I never win anything, like ever! So imagine my surprise when Mumsnet got in touch with the news that I had won the just released Crumbs cookbook. (I tweeted a very condensed version of this recipe to bag the prize.) Then, only a few days later, we won not one, but two prizes in a pub charity raffle! Popcorn machine and a wooden travel version of solitaire. Erm, I think you could safely say I am WINNING this week.
Ah, how I love this book though (popcorn machine and little game are also great). I have known about the Crumbs girls for ages. First they were food bloggers, and now their YouTube videos are a big hit. If you’re here, on my little family food blog, then it’s safe to say you would enjoy Crumbs too, as they dole out the same stuff that I do: excellent family recipes made my normal mums. But why am I explaining who they are? You already know, right?
Anyway… the book! It is beautifully styled, but crucially it is bursting with great, practical, fun, time-saving recipes that your whole family will love. Not only that, but it’s a pleasure to read. I perused my way through the tome (it’s nearly 200 pages) over the course of two evenings, very much enjoying the ‘voice’ of the book, which feels familiar and funny, and is successfully shared between the two sisters. It’s split helpfully into occasion-led sections that are easy to dip into: Celebrate, Make ahead, Crowd Pleaser, One-Pot Stop, Box Fresh, Cooking Ahead, which is nice – they’ve addressed the key issues us mums face.
For the ‘keen cook’ (AKA ‘cookery sadist’) like me it provides lots of short-cut inspo. It’s made me rediscover my love for Creme Fraiche as pretty much an instant sauce. Not only that, it’s opened my eyes to a few perfectly acceptable shortcuts: nice to meet you, frozen chopped onions, and bonjour to you too, quick cook pasta – please don’t tell my husband that we’ve become friends. Importantly it strikes the right balance between being informative and entertaining – and reminding us that it’s OK to not be a perfect domestic goddess.
This fish pie was delicious, and, as the title suggests, doesn’t require a bechamel, which shaves off some of the work of a trad fish pie, certainly. But does the creme fraiche replacement work? Well, everyone loved it, so yup, it does! I have ever so slightly amended their recipe – I used the small amount of milk used to poach the fish to add to the mash and a little to the sauce. The main difference though is that I have increased the proportions by about 1/4 as I used a very large pie dish. I also omitted herbs, as I couldn’t get any in the village that day. Do use herbs though if you can get them.
Oh, the eggs! I nearly forgot! Yeah, I don’t normally serve boiled eggs as a side to fish pie. But I forgot to chop them and include them inside the pie. So I served them alongside. Not a little bit weird, a lot weird, I know…
Serves: 6 adults
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
300g salmon fillets
300g undyed smoked haddock
Bunch (about 6) of spring onions, thinly sliced
150g prawns (I used cooked, but uncooked is better if you can get them)
3 tablespoons of frozen peas
300ml creme fraiche
150g cheddar cheese
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped roughly
1/2 pint of milk
Bay leaf (optional)
Few peppercorns (optional)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped (I omitted this but you should include herbs if possible)
For the mash:
1kg potatoes (Desiree is good)
Good knob of butter
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Put the potatoes on. When 7 minutes away from being cooked, add the eggs. Drain then mash the potatoes when cooked. Add a large knob of butter and season well. Put the eggs in a pan of cold water to stop them overcooking. Peel once cool.
- Meanwhile, bring a frying pan of milk to a very gentle boil with a bay leaf and some peppercorns in. Poach the salmon and haddock for about 4 minutes and turn off the heat. Take out the fish. Peel off the skin and flake the fish into a bowl, checking for bones whilst you flake. Keep the milk, but take out the peppercorns and bay leaf. Add a splash to the mash.
- Rinse out the frying pan and add a little oil. Return to heat. Add the spring onions and fry gently to soften for 5 minutes. Then add the peas, then the creme fraiche, now turn up the heat and bring together with a little splash of the fishy milk. Throw in 3/4 of the cheese. If using raw prawns, add them too (if using cooked, pop them in last minute). Add the eggs, roughly chopped. Now stir in some fresh herbage, roughly chopped flat leaf parsley is normally what I use. Add the cooked fish last and combine. Turn off heat – you’re only heating the mixture through really.
- Pour the fish pie mix into a large baking dish. Top with mash and the last of the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with a nice green vegetable, or salad. And if you want to be rad like me, chuck a hard boiled egg on there too.