It was my niece’s fourth birthday on the weekend. I am not sure where the time has gone. Her brother turns one in just over a week and that also seems so unbelievable. This year just seems to be zipping by.
We had a lovely family lunch – my brother bought some ridiculously expensive Wagyu beef fillet for the adults which he cooked on the barbeque. It was some of the best steak I have ever eaten. It just goes to show that when you buy top quality ingredients there really isn’t much you need to do to make it taste amazing. Of course my niece with her sophisticated palate preferred the pork sausages that she devoured.
And for dessert my sister-in-law impressed all with this cute pink cat. Luckily I got a shot in albeit not a good one before my niece managed to put an elbow in an ear. My sister-in-law is developing a real knack for this cake decorating. I can’t wait to see what she produces for the ‘real’ party with other small people in attendance that is happening in a couple of weeks. There will also be a princess in attendance! Children’s parties have definitely changed from when I grew up, when they revolved around pass the parcel and lolly bags, with children being quickly dispatched home when the sugar high really kicked in.
And with the zipping of the year we are nearly at Easter. I am not going to have time to learn to make hot cross buns which is a real shame. I keep putting them on my cooking bucket list. But given they are some of my absolute favourite foods I should not worry about the time of year and just make them later in the year. I love the traditional kind, warmed up with butter. No fancy pants hot cross buns with mocha, chocolate chip or nuts for me.
Of course fish also features prominently at Easter. If you are looking to cook something a bit different for Easter but still using fish, my Mum’s recipe for potato topped fish pie is a big winner with me. The secret ingredient is definitely the smoked fish. It adds a depth of flavour that you don’t always get with fish pies. It also has a potato topping which I quite like but I would also like to try this as a pot pie with a pastry top sometime. I mean who doesn’t love pastry.
I should warn you that this is not the quickest of recipes and it has quite a few steps. It is also fairly high in calories at 870 calories. But if you are looking for something special to serve the family over Easter then it is worth the effort.
- 200g boneless white fish fillets, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 200g smoked haddock or cod, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 100g cooked prawns (shelled and deveined)
- 200g skinless salmon fillet, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 150g frozen baby peas
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 small onion
- 1 litre low fat milk
- 10 peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 90g butter
- 60g flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- 750g potatoes, peeled and chopped into one inch cubes
- 80g unsalted butter
- 60ml low fat milk
- 50g grated cheddar cheese
- 2 litre pie dish
- Heat oven to 180 celcius (350 fahrenheit)
- Pop potatoes into a saucepan of water, add salt to taste and bring to boil.
- Simmer potatoes until tender - so a fork goes in easily (15-20 minutes)
- Mash potatoes - I normally use a potato ricer and add the butter and milk for the topping, combine well
- While the potatoes are cooking place the eggs in a small saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil.
- Simmer eggs for 10 minutes.
- Remove eggs immediately and plunge into cold water.
- Allow eggs to cool in water, then drain and shell eggs.
- Rinse and dry the eggs with paper towel.
- Peel and quarter the onion.
- Pour 1 litre of milk into a saute pan and add the peppercorns, bay leaves and onion.
- Bring the milk mixture to the boil then remove from heat and allow the mixture to infuse for about 10 minutes.
- Add the fish to the milk mixture.
- Simmer the milk mixture for about 8-10 minutes until the fish flakes easily.
- Remove fish from the milk and reserve milk.
- Let the fish cool then flake - check carefully for bones.
- Next step is to make the sauce.
- Gently heat the butter in a medium saucepan.
- Whisk in the flour and cook until foaming, about 30-60 seconds.
- Remove the sauce from the heat.
- Drain poaching milk (the milk with peppercorns, bay leaves etc.) through a sieve into the flour and butter.
- Whisk and then heat gently until the sauce boils and thickens - keep whisking.
- Remove poaching milk from heat and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir the lemon juice, and parsley in to the poaching milk.
- Butter the pie dish
- Chop hard boiled eggs into bite sized pieces
- Put 1/3 sauce in to the pie dish.
- Spoon the fish into the pie dish.
- Cover fish with remaining sauce.
- Put prawns, peas and chopped eggs on top of sauce.
- Spread mashed potato over the top and roughen the surface with a fork (you could pipe the potato if you were feeling fancy)
- Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top of the potato.
- Bake for about 20-30 minutes until top is browned.