This is a guest post by Mark Bieraugel, the business librarian. His interests include big data and helping student entrepreneurs. In his spare time he searches for nudibranchs and octopi in tide pools.
Finger sandwiches. No-cook appetizers. BBQ chicken.
These are some searches I recently Googled for my latest research project, Cooking in the Canyon, a program run by University Housing to teach students how to cook. Every quarter faculty and staff volunteer to teach 25 sophomores how to cook something.
I taught students how to make puff pastry cheese straws – basically bread and cheese – using only four ingredients: frozen puff pastry, grated cheese, salt, and pepper.
Pillars of Salt
University Housing requests you figure out the amount of each ingredient needed for 25 students. I started to imagine acres of puff pastry, Matterhorn-sized mounds of shredded cheese, pillars of salt and bowls full of pepper. And reams of parchment paper. Turns out that for 25 students you get a very boring box of perfectly flat puff pastry, underwhelming but perfect.
Puff pastry is miracle food.
I started to research ‘no cook appetizers’ both online and in cookbooks. Looking for a dish which involved very little use of knives. Or hot oil. Or scotch bonnet chili peppers.
Finger and Dagwood Sandwiches
I was also aware of my own teenage suspicions of food. As a 19 year old I didn’t eat salad dressing, and was suspicious of opaque food, such as tomato soup. Finger sandwiches, elegant, crust-less, tiny appetizer type sandwiches sounded perfect. Not made out of fingers, but rather tiny, elegant sandwiches in lovely shapes.
I choose 14 different fillings, some savory, some sweet including classic cucumber slices with cream cheese on white bread, others more teen-friendly like Nutella® and banana. Turns out students love to make mega Dagwood style sandwiches.
What’s next for my cooking adventures with the sophomores?
“Puff Pastry Cheese Straws.” Cook Like James.
“50 Tea Sandwiches.” Food Network.
“Easy No-Cook Appetizer Recipes.” EatingWell.
“Quick & Easy Recipes.” Epicurious.
Featured photo at top is of Mark at the Kennedy Library Stressbusters event, Dogs in the Atrium.