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September 16, 2013 | by  | in Arts Books |
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Hungry and Frozen, by Laura Vincent

As my friend said when she first opened this début cookbook by Wellington food blogger Laura Vincent, “My! What a beautiful book!” First and foremost, this is a very pretty cookbook. It boasts old-timey patterned paper and well-photographed home-cooked food—I’m going to put my copy on the coffee table rather than on the cookbook shelf!

The recipes in this cookbook are a veritable mélange of courses and food types, with brunch, weeknight dinners, late-night dinners, feasts, weekend projects, and sweet things all getting their own heading in the contents page. There is also a two-page spread of ideas for toasted sandwiches. Although initially unconvinced by the idea, this section is perhaps my favourite of the book, along with the ice cream and sorbet.

The food is hearty and contemporary, and definitely achievable by anyone with an ounce of nous in the kitchen. Nothing is particularly technically difficult, yet the recipes are neither boring nor uninspiring. Vincent does a remarkable job of selling us a foodie lifestyle that I at least dream of achieving. She also likes to put a quirky spin on traditional dishes; in particular, she has a tendency to cook sweet dishes as savoury meals and vice versa, such as the savoury cheesecake with a base of crackers and walnuts and a filling of halloumi, the beetroot tarte tatin, and the cheese brownies. We made the savoury cheesecake and it was tasty, although I personally would have added more halloumi (because too much halloumi is impossible, let’s not lie). The base was a tad crumbly, but that could be me fudging the butter quantity.

This would make a good cookbook to give your foodie younger sibling for their birthday, or for your mum to get you for your flat to inspire you to stop eating so much mi goreng/baked beans/toast. Bear in mind, however, that there are plenty of recipes that feature relatively expensive ingredients like fancy cheeses, so it’s perhaps not ideal for a student budget. Vincent doesn’t pretend to cater to the beans-and-toast kind of student, although she does introduce the book with an anecdote of her life as a poor, frozen and hungry student (hence the title). The introductions to the recipes are interesting and cheery; she has a very amiable persona. The food is tasty without being too complicated, but it’s not an Edmonds cookbook; there is nothing boring here. Purchasing the book would be a good investment in an exciting Kiwi foodie talent.

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