Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Ultimate Student Cookbook

Quadrille Publishing sent me Tiffany Goodall's From Pasta to Pancakes: The Ultimate Student Cookbook to review and I've tried a couple of recipes from it over the last weeks.

Tiffany has her own blog here featuring many more recipes and her thoughts on restaurants. Having completed a cookery course and realising her dream of publishing her own cookery book, she seems to have made it. But, are her recipes up to scratch? I've seen much of her, in magazines and on the web during her book launch month but what of the food?

Having been hooked on Rick Stein's latest series for BBC2 'Far Eastern Odyssey' my cooking has taken a more adventurous turn and I opted to cook Tiffany's Chinese beef noodle stir fry one night after work. I am not the biggest fan of Chinese cooking but have been hugely inspired by flavours of the orient of late.

I did adapt the recipe slightly but am pleased to say that it was great, light yet punchy due to the chilli, packed with crunchy veggies and padded out with some rice noodles which I am having a phase of adding to dishes wherever possible at the moment.

You will need:

2 sirloin steaks, sliced
1 green pepper (I used yellow)
2 tbs ginger, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 red chillis, deseeded and sliced
rice noodles
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs soy sauce
2 limes, juice only
1 tbs honey (I used sugar)

I also added
sugar snap
bamboo shoots and water chestnut
chopped coriander

The image is misleading, the dish looks a little dry but it wasn't at all, the combination of soy, lime juice and a little sugar was perfect with the crunchy vegetables and the sirloin (annoyingly I slightly over cooked it) and there was more than enough to coat everything, and to sup out of the bowl to round things off. I love the boldness of the use of chilli too, in size they can vary obviously and if deseeded they are milder in flavour but I left the seeds in and the resulting meal was brilliantly hot.

I struggled a little with the vagueness and at times contradictory nature of the instructions in some areas of the recipe, for example the print states that the pepper should be finely chopped yet in the picture it is clearly sliced. Also I got 2 large sirloin steaks and this was ample, yet the recipe suggests using 3. I think that this is probably what appeals to Goodall's target audience however, students naturally, who probably cook in haste or with a lackadaisical approach (which there is nothing wrong with - it seems that the idea here is akin to the Jamie Oliver 'pass it on' campaign, simplicity being key, with plenty of margin for interpretation).

I like the categorization of the book, healthy recipes, quick recipes, treats, there are even some cocktails towards the end. It's certainly geared towards a young novice chef with a chapter named Wasted Weekends. I think Tiffany Goodall has a promising future, if she is able to adapt her cooking style as she matures and retain the interest of her readers. If she is not, there will always be students who welcome a change to the usual takeaway and ready meals.

Catch Tiffany on Market Kitchen on Thursday 27th Aug, I'm interested to see if she has a TV presence to match the likability factor of the book. She clearly has a passion for food and a flair for home cookery.


Lizzie said...

What is it about Chinese cooking that you dislike?

Boo said...

In saying i'm not the biggest fan I mean i've not been inspired to cook it myself in the past. I've not had many great experiences with Chinese food, given that where I grew up and studied my experiences were limited to Chinese buffets, not good.

I do mean to seek out the better restaurants here in London but what I don't like about what I have tried is lots of fried, greasy foods and msg gives me a headache. What I dislike I suppose is 'Americanized' Chinese food. I am completely willing to be converted and intend to experiment myself much more from now on.

Gourmet Chick said...

Yes this recipe looks a bit like a westernised version of Chinese food. Chinese cuisine is amazing don't give up on it yet Boo!