The Ultimate Fish Pie

A fish pie is the ultimate winter comfort food. I’ve experimented with a few different recipes over the year, some of which really overcomplicate things with mixed results. I think I have come up with the perfect one – it’s very simple to make, doesn’t require masses of ingredients, yet tastes rich and creamy at the same time (and has a bit of a kick to it!).

The choice of fish and seafood I’ve mentioned in the ingredients is a suggestion, feel free to substitute these with your preferred fish. You could include squid for example, or any other types of fish fillet.

Ingredients:
Serves 4
Prep time: 30 minutes

  • 450ml fish stock (chicken or vegetable stock will also do)
  • 300g fish fillets, cubed (I use a combination of salmon, smoked haddock and cod)
  • 100g scallops
  • 200g raw prawns, peeled
  • 100ml white wine
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 100ml double cream
  • 50g butter
  • Dash of olive oil
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 50g plain flour
  • handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 200g potatoes
  • 80g cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Peel your potatoes and parboil them (roughly for 10 minutes and drain once complete). You don’t want them to cook through completely, they need to still be firm.
  2. Bring your stock to boil, and add your fish fillets for 1-2 minutes, until cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in your pie dish. Repeat with your scallops and prawns for 1 minute. Don’t overcook them, your fish will continue to cook whilst in the pie in the oven. Season your fish with salt and pepper.
  3. Add your wine, double cream and milk to the stock mixture and leave to simmer.
  4. Add the butter to a frying pan on a low heat then add your leeks. You can add a dash of olive oil to prevent the butter from burning. Add your garlic, some salt and pepper and leave to cook for 4-5 minutes. The leeks should be soft and buttery but not browned.
  5. Turn the heat to medium-high and cover the leeks with the flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Start slowly adding your stock/cream/milk/wine mixture to the leeks and stir continuously as you do. Once you’ve added the whole mixture, leave to simmer for 2-3 minutes and then add half of your parsley to the mixture.
  7. Pour your creamy leek sauce over your fish in the pie dish.
  8. Slice your potatoes and position on top of the fish mixture, then season with salt, pepper and the rest of the parsley.
  9. Cook on 180C for 30 minutes. Remove, scatter your cheese on top and cook for another 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake

This no-bake Ferrero Rocher cheesecake is SO easy to make, yet looks and tastes fairly decadent so is great as a Christmas showstopper! There’s a biscuit base, some crunchy Ferrero Rocher pieces inside the cream cheese mixture, and a dash of Nutella.

I recommend using a springform cake tin or a tin with a removable base for this recipe, it just makes it easier to handle.

Ingredients:
Prep time: 30 minutes (plus overnight chilling)
Serves 10

Biscuit base:

  • 350g digestive biscuits
  • 200g unsalted butter

Cheesecake filling:

  • 500g full fat cream cheese
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 250g Nutella
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 350ml double cream
  • 12 Ferrero Rocher, roughly chopped

Decoration:

  • 10 Ferrero Rocher

Method:

  1. Crush your digestive biscuits. The best way to do this is either in a plastic bag and a rolling pin, or you can use a food processor.
  2. Melt your butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Once melted, add your biscuit mixture and stir until evenly coated with butter.
  3. Line your cake tin (springform or with a removable base) with baking parchment. lay your biscuit mixture over the base and pat down with the back of a spoon until smooth and compact. Leave to chill in the fridge whilst you make your cheesecake filling.
  4. With an electric whisk, whisk your cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar together until combined.
  5. Add the double cream, and whisk on a medium-high speed until the mixture is stiff.
  6. Fold in your chopped Ferrero Rocher gently. Pour over your biscuit mixture in the cake tin then leave to chill in the fridge overnight (or at least for 4-5 hours).
  7. Once chilled, remove the cake from the tin, and decorate with your Fererro Rocher. You could also drizzle some melted chocolate or Nuttella over the top!

Chorizo & Sweet Potato Risotto

This risotto is one of my favourite autumnal dinners. The chorizo and the smoked paprika work together to create a warming flavour, which goes really well with the sweet potato. It’s a really quick and easy dinner to prepare, that feels impressive! You can sub the sweet potato for butternut squash, or even swede, as these are all in season at the moment.

Ingredients:
Serves 2
Overall time required: 30 minutes

  • 100g arborio (risotto) rice
  • 100g chorizo, sliced
  • 10 mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 450g chicken stock
  • 150ml white wine
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 50g cheese (I like to use a combination of cheddar and manchego)
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 25g butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Prepare your arborio rice according to the instructions on the packet. Whilst this is boiling, add the olive oil to a separate frying pan on a medium-high heat, then add the chorizo and fry for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add your onion, sweet potato and mushrooms to the pan and fry for a further 5-6 minutes. Add your garlic, oregano and salt and pepper and reduce the heat to low.
  3. By this point, your rice should be boiled, add it to the pan with the chorizo and vegetables and pour in the white wine and add the smoked paprika. Leave to simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Gradually add your chicken stock to the pan over the next 10 minutes, stirring throughout. You want the liquid to have cooked off before progressing to the next stage. If you find the risotto is still quite ‘soup like’, raise the heat slightly.
  5. Add your cheese and parsley and stir through until the cheese has melted.
  6. Serve, perhaps alongside some garlic bread, it makes a great side!

Herby Crepes

Herby Crepe

Crepes are one of my go-to quick dinners. I love them because they’re light, quick to make, and can be filled with pretty much anything. For savoury crepes, I have found that adding a few simple herbs to the batter goes a long way in enhancing flavour. My favourite crepe filling is ham, mushroom and cheese (a French classic!) but you can adapt the filling to your choice. You could fill it will roasted veg, or shredded chicken, or smoked salmon and cream cheese, for example.

If you’ve never made crepes before, don’t be alarmed if the first few don’t quite go to plan. It takes a bit of experimenting to create the perfect pancake.

My top tips are:
1. Always make sure your pan is piping hot before adding the batter.
2. Use a non-stick pan, make sure it is well oiled.
3. Don’t overcook your crepe – they really are cooked through in a couple of minutes and can go from cooked to burnt quite quickly.

You can also batch cook a large pile of crepes and store in foil for a few days, you can just warm these up on a low heat in your frying pan.

Ingredients:
Makes 2 crepes

For the crepe batter:

  • 1 egg
  • 180ml milk
  • 50g plain flour
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • handful of fresh chives, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

For the filling:

  • 1 slice of ham
  • 6 mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 35g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Method:

  1. Make your crepe batter. Whisk your egg and milk and then add the flour. Whisk again until a smooth batter forms and then add your salt, pepper, parsley and chives. Cover with clingfilm and leave to stand for 1 hour.
  2. Prepare your filling by pan frying your mushrooms on a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley and salt and pepper to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Prepare your frying pan for your crepe by oiling the pan, making sure the oil covers the entirety of your pan to avoid sticking. Heat your pan on a high heat for 2-3 minutes and ensure it is piping hot before you add your batter.
  4. Pour a ladle-full of crepe batter on to your frying pan (this should be roughly half of your mixture), ensuring that the batter is spread out evenly across your pan. Once one side is lightly brown (this should only take 1 minute or less), use a slotted turner to flip your pancake. Once the second side is cooked through, turn off the heat.
  5. With the crepe still in the pan, add your mushrooms, ham and cheese to one half of the crepe and fold in half. Lightly press down on the crepe to ensure the cheese is melted through for a couple of minutes.

Madelines

Madelines are basically light airy teacakes originating from France. They are traditionally scallop shaped, and for this recipe I’d recommend investing in a madeline tray. The batter is made from the same ingredients as a traditional cupcake, but the quantities and process outlined below should be followed really carefully so you end up with fluffy and light madelines!

Ingredients:
Makes 20 madelines
Overall time required: 1 hour 30 minutes

  • 115g unsalted butter (plus another 2 Tbsp for the pan)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 15g sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • optional: icing sugar for sprinkling on top

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and set aside to slightly cool as you prepare the rest of the batter.
  2. Using an electric whisk beat the eggs and sugar together on high speed for at least 8 minutes. The mixture will be thick, pale, and form ribbons when you lift the whisk. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract until combined.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold into egg mixture. The batter is quite delicate, so handle with care and don’t over fold!
  4. Stir the batter into the melted butter in small batches.
  5. Cover the batter and chill in the fridge for up to an hour (don’t chill for any longer than this as the butter in the batter will solidify!)
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  7. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the pan with melted butter.
  8. Spoon 1 generous Tablespoon of batter into the center of each scalloped well. You don’t need to spread it to the edges, just plonk in the centre of the shell.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The madeleines are done when the tops spring back after lightly pressed with your finger. Transfer the warm madeleines to a wire rack to cool.
  10. Dust with icing sugar before serving. Madeleines are best enjoyed right after baking, warm and fresh out of the oven!

Sweet Potato in a Mustard Cream Sauce

I first tried a dish like this at Polpo, an Italian tapas restaurant in London. The mustard sauce was amazing, I’d never tried anything like it before and went really well with the sweetness of the sweet potato. It’s a great way to jazz up a traditional baked sweet potato.

Pumpkin, butternut squash or swede could serve as a good substitute for sweet potato in this dish, and they’re currently in season!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato
250ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon double cream
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

  1. Slice your sweet potato lengthways and brown in a pan with olive oil over a high heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a deep baking tray and pour the chicken stock over the potato and cover in foil. Bake at 200c for 45 minutes.
  2. Remove your sweet potato from the baking dish once cooked and pour the stock into a saucepan. Reduce on a high heat for 1-2 minutes and then add the double cream, mustard, honey and a dash of pepper. Simmer for 4-5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  3. Pour the sauce over your sweet potato and serve.

Gnocchi

Making homemade gnocchi from scratch is a lot easier than I’d imagined. In Italy there has apparently been a longstanding debate as to whether the dough should include egg or not. I have tried both, my recipe doesn’t include egg as I found the dough easier to handle without, and you are left with soft pillowy parcels!

You can also freeze the dough, either pre-cooked or cooked so batch cooking is definitely possible, just defrost overnight in the fridge when you want to use it.

My two favourite sauces include a mushroom cream sauce and a salmon and caper butter gnocchi, recipes below.

I’ve also created a video below of a step-by step guide to making the dough.

How to make gnocchi

Prep time: 2 hours
Serves 4

Ingredients:

Gnocchi:
1kg potatoes, all roughly the same size
Salt and pepper
250g plain flour
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Salmon & caper butter sauce:
2 salmon fillets
1 tablespoon capers
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely sliced
100g butter
Handful of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Juice of half a lemon

Mushroom cream sauce:
10 mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful of chopped parsley
100ml white wine
200ml double cream
1 onion, finely sliced
Salt and pepper

Method:

Gnocchi:

Watch the video above for a quick overview of how to make gnocchi.

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5 and wash the potatoes. Dry them well and prick all over with a fork. Bake for about an hour until completely cooked through: this will depend on the size of the potatoes, so check them regularly.
  2. Remove from the oven and as soon as they’re cool enough to touch (be brave!), peel.
  3. Push the potatoes through a potato ricer and add the flour, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together with your hands, add more flour if necessary, but stop as soon as it comes together as a soft dough.
  4. Roll into a ball about 1.5cm thick. Divide this into four and then roll each small ball into sausage shapes.
  5. Lay each sausage out and cut them into 1cm wide segments. Roll each gnocchi piece over the tines of a fork.
  6. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, then tip in the gnocchi (you may want to do this in small batches depending on the size of your pan). Wait for these to rise to the surface (this should only take a few minutes) and count slowly to 10 and then remove with a slotted spoon and tip into whatever sauce you are using.

Salmon & caper butter sauce:

  1. Pan fry the onion in the olive oil on a medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the salmon fillets (seasoned with salt and pepper) for another 3-4 minutes until cooked through.
  2. Add the garlic and capers to the pan and reduce heat to low and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Pour in the wine and leave to reduce for another 1 minute, then stir in the butter, lemon juice and chopped parsley and leave to simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Mushroom cream sauce:

  1. Pan fry the onion in the olive oil on a medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Pour in the wine and reduce heat to low and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in the cream, salt and pepper and parsley and leave to simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Peanut Butter Brownies

These peanut butter brownies are an adaptation of my ‘world’s best brownies’ recipe. I’ve added peanut butter, crushed peanuts and hazelnut oil to add a crunchy texture to the traditional brownie. I also love the combo of a bit of salt and dark chocolate.

I was also gifted a set of cooking oils from Il Gusto and was asked to experiment with these in my cooking. I whacked some hazelnut oil into these which accentuated the nutty flavours of the brownies (and also made my kitchen smell great). I have to admit that I had never really used flavoured oils in my cooking before, but I have found them a great way to incorporate subtler flavours into dishes.

What I particularly like about Il Gusto is that they offer a refill service for any empty bottles in their stores to reduce waste.

Prep time:  20 minutes
Makes 30-40 small/medium sized brownies

Ingredients:

50g dark chocolate
175g margarine
350g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence
3 eggs
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
50g cocoa
1tsp hazelnut oil
3 heaped tablespoons peanut butter
50g crushed salted peanuts

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4
  • Get a 22 x 30 x 2.5 cm (9 x 12 x 1 in) oblong tin and line with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.  Grease the paper with margarine using a paper towel.
  • Put the margarine into a pan and melt over a low heat.  Pour it into a mixing bowl, then add the sugar and vanilla.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat in well
  • Sift the flour into the bowl and add the baking powder, the cocoa and the hazelnut oil.  Stir everything together so that it is mixed well.
  • Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and use a sharp knife to cut into small shards.  Add them to the mixture and stir it well again.
  • Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
  • Spoon the peanut butter on top of the brownie mixture and swirl with a spoon to create a marbled effect and scatter your crushed peanuts on top.
  • Bake for 40 minutes
  • The brownies are ready when they have risen and a crust has formed on top.  They should still be soft in the middle.
  • Leave the brownies in the tin for 5 minutes, then cut them into squares.  Leave them on a wire rack to cool.

Cheesy tear-n-share Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is easily the best type of bread, and this recipe creates an amazing tear and share loaf that tastes as good as the ones you get in a fancy Italian restaurant! There’s actually not much proving time required compared to other loafs I have made, you only really need to let it rise for an hour or so.

Prep Time: 1.5 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 120ml warm water
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon active dried yeast
  • 14g butter (softened)
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 360g strong white bread flour

For the topping:

  • 56g melted butter
  • a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method:

  1. Mix the warm water, yeast and sugar together in a bowl. Whisk and leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your flour mixture in a separate bowl. Mix the butter, milk, salt and 180g of bread flour in a bowl. Stir in your yeast mixture and then gradually add the remaining flour until a dough is formed. Knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface.
  3. Combine the butter, parsley, oregano, garlic and salt in a saucepan on a low heat until the butter is melted.
  4. Cut your dough into 1 inch pieces and roll into balls (each ball should roughly weigh 35-40g each).
  5. Place the balls on a lined baking tray and leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the dough is doubled in size.
  6. Once your dough has risen, chop up your mozzarella into small chunks and slot in the creases of the dough balls. Pour the remaining butter mixture over your dough.
  7. Bake at gas mark 4 for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

Indian Fish Pie

Indian fish pie

This fish pie is a fusion take on the traditional fish pie, cooked with Indian spices and herbs. The creamy coconut pie filling is packed with seafood and topped with some spicy potatoes.  It tastes great served alongside some chutney or some papadums!

Overall time required: 1 hour 15 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the pie filling:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli (or to taste), finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 200g cod, cut into chunks
  • 200g smoked haddock, cut into chunks
  • 180g king prawns
  • handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 5 curry leaves
  • salt and pepper

For the mashed potato:

  • 1kg potatoes, peeled
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of coriander, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Make the mash by boiling the potatoes for 20 minutes, or until tender. Then drain.
  2. Whilst the potatoes are boiling, heat the butter in a pan and throw in all the remaining mash ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes. Once your potatoes are boiled, mash them and stir in the spiced butter.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan on a medium-high heat and cook the mustard seeds, turmeric, cumin, garlic, ginger and chilli for 1 minute.

  4. Add your onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add your flour and cook for 3 more minutes.

  5. Reduce the heat to low and gradually add the coconut milk, stirring until a smooth sauce forms. Add the salt and pepper.
  6. Stir the cod, haddock, prawns, coriander, cherry tomatoes and lime juice into the sauce and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  7. Tip the sauce into a baking dish and spoon your mashed potato over the pie.
  8. Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and bake for 30 minutes or until crispy on top.