Sam Stern is a young but already experienced cookbook author. When I say “young” I mean YOUNG! He is still a teenager but has the handsome fresh face of a ten-year-old. However, read his book and you realise that the lad should be considered an author first, and one with a remarkable future.
Perhaps student cookbooks could be divided into two distinct groups. There are those that are chosen by parents (probably mums) for the soon-to-exit youth, and those that will appeal more directly to, and be purchased by, the students themselves. Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook falls into the second category, although I am sure those book-buying mums will understand the draw.
Student Cookbook is a square format, colourful volume, crammed with marvellous pictures of food and Sam. The text is clear and the recipes simple to follow. It’s a book aimed at the virgin cook… er, um, that is someone who is new to cooking. None of the dishes will fill the debutante with terror.
OK, the book is as good-looking as the author but how about the food? There is little point in investing in a recipe book that will stay on the shelf along with your Manga magazines. These look like just the sorts of dishes that will tempt those hard-working students into the kitchenette.
The food here is, for the most part, healthy without being worthy. It doesn’t seem like the usual student food of strange combinations, dishes of 3 ingredients one of which will be either chocolate or Marmite. This is sensible stuff that anyone would enjoy eating – snacks, soups, pasta, puddings, as well as veggies, meat and fish.
Each recipe is marked with a price symbol. A single £ sign indicates “skint/saving” and £££ is for the day your aunty sends you a bit of birthday money. Other markers let you know if the dish is suitable for vegetarians, how many it feeds, and if it’s fast to cook. It’s an easy way to find suitable choices at a glance.
The Noodles chapter offers Chop Suey Noodles with 4 symbols. It feeds 2, it’s good for those “skint” days, it’s fine for vegetarians and fast to cook. I am sure the book will naturally fall open at this page after a while.
Student cannot live by noodles alone, and puds are always cheering. How about Apple and Banana Hot Sugared Doughnuts? Easy to make but impressive as a dessert or late-night munchies. This recipe feeds 1 to 2 (probably 1 so make a double batch), it’s cheap, vegetarian and fast.
Sam’s cookbook will have young people cooking for themselves but also for friends and family. There are smart dishes as well as quick and casual meals. This is all about surviving in style on a budget. Cooking should be fun so buy this book and eat some lovely food. Great value for money.
Author: Sam Stern
Published by: Walker Books
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018