So you might be forgiven for thinking that the whole diet thing has gone out of the window with all the cake that's been on here recently, but no, I have been doing my 'fast' days and I'm planning to write some more about that later on this week. I've also been trying to cut down the fat and stuff in some of our other meals.
Good Friday was a classic example. Something in my psyche says that we should eat fish on a Friday. I'm not quite sure where this comes from as I was brought up C of E and the whole fish on Friday thing seems to be a more RC tradition, but whatever, fish on a Friday is always there in the back of my mind. Not that it happens much - I'm not a confident fish cook and it always tends to be the same 2 or 3 things that I cook. But if there was any day when I would cook fish, it would be Good Friday.
Fish pie is one of those 2 or 3 fish things that I cook. It's something I can't really remember learning how to make, although I have a vague recollection of a couple of phone calls to mum wondering about how much fish to buy. I always use the same method too - poaching haddock, undyed smoked haddock and salmon in some milk with bay leaves, peppercorns and a couple of cloves; making a white sauce using the infused milk, combining the two, and finally topping with mash. It's one of those things that I've never actually used a recipe for, and often end up making too much fish mixture, or not enough mash.
A few years ago, Good Food ran a series where they did 'ultimate makeovers' of classic recipes, with the aim of reducing the fat content and generally making the dishes healthier without compromising on taste, and in April 2010, fish pie got the treatment. Actually, I think they are still doing it, but it's called 'Make it Healthier' now. I think I prefer 'The Ultimate Makeover' as a concept, but who am I? Anyway, I digress. In my new low fat mindset, I decided to give it a go. A new recipe also meant I could truthfully tell Pink that it was a new way of cooking it and it would taste different, which means she has to try it and it would hopefully defer the wailing and the grimaces that currently accompanies most fish that's put in front of her.
The big differences to my usual method, as far as I could tell, were using cornflour to thicken the sauce rather than making a roux, using shell on cooked prawns to flavour the milk that you poach the fish in (and then make the sauce from), and most controversially as far as I was concerned using 125g of low fat soft cheese with garlic and herbs for extra flavour and creaminess. A final difference was using whole (skin on) new potatoes, boiled, then roughly crushed with a bit of rapeseed oil rather than mashed.
Well, my butcher (who I order fish through) could only get me a massive kilo bag of prawns, so I decided to leave them out, but otherwise, I pretty much followed the recipe and it was a revelation. I said the cream cheese was controversial, and I was worried that it would make it all a bit over poweringly garlicky, and claggy, but as promised, it was a lovely creamy sauce. The potato topping was particularly good too - I may well adopt this approach for other potato topped pies in future. In terms of calorie counting etc, a portion of this baby is supposedly 416 calories as opposed to a more traditionally made fish pie which would rock in at 676 calories, with only 15g of fat (4g saturated) as opposed to a whopping 38g of fat (19g saturated). And if you need any more convincing, I leave you with the words of my (allegedly) fish-loathing Pink, who had sulked round the house all afternoon once she knew it was on the cards for the evening meal:
"Mummy, that was really yummy. I will eat fish pie again if you make it that way".
I rest my case.