Hasselback Potatoes

hasselback potatoes

Sometimes called saddleback potatoes, this is kind of a cross between roast and baked potato. Something a little different for an ordinary midweek dinner. Plus it looks pretty.

Sorry about the rubbishness of the photo. You get the idea though.


Potatoes. However many you’d like. Big, small or medium. Medium-sized are the easiest to cut.
Olive oil

The Cooking

Heat the oven to about 210C/410F.

It’s up to you whether you peel the potatoes. I don’t, because the skin is where the goodness is, so says mums everywhere. Now cut the potato in slices, making sure you only slice about 3/4 of the way through. Handy hint: put the potato in a big spoon or ladle and the edges of the spoon will prevent the knife from slicing all the way through.

Pour over some oil and rub it all over the potatoes, trying to get some in the slices. The potato won’t fan very easily but don’t worry it will once cooked. Sprinkle over some salt. Put the potatoes into the oven and cook them for about 45 minutes. Halfway through give them a bit of a shake and a little more oil, which should now slip into the slices more easily.

That’s it! You could grate some cheese over it if you like, or sour cream, or whatever you like. I had mine with ham in parsley sauce. Very nice.


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

Minced Beef and Onion Hotpot

Minced beef and onion hotpot

This is an uncomplicated but delicious autumn and winter dinner. The nights are drawing in with astonishing rapidity and it’s the perfect time of year for your one-dish meat and potato combo.

I add ketchup and mustard to the filling, which is not very fancy but gives a pleasing tangyness to what might otherwise be a slightly bland dish.

Serves 3 or 4

450g minced beef
2 large potatoes
1 large onion
2 carrots
1 tbsp tomato puree and 1 tbsp ketchup, or 2 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp mustard. I use dijon mustard.
Worcestershire sauce
A little butter
Salt and pepper

The Cooking

Pre-heat the oven to 180c/350F.

Peel and slice the potatoes, but not too thinly otherwise they’ll turn into crisps. I don’t like giving exact measurements, but they want to be about half a centimetre thick. Put them in some water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. While they’re simmering peel and chop the onion and the carrots fairly small and set aside. When the potatoes are done, drain them and set them aside too.

Now, I admit I do faff about a little bit here. I thoroughly brown the mince, set it aside, then cook the onion and carrots in the same pan, then add the whole thing back together. But there is a good reason for this. You want to cook the meat on a high heat because if it’s not hot enough the meat will release all its water without it evaporating and rather than frying the mince, it stews in its own juices, which makes it rubbery and chewy. It also means that the onions and carrots will fry in the fat from the meat, so you don’t have to use any more oil and they’ll take on the flavour of the beef.

So. On a HIGH heat, fry the mince in a non-stick pan until it’s well browned – perhaps even crispy in places if you like it that way (I do). Then tip out the meat and set it aside. Turn down the heat and add the chopped onion and carrot. Fry them for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft but not burnt. Now re-add the meat and the mustard, tomatoe puree and/or ketchup, a few splashes of worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Fry it for a couple more minutes, stirring well so that the flavour is evenly distributed.

Put the meat mixture into the oven dish and top with the sliced potato, overlapping so that it’s evenly covered. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and dot it evenly with butter. You don’t need loads, just enough to moisten the potato.

Now it goes in the oven and you go and have a sit down for half an hour. After 30 minutes or so, the potato will be nicely browned. Serve it hot – it’s so good. I had mine with mangetout.


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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.

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