The good thing about the 5:2 diet is that it’s still doable if you enjoy cooking and food. Although I’m spotting a pattern – on my non-starve days I tend to crave carbs AND cheese. And given that the weather has taken a strong autumnal turn, I’m craving comfort food too. So I went back through a few old food magazines and found Fish Pie with Cheesy Mash Topping in the November 2012 edition of Delicious Magazine.
The recipe itself is really simple – but, as with all fish pies, there are three stages to the dish which can take a bit of time. The first stage is the mashed potato that’s flavoured with Parmesan and Cheddar. The second stage is the fish filling itself which is various fish types (I used cod, smoked cod and salmon), prawns, onions and garlic. And the final stage is the sauce which is a white sauce base but with wine, Parmesan and herbs added.
I also tried a new thing with this recipe – using a piping bag to pipe the top layer of mashed potato. Now I have no idea if I’m a particularly bad piper, but I found the use of the silicone bag I bought was almost impossible. Because the silicone stretches, I found that the nozzle kept squeezing out of the bag! Hugely frustrating and I’m still finding random bits of potato almost 24 hours later. Thankfully the Katie vs Potato battle was worth the effort – having the piping let’s the potato ‘catch’ in the oven so there’s a bit more texture.
KB rating 9/10. PR rating 8.5/10
Fish Pie with Cheesy Mash Topping (serves 6)
For the filling:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 600g mixed fish fillet (eg haddock, salmon, pollock etc), skin removed and cut into 2-3cm cubes
- 200g peeled, raw king prawns
For the sauce:
- 50g unsalted butter
- 50g plain flour
- 350ml whole milk
- 150ml dry white wine
- Handful of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
- Handful of dill, finely chopped
- Zest of 1 lemon, juice of half
For the cheesy mash topping:
- 1.2kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 50g unsalted butter, plus extra to bake
- 120ml milk, plus extra if needed
- 25g grated Parmesan
- 50g mature cheddar, grated
Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas mark 4. For the mash, put the potatoes into a large saucepan over a medium-high heat and pour over cold salted water to cover. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes until soft. Drain and return to the pan. Add the butter, milk, parmesan and half the cheddar. Mash thoroughly until smooth and creamy. Taste and season. Add a little more milk if you like your mash really smooth and creamy. Set aside and allow to cool.
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes to soften. Add the fish and prawns to the pan along with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. When melted, add the flour and whisk to combine, stirring for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk and continue whisking to form a smooth paste. Add the wine, whisking well, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes or so until thickened. Stir in the parsley, dill, parmesan and lemon zest and juice. Taste and season. Pour the sauce over the fish and stir to coat thoroughly.
Fill a large, deep, ovenproof 2 litre pie dish with the filling. Put most of the mash into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5-2cm star nozzle, then spread the remaining mash over the fish in a thin layer to create a lid. Pipe potato stars over the entire pie top (and, in my case, over the counter, yourself and loved ones). Alternatively cover the whole pie in the mash and fluff up the top with a fork. Dot the top of the pie with a few knobs of butter and the remaining cheddar.
Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes until crisp and golden brown. If you wish, put the pie under a hot grill to get the top really crisp and crunchy. Serve with something green – watercress or, in my case, peas!