While making bruschetta with sous-chef and culinary school alumnus Ryan Tong this week, the answer to the question of my two-quarter column dawned on me. Yes, time constraints are an issue, but mainly, college students don’t cook because it’s difficult to cook for one.
The above statement isn’t centered around the Valentine’s Day holiday ““ that time of the year when those in relationships are pressured to follow consumerist antics and buy fluffy pink teddy bears for one another, those who are single are pressured into throwing pity parties, and those who just broke up want to crawl in a hole until Feb. 15, when no more martyrs are celebrated. It has more to do with the innate lack of roommate cooperation in culinary arts while in college.
If you think about it, a four-person apartment has the potential to have a freshly made dinner every weeknight, with little effort and less leftovers stuffed in the fridge. Every person can take one night a week to cook and rotate Fridays, with weekends dedicated to any leftovers and mutual relaxation from the stove. Maybe this happens at the co-op, where cooking and cooperative cleaning is required, but I have yet to meet apartment roommates who actually take the time to cook for each other regularly.
And so it goes ““ those rare nights that you’re home for dinner, you whip up something quick and make a few extra portions to eat tomorrow. Your roommates do the same, and you lead individual lives, as entitled to you as an American. Then you get tired of eating chicken for the fifth day and make fish.
If this is the case in your kitchen, at least make this bruschetta for your next two days’ meals. This was by far the easiest recipe I’ve made so far, made even easier with Tong’s expert guidance.
The fourth-year physiological sciences student attended the Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell during summer 2008, where he learned how to make extravagant meals that he never recreated, such as beef Wellington.
He also learned to make this simple bruschetta, which he makes from time to time, and shared the knowledge with me on Monday night.
I was thrilled with the simplicity of the recipe ““ you cut up a baguette, coat the pieces with olive oil, place the bread in the broiler, watch it carefully so it browns instead of burning, rub it with garlic, pile up a mixture of sauteed garlic, diced tomato and basil, sprinkle on some cheese and pop it back in the oven for a few minutes. Voila, you have a culinary school creation.
Rubbing just a little bit of garlic on the bread added a powerful taste to the hors d’oeuvre, and the ratio of tomato and basil was just right.
Tong’s bread pieces looked more appealing than mine at the end, which I cut too thick and browned too quickly, but other than that it was almost impossible to screw up. The entire process took no more than 30 minutes, perfect for any student’s schedule. I ate the leftovers the following night, and had a few pieces left to share with the roommates too.
One day, I hope to go to culinary school as well, so I can learn to make simple bruschettas as artfully as Tong, and maybe accomplish my fantasy of wearing a chef’s hat too.
If you cook with your roommates but want to cook with Krivoruchko next week, e-mail her at [email protected]