When ‘the hungry student vegetarian cookbook’ arrived in the mail I was so excited. I have a hundred and one vegetarian cookbooks, I have a dozen student ones, but now they had come seamlessly together. I flicked through the brightly coloured pages and was delighted to see a mix of more simple food and some really adventurous stuff. The first thing I tried my hand at was the cheddar burgers with cucumber salsa. They were delicious. I made a bunch for dinner with friends and everyone loved them, even people who didn’t like cucumber were chowing down on the salsa. The book has an affordability rating throughout, and this recipe marked at ‘1’ was spot on. The burgers mainly consisted of butter beans, which are not only cheap, but also yummy and creamy alongside the cheddar cheese. I fell in love with the book instantly, but then we had our first fall out. I decided to try one of the breakfast recipes, so I got excited about the ‘Buckwheat pancakes’ only to discover that buckwheat flour is really awkward to get your hands on. I’m yet to find a place that sells it and since this is aimed at students I was quite disappointed that it included something difficult to find yet didn’t suggest an alternative that might be available to the reader. The second disappointment was the Haloumi and Rocket carbonara. It was sickly and the rocket I had it with was really bitter. Although that wasn’t the recipe’s fault, (instead I blame the bag of rocket), I couldn’t help thinking that the mix of ingredients just wasn’t quite right to go alongside rocket anyway, let alone this bitter batch. The creaminess was too overwhelming and rich, whilst the cheese wasn’t different, or distinctive enough, from the rest of the dinner. All the flavours melted into one creamy mush with a bitter streak.
After that disappointment however, the book was back on my good side as I tried the Spiced Flatbread, which was very yummy, despite the cooking time being a bit longer than what was advised. The one thing I struggled with was that it hadn’t listed water as an ingredient, so I was mixing the dough with my hands covered in flour when I read that I needed to add ‘250ml warm water.’ Awkward.
The puddings, however, were amazing. My favourite was the Chocolate Mousse, something that I was never confident enough to try. It took just two hours to set, so I made them just before friends came over and then popped them in the fridge as they arrived. Two hours later, I added some whipped cream on top (for overkill) and they were perfect. They were very rich, so I think the book should have advised serving either smaller portions, or alongside something (e.g. cream).
Throughout, the affordability rating seems to be accurate. The little tips that are written half way through each section offer some good advice and explanations. In the drinks section, there are even a few tips for the day after. I really enjoyed this cookbook. I found that every page had something different or interesting. However, I think a few things don’t quite work and I feel that they really pull down the quality of an otherwise helpful cookbook.