September 19, 2018

Cooking 101: A practical lesson for college students

Spending a lovely summer back home in the Los Angeles area, Morgan Lieberman was doing what she enjoys most: using her camera to shoot photos. From time to time during those warm days, she found her way into my kitchen — and my heart — shooting photos of food for the Journal and its monthly magazine, TRIBE.

When she returned to the University of Missouri this month, however, Morgan and her longtime friend Caroline moved into an apartment with a tiny kitchen. This is their junior year at the university, and it comes with the challenges of independent living. For one thing, it means an end to the in-house chef who cooked all their meals last year in a sorority house.

But inspired by the food photos Morgan took while working in L.A., she and her roommate are now planning to cook together. They have collected a selection of practical recipes and plan to publish a cookbook to share with their college friends that will focus on easy-to-make dishes.

Some of their ideas include bruschetta, paninis, salads and lots of veggie dishes, plus fun desserts. Who wouldn’t want to end a hard night of studying with a Chocolate-Covered Ice Cream Pop?

BRUSCHETTA (GARLIC BREAD WITH TOMATOES AND BASIL)

It is a perfect last-minute accompaniment to an appetizer tray — unbelievably easy to prepare with ingredients usually on hand.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 12 slices (1/2 inch thick) crusty Italian bread
  • 5 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 whole small basil leaves for garnish

 

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the garlic over medium heat. Add the bread slices in a single layer and fry them on both sides until crisp. 

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the tomatoes, the remaining 2 tablespoons garlic, the chopped basil leaves, and salt and pepper. Place the bread slices on a large serving platter and spoon the tomato mixture onto each slice. Garnish with whole basil leaves and serve immediately. 

Makes 12 servings.

SMOKED SALMON AND CREAM CHEESE PANINI 

This sandwich, cut into quarters, makes an elegant appetizer or a simple and delicious lunch.

  • 12 slices sandwich bread or 6 rolls, cut in half horizontally
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 6 slices smoked salmon
  • 6 slices Monterey Jack cheese

 

Place bread on a cutting board. Spread cream cheese on 6 slices of bread or bottom halves of rolls. Top each with a slice of smoked salmon and a slice of cheese. Top with remaining 6 slices of bread or tops of rolls. 

Preheat panini press or grill to medium heat.

Place sandwiches in panini press and close the lid. Grill sandwich until the bread is golden brown and cheese is melted. Slice into halves or quarters and serve immediately. 

Makes 6 paninis.

TOMATO, MOZZARELLA AND BASIL PANINI

  • 12 slices sandwich bread or 6 rolls, cut in half horizontally
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 6 slices tomatoes
  • 6 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 6 fresh basil leaves

 

Place bread on a cutting board. Spread mayonnaise on 6 slices of bread or bottom halves of rolls. Top each with a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf. Top with remaining 6 slices of bread or tops of rolls. 

Preheat panini press or grill to medium heat.

Place sandwiches in panini press and close the lid. Grill sandwich until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted. Slice into halves or quarters and serve immediately. 

Makes 6 paninis.

CHOCOLATE-COVERED ICE CREAM POPS

  • 1 pint ice cream (use your favorite flavor)
  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate, melted
  • Edible gold flecks or colored sprinkles (optional) 

 

Line a tray with wax paper and place it in the freezer. Remove the ice cream and the chilled tray from the freezer. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out 12 bite-size balls of ice cream, insert a wooden stick in the center of each scoop, and place on chilled tray. Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour. 

Remove one ice cream ball at a time and, holding the stick, quickly dip the ball in warm melted chocolate, covering the entire surface. Return the chocolate-coated ice cream balls to the tray and continue with the remaining ice cream balls. Sprinkle with edible gold flecks, if desired. Wrap in wax paper and return to the freezer for at least one hour until frozen solid. 

Makes 12 servings.


Judy Zeidler is a food consultant, cooking teacher and author of “Italy Cooks” (Mostarda Press, 2011). Her website is judyzeidler.com.