Friday, 13 September 2013

The Ultimate Student Cookbook Review

The Ultimate Student Cookbook:
Cheap, Fun, Easy, Tasty Food

Well the days before Paige goes to Derby University are counting down very fast, I always have loved cooking its a passion and in some ways this has hindered my two. Paige said the other day its made her content to let me cook,she helps out and has a few signature dishes but said she needs more experience.

We have been doing a crash course the last two weeks as her job and college are both over. I have been saying she needs a good book and to revise some of the basics that will make it easier. I have had visions of a starving wreck!!! have come up with just such a book.

What I have been gently nagging Paige to do, the The Ultimate Cookbook did in minutes, suddenly excited by how simple everything looked, cheap and easy meals, snacks, hints on what to buy for store cupboard staples,measurements all suddenly made sense to her.

I believe the humour in the book helps. 

Cheese and Ham Toastie -'Melted cheese is God's gift to the human race'

All Purpose Fried Rice - Here's a recipe that's so versatile you might end up trying to get it to fix your door, do your dissertation and talk to people you fancy in a club!

Baked Camembert for two- This dish will clog your arteries, give you type 2 diabetes and probably a good dose of gout to top it all off. But who cares when food tastes this good?

 So inspiring is this book Paige spent the morning making  a shopping list,shopped and cooked.

I waited for the usual "Mum, I don't get this bit!" ...nothing. I  went in to the kitchen to photograph the proof. Mouth open as she looked so confident making a totally new recipe, she does cook a good few of mine but never one from scratch and hasn't read a cookbook or displayed much interest in cooking basics and skills!

Then she called me for lunch!!!!

Bacon and Pea Spaghetti!!!

My visions of the starving wreck evaporated,dreams of being invited to dinner stirred!

Oh and I actually want this book myself, its brilliant, great recipes for curries (see below) and stews,posh toast, brill white sauce recipe, I've been copying some down before she goes.

Also sort of hoping she may just forget it, but alas it disappeared into her food box along with mixed herbs, lentils and baked beans!

Leaving home for the first time ever and being away from mum’s cooking is daunting for the average student. Luckily, those clever people at have come up with a clear and simple-to-use cookbook with properly designed recipes for wholesome and great-tasting food.

  • Cooking basics: a necessary rite of passage to a higher level of culinary learning. Measurements, kitchen kit, store cupboard and fridge stand-bys, simple salad dressings, how to slice and dice, how to cook rice and pasta
  • The Building Blocks:  recipes with a multitude of uses. Boiled egg, scrambled egg, simple tomato sauce, white sauce, basic pancakes, multi-purpose mince
  • Quick ‘n’ Easy: Quick fixes for hectic lifestyles – broccoli and anchovy spaghetti, simple potato salad, cheesy easy omelette, sweetcorn fritters with avocado salsa
  • Hungry but Penniless: a chapter dedicated solely to recipes that can be bought with the coins from the back of the sofa – garlic mushrooms on toast, carb-loaded pesto pasta, tuna pasta bake, bean cassoulet, old-school sausages and lentils
  • Home-cooked Classics: for those who really miss mum’s cooking – easy chicken stew, hearty fish pie, mac ‘n’ cheese, roast chicken and gravy, the perfect roast dinner
  • Nifty Lunches: from the basics of sandwich fillings to more complicated lunches – Spanish omelette, prawn, feta and quinoa salad, sausage and red pepper rolls
  • Crowd Pleasers: dishes for minimum effort and maximum impact – baked camembert for two, steamed mussels, chorizo chicken, fajita party
  • DIY Take-Aways:  better for your wallet and tummy – piri-piri chicken, lamb kebabs, Indian lamb curry, tomato, mozzarella and basil pizza
  • Sweet Stuff: desserts and sweet treats with which to indulge yourself and your friends  - All-American pancakes, raspberry and white chocolate muffins

Indian Lamb Curry
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need an entire continent’s worth of
spices to prepare a curry. Just stick with this recipe and smile knowingly when
all your friends marvel at your internationally influenced palate. With slow
cooking, the best meat to buy is often the cheaper and fattier cuts. Try using
diced shoulder or neck of lamb for this recipe.


6 tbsp oil
2 onions, peeled
and grated
5 garlic cloves, peeled
and very finely chopped
Large thumb-size piece
of fresh ginger, peeled
and very finely chopped
2 green chillies, split
lengthways, but still
held together at the top
1½ tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground turmeric
800g diced lamb (neck
or shoulder work best)
4 tomatoes, roughly
Large handful of fresh
coriander, chopped
Cooked basmati rice,
to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish over a
medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and a generous pinch
of salt. Cook the onions, stirring regularly, for 12–15 minutes
until they become lightly coloured and incredibly soft.
Add the garlic, ginger and green chillies. Fry for a further
4 minutes, stirring regularly, before spooning in the spices.
It is very important to ‘cook out’ the spices for 1 minute, so
fry, constantly stirring to avoid burning. Increase the heat to
maximum, then add the diced lamb. Stir well to combine for
1 minute, then add the tomatoes.
Reduce the heat a little and add half a glass of water to the
saucepan. Bring the liquid up to the boil, then reduce to a
simmer. Place a lid on top and leave to cook for a minimum
of 1 hour. (It can go on cooking for double that time if you
keep adding a little water every now and then to prevent it
from drying out.) The longer the curry is cooked, the better
it becomes.
Add the chopped coriander just before serving with cooked
basmati rice . . . and then delete the curry takeaway number
from your telephone.

Tip: More often than not, curries taste better the day after
they have been cooked because the flavours settle and
intensify. So if you can cook this the night before, leave it
to cool completely before refrigerating. When ready to eat,
just tip the curry back into the saucepan and bring to the
boil over a medium heat. Simmer for 2–3 minutes and enjoy
your fully matured curry.

About Taking inspiration from the student’s staple recipe ‘beans on toast’, was born in 2005. A few years on, the website is first destination for millions of students looking for savings, advice and entertainment.
Published on 15th August 2013 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in trade paperback at £11.99, as an eBook at £7.99

 Disclosure I was given a free product. I was under no obligation to receive the sample or talk about this company. I get no additional benefits for talking about the product or company.


  1. Sounds like a fun book, I have seen the other reviews for this book, all very positive. But I must stop buying cook books.

    1. Ha me too,I am obsessed with books on food! But I still want this one, the ideas and recipes are really good.

  2. Great review Jo! I actually find I can follow the recipes in student cook books better because the recipes are explained in more simple terms (probably for those students who have never cooked for themselves at all!). I have quite a selection (hangs my head in embarassment! - God can I even spell it!?)

    1. Thank you TracyThis book is fab,lots for everyone new to cooking and already an old hand. I love the ease of the meals as much as anything!

  3. Sounds great. It would probably have saved my son quite a few phone calls to mum.

    1. That is exactly what Paige said!

    2. I'm a long way past being a student but I made the lamb curry anyway and it was very nice. :)

  4. Looks fab, and not just for students!

    1. It is a great book,definitely for all cooking levels.

  5. I have just ordered this! I'm not a student but I quite like the look of the recipe ideas. I love recipe books and am always looking for more to add to my collection! Thanks Jo!

  6. I think student cookbooks are a godsend, even for non students... no fancy ingredients, just stuff you're likely to already have in the house!

    1. Yes I think that is the beauty of it,a meal is easily conjured up without a massive shop each time.

  7. Fabulous Not-just-for-students cookbook! Considering getting this.

  8. This looks good - going onto the present list for student relatives. I wonder if they do a veggie one too?

  9. I wish I had this book when I was at university.