Today is cold; bitterly, perishingly cold – and I can’t face a trip to the supermarket. I sometimes can’t, having endured scarring incidents in both outlets offered in our little town. In the first I was asked for ID – at 37! How lovely! – but as the lady on the checkout shuffled closer in her seat to peer at me, she immediately apologised, mortified, saying, “Oh GOD, so sorry love – yes, I can see you’re not young!” Harsh.
I was in the other with a friend and my toddler (some years ago now, but I have a long memory). The toddler was having some sort of temper – no doubt about something entirely reasonable, you know how 18 month old children are – when a man in his 60s chided her for “being naughty for Nanna” and then strolled nonchalantly away. I wanted to run after him as he persued the frozen fish, so many unresolved questions did I have – how old EXACTLY do you think I am?! (Correct answer: 33) do you think I’m my friend’s MOTHER? I HAVEN’T SLEPT FOR TWO YEARS, you toad! – but I was frozen to the spot. Needless to say, upon returning home, in a dazed condition I removed every item of clothing and donated them to a home for nannas.
Anyway, today is cold and my hair’s looking like I have taken against styling products but those pesky kids are still going to need feeding, so after a rummage through my freezer, it seems like a freezer fish pie in on the menu. I cannot urge you strongly enough to stock up your -20 with the components for this. It makes for a proper meal, with virtually no effort whatsoever.
As it is more of an assembly operation than a proper recipe, I have been vague with quantities- see what fits your dish.
2-4 frozen fish fillets – any sort your lot will eat. (I cube them whilst still frozen and toss them into a dish, but you might like to refer to the guidelines on the packaging.)
Handful each of frozen sweet corn and peas. If you’re feeling flash, and have a lavish assortment of frozen veg at your disposal – broccoli and carrots would work too.
Cheese sauce – see below.
Frozen mash – you may scoff, like my friend Liz, but in this scenario it is PERFECT.
You can’t really beat the ‘proper’ way of making a cheese sauce, using a roux and all that jazz, and if I was making Cauliflower Cheese or Macaroni Cheese or something unabashedly cheesy, I would, but for this, the cheaty version is just fine. Decide how much cheese sauce you’re going to want – about a pint is usually about right, and pour this amount of milk into a saucepan. Add about 4 tbsp of cornflower and whisk until it’s not lumpy. Heat the milk until boiling and whisk madly until it’s thick. Take off the heat and add in grated cheese – about a handful of cheddar should do the trick. Obvs, the stronger the cheese, the less you’ll need. Add seasoning if you think you need it – the cheese is quite salty anyway. Be warned – at room temperature the sauce looks like nothing you should be eating, but once heated again, texture and flavour are totally fine.
This whole fandango could be achieved in a microwave, but everything I ever make boils over and creates untold misery in cleaning the wretched thing, so you’ll have to work the timings out for yourself if you’re going this route.
*Preheat oven to 180°C
*Find a dish that looks like, if full, it would feed your ravening hordes, and throw the diced fish fillet in the bottom.
*Add the sweetcorn and peas. If you have decided to add broccoli or carrots to keep the scurvy at bay even longer, then cooking for about 3 mins in the microwave and then running under cold water before tossing them in with the rest of the mix will help them cook through.
*Mix the cheese sauce through all this. If you’ve got any left over you can freeze it. To likely throw away at a later date.
*Cover with frozen mash and bung into the oven for approx 10mins.
*Use a fork to swirl through the mashed potato topping to create a more cohesive covering – at the moment it looks a bit unappetising.
*Sprinkle with some cheese and return to the oven for about 25 more mins or until it is piping hot in the middle and the top is nicely golden.
It needs literally nothing else to go with it. We eat this A LOT.