Upside Down Leeky Fish Pie

leeky-fish-pie

Information

Serves approx 2¼ (2 adults & 1 toddler), prep time 5 mins, cooking time 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 frozen hake fillets (240g)
  • 500g potatoes
  • 2 medium leeks
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp dried dill
  • For the sauce:
  • 25g butter + a small knob for the mash
  • 25g flour
  • 350ml milk + a splash for the mash
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan

Method

leeky-fish-pie-pan-sauce1. Pre-heat the oven to the required temperature for the fish (200C). Wrap them in baking parchment or lightly oiled foil and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Meanwhile peel the potatoes, chop them in equal chunks and boil for 20 minutes.

2. Put a sauté pan on a medium heat with a lug of olive oil. Slice the leeks in half lengthways and chop into thin strips. Put in a colander and give them a good rinse. Transfer to the pan (don’t shake after rinsing, so there’s plenty of water left on them), put a lid on and turn the heat down low.

3. Sift the flour into a microwave proof measuring jug, then add the butter and milk. Stir briefly and put in the microwave on full power for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally (every 2 minutes or so) to make sure everything is dissolving properly and to keep an eye on consistency. Once the sauce has thickened to your desired consistency it is done. If it hasn’t thickened after 5 minutes, put it back in for 1 or 2 minute increments until it thickens. Stir in the parmesan.

4. Once done drain the potatoes and transfer back to the pan. Mash together with a splash of milk and knob of butter. Keep warm on a low heat with lid on the pan. Take the fish out of the oven and add to the pan with leeks. Flake it up with a wooden spoon.

5. Add the sauce to the leek & fish mixture. Add the dill and capers. Serve the fish on top of the mash on a plastic Jip & Janneke plate for that extra professional touch.

leeky-fish-pie-plastic-plate

Tips

This recipe makes a greater quantity than shown on the first image (the white plate), but it looked prettier with less on the plate. So don’t worry, you won’t go hungry.

You can make this recipe with fresh fish rather than frozen, in which case adjust the cooking time accordingly. You want the fish to be cooked before you add it to the leek.

You can use different fish. Any white fish will do.

I don’t add salt to my recipes, you may wish to add salt (it doesn’t need it in my opinion).

Chilli Con Quorne with Baked Potatoes

chili-con-quorne

Information

Serves 4-5, prep time 15 minutes, cooking time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 300g Quorn mince (frozen)
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of kidney beans (drained)
  • 2 peppers
  • 2 onions
  • Baking potatoes (1 for each person)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder (or to taste if you like it hot/don’t have kids)
  • Sour cream to serve
  • Grated cheese to serve

Method

chili-con-quorne-fireengine1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Put a large pan on a medium heat with a lug of olive oil. Chop the onions and peppers and add to the pan. Saute for 5-10 minutes until the onions are translucent.

1a. If you have a toddler get him/her to put the toy chicken & fire engine in the pan and stir thoroughly.

2. Add the Quorn mince, the chopped tomatoes and the kidney beans. Stir everything together and then add the paprika, ground cumin, cinnamon, brown sugar and chilli powder. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes to soften everything and infuse the flavours.

3. Wash the baking potatoes and pat dry. Pierce with a sharp knife several times and rub in olive oil. Microwave for 10-15 mins (the longer you microwave, the less time they need in the oven, good for when you’re trying to do baked potatoes quickly) and pop in the oven straight on the wire rack for 30-40 mins.

chili-con-quorne-salad4. Cut a cross on the potatoes and press the corners to open them, add butter/margarine as desired. Add the chilli and top with grated cheese & sour cream. Serve everything on a plastic Jip & Janneke plate for that extra professional touch. I served it with a simple cucumber and cherry tomato salad with olive oil and balsamic dressing on the side.

Tips

Don’t be like me and forget to buy kidney beans, so you have to go to the corner shop on a Sunday evening only to arrive there to find out they don’t sell any kidney beans, so you end up with a weird tin of mixed beans.

This meal freezes well (the chilli sauce that is) and will actually taste better that way.

Spinach Quiche

spinach-quiche

Information

Serves approx 3¼ (3 adults & 1 toddler), prep time 30 mins, cooking time 30 mins

spinach-quiche-ingredientsIngredients

  • 450g fresh spinach
  • 200g grated Emmental cheese
  • 3 medium eggs (yolks & whites separated)
  • 200ml of (half fat) crème fraiche
  • 1 sheet ready puff pastry

Method

1. Put a large pan on a high heat and fill with boiling water from the kettle. Add the spinach blanch for 4 minutes with a lid on the pan. Afterwards drain the hot water and run the spinach under the cold tap until cooled. Drain well and chop roughly (or finely, dependent on the texture you want). Transfer to a sieve and press any excess water out thoroughly.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 200C (fan 180C). Put the spinach in a large bowl with the egg yolks, crème fraiche and cheese. Mix together and season with pepper. Line your quiche dish with the pastry.

spinach-quiche-beforeoven3. In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until they turn white and fluffy. To check whether you’ve whisked enough gently start to upturn the bowl. If the whites move, keep whisking. If you can upturn the bowl fully without them moving, you’re done. Fold the egg whites into the spinach mixture very gently (no stirring!!).

4. Transfer the mixture into the lined quiche dish. Put in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Check and give it another 5 minutes if it needs it. You want the puff pastry to be done and the spinach to be lightly browned on top.

Tips

Serve with a simple tomato salad with olive oil & balsamic dressing.

I never blind bake the puff pastry, but therefore it’s essential to press as much water out as possible (step 1) or it will become soggy.

You can replace the cheese with other cheese. Try Gruyere if you want your whole house to smell (tastes good though). Or blue cheese.

You could make this with frozen spinach. No need to cook it, but thaw before use and remove excess moisture as described in step 1.

spinach-quiche-zephyr-enjoys
Zephyr, 7 months old, enthusiastically stuffed his face with it

Creamy Tuna & Sweetcorn Pasta Bake

creamy-tuna-sweetcorn-pasta-bake

Information

Serves approx 2¼ (2 adults & 1 toddler), prep time 5 mins, cooking time 35 mins

Ingredients

  • 200g pasta shapes
  • 2 small onions
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • tin of tuna (approx 200g)
  • small tin of sweetcorn (approx 195g)
  • 100ml half fat crème fraiche (half a small tub)
  • 100g grated cheese

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 220C (200C for fan assisted ovens). Chop the onions and sauté them on a medium heat, a non-stick frying pan works well for this. Once the onions are slightly seethrough, add the chopped tomatoes and the crème fraiche. Turn the heat down a touch and let it simmer to get a thicker consistency. Meanwhile put the pasta on for the amount of time indicated on the packet.

2. Add the tuna and sweetcorn to the sauce to heat through. Drain your pasta and mix in with the sauce. Transfer everything to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the cheese.

creamy-tuna-sprinkle-cheese

3. Put in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve with cucumber on a plastic Winnie the Pooh plate for that extra professional touch.

creamy-tuna-served

Tips

To make the dish more flavoursome you can add things like: a splash of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of dried dill, a tablespoon of tomato puree, a tablespoon of capers, and of course salt & pepper.

To make it more creamy you can use full fat crème fraiche, use a whole tub instead of half or use single cream instead.

The quantities in this recipe are easily increased or reduced.

I don’t add salt to my recipes, you may wish to add salt (it doesn’t need it in my opinion).

Definitely let your toddler help himself with the serving spoon.

creamy-tuna-eating

Why I Don’t Add Salt

why-i-dont-add-salt

When I started weaning Jupiter (he is 2.5 now), along with the onslaught of weaning information you get thrown at you, I encountered the NHS guideline that a 6-month-old baby’s RDA of salt is 1g (as in, should not be exceeded). When you put 1g of salt on the scales it looks like a lot. When you start looking at the salt content in all the regular food you buy and eat, 1g is not very much indeed and is easily consumed (even by a baby).

Salt is often a ‘hidden’ ingredient, added to make things more flavoursome. Something without salt will taste bland, and with salt tastes nice (but not necessarily salty). Especially processed foods have much more salt in them than you realise. I wasn’t planning to wean Jupiter on pizza and ready meals, but even if I cooked my own meals without any added salt, there were plenty of other things in which it occurred. For example a single slice of bread has 0.8g of salt.

Often on packaging salt content isn’t listed, but instead you will find sodium. Sodium ? salt. To find out the salt content you need to multiply the sodium content by 2.5. So if something has 0.2g sodium, it really has 0.5g salt in it. It’s annoying because misinterpreting the sodium content can easily make you think you’re consuming less salt than you are.

When weaning it’s easy to get completely salt obsessed, which is tiresome and not much fun. I try to keep an eye on the quantities of foods with added salt (bread, cereals etc) that I give my children and in situations where I am in control (i.e. dinner cooked from scratch) I don’t add salt.

I do still add things containing salt to my cooking such as cheese, soy sauce or capers but only if it makes sense (I don’t cover every meal in cheese… honest). However, now that Zephyr is starting solids (we started at 6 months and follow the baby led weaning route) I will leave those things out for a while.

Some tips for reducing salt in your cooking:

  • if you must use salt, use lo-salt
  • don’t add salt as a matter of course, taste your dish first
  • buy unsalted butter
  • get low salt stock cubes
  • when you buy tinned goods go for the low/no added salt option (this goes for fish, vegetables, beans etc)
  • use ground black pepper, fresh herbs or lemon/lime to add flavour to your food

Vegetarian Cottage Pie (with a cheesy twist)

I made this recipe the other day and it was yummy, so I thought I’d share it! I can’t take full credit for the recipe as my aunt used to make something similar, which this is based on although I can’t remember it 100%

Vegetarian Cottage Pie with Cheese (serves 4)

Ingredients
-300g Quorn mince
-5 medium sized potatoes
-1 onion
-handful of raisins
-2tsp gravy granules
-1tsp mixed spice

For the cheese sauce:
-25g flour
-25g butter
-250ml milk
-100g mild cheese, grated

You will also need a largeish oven dish.

Start by boiling the potatoes for approx 25 minutes, so they are soft enough to mash easily. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C. Cut the onion into rings and sauté with some olive oil over moderate heat. Add the Quorn mince and mix it all together. Add the gravy granules and mixed spice with a little bit of water, then add the raisins. Stir occasionally and leave it on a moderate heat for about 10 minutes so it is heated through.

Drain the potatoes and mash them until they are smooth. You may want to add a little bit of water or milk to make mashing easier. You want a firm consistency though.

Put your Quorn mince mix into the oven dish so it covers the bottom evenly. Add the mashed potatoes on top to create another even layer. You can use a spatula or wooden spoon to make the top smooth. Put the dish in the oven.

To make the cheese sauce you will need a small saucepan, non-stick ones work very well but it’s not a necessity. Over a low heat melt the butter in the saucepan, once it is melted add the flour and stir everything together. Leave this to simmer for a minute or two, then start adding the milk bit by bit while stirring continuously. Continue until you have added all the milk and you should have a smooth pale yellow sauce. Stir in the cheese bit by bit until it is all melted.

Take the dish out of the oven and pour the cheese sauce on top. Smoothen it with a spatula/wooden spoon so it is an even layer. Return the dish to the oven for approx 15-25 minutes or until the cheese sauce looks golden brown.

Serve with pepper to taste (it shouldn’t need salt due to the cheese & gravy granules, but add whatever floats your boat. Andrew likes to eat it with tomato ketchup which I find rather mind boggling!) and maybe with a side salad.

Note: I am not a vegetarian, so if you want to make sure this is really vegetarian, use vegetarian gravy granules and make sure the cheese you use is vegetarian.

Note 2: Alternatively you could make it specifically NOT vegetarian by replacing the Quorn with real mince meat. In that case you should probably not add water with the gravy granules (as meat tends to hold more moisture than Quorn) and also cook it for longer to make sure it is fully cooked.