less). Now bung in the reserved milk, sweetcorn, peas, prawns and haddock. Bring back up to a simmer.

Mix the cornflour with a little water and add to the soup, stirring it in. In a couple of minutes the soup will thicken.


Moules Mariniere

Moules Mariniere

Bivalves hold no fear for me. I’ve made this dish quite a few times and if I may say so myself, I make a fabulous moules. Except that I never get to share them with anyone because Mr B fears the bivalve, as do many of my friends. I pity them.

As for those who are squeamish about cooking live animals, if you’re not a vegetarian you haven’t got a leg to stand on.

This serves one, but that one is me and if you’re less greedy about shellfish than me it would probably feed two.

Prep time is 20 mins, cooking time is 10.

Mussels. I’m not going to specify an amount because you’re likely to just have to buy a bag. Choose however much you’d like.
One or two shallots, chopped finely
Two cloves of garlic, chopped finely
A handful of parsley, chopped
A bit of butter
A glass of white wine

The Cooking

First, sort out the mussels. If they need de-bearding then do it, pulling away the fronds of sea-greens sharply. If the mussel is open and doesn’t shut when tapped, chuck it. Err on the side of caution. Put mussels in a bowl of cold water.

Sometimes when in the bowl of water they open a little. At this point, you may say to them “Hello. I’m going to EAT YOU.” It makes me chuckle.

Chop the shallots, garlic and parsley. In a LARGE pan that has a lid, soften the shallots in some butter for a couple of minutes, add the garlic for one minute more. Drain the mussels and add them, followed closely by the glass of white wine and an equal amount of water, plus half the parsley, salt and pepper to season. Turn the heat up, put the lid on the pan and give it a good shake to cover the mussels in the liquid.

Shake the pan every 30 secs or so until all the mussels have opened. Don’t let them get massively opened, you don’t want it overcooked.

Drain the mussels, reserving the cooking liquid. Put the mussels in the serving dish and put a lid or a plate over it to keep them warm. Put the liquid back into the pan turn the heat up high to reduce the liquid by about a third and take the edge off the alcohol. This should take maybe three minutes.

Pour the liquid over the mussels, sprinkle over the rest of the parsley and serve immediately. A big hunk of bread is good to soak up the liquid.

And remember to provide a big empty bowl for the shells.

Lemon and Thyme Mackerel with Risotto


Mackerel is an oily fish and anyone who pays any attention to the myriad of things we’re told we should and shouldn’t eat will know that we’re all supposed to be eating oily fish, of which mackerel is a particularly good example. It most often comes smoked or in a pate but it’s also worth cooking it from fresh.

This is a weeknight dinner and takes 30 mins from start to finish. I wasn’t sure what to do with the two mackerel I bought from the farmers market but decided to go with lemon and thyme. You can’t go far wrong with them and fish.

As you can see, I simply bunged it all in some baking parchment with some salt and pepper and baked it. 200C for 25 min and it’s done. Ah, fish baked in foil, where we we be on weeknights without you?

Mr B did the risotto, so I can’t give instructions on that. Despite a last-minute panic when we realised we’d nearly run out of risotto rice and had to use Uncle Ben’s brown rice instead, it turned out alright. Who knew you could just use ordinary rice in risotto? Clearly, we’ve been fed a line by the risotto rice marketing board.