White fish with tapendae, grated cheese and creamy mash

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Having failed to meal plan and to do my online food shop (too much time trying to get this blog set up!) and not having made it to the supermarket in the daytime, it was a case of cooking something from my staples in the fridge/freezer. Luckily I had a huge bag of fresh potatoes – the crop from a friend’s allotment.  As they are an Indian family and were about to celebrate Diwali, she was offloading potatoes as and when she could, so I had taken them gratefully.

The potatoes are what the Irish would call laughing potatoes, which means that once boiled the skin splits and can be easily peeled off.  These ones laughed so much that the skins practically peeled off themselves, so I threw in some double cream, a blob of butter and got my two year old son to mash them to his heart’s content, a task he seemed to relish.

In the meantime I found some white fish filets in the freezer, and it was my daughter’s task to help flavour these (straight from the freezer, no need to defrost). We dug out a jar of olive and sundried tomato tapendae, then grated some cheddar cheese, and made breadcrumbs from the end of a wholemeal loaf, then mixed the two together. My daughter was very methodical in layering the tapenade, and then the cheese and breadcrumbs on top. Although she does eat olives, she can be a little fussy when it comes to anything with tomatoes, so we decided to coat one of the filets with just cheese and breadcrumbs for her and her brother, in case they didn’t like it. We cooked the fish for 25 minutes in the oven and then dished up.

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The result:  A surprising success! My son began by eating the mashed potato, followed by the broccolli, definitely suspicious of the fish, but eventually I asked him just to try it, and then he couldn’t get enough. My daughter took the same approach, leaving the fish until last, but spurred on by my quip that “fish can make you clever” she took a few bites and was also hooked. It was only afterwards I realised I had accidentally given them one with the tapenade!

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