While the opening of the dining hall may come as a welcome reprieve to the food fare of orientation, sooner or later the magic will fade. Menus will become repetitive, forks will become short in supply, and the winter months will make the walk for food a chilly excursion.
However, the dining hall blues need not affect you. Ramen Noodles and microwaveable macaroni and cheese have earned their place in the college pantry, but the kitchen found in every first-year residence hall opens a new world of satisfying possibilities when the meal swipe lets you down. In fact, with a few simple tools and a little know-how, cooking in the residence halls can quickly become one of the best parts of on-campus living.
Since most first-year buildings only have a single kitchen, preparing food often becomes a rewarding group endeavor. Be it mixing pancake batter for a crowd, preparing chili for the suite, or baking cookies for the floor, there are many recipes conducive to making memories while avoiding meal swipes.
I’M FEELING CHILI
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or corn oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 medium cloves (about 1 tablespoon) garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
2 cans (16 ounces each) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes, until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Increase heat to medium-high and add half the beef; cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining beef and cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until no longer pink, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon.
Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 tsp salt; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally until beef is tender and chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with additional salt.
NOT YOUR AUNT JEMIMA’S PANCAKES
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Pure maple syrup
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make three or four pancakes. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with butter and real maple syrup.
Makes 16 cookies
1¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
½ cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking twice more until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.
5. Bake cookies one tray at a time until golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through.