Food

Dorm Cooking 101: Ugly Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of my favorite cakes. I love the fact that two of my favorite foods, sugar and cheese can come together in this amazingly creamy combo. I always thought cheesecake is one of the hardest things to make– mostly because it resembles a souffle of some sort– but I assure you it’s the easiest. If I can make it in my ill equipped university dorm room, so can you. If you’re a university student you probably have lemons, eggs, sugar and even cheese lying around at home.
This recipe is improvised based on what I have, how much I am willing to use and what is available to me. Dorm food is all about being minimalistic, so you don’t need too much more than the basics.

Ingredients

Cheesecake
– 1 package of cream cheese (The regular size, I believe it’s 250g)
– 1 egg
– 1 tablespoon of flour
– 1 teaspoon of baking powder
– 4-5 tablespoons of sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
– 1 graham cracker crust (If you want to make it from scratch, it’s simply 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs & 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir it together until the texture looks like moist sand and press it against your pan. Stick it in the oven at 350 for about 15-20 mins) 

Topping
– 3 tablespoons of sugar
– Juice of half lemon
– Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries (as many as you want)

Beat an egg into the with the flour and sugar and add softened cream cheese. Add vanilla essence. Mix/fold/beat until it is smooth. Mine was lumpy because I’m lazy, so I didn’t bother. Works both ways.
Pour this mixture into the store brought graham cracker crust. I bought it from the store because it’s super easy and I’m lazy. You can also beat/crush biscuits like Digestive, Graham Crackers or Ginger Snaps in a blender or by hand and add some butter and line a baking tray with it for a crust.
Back to the mixture– bake it for about 20 minutes or until the top is firm. When the top is firm, pull it out and stick it in the fridge over night. You can make the topping the night before or the next day, I would suggest next day (as in the day you eat it) because old strawberries do not look as appetizing.
For the topping, heat some butter in a pan and toss the strawberries in. As they soften and a pink liquid forms, add the sugar and lemon juice. You should have a sticky red syrup with strawberries floating in it. It’s pretty easy, don’t go for perfection. Taste it.
Pour this on top of your set cheesecake and enjoy!

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Dorm Cooking 101: Breakfast for Two

University dorm food is supposed to  be Mr. Noodles, eggs and cereal. I like to do things differently– especially because I have a tendency to get bored easily. I also detest fast food in North America (hence the need to cook rather than eat at readily available Wendy’s and Popeye’s). Having a mini-kitchen in my suite (a word used to refer to smaller dorms that include about 2-4 single rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom) definitely helps. It has allowed me to experiment with food and although I’m not quite sure whether I like cooking, I’ve come up with some pretty darn delicious dishes– a lot of which are not as visually appealing as this one.

Summer has begun and I now have more time for each of my meals than I did during the school year. No longer do I have to run out in the mornings with a toaster strudel dripping painfully hot filling on my fingers and no longer do I have to grab Jamaican patties on the go. I can actually cook. Too bad I’m moody with cooking. There are times when I abhor it and times when I adore it. I guess the morning I made french toast was an ‘adore’ day.

French toast as always been “slumber party breakfast”, a meal that us giggling girls would make, huddled around the stove, the morning after a night of make up, movies and boy-talk. The ‘many’ steps involved in making french toast, made it feel like a cooking adventure.

I’ve always made french toast with only milk and eggs. I don’t know where I got that recipe from, but that’s how I made it and I guess, that’s why I was never a fan. I read somewhere that making french toast involves vanilla and sugar. The last time I made it, about a week ago, this is what I did. One egg, about half a cup of milk, a tablespoon of sugar, a few drops of vanilla. Dip, fry, dip, fry and repeat. It’s so quick and easy, I think it should be considered “dorm food”. The only extra ingredient you would have to buy is vanilla essence. French toast made like this tastes almost like a cake or pancake. It’s soft, fluffy and has a slight crunch from the sugar caramelizing. I topped it with whipped cream and strawberries, but I’ve since discovered that whipped cream cheese, honey and almonds are an exotic, delicious topping.

You can even modify it to make it healthy– use skimmed milk, go easy on the sugar (or use Splenda), use whole grain or brown bread and top with honey or light whipped cream cheese.
Watch this space for more food– and my attempts at food photography.

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