Should students learn to cook? You bet

What are the biggest concerns, or even fears, of a prospective student preparing to start university? Moving away from home, making new friends, coping with the workload? Or maybe it’s the thought that you can no longer rely on that hot steaming plate of food every evening, or having fully stocked cupboards 24/7.

While my advice for settling into the university environment is ‘‘don’t panic, just get stuck in’’ (I'm about to start my third year at the University of Kent), I can offer more substantial guidance for the latter in the form of Charlotte Pike’s The Hungry Student Cookbook (Quercus, £7.99).

In my opinion a student recipe book has to tick certain boxes. Recipes have to be cheap and relatively quick and easy to make. The Hungry Student Cookbook has all this, and more. It is the variety of the recipes that really stand out, offering not just the staple pasta and noodle dishes but more exciting sounding meals such as the easy Thai fishcakes. Recipes are provided for breakfast, lunch and dinner and for all seasons, from a fresh Caesar salad to a hot sausage casserole for those cold winter nights.

There are still additions to the recipes which I consider to be unnecessary ingredients, adding a bay leaf to the beef casserole for example. I imagine this only scares away the cooking novice rather than educating them on new flavours. Although it can be argued these ingredients add flavour, I can’t see any student willing to pop to the shops to pick up a tub of caraway seeds for their pork casserole.

That said Charlotte certainly knows her student market, writing in a warm and friendly style that is particularly effective in the brief foreword she writes for each recipe. Of course, including recipes such as beef in beer and vodka pasta (who knew!) will alone to do satisfy her peer group. She also appeals to all cooking ability. A section entitled "How not to poison your friends'’ offers potentially life saving advice for the real beginners, while recipes such as that for making apple galettes will please the more adventurous.

By Georgie Evans

3:00PM BST 11 Jul 2013

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