The Student Cookbook: a.k.a. “How Do I Make This Mum?” : The Fishcake Edition

Offspring#2 heads off to Edinburgh University next weekend.

He’s going to be staying in a shared flat in the centre of town and is nervously looking forward to it.

Obviously, part of the planning; alongside getting a place (the hardest part of that was actually making a decision, as he received four unconditional offers!!), sorting funding, applying for accomodation, and buying duvets, dishes & desk cacti; is making sure he can feed himself!

Operation: Mum’s Student Cookbook is well underway (although, whilst #1’s recipes were all painstakingly handwritten in her book, he’s gone all high-tech with Google docs) and we’re working on a batch of multi-purpose or mix & match recipes.

Tonight’s experiment was fishcakes, they turned out well, and he has already added a list of possible variations.

We had a couple of tins of red salmon loitering in the cupboard so decided to use those up in these easy Salmon, Spring Onion, Chilli, and Coriander Fishcakes.

Ingredients

  • 2 large or four medium potatoes; peeled & diced (or 250g leftover mash)
  • 1 tin salmon; drained, flaked, & bones removed
  • 1 red chilli; de-seeded & finely chopped
  • 2-3 spring onions, chopped
  • Handful of coriander; roughly chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • Flour
  • 1-2 eggs; beaten
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbspn butter
  • 2 tbspn olive oil

Method

  1. Boil potatoes until soft, drain & mash.
  2. Combine mash, salmon, chilli, spring onion, & coriander; and season.
  3. Form into palm-sized patties.
  4. Coat in flour, dip in egg, & cover with breadcrumbs.
  5. Heat butter & oil in a frying pan, over a medium heat.
  6. Add fishcakes, and fry for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Enjoy with salad & crusty bread, or your choice of vegetables.

Yeild & Storage

This recipe will give 4-6 decent sized fishcake, enough as a main meal for two; alternatively, save half for another day.

Uncooked fishcakes can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days or wrapped and frozen for 2-3 months.
Personally, I prefer to fry until golden then cool añd freeze. Cook from frozen in a preheated 180°C oven for 20-35 minutes depending on the size.
 

Variations

Tinned Tuna & Sweetcorn

Smoked Salmon, with Thai flavouring

Cod & Chorizo

Prawn with Chilli, Garlic, Ginger, and Spring Onion

Smoked Haddock and Mature Cheddar

Omit the fish altogether; and have Cheese, Leek, and Spring Onion Potato Cakes for a vegetarian-flatmate-friendly feed

Are you a fan of fishcakes? What’s your favourite flavour? If you try these, or have any student-friendly recipes, I (we!) would love to hear below!

As always,

Thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,

Crafty xxx

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A Belated Birthday Treat: Lunch at Don Michele’s, Dundee.

It was my birthday a while back, and one of my gifts from Offspring#2 was a voucher for a 2-course lunch for two at one of the local Italian restaurants.

Since we knew I’d be off today, we booked a table earlier in the week.

It’s one of those places that we’ve been meaning to try for years but had just never got around to it. 

A family-run restaurant, Don Michele‘s prides itself on it’s friendly & attentive service and authentic Italian cooking. It is warm and inviting, with an intimate cosy atmosphere.

The friendly waiter showed us to our seats and asked if we would like any drinks, before returning with the menus.

We perused the menu, the waiter giving us plenty time to choose our dishes. I must admit that’s a bit of a peeve of mine, I do hate when you feel rushed into ordering!

I picked the Fungi Alfredo starter and the Risotto Al Pollo main; whilst my suave, sophisticated, handsome companion went for the main of Linguine Carbonara followed by the Vanilla Cheesecake.

We then sat back and relaxed while sipping our diet cokes, and soaking up the ambience.

It was, as my compadre pointed out, the most Italian-y looking Italian restaurant!

The walls were adorned with portraits and photographic prints of the most Italian-y poking Italians, and there was a wallart plaque shaped like a Vespa which bore a tricolour paintjob; there was even a teatowel tacked to one wall that pictured a map of Italy, anoted with regional pastas (they should sell those….we want one!).

The background music, which wasn’t too loud, was Italian; and, sitting next to the serving hatch to the kitchen, we could hear the chef’s talking to each other in Italian.

When my starter arrived, it was jam-packed with mushrooms. 

 The thick creamy garlic-laced sauce was delicious and the warm chunk of accompanying ciabatta was just the right density.
At this point, we realized that our vantage point by the kitchen afforded us the perfect spot for noseying at what other diners had ordered, thus aiding our menu selection next time. The Lasagne and Penne Salsiccia heading to a couple at a nearby table both looked appetising and hearty sized portions.

We didn’t have long to wait before our mains made an appearance too.

The rice in my risotto was perfectly cooked and the dish was well-flavoured.

The linguine was however outstanding, the sauce was gorgeously thick and rich.

I was offered the menu incase I wished to order dessert, I had a look (for future reference) but ultimately didn’t order as I was already pleasantly full.

The cheesecake, when it arrived, was attractively presented and I did have a taste so can report it was as good as it looks!

It was incredibly light and the vanilla drizzle put us in mind of that which accompanies a crème caramel.

Now, as I mentioned, we had a voucher for the food so when it came to paying the bill we were only charged for two drinks each; but at £10.50 for two courses, we could both indulge in a similarly delicious lunch some other time for around £30. 

We’ll definitely be returning. Soon.

Ratings & Recommendations 

Service: A warm welcome by staff was followed by friendly attentiveness throughout our visit. 5/5

Menu: The menu offers a good selection of traditional Italian dishes. 5/5

Food: Looks and tastes freshly prepared. Well presented and good-sized portions. 5/5

Ambience: Cosy and welcoming. The Italian decor creates a warm feel which we enjoyed. The subdued lighting and background music enhanced the setting. 4/5

Cleanliness: Spotless! Dining furniture & table linen impeccably clean; as were the cutlery, crockery & glassware. Toilets were well maintained. 5/5

Value for Money: Our two courses for two would have cost £10.50 each, ordering from the Special Lunch Menu, plus 4 soft drinks @ £2.60 each = £31.40 which seems reasonable for what we had. 4.5/5

Would we return? YES! Definitely.

Would we recommend? YES! Definitely. I also think this would be the ideal venue for larger celebratory gatherings as well small informalrmal meals out such as we had today.

TOTAL: 28.5 / 30


Don Michele is situated on Perth Road, Dundee and is easily accessible from the city centre.

Contact Details

Address: 177 Perth Road, Dundee, DD2 1AS

Phone: 01382 660600

Opening Times: Lunch 12 – 2pm Daily 

                            Dinner 5.30 – 9.30pm                                                (10.30pm Fri/Sat)

Website: http://donmichele.co.uk/

Facebook: @donmicheledundee

Instagram: @don_michele_dundee
I think we might have found our new favourite Italian restaurant, we just have to think of an excuse to take the rest of the family along soon. Have you finally made it to any great local restaurants you’ve been meaning to visit for a while but just hadn’t gotten around to? I always love when it turns out to be really good 😀

Thanks for stopping by!

Hugs, Crafty xx

Celebrating at Shehzad

I heard today that I had been successful at my recent interview for promotion (Yayyy me!!!) so my Other Half and Offspring#2 decided to take me out for celebratory eats.

We are lucky to have quite a number of really fantastic Indian restaurants locally; but the Shehzad Tandoori & Balti Restaurant is one we use often if we are ordering takeaway online, or popping out for a quick bite.

One of the reasons this is our go-to for impromptu mid-week dining out is their ridiculously inexpensive pre-theatre menu. Monday – Friday, dining between 4 – 8pm you can get 3 courses for £8.95!!!

When it comes to starters, I am a creature of habit; and usually order the chatt patt, or the chicken pakora. Both are delicious but today I went for the chatt patt, as did Offspring #2.

Two huge chicken wings, cooked in a flavoursome marinade, chargrilled, and served with a salad garnish.

OH plumped for the chicken tikka, which was tender chunks of meat cooked in an amazing tikka marinade, looked almost as delicious as ours, and again was served with a salad garnish. The chilli sauce served alongside the starters is always tangy with a pleasantly rounded flavour.
Main courses are usually a sharing affair when our household dine out, so we tend to order a selection of dishes.
The menfolk both opted for the Lamb Punjabi Massala whilst I chose the Lamb Kadie.

A kadie is a traditional Afghani dish made using fresh tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, garlic, spring onions & coriander. It is delicious and takes it’s name from the pot it is traditionally cooked in!

 

The sharing aspect extends to accompaniments, so we ordered 2 portions of pilau rice and 1 portion of chapattis. This works well as it means we all get a variety!

Now, before we discuss dessert, can I remind you that we are eating 3 courses for £8.95!?!? To be completely honest, the first time OH & I popped in to try this deal we weren’t expecting much. We knew the food was good quality and tasty as we ordered regularly but for £8.95 we expected small portions of food that maybe wasnt quite as great, and a limp defrosted slice of generic Sara-Lee -esque frozen cheesecake….

THE CHEESECAKE!!! 😍😍😍

The cheesecake alone is worth £8.95 on any restaurant menu.

It’s homemade, the feather-light creamy topping is the most gorgeous texture, and the biscuit base is just the right crumbly buttery mix.

It’s always a topic of conversation throughout dinner, wondering what flavour the cheesecake will be! We never ask until it’s time to order dessert, Offspring#2 says it ruins the surprise, and so it was only once we had finished off our delicious mains that we discovered tonight’s offering was Galaxy Cookie Dough Crumble.

I have a confession to make. It was only when I was a third of my way through this heavenly concoction that I realized I had committed somewhat of a faux Pas.

I started eating my cheesecake before I remembered to take a photo for you all…. Sorry!

Ratings & Recommendations

Service: As always, a warm welcome by staff was followed by friendly attentiveness throughout our visit.  5/5

Menu: The menu offers a wide and varied selection of both traditional Indian abd some European dishes. Both the Pre-Theatre menu and the Tandoori Night menus offer a smaller selection for very competitive prices. 5/5

Food: Looks and tastes freshly prepared. Meat dishes always contain a decent serving of tender chunks of meat. Well presented and, although the starter portions are smaller on the Pre-Theatre menu, the mains and desserts are good-sized portions. 5/5

Ambience: Bright, light & airy; the decor is standard for a typical Indian restaurant looking to create a contemporary interior. Background music is always upbeat and not so loud as to be intrusive. 4/5

Cleanliness: Spotless! Dining furniture & table linen impeccably clean; as were the cutlery, crockery & glassware. Toilets are well maintained. 5/5

Value for Money: Whilst value for money on the special pre-theatre menu is epic, the standard a la carte menu is also reasonably priced . The bill for tonight’s 3 courses for 3 people plus a few soft drinks was around £35.   5/5

Would we return? YES! Definitely. We do so regularly!

Would we recommend? YES! Definitely. I also think this would be the ideal venue for larger celebratory gatherings as well as the small informal meals out we tend to have there.

TOTAL: 29 / 30

Shezhad Tandoori and Balti Restaurant is situated on Dura Street, Dundee and is easily accessible from the city centre. It is on a main bus route, and there is a free carpark nearby.

Contact Details

Address: 104 Dura Street, Dundee, DD4 6TE

Phone: 01382 457502

Opening Times: Sunday – Thursday 4 – 10 pm , Friday / Saturday 4 – 11 pm

Facebook: Shezhad Tandoori & Balti Restaurant

The cheesecakes are lovingly handmade by the very talented local lass, Zara, you should go have a drool over on her Instagram @_elegantcakes .


Do you have a regular go-to local restaurant? What do you order when you’re there?

Thanks for dining with us! 😁

Hugs, Crafty xx

A Slice of Birthday Fun(fetti)

So, this week brought Offspring#2’s eighteenth birthday (how did that happen?!?!) and of course, that meant cake!

A lot of my cakes start with the same base recipe. It originally came from a 1963 edition of a Brownie Guide cookbook, and so far it has yet to fail me!

The Recipe

This is a ‘weight of an egg cake’, you use the same weight of all your ingredients, obviously starting with your eggs!

For this particular cake, I used half a dozen eggs, weighing a total of 365g (it is important that you weigh whole eggs! Offspring#1 once made the mistake of weighing the contents, making the mixture too runny, and ended up with more of a raspberry quiche than a sponge).

  • Cream together butter & caster sugar.
  • Add eggs, one at a time. Alternate with a spoonful of your flour between each egg.
  • Fold in a third of the remaining sieved self-raising flour, repeat with the last two thirds.
  • Stir in 80-100g brightly coloured hundreds & thousands.
  • Split the mixture equally between two greased & lined tins.
  • Bake at 180°C for approximately 25-35 minutes.
  • Remove from tins, and transfer to a cooling rack.
  • When completely cool, split each cake in half horizontally; giving you four layers.
  • Sandwich together with buttercream & jam.
  • Decorate top with piped rosettes of buttercream and sprinkle with hundreds & thousands.

          Variations

          • Coffee & Walnut : whisk in a shot of coffee before folding in the flour and replace the hundreds & thousands with chopped walnuts. Decorate with coffee buttercream & walnut halves.
          • Lemon : add lemon essence & zest before folding in the flour, flavour buttercream with lemon, replace the jam with lemon curd and sprinkle top with lemon zest.
          • Chocolate & Raspberry : sieve 50g of cocoa along with flour, replace the hundreds & thousands with freeze-dried raspberries, or frozen raspberries; fill with chocolate buttercream & raspberry jam; decorate with fresh raspberries.

          Do you have a go-to recipe that never fails you? I’d love to hear about it!

          Thanks for stopping by; now, I’m off for a cuppa & the last slice of cake. 

          Crafty xx

          A Sunny Saturday in 1300s Arbroath

          Arbroath Abbey has always been a favourite haunt and we’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve visited over the years.
          It is a place of calm tranquility, steeped in history, and I always feel at peace there.

          This weekend there is a re-enactment event; held annually in honour of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath (6th April 1320); so today’s visit wasn’t quite as tranquil, what with the clash of swords as the Scots & English forces battled through the Wars of Independence.

          The medieval encampment came courtesy of The Historic Saltire Society, a living history group based in Inverness who perform all over the country.

          The society members are all very friendly and eager to talk about the history of the period.

          We all had an attempt at some medieval calligraphy using quills, reeds and iron gall ink.

          The professionals made us some personalised bookmarks to show us how it is really done…

          In our defense, they did get to use proper nibs!

          We also saw how cloth would have been woven.

          The lunch tent was well-frequented, although somewhat surprisingly there wasn’t a cauldron of pottage in sight!

          The camp jester was on hand to show us various medieval games & pastimes.

          The Armoury was a lot of fun! The guy we spoke to spent ages talking us through all the protective clothing and weapons. 

          There is always ample opportunity for audience participation.

          Offspring #2 found himself conscripted into the schiltron.

          Whilst the kids army is always fun

          Obviously the finale is The Big Battle… 

          The event continues on Sunday, so if you happen to be around Arbroath, pop along!

          Oh, and no trip to Arbroath can be complete without a good portion of fish and chips!

          We can definitely recommend The Bellrock.

          Do you have any annual local events you enjoy attending?

          Have you heard of Arbroath Abbey, or The Declaration?


          I’d love to hear!

          Hugs, 

          Crafty xx

          Who knew HOME BARGAINS did flowers?

          I didn’t! But they do, their customer service is fantastic; and now that I’ve found them, I’ll be using their service lots!!



          A few weeks ago (it was a Thursday), I made a spur of the moment decision to send my mum some flowers.

          It would have been her Golden Wedding Anniversary the following day, and whilst my dad passed away when I was a teenager, I wanted to still mark the day for her.

          Anyway, I had left it a little late so as soon as I got home from work, I had a quick look online for next day floral deliveries. An ad popped up for Home Bargains Flowers, and always liking a bargain; I clicked the link to take a look.

          Now, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything amazing, but I was just looking for a little bunch of something or other to brighten her day.
          Imagine my surprise (& delight!) when that link took me to a site with dozens of beautiful bouquets, featuring a wide variety of blooms; all incredibly reasonably priced, and offering free standard delivery (1-2 working days) or guaranteed next day for a ridiculously inexpensive £2.95!
          Given the occasion I was looking for a bouquet with Golden tones, and quickly came across this one; Natures Best, featuring a lovely selection of 8 blooms in bright golden shades of yellow & green; including germini, chrysanthemum, alstroemeria, and solidago.

          It seemed ideal so around 4:30pm I quickly ordered it; £9.99 plus £2.95 for next day delivery.
          By 4:40pm I had received not only a transaction confirmation email, but also one confirming my specific order and detailing my tracking number together with the promise of a further confirmation when my order had been despatched.

           

          As I am sure you are aware; the recent storms and exceptionally wet weather have been playing havoc with supplies of salad, vegetables and flowers coming from mainland Europe. Now, as I mentioned, I was looking for specifically  golden blooms; so once I had my confirmation email and order number, I contacted customer services; explained my reason for ordering and requested that if any substitutions had to be made could they possibly try to keep within the original colours of the bouquet although I wouldn’t mind at all if the type of flower had to be exchanged. I very quickly received a reply back, apologising that they couldn’t guarantee it, but that my request would be passed straight to the florist making up my bouquet.

          I received subsequent confirmation of despatch just after 5pm and so far, I was more than satisfied with the service.


           Around 10am the following morning, I received a delighted message from my mum; singing the praises of the gorgeous, and very expensive looking, bouquet she had been surprised with.

          They had indeed, honoured my request regarding the colour, and the entire bouquet was carefully packaged. The hand tied bouquet was suspended in a large sturdy ventilated cardboard box, complete with water filled sack and surrounded with dampened padding. 

          My mum hasn’t quite got the hang of taking photos with her tablet yet (bless her!) so this is the best I’ve got to show what they actually looked like…

          In all honesty, I’m a little bit embarrassed that I only spent £12.94 on them – they are gorgeous!! The actual flowers were fabulous quality blooms and very fresh, as; more than two weeks later; she still has some left from the bouquet.

          I really can’t recommend Home Bargains Flowers highly enough, and give them 5 out of 5 stars for Service, Quality & Price.



          A Final Thought

          Given that; in general; people, myself included, are most often quick to complain about poor customer service; I felt it was important to get in touch explaining how impressed I was with both the product and how happy it had made my mum on an otherwise sad and difficult day; and I was touched to get an equally lovely reply back saying that they would pass on my regards to the rest of the team and could they offer me a voucher entitling me to a small discount if I ever wished to make another purchase? (I was already planning to, one of my work colleagues turns 50 next month, and I’ve been busy telling everyone else about the gorgeous Bargain flowers I bought.) 


          Have you experienced exceptional customer service recently? It’s time to shout out about the good guys!!

          Hugs,

          Crafty xx

          Happy Pokémon Day!!

          Pokémon celebrates its 20th birthday today.

          I think the first time I was aware of the whole Pokémon phenomenon was in the 80s, when my younger sister had a poster featuring all 150 (yes, there were only 150 to start with!)

          Teen1 dabbled a little in her early years, late 90s; then Teen2 discovered a liking in the early 00s.

          image

          This was his favourite dress-up costume for quite a while!
          He donated it to one of the Postpals kids a few years back, which was cute, but I must admit to feeling a little sad when I sent it off!

          Turns out, a decade later, he’s still a fan…

          image

          I got this Pikachu hat in my Loot Crate a few months back and the scoundrel pinched it before I had had a chance to wear it!

          image

          Which Pokémon is your favourite?