Elizabeth Untama / Gavel Media

The Joy of Cooking (In A Kitchenette)

Now that the annual housing debacle is behind us, many of us can look forward to having something resembling a kitchen in our suites. But what’s the deal with kitchenettes anyways? They aren’t functional enough to actually cook meals in, but they’re still trying so hard to be a valuable addition to your living area. Here at the Gavel, we appreciate kitchenettes, because though they may be flawed, they thrive under the right circumstances, and you’d be surprised what you can make with a fridge, sink, and microwave. Here are five recipes you can make in your new kitchenette.

The Dip - Tzatziki

What’s better than sitting down in the living room with your roommates, turning on the TV, and watching the World Series, or the Super Bowl, or another highly televised sporting event? Doing all of that, but with something to eat. And while I don’t mean any offense to Tostitos Salsa or Queso, there is, in fact, a way you can up your dip game. Let me introduce you to Tzatziki, the versatile Greek sauce to change your life. You can use it as a dipping sauce for some pita chips, put it next to some grilled chicken or beef, or just eat it by the spoonful. All you need to do to make it is combine one finely chopped European cucumber (the long kind), two cups of greek yogurt, two tablespoons of chopped mint, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a bowl, and add salt and pepper to taste. The best part about this recipe is you can do whatever you want to it. Want a tangier taste? Add some lemon juice. Want to make it smokier? Throw in a couple dashes of paprika. Want it herbier? Throw in dill, parsley, or cilantro. My tip? Add some crumbled feta. Magic.

The Late Night Snack - Lemon Chicken Tacos

We’ve all been there. It’s 11 pm. You’ve been at the library for hours. The thought of late night turns your stomach upside down, but you’re hungry, and that needs to change. How about some tacos? I know what you’re thinking: “Nico, there is no way I can make tacos in my Vandy/Walsh/90 kitchenette!” You see, the thing about tacos, good stranger, is that you can bend the rules. The only things you’ll need in your kitchenette are some corn tortillas, some lemons or limes, and, optionally, some spices. Here’s the game plan. On your way back from O’Neill, you go to Lower and grab a plain chicken breast. Then, when you arrive back at your kitchenette, you shred that chicken using two forks. Proceed to squeeze the juice of two limes into a bowl, and mix it with a tablespoon of olive oil. Optionally, add cumin, paprika, hot sauce, or whatever other flavor enhancer you can think of. Toss the chicken and your seasoning together. Wrap your tortilla in a paper towel, and microwave it for 15-30 seconds, depending on the size of your tortilla. Wrap some chicken in a tortilla, and boom: the perfect late night snack. Optional accoutrements include: Sour cream, cilantro, more lime, avocado, or queso fresco.

The Date - Smashed Cucumber Salad

For many of us, cuffing season happens to coincide directly with midterm season. When you have papers, midterms, work, and clubs to take care of, there’s just no time to take your S/O out to a nice dinner. But that doesn’t mean you have to let them wallow in disappointment! Instead, treat yourself and your boo to a deceptively simple but delicious smashed cucumber salad. Ever since the good people at Bon Appétit started spreading the word on how to make this, it’s been an irresistible, refreshing recipe I keep on hand. Here’s how to make it. Take a couple of Persian cucumbers (the short kind), and start to ~gently~ smash them with whatever food safe, hard, and heavy object you have near you (a pan, your forearm, or even the spine of your Orgo textbook). Once they start to come apart, tear them into uneven, bite size pieces with your hand. Put them all in a bowl, and salt them to your taste. Optionally, you could drain them through a paper towel to get rid of the excess liquid, but this is a college dorm, not Osteria Francescana, so we get it if you skip this step. Now you get to have fun with it, and dress these however you like! I prefer them with some feta, olive oil, and pepper, but feel free to add some Tajín, or some chili oil and sesame seeds, avocado and onion, or whatever you like. You are a painter, and these cucumbers are your canvas. 

The Classic: Redux - Coconut Curry Ramen

Before you email me angrily telling me you already eat enough ramen, hear me out. The problem with ramen isn’t the noodle, it’s the flavor packet that turns the broth into a sodium bomb. So what if you got your flavor from an alternative source? What if you were able to do that while also infusing it with a Thai flavor? All you need for this one is a can of coconut milk, and some curry powder. Cook the noodles as you normally would, and then instead of adding the flavor packet, drain the noodles, add some coconut milk and a healthy amount of curry powder (I’d go with 1.5 tablespoons), and before you know it you’ll have new and improved ramen. 

The Dessert - Oma Borbolla’s Chocolate Mousse

This one comes courtesy of my own Oma, who taught me that the secret ingredient is the hard work that goes into it. And since I imagine you will not have a hand mixer nearby, we’ll be making this with what Oma did back in the day: a whisk, a forearm workout, and the love for your roommates that inspired you to make this. Beat half a cup of heavy cream until it becomes whipped cream, and the chill it in the fridge. Separate four eggs. Melt one bar of your favorite chocolate (I recommend a 60-70% dark chocolate) in the microwave. While that cools, whip two egg whites into soft peaks (when you bring the whisk up, the peak of the white should flop down to one side). Mix three tablespoons of sugar into the egg yolks and whisk together. Add the molten chocolate and combine. Into the whipped cream, gently fold the the chocolate mixture one third at a time. One third at a time, gently fold in the egg whites. Once homogenous, let it cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours. If you ever need to gain the forgiveness of your roommates, this is how. 

It is not lost on me that these are not the easiest recipes. You’re going to have to work harder than just throwing something in the microwave and calling it a day. But remember, food is and should always be more than just charmless nutrition. It should be a conduit through which you celebrate your love for your friends, your partner, and yourself. Show them and yourself that you’re all worth it. You’ll be surprised what an impact it can make. 

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