With young kids in tow, it can often feel an impossible task to feed the whole family the same meal. Food stylist, cookbook author and mother, Georgina Hayden shares how she does it with her cheat’s version of a family fish pie. A one-dish wonder that cuts corners without compromising on comfort or deliciousness. We’re going in for seconds.
Photography: Natalé Towell
So here we are, Christmas and New Year feel like a world away. Everyone’s been dieting or ‘resetting’ or taking up some other fad that lasted approximately 11 days until getting bored and giving up. But you know what? I genuinely love this time of year, I really do. There is a freshness to it, a mental chance to say ‘let’s start again’. Which of course you can do at any time, but it feels easier and more apt at the start of a new year. I’m a big fan of the clean slate that it brings. Not from a diet point of view (if I try cutting anything out I will most definitely not stick to it) but my diary is at its emptiest, it is acceptable to be a hermit and everything is a little slower.
Not everyone loves winter. Yes, it is cold and it can feel bleak. From a food point of view, there’s a lot of root veg and leafy greens, which when it’s cold outside is actually all I want to eat. Leeks are a vegetable I often take for granted and they take centre stage at this time of year. Sprouts get daily makeovers and celeriac features heavily in my cooking. There is also lots in the way of fish – let’s not forget that fish is seasonal too. The beauty of shopping with Farmdrop is I know I don’t have to worry about sustainability – they’re on it.
And of course there is the beauty of the store cupboard. A well-stocked dry store is essential during the chillier months. So what am I cooking for my little family? A lot of one pot dishes, like soups, stews and pies. Root veg stews with tender chunks of meat, soups filled with grains and lentils, pastry-encased pies, mash-topped pies, and the all-round family fave; fish pie. Can you tell I’m married to a Northerner?
I adore fish pie. It is such a comforting, nostalgic dish. I also love how versatile it is, and how you can make something that ultimately feels incredibly unctuous but can actually be very good for you. The fish pie recipe I am giving you here doesn’t include the traditional white sauce base. If I have time then I’ll make one, but the reality of life with a toddler is that there isn’t always time, so I have created a recipe that is much simpler but packed with veg.
Use whatever you have to hand, and if your kids are a little older then get them involved too – mashing, grating, snipping, there is loads they can do here. Also you can embellish the base however you like. Chopped boiled eggs make a great addition, as does chopped spinach or frozen peas. The world is your oyster.
Simple Family Fish Pie
with smashed veg
Serves: 2 adults, plus 2-4 kids
– 500g red skinned potatoes
– 600g other root veg, such as celeriac, swede, parsnips
– 50g unsalted butter
– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
– 1 carrot
– 1 stick of celery
– 100g mature Cheddar cheese
– 200g crème fraîche
– a few chives
– 500g fish pie mix
– 1 lemon, finely grated zest only
– olive oil
1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Peel the celeriac, parsnips and swede and cut into 2cm chunks. Cut the potatoes into 3cm chunks (I leave the skin on as it adds great texture). Place a large pan of water onto boil. Add the chopped veg and boil for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it is all cooked through.
2. Drain and steam-dry in the colander before returning it all back to the pan. Mash the veg, adding the butter and seasoning with a little pepper (and salt depending on the age of your children).
3. For the base: peel, trim and coarsely grate the carrot and celery. Coarsely grate the Cheddar. Spread the crème fraîche into the bottom of a large earthenware dish (16cm x 25cm) or roasting tray and snip over the chives. Cut the fish into 2-3cm chunks, picking out any bones, and place in the tray. Top with the grated veg and Cheddar, and finely grate over a little lemon zest.
4. Spoon the mash over the fish pie base and use a fork to push it to the edges and fluff it up as you go. Try not to press it down too much and keep as many spiky edges as possible, as these will go lovely and crispy in the oven.
5. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden and crisp on top and you can see the creamy sauce bubbling around the edges. Leave to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before tucking in and serving.
For sustainably-caught fish, organic root veg and all other ingredients featured in this recipe, go to farmdrop.com.
Seeking more meal ideas to feed the whole family? Check out more of Georgina Hayden’s recipes in the Farmdrop series, from Thai fish curry to breakfast cauliflower cheese fritters to this cowboy bean stew.