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Great even if you're not a vegetarian or a student......
The Vegetarian Student Cookbook
Member Name: cerys82
The Vegetarian Student Cookbook
Advantages: Great, fun, cheap and tasty recipes, lots of keepers.
This book is 250 pages long and features over 200 vegetarian recipes which the blurb describes as being 'quick, cheap and tasty'.
The book itself is well made. It has a glossy but flexible cover. The pages are quite smooth and are largely quite resistant of stains and splashes if caught early enough. The spine is also flexible which makes it easy to bend back and cook from.
There is a 12 page introduction. This contains various sections - to start with ones giving specific information to students, including a section entertainingly named - 'living with carnivores!' Then onto basic sets of equipment and a list of 'store cupboard essentials.' Next onto 'preparations' which lists some staple ingredients and how to prepare them best for cooking.
Next there is guidance on how to accurately pinpoint which foodstuffs are actually vegetarian/pescetarian rather than those that only appear to be - ie cutting through the jargon and misleading information. Following this there s a small section on kitchen hygiene to ensure the risk of food poisoning is kept to minimum. Next there is some basic nutritional information detailing all the major food groups and how to keep them all at optimum level. Following this are menu planners which are split into the following sections - lazy breakfast, lunch on the move, converting the carnivores (!) and brain food - each section contains a short list of indicative recipes and their page numbers just as a starter.
Then we get into the recipes good and proper. The recipes are generally one to a page. Each idea has a short introduction with suggest some simple variations that can be made. There are bold circles going down the side of each recipe which clearly indicate preparation time, cooking time, the number that the suggested ingredient quantities will feed as well as some key words to sum up the recipe - eg tangy, mates, fun, snack, juicy, beer, fills, telly and so on....
The first section - Brilliant Breakfast features recipes such as the following - all variations on basic breakfast eggs including omelettes and Benedict, Rarebit, Boston Baked Beans, French toast, various muffins, granola, banana porridge, muesli etc as well as various recipes for energy bars that can be prepared in advance.
Following this are 'soups and salads' - one of my favourite sections as I am a bit of a soup fiend. Examples are: oven-baked vegetable soup, carrot and ginger soup, mushroom, butternut squash, and curried lentils. The salads are surprisingly substantial: potato salad, three bean pasta salad, curried butter bean etc.
Next is 'Cheap Eats' - satisfying but not extortionately priced main meals/larger lunchtime ideas, mainly focussed around carbohydrates - eg roasted vegetable baguette, fajitas, black bean chilli, spicy bean burgers (a personal favourite), spiced root vegetables (very useful), falafels, chickpea and mushroom bangers, baked potatoes, cheese straws. There are also accompaniments such as hummus (a keeper!), garlic, herb and bean pate, salsa and guacamole.
The 'Viva Italia' section as you can probably imagine is based on traditional Italian cooking, albeit catering for an audience which does not have masses of money and time. Examples are pizzas, various well flavoured pasta dishes including linguine and spaghetti - particular favourites are penne with vodka, tomato and cream and lentil Bolognese (very versatile and useful) as well as vegetable lasagne, stripy macaroni cheese and various risottos.
The next section - Orient Express gets its inspiration from Asian cuisine. This varies from Chinese - spicy coconut milk noodles (indulgent and flavoursome comfort food), stir fried vegetables with cashews etc; to Indian with a wide variety of spicy and versatile curries - lentil and rice pilaf (which I absolutely adore and is really simple and effective), vegetable curry (another favourite), simple vegetable biryani, mixed bean curry (probably my most repeated from this book), sweet potato and spinach curry, potato curry, onion bhajis etc.
Next we come to the 'meals for mates' section which produces main meals with the added bonus of being maybe slightly more impressive without being overly complex - eg red pepper and bean cakes, couscous with grilled vegetables (also great in a packed lunch), roasted vegetable and feta tart, bean and beer casserole (really great in the coldest months!), bean tagine, Spanish vegetable stew, vegetarian hotpot, various bakes, crumbly nut roast (firmly on my to-do list), fondues (including beer and onion!).
Next we come to 'sweet treats' otherwise known as desserts. These include fresh fruit salad, treacle sponge, various crumbles, rice pudding, bread and butter pudding, tiramisu, sweet pies and fondues. Immediately after this we come to 'brilliant baking' - with recipes for scones, fairy cakes, basic Victoria sponges and fruit cakes, muffins, biscuits, cookies and flapjacks.
Following this we have a perennial student favourite section - cocktails. This includes classic Pimms, Bellini, kir, martini, mojito, Irish coffee and eggnog! After all that indulgence, we quite fittingly come to the last chapter - beat the hangover which details various simple and nutritious juices which can be made for those in need of a detox!
I have a lot of recipe books, and I mean A LOT. However, this is without a doubt one of my favourites, and actually one of my most essential ones. As you can see the recipes contained within are varied, not dull and I can vouch that the many that I have tried have been absolutely delicious and really good and easy to prepare for myself and my husband after a long day at work. Whilst some recipes require a variety of fresh vegetable, there are a great number which can be made with a well stocked store cupboard of tinned pulses and vegetables.
The curries are particularly great and especially good when you consider that you can get a lot of meals out of your ingredients, particularly after purchasing your basic herbs and spices. The sweets sections are a bit more lightweight than the savoury ones but that is fine really because I would not imagine that its target audience really want to spend hours baking on a regular basis - yet provides all the basic recipes for baking that you are really going to need at this level.
I will just say though, that I am neither a student or a vegetarian, yet I see this as a fantastic book for just about everyone, not least because most of the ideas are so nutritious. There are enough ideas here for several weeks' worth of main meals without repeating yourself. The recipes that I have tried have been accurate in their portions size and timings and easy to follow. A lot of them are also good to make extra of and have cold for a packed lunch or a picnic.
In conclusion, I absolutely love this book and at such a reasonable price - I really do not think that you can go far wrong with this!
Summary: One of my favourite cookbooks
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