Well – for my sometimes fussy child anyway, I make no promises….
This one is another super simple but easy to dress up meal, great for kids and the kind of comforting ‘bowl food’ that adults crave in times of stress. Utterly delish, easy to throw together and possible to do without both oven and grill as is the case Chez Miles just now – don’t ask, it’s a long story and as the husband is in charge of repairs it may be some time before I’m anything other than a ‘hob’ cook.
This version was specifically for the mini monster and so I’ve kept it reasonably plain, but I’ve added some optional additions/tweaks at the bottom of the page if you’re cooking for grown ups or more adventurous kids.
Makes 6 generous child portions which freeze perfectly
1/2 pint semi skimmed milk
1 pack ready prepped fish pie mix (I like cod/smoked haddock/salmon available for most supermarkets)
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
1 pint full fat milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful grated cheddar cheese
Juice of half a lemon
Tablespoon each finely chopped dill and parsley
- First poach the fish – bring the semi skimmed milk to a very gentle simmer in a medium pan, add the prepped fish and let cook on a low heat for 5 – 7 minutes, the fish should flake apart but still be very soft. Drain the milk and discard – you could use this to make the sauce but I find the flavour a bit strong. Keep fish to one side.
- Now make the white sauce – in a large pan melt half the butter over medium heat until just starting to bubble, chuck in the flour and stir briskly (I love my tiny whisk for this job) until it’s all incorporated. Continue to cook over low – medium heat for a few minutes, if you rush this stage you risk the final dish tasting a bit ‘floury’ and you do need to cook out the raw flavour. Add about 2/3 of the milk bit by bit, stirring well all the time. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, adding a splash more milk if needed, you want it quite thick. Take it off the heat and add the lemon, cheese and herbs. Add the fish and stir well, adding a little pepper if your child likes it.
- Use the rest of the butter and milk to make mash – I like Maris Piper potatoes – one day I’ll do a post about the perfect mash!
- Assembly – I use small ramekins to serve this one, perfect size for my needs and can go straight in the freezer. Fill about 2/3 with the fish mix then top with potato. You can put in the oven or under the grill at this stage for a nice crusty top but it’s not necessary – thankfully for me. As you can see I went very kitsch and served in a scallop shell, was less impressive as a serving dish to the 3.5 year old than I’d hoped but she scoffed the lot regardless!
- Serve with peas, broccoli or any other green veg, or baked beans are a very popular side here too.
Optional extras – do one or a combo:
- Add raw prawns or scallops, or both!
- Use gruyere cheese instead of cheddar and plenty of it, gives a gorgeous nutty flavour
- Huge handful of raw spinach added to the sauce at the end of cooking gives a great colour, flavour and smug feeling or health!
- For extra indulgence a good splash of double cream in the sauce
- Before adding the flour to the butter, gently cook finely chopped fennel until soft, then add a splash of Pernod with the herbs and cook for just a minute extra
- Stir chopped hard boiled egg through the sauce – weird but works