We know that it has been quite a while since our last post. But, we have a good excuse: we’ve been preparing for and Iron Chef competition! Our hard work paid off and we earned second place out of 6 teams!
This is the fifth year that Amherst has hosted a student iron chef battle, and at this phase the prizes are great and the competition is steep. 6 teams of four were chosen randomly with a raffle, and we were not given any details until the day before the contest.
As it turns out, the format of this challenge was more like Chopped than Iron Chef (for all of you Food Network Aficionados out there.) We were given a basket with 6 ingredients that had to be used in some way to create a 3 course meal (appetizer, entrée, and desert.) All team had complete access to the food in the Dining Hall servery, and we were also given a few extra ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, whipping cream, eggs, and fresh herbs. We were only given one Bunsen burner, 2 pans, one chopping board, two knives, and access to 2 microwaves (for all 6 teams.) Cooking time was one hour, and every team was required to serve two plates of each dish when time was called.
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So, now that you know the details- lets give a run down of the ingredients and the spectacular ways in which we used them.
The 6 mystery ingredients were:
- upland cress
- raw artichokes
- wild green onions
- fresh mozzarella
- and black tomatoes.
Although the ingredients suggested an Italian themed meal, we chose to incorporate the items in unexpected ways; we made Thai-style lettuce wraps, a pulled chicken sliders with two side salads, and an apple crisp for desert.
Thai lettuce wraps:
Lettuce cup filled with diced artichoke hearts, chopped celery, shredded carrots, sliced upland cress, and crispy wantons tossed with our peanut sauce
. We skewered some steak from the dining hall’s entrée of the evening, and used the meat skewer to hold the lettuce wrap together. The plate was garnished with a swirl of the peanut sauce (perfect for dipping the steak!)
Pulled Chicken Sliders:
We toasted dinner rolls and topped them with pulled chicken and a slice of the black tomato. To make the pulled chicken, we shredded chicken breasts (the grilled entrée available every day for a lighter meal option) and tossed the meat in an augmented barbeque sauce (we added catsup, mustard, brown sugar, and chicken broth to the standard barbeque sauce available at the sandwich bar.)
Our desert was the only dish which did not incorporate the secret ingredients. We made an apple crisp in a microwave, and served it in a hollowed out apple. The crisp was made by covering chopped apples with a mixture of cinnamon, brown sugar, and crushed ice-cream cones. (Yes- we used ice cream cones to replace the traditional oatmeal/granola topping.) The crisp was microwaved for 2 minutes, and then drizzled with melted butter and microwaved for a final minute. We spooned the crisp into the apple bowls, and topped it with freshly made cinnamon whipped cream.
Our sliders were served with two cold salads. The first was a rosemary garlic potato salad, created by simply adding mayonnaise and mustard to diced potatoes (potatoes were served as an accompaniment to the steak at dinner.) We topped the potato salad with the fiddleheads, which had been seared in butter and fresh garlic, and garnished with the wild onion stalks. The second salad was a celery, apple, and raisin salad served over flash seared mozzarella and drizzled in a balsamic reduction.
Ultimately, this was a fantastic experience. We think that our ample experience foraging
for Dorm Room Delights gave us a competitive edge, and hope to find a way to re-create some of these recipes with our kettle. Check back soon, we’ll keep you posted (no pun intended.)
Even though we are avid coffee drinkers (check out our method for making the perfect dorm room coffee
), we also love high tea! It is a lovely british tradition filled with pastries, adorable savory dishes, and of course- fantastic tea.
Although we cannot possibly compete with the glorious high teas that we've seen on Downton Abbey, we found a way to host our very own dorm-scale high tea- complete with traditional sides: a personal sized Ham and Spinach Quiche
, Cranberry-Walnut Scones
, and cucumber tea sandwiches!
The Quiche and Scones are fairly complicated recipes, and detailed instructions can be found on other posts. However, the cucumber sandwiches are not only adorable, but are ridiculously easy to make. We combined cucumbers, butter, and white bread (all foraged from our dining hall) and cut them into triangles. Served up with our other treats, we had a perfectly respectable high tea!
2 pieces white bread, trimmed into a square (f
1 tsp (1 pat) butter (f
1/2 cup sliced cucumber (f
1. Spread butter on both pieces of bread
2. Slice cucumber into thin, rectangular pieces
3. Layer cucumber slices between buttered bread, and cut into triangles
Serve with tea, and enjoy!
We've done a few very risky things here on dorm room delights: like cooking quesadillas
in a steamer, to creating stuffed bell peppers
without an oven, and now- a fully cooked quiche!
Although we were skeptical at first, our experiments ultimately have shown that it is possible to cook eggs in the bowl of a double boiler. The secret is to stir the eggs frequently so they can be exposed to the heat on the edges of the bowl. Our quiche is made by effectively scrambling eggs together with cheese, ham, and spinach. Once the eggs are almost completely cooked, the scramble is pressed into a firm, quiche-like shape. The quiche is cooked together and can be easily served on a plate as the perfect centerpiece of a high tea
! Enjoy :)
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1. 1 whole egg
2. 1 piece of ham, sliced up (f
3. Light handful of sliced spinach (f
4. Light handful of chopped cheese
5. 1 tablespoon of heavy cream
1. Beat the egg with the cream and then add the rest of the ingredients.
2. Butter the measuring cup and pour in the egg mixture.
3. Cook over the kettle, stirring every minute, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the cup.
4. After five minutes, pat the egg down and leave for another five minutes.
5. Turn the quiche onto a plate and enjoy!
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The theory behind no-bake oatmeal cookies is simple. Instant oats are completely cooked with a small bit of hot water, then sugar, butter, and any additional ingredients can be stirred in. The dough is shaped into balls that will harden at room temperature.
Our recipe is an adaptation of these simple oatmeal cookies, because we added flour to the melted butter. The flour smoothed out the dough, and gave these cookies a softer, more scone-like texture. Loaded with brown sugar, walnuts, and cranberries, these are a great substitute for scones at a high tea
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2 packets instant oats (f
1 tablespoon butter (f
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar (f
2 tablespoons dried cranberries (f
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1. Mix the sugars in with the dry oats and then pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over them.
2. Mix these until the oats are cooked and all the sugars are combined.
3. Melt the butter with the flour and then mix it into the oats.
4. Mix in the walnuts and cranberries.
5. Scoop three scones out of the mixture and place them on a tinfoil sheet.
6. Let the "scones" sit out for a few hours (4), flipping them over half way through.
We at dorm room delights are always looking for creative ways to make our favorite dishes in new, kettle friendly ways. Lasagna is particularly challenging, because regular lasagna is assembled with raw noodles, cheese, and vegetables, then baked in an oven to cook the flavors together. So, how did we make a hot, gooey pasta dish with all of the elements of a lasagna? We rolled and steamed our own lasagna rolls!
To make these rolls, we cooked one lasagna noodle and then covered it with a cheese and spinach mixture. Then, we rolled up the noodle and wrapped it in aluminum foil. We steamed the roll to heat up the cheese and to finish cooking the noodle. When the roll was cooked, we doused it in marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella. This is a fantastic, balanced dish with great vegetable flavor and added garlic for spice. Another great aspect of this recipe for lasagna rolls is that they are made 1 at a time, so you can make a perfectly portioned snack. Or, simply repeat the process to cook 3 or 4 for rolls for a full dinner!
Have fun rolling up your lasagna!
1 cup fresh raw spinach (not baby)
3 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 lasagna noodle
1 tablespoon shredded mozerella
1 tsp ground garlic
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1. Steam spinach for 3 minutes
2. Cook lasagna noodle for 7 minutes in pot of boiling water
3. Mix spinach with goat cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper
4. Layer on lasagna noodle, and roll
5. While you are rolling lasagna, heat sauce in double boiler
6. Wrap roll in aluminum foil
7. Steam roll for 3 minutes
8. Cover with hot tomato sauce, and sprinkle with mozerella
Oh my goodness, we are amazing. Modesty is completely overrated when it comes to this new recipe.
We knew that this parfait would be great simply because it is made with blueberries, lemon, and whipped cream. But we had no idea that the textures of our parfait would combine these flavors into a desert that is such perfection!
Most parfaits are made with berries and whipped cream or yogurt, but these generic parfaits tend to be one dimensional and boring. We spiced up our parfait with a delicious chilled cream sauce that adds a bright contrast to the thick whipped cream. In addition, the whipped cream was not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill desert topping. We made a fantastic lemon flavored whipped cream that brought out the acidity in the blueberries, and was the element that put this parfait over the top.
This is a fantastic desert that will work well with any type of fruit.
Chilled Sweet Cream:
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsps sugar
1 egg yolks
splash vanilla extract
1 pack fresh blueberries (4oz)
Lemon Whipped Cream:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
juice from 3 lemon slices (about 1 tsp)
2 tbsp powdered sugar
For the sweet cream:
1. Mix whipping cream with 1 tablespoons sugar and heat over double boiler
for 5 minutes
2. While cream is heating, whisk egg yolks with remaining tbsp sugar and vanilla
3. Pour hot cream into egg mixture and whisk until combined
4. Transfer egg and cream mixture to double boiler and heat for 10 minutes
5. Pour cream through strainer and into small tupperware
6. Chill in refrigerator 4-6 hrs
For the lemon whipped cream:
1. Whisk cream, lemon juice, and powdered sugar until soft peaks form
To assemble parfait:
Layer blueberries and whipped cream in glass cup or jar. Top with sweet cream and enjoy!