Fish Pie

This recipe is a combination of traditional mashed-potato topped fish pie and dauphinoise potatoes, with some extra vegetables thrown in because I throw extra vegetables into everything. I used whiting, but any other sustainable white fish such as pouting can be used; similarly the cuttlefish balls (which I found in the local Chinese supermarket) can be substituted out for any other shellfish depending on what’s available.

Gently heat 400ml milk in a non-stick frying pan with 1/2 diced onion, 4 cloves, 2 bay leaves and a pinch of salt. Once the milk is steaming, tip in a large handful of Brussels sprouts, peeled and halved, and about half of a small sweet potato, cut into 1 cm cubes. Poach until beginning to soften, then add 200g whiting, cut into 1 inch slices, and 4-5 cuttlefish balls, cut into eighths. Once the fish is cooked through, lift everything out of the milk with a slotted spoon (or use a sieve) and place in a large casserole dish. Stir in 1/3 cup sweetcorn and 1/3 cup edamame beans or peas.

Return the milk to the heat and add 3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly (ideally ~1 mm); add extra milk to cover if necessary. Poach, occasionally stirring to make sure they don’t stick together, until they are just cooked through. Lift the potatoes out of the milk and layer over the fish mixture.

Pour the milk into a jug, stir in 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 tablespoon of cream if desired, and set aside. Wipe down the inside of the frying pan, then melt 25 g butter over a medium heat. Mix 2 tablespoons flour into the butter and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the roux is dark golden in colour. Pour the milk into the frying pan in increments, making sure that the mixture is well combined before adding more. Continue adding milk until a white sauce consistency is reached – this should take all the milk in the jug, and might need more. Season the sauce with salt and black pepper, then pour over the potatoes, making sure that it soaks through into the fish mixture.

Bake the pie in the oven at 180°C for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily broken with a fork and the top of the pie is golden-brown.

Serves four, suitable for freezing.

Advertisements

Mushroom “stroganoff”

Probably a stroganoff by name only; adapted from an old recipe card that I think came out of a magazine. I wanted to make a creamy dish without actually using cream, because I can never get through an entire carton before it goes off.

Boil 1/3 cup bulgar wheat in ample water with a pinch of salt for 10 minutes, or until light and fluffy, then drain. Meanwhile, sauté 1/2 an onion, finely diced, and 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly, in about 1 tbsp oil until translucent. Add 6 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced, and 1/3 cup frozen or canned sweetcorn. Fry for 1-2 minutes or until the mushroom is beginning to brown, stir in 1 tbsp plain flour, then add 1/3 cup strong vegetable stock and 1/2 tbsp light tahini. Bring to the boil, stirring, then simmer until the sauce is thick (this shouldn’t take more than 2-3 minutes). Season with generous black pepper and serve over the bulgar wheat.

Serves 1

 

Kidney bean and soya chilli

Soya (TVP) chunks aren’t particularly cheap or easy to get hold of, which is a shame because they’re a fantastic ingredient – shelf stable, adaptable, and really easy to cook (I’m lucky enough to have a cheap supply  close to home). If you don’t have access to soya chunks you can use a meat of your choice, quorn, or firm tofu.

I owe it to my friend Sam for revealing the secret ingredients of a really good chilli – instant coffee and cocoa powder.

Thoroughly rinse 1 400g can kidney beans (you can soak them in water with a few spoonfuls of baking soda to reduce problems with wind). Preheat the oven to 180°C. If you have an oven safe saucepan or stovetop safe casserole dish, use that for cooking – if not, cook in a saucepan and transfer to a casserole dish. Fry 1/2 onion, sliced, and 2 large cloves garlic, sliced, in a spoonful of oil until golden. While the onion is cooking, rehydrate half a cup of soya chunks using boiling water, leaving to soak while you cook the vegetables. Add to the dish 1 small sweet potato, diced into 1cm chunks, and 1/4 red cabbage, also diced. Once the sweet potato is beginning to brown, drain off the soya chunks and kidney beans and add them to the dish with 1 400g can chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp instant coffee powder, 1 tsp cocoa powder and a pinch of chilli flakes. Refill the tomato can with hot water and stir in 1 tsp stock powder; pour about half into the chilli and leave the rest aside in case you need it later. Cover the casserole dish (use foil if you don’t have a lid) and cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes, adding more stock if needed, until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce and the soya chunks are soft to the bite. Five minutes before the end of the cooking time, stir in half a cup of sweetcorn.

Makes 3 portions, keeps in the fridge for a few days. Can be eaten hot or cold.

Kale Parcels

After a few iterations I’m still not satisfied with this recipe, but I’ve run out of kale, so I’ll post it here for the time being. Serves 1 or 2 as a snack.

Blanche 6-10 large leaves of kale in a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes, until soft. Lift out with a spatula, add a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup bulgar wheat to the water, and boil for 10 minutes, until cooked through, then strain and set aside. Rinse the kale in cold water then squeeze the water out of the kale leaves and strip out the rib of each leaf, leaving the top 4-5 inches of the leaf intact. Thinly slice the ribs and fry gently in a little oil with 1/4 onion, finely diced, and 1 clove garlic, finely diced, until the onion is translucent. Add the bulgar wheat, a handful of sweetcorn, 1 small carrot, grated, a handful of raisins, 1 tsp curry powder, 1/4 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 tsp turmeric. Mix well, then take off the heat.

Place 1-2 tbsp of the mixture onto the intact end of each leaf and fold over the tip of the leaf, squeezing the mixture down. Fold the two “tails” diagonally over the tip to create a triangle; continue wrapping the tails tightly around the mixture. They should hold by themselves. Finish off the parcels by baking at 200°C for ten minutes, grilling for five minutes on each side, microwaving for 2-3 minutes or shallow frying for 5 minutes on each side (this last method tends to leave the kale more chewy), or until the outermost kale has turned dark green-black.  Serve with any leftover bulgar mixture. Spare parcels will keep in the fridge for a few days.

 

 

Eggy Buckwheat Salad

Boil 1/3 cup raw buckwheat groats and 1-2 bay leaves in water for 5-10 minutes, until softened. Strain and remove the bay leaves. Meanwhile, mix together 1 medium carrot, grated, 1/3 plantain, diced, a large handful of sweetcorn. Separate 1 egg and mix the yolk into the hot buckwheat. Fry the white in a little oil, then slice and mix into the buckwheat along with the rest of the ingredients and a dash (about 1/2 tsp) soy sauce.

Serves 1.

Variations:

  • Cous cous can be used instead of buckwheat. Pour 2/3 cup boiling water over 1/3 cup cous cous, cover, and leave to stand for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  • Any vegetables which can be eaten raw can be substituted into this recipe – thinly sliced or grated courgette, sliced olives, mushrooms, fresh peas, etc.
  • The white can be left out and used to make meringues or added to pancakes later
  • I haven’t tried this, but the plantain could probably be substituted for unripe (green) banana if plantains aren’t available