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Dorm Food: It Ain't What It Used to Be

March 4, 2010 By:
Ethel Hofman, Jewish Exponent Feature
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THE JEWISH KITCHEN

Moms, take heart. Your mantra to "clean your plate" is eventually paying off -- with a caveat.

According to Sodexo, a leader in Quality of Life Solutions and food-service providers to some 600 campuses nationwide, this year's list of college food trends shows that students want comfort food, but with a twist.

For many young Americans, college represents the first time in their lives during which they are free to form their own set of eating habits. Ideas of "healthy" and "better for you" are now part of what they regard as quality food experiences.

Institutional food is a turnoff, and will probably remain so for the rest of their lives. Locally produced ingredients, classic food preparation and fresh flavors are now expected in college cafeterias and dining rooms. The preferences of college students give us a little insight into our nation's future eating habits.

When these young adults are home for the weekend or during holidays, plan on dishes that live up to the insistence of healthy, home-cooked fare with flavor. Curried Orange-Squash Soup, Meat Loaf with Frizzled Onions, Cranberry Pot Roast with vegetables -- any one of these can be made ahead of time, frozen and then whipped up in a jiffy.

Defrosted soups may need a splash of fresh lemon juice to rejuvenate the flavors, but it beats starting from scratch.

A tip: Slice meat loaf before freezing. Then defrost in the microwave, tent with foil and heat through in a hot oven. Fix a salad, warm some French bread -- and wrap up leftovers for later.

Curried Orange-Squash Soup
(Dairy)

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter 
1 medium onion, thinly sliced 
1 tsp. bottled chopped garlic 
21/4 cups vegetable broth 
1/3 cup frozen orange-juice concentrate, thawed 
2 frozen cooked squash (10 oz. each), thawed 
2 tsps. curry powder or to taste 
1/3 cup half-and-half or light cream 
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the onion and garlic.

Cook, stirring often, until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Do not brown!

Add the broth, orange juice concentrate, squash and curry powder. Bring to simmer, stirring often. Season to taste with salt and additional curry powder. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Stir in the half-and-half.

Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes to heat through. Do not boil!

Garnish with cilantro or parsley (optional) and serve hot.

Serves 4 to 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 139; protein, 3 g; carbohydrates, 24 g; fat, 5 g; cholesterol, 14 mg; sodium, 342 mg.

Meat Loaf
(Meat)

1 lb. ground turkey, chicken or beef 
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
1/2 cup matzah meal 
2 Tbsps. catsup 
2 Tbsps. honey mustard 
2 Tbsps. dry onion-soup mix 
1 medium onion, chopped 
1/3 cup parsley sprigs, packed 
1 large carrot, coarsely grated 
1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated 
1 to 2 Tbsps. barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spray a roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the ground poultry or meat in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Add the eggs, matzah meal, catsup, mustard and onion-soup mix. Blend well.

Add remaining ingredients, using your hands or a large fork.

Shape into a log, 6 to 8 inches long. Place in the prepared pan. Brush with the barbecue sauce.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. No pink should remain when sliced.

Top with Frizzled Onions.

Serves 6 to 8.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 158; protein, 12 g; carbohydrates, 11 g; fat, 7 g; cholesterol, 98 mg; sodium, 215 mg.

Frizzled Onions
(Pareve)

2 medium onions 
1 cup vegetable oil 
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Slice onions paper-thin with a sharp knife or on a mandolin.

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

When ready, a slice of onion should just sizzle when added to hot oil or measured 340° on a deep fat thermometer.

Add half the onions.

Stir occasionally and cook until onions are a deep golden-brown, about 3 minutes.

Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on a double layer of paper towels. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Return oil to correct heat before adding the remaining onions.

Onions will crisp as they cool.

Note: These may be made up to 1 day ahead. Store, uncovered, at room temperature.

Serves 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 321; protein, 0 g; carbohydrates, 0 g; fat, 36 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 0 mg.

Cranberry Pot Roast
(Meat)

21/2 cups beef broth 
1/2 cup water 
1 can (14.5 oz.) whole cranberry sauce 
1 beef chuck roast (3 to 4 lbs.) 
2 Tbsps. all-purpose flour 
2 tsps. lemon-pepper seasoning 
1 bag (16 oz.) frozen baby onions 
12 to 18 baby carrots 
2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks

In a saucepan, combine the beef broth, water and cranberry sauce. Heat over medium heat until sauce is blended. Set aside.

Dredge the chuck roast with flour and seasoning. Place in a crockpot, adding any of the unused flour mixture. Pour cranberry-mixture liquid over top.

Add remaining ingredients. Stir once or twice to mix.

Cover. Cook at high for 4 to 5 hours, or until a sharp knife inserted into roast slides out easily. Correct the seasoning as desired. Slice and serve with vegetables arranged all around.

Serves 6 to 8.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 587; protein, 39 g; carbohydrates, 23 g; fat, 37 g; cholesterol, 135 mg; sodium, 159 mg.

Chicken Pot Pie
(Meat)

1 box (2 each) refrigerated pareve pie crusts 
1/3 cup margarine 
1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
salt to taste 
1/4 tsp. white pepper 
11/2 cups vegetable broth 
1/2 cup nondairy creamer or soy milk 
2 green onions, thinly sliced 
3 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey 
1 bag (10 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed 
2 Tbsps. diced red bell pepper or canned pimento

Preheat oven to 425°.

Line a 9-inch pie dish with one of the pastry crusts.

Prick all over the bottom.

Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt margarine over medium heat. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Gradually add the broth and nondairy creamer or soy milk. Whisk continuously as the liquids are being added. Cook, stirring, until bubbly and thickened.

Add the green onions, chicken or turkey, mixed vegetables, and red pepper or pimento. Cool slightly. Spoon into the pastry-lined pie dish.

Cover with the remaining pie crust. Press the edges to seal and crimp with fingers, or press all around with the tines of a fork. Cut three 1-inch slits in top.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until filling is bubbly. During the last 15 minutes, cover the crust edges with foil to prevent burning.

Serves 6 to 8.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 509; protein, 20 g; carbohydrates, 42 g; fat, 30 g; cholesterol, 54 mg; sodium, 628 mg.

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