Crab cakes

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Makes 10 crab cakes

1 cup plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 x 170g crab meat, drained

About 200g drained sweetcorn

A pinch of chilli flakes

Chopped parsley

A pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients together and then fry spoonfuls in a hot, oiled pan for about 2 minutes on each side – till they’re golden and firm.

A green salad would be nice with this, if you weren’t aged one. We had ours with roast garlic tomatoes (okay, and ketchup). Bert kept clawing his hands like a crab for seconds and thirds. A little insensitive to the crab who died in the making of this, but they were delicious.

 

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Fish pie

fishpie

I’m not a fan of boiled eggs, vegetables, prawns or other such fancy touches in fish pies. This is a bit like the fish pie my mum used to make and there’s a comfort in the way our palettes and recipes get passed down the line.

I’ve since nerded out a bit on the subject of mashed potato, and come to the conclusion that fish pie really needs a very dry mash so that it doesn’t merge into the sauce. Steaming potatoes with their skin on is the way forward, though it does take ages. They keep a really potatoey taste, too.

Serves 4

450g fish – a combination of salmon, white fish and smoked fish like smoked haddock. Ideally skinless and boneless. Cut into bite sized chunks.

500ml whole milk

1 dessert spoon butter

1 dessert spoon plain flour

Chopped parsley – a small bunch

750-850g floury potatoes (that’s about 4 or 5 medium sized baking potatoes)

1 tablespoon of butter

Salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to taste

About 130g cheddar cheese, grated

Put the fish in a pan, cover with the milk, bring to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Get your potatoes steaming. Remove the cooked fish and reserve the milk. Melt the dessert spoon of butter in a saucepan, mix in the flour to form a roux and gradually add the milk the fish was cooked in till you have a thick white sauce. The fish goes in an oven proof dish, followed by the chopped parsley and the sauce. Ideally leave this to cool till your potatoes are ready so that the sauce is a bit firmer and the potato’s easier to spread on top.

Steam the potatoes in their skin for about 45 minutes, till tender. Mash or, even easier, rice with a potato ricer. Return the pan of mash to the hob and add the butter, stirring through as it melts. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Cover the fish with the mash and then the grated cheese. Cook at 200 (or the middle of the Aga roasting oven) for about 30 minutes, till golden and bubbling. Give it an extra 10 minutes to cool. Bert looks very disapproving if he’s served food that’s too hot, making a tiny O mouth and blowing showily on each mouthful.

I know his portion looks massive. It’s not the perspective.

Lawn salmon

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Photo evidence of first ever haircut klaxon!

I’d hesitate to call this a recipe, but should I die: Tony, this is how Bert likes his salmon. It’s also very toddler and baby-at-the-finger-food-stage friendly. Quick too.

Serves 2

2 salmon steaks

2 dessert spoons pesto

Spread the pesto on top of the salmon to form a small lawn and put on a baking sheet in the oven at 200 degrees (or near the bottom of the Aga roasting oven) for about 15 minutes. As I write, Bert is wheeling some golden syrup and two AA batteries around in his miniature wheel barrrow.

We had ours with buttered new potatoes and odd ‘green’ beans that were yellow and curly (fresh, I hasten to add). Nice though.

Fishfingers and ketchup

fishfinger

Serves 1.5

For the fish:

1 large piece of skinless and boneless cod (it was about 280g)

1 slice of bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs

2 good pinches of cayenne pepper

Glug olive oil

Flour for dusting – cornflour works well

Milk

For the chips:

2-3 medium sized potatoes

Sunflower oil

For the ketchup:

1 tomato, diced

200ml passata

1 small clove garlic, crushed

Glug olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Black pepper

To make the ketchup, fry the garlic briefly in olive oil, then add the tomatoes, passata, herbs and seasoning. Cook for around 10 minutes, mashing the diced tomatoes into the sauce as you go. This makes enough to use on one day as a simple tomato pasta sauce, with leftovers for ketchup (or a dipping sauce for fish cakes or sweetcorn pancakes). It would keep in the fridge for around 3 days, I’d say.

Cut the potatoes into chunky chips (about 1.5 cm square at the end), put in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and parboil for 5 minutes. Drain, give them a couple of minutes to dry off and coat them in sunflower oil, cooking on a lined baking sheet in a hot oven (220 degrees) for about 25-30 minutes. Turn them over half way through.

Combine the breadcrumbs with the cayenne pepper, get a glug of olive oil hot in a pan, and brown them till they’re crispy. The cayenne gives a bit of a kick and a touch of that Captain Birdseye orange hue. Cut the fish into thick fingers and dip in flour, then milk and then in the crumbs. They join the chips in the oven for the last 15 minutes.

Fish and chips and posh mushy peas

fishandchips

Is there nothing I won’t subject to a crumb coating?

Serves 1.5

2 small fillets white fish (we had cod)

A thick slice of white bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs

A handful of leaves of fresh thyme or oregano, finely chopped, or a teaspoon of the dried stuff

Finely grated rind of half a small lemon

A small amount of milk – around 50ml

Flour for dusting – cornflour or plain flour

A handful of unpeeled floury potatoes, cut into 1cm square sticks

A tablespoon or two of sunflower oil

Peas

A dessert spoon of yoghurt

A squeeze of lemon juice

A handful of mint leaves

Put the chipped potatoes into a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and parboil for 4 minutes. Drain, toss in sunflower oil and cook on a baking sheet, in a single layer, in a hot oven (200 – 220 degrees) for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, get the flour and milk into two bowls and combine the breadcrumbs, lemon peel and herbs in another with a bit of black pepper. Dip one fish fillet in the milk then the breadcrumbs, sprinkle on salt and put it on a baking tray. It needs 15 minutes at about 200 degrees, so put it in when the chips have had 10 minutes.  Cut the other fillet into bite sized pieces, about 1cm thick, and dip and crumb them. They need about 8 minutes, so they can join the bigger piece of fish when it’s had 7 minutes.

Cook the peas and roughly blend with the yoghurt and mint and a squeeze of lemon.

Slather your own chips in malt vinegar and sea salt.