1x pack Asda fish pie mix (probably about two fillets each salmon, haddock and smoked haddock, boneless/skinless)
1x large handful cooked prawns
1/2 a large fennel bulb or 1 small fennel bulb, diced, plus any greenery to add as herbage
3-5 potatoes to make mash
Salt, pepper, chilli flakes and parsley
For the white sauce:
2oz butter (approx)
3tbsp plain flour (approx)
1/2 pint milk (approx)
Grated cheese (about a handful)
First, poach the fish in a pan of water for about 15 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Transfer to an appropriate oven-proof container and add the prawns. Mix the fish and prawns up a bit so they're well distributed. Chop the fennel by removing the root at the base and taking off the stalks, then chop as you would an onion. Add any leafy bits to the fish mixture.
Meanwhile, peel and slice the potatoes and start them boiling in a pan of water, about 20-25 minutes, and make the white sauce as follows.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once melted, add the flour gradually, whisking it into the butter to avoid forming any lumps. Add enough until you get a paste or "roux", then add the milk gradually. It reduces quickly (I think more so if you use full-fat milk, which I do) but keep whisking and adding milk until you have adequate sauce to cover the fish. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg and then the cheese and stir until it has mostly melted, then pour over the fish.
When the potatoes are soft, drain and return to the pan and make mash in your usual fashion. Using a piping bag or similar alternative (I used a plastic zip-close freezer bag with the corner chopped off), cover the fish with the mash. If you don't have a piping bag this can be tricky so you can also use frozen mash if you want to cheat. Iceland do a very adequate bag for a quid. :)
Cover the top with cheese, salt and pepper and a sprinkling of ground chilli flakes. Bake for about half an hour and serve with vegetables.
Unfortunately, because this week has been taken up with house-hunting and eating out we haven't managed to finish it yet. :P
I shall do a house-hunting update whilst I'm here... When I last updated we'd seen two houses and were due to see a bungalow in Quinton. The bungalow was the nicest so far, but it was very very compact and there were fitted wardrobes in all of the bedrooms, including the tiny single box room!! One bedroom, fair enough, but all three was a bit extreme, and we figured we had too much furniture to fit into such a small space. Plus it was a bit off the beaten track (only one bus that went there), even though the road itself was lovely and quiet. We wrote it off purely for size reasons, though it was the best kitchen we'd seen at that point.
Wednesday we had a quiet day due to all the house-hunting madness, only popping out to the cheese shop on York Road to spend far too much money, and then Paul made some chicken liver pate because I randomly had a craving for some. :)
Today we were supposed to be viewing two properties in Oldbury, one which I'd found on the website some time ago and which had a lovely kitchen, and the other of which appeared a few days ago, which was much bigger and thus more expensive. About an hour before we had to leave to go to the first house, they rang up to say that we couldn't view it because someone had come into the office this morning and paid the retainer fee upfront. They are going to ring back if anything changes (fingers crossed those people are pre-emptive idiots who haven't viewed it yet) so we might still get to see that one. A bit later on the agent for the second property (the bigger one) rang up to confirm our attendance, and also confirmed the following:-
(a) No pets (fair enough);
(b) No smoking on the grounds (whut?)
(c) No children.
Most houses that you want to rent these days will demand no smoking, which is fair enough because there's a smoking ban in place now and anyway, it's no skin off my nose as I'm not the smoker. :P No smoking in the house itself is a reasonable request. No smoking anywhere in or around the property (i.e. the garden OR the driveway) seems a bit extreme.
As for no children? It's a three-bed semi-detached house, with a large kitchen, diner and conservatory. It's a family home, or at least what I would consider one. Why in the name of anything would you rent out a three-bedroom house like that if you won't accept children?? Also we had realised this morning that the house was fully furnished, which isn't what we want. After the agent rang back we subsequently rang back to cancel that viewing too, as it seemed pointless and the landlord sounded like a twat. :P
(Also I may have been rather petulant because of the earlier one cancelling. :P)
So instead we arranged to view a house in Moseley/Kings Heath this afternoon, which was at half four. This is a house I found a few weeks ago and was the only one at that point I could find in Birmingham with a decent-looking kitchen. The house was weird, man. There were these strange extendable lights in the living room and kitchen that came down to chest height. The kitchen WAS nice, but it transpired to only have two gas rings and one of those weird combi-ovens which are an oven and microwave in one. The garden was like a little woodland grove and absolutely amazing, and the two bedrooms were a good size with a decent bathroom... but unfortunately the kitchen was unworkable and we had to write that one off as well. If the kitchen had been as good as the photo implied it would have been perfect... There also didn't appear to be any central heating in the lounge, so that was also a bit dubious.
It had lots of weird features going on; there were door knockers on the doors upstairs (WTF??) and the aforesaid strange lights. It's been on the website for ages and I can kind of see why, as most sane people will take one look at it and balk at the weirdness. Such a shame, though. I really wish we hadn't learned to cook and then none of this would be a problem. :(
This evening I went back to rightmove and went through the listings again with the higher upper limit of rent, in case there were any we'd missed, and now there about 10 properties saved (including the three that were already there), including a gorgeous period property in Rowley. (I tried to figure out what its tax band is and it looks like the bigger house has been turned into two, one of which is a band C and one of which is a band E! I think it might be the band C because it doesn't seem to have a garden.) There are no photographs of the inside but I think it might be worth a viewing anyway...
So yeah. Still no joy, but I think we're getting there. I'm waiting for a "Eureka!" moment to hit me when I just know it's the right place, you know? Anyway, I'll update as and when, as ever...
Paul has his mates and brother around again tonight for another geeky game night, so I cooked a chicken tikka masala in the slowcooker (with mint and chilli raita and mango chutney, basmati rice and chappatis). OM NOM. Even though I messed it by putting the cream in at the start instead of the end. I don't think it made much difference, to be honest. I blame that on the fact that it took eight hours to cook and I'd only just got up when I was putting ingredients into the slow cooker. ;)
Oh, I also figured out where the other photograph of my embroidery went. I took it using Paul's phone (then bluetoothed it to myself) becuase the camera battery was dead. So actually the last picture I posted last time had another one before it, but to be honest I doubt you'd be able to see the difference. :P
That'll do for now.