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Cooking

Cooking 101

Three recipes every college student -- in fact, everybody -- should know

By Sally Sampson
May 31, 2009
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If you're going off to college next year and you don't know your way around a kitchen, unless you and your parents consider their credit card a kitchen tool, you'd best get busy. In fact, consider your summer homework to be mastering these three easy recipes. I can't recommend ironing your sandwiches or plugging in banned appliances, but many dorms have communal kitchens with the basics, which is all you really need.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 6 dozen cookies

You can augment or replace the chocolate chips with any combination of white, semisweet, or mint chocolate chips, M&Ms, nuts, any kind of dried fruit, and even broken-up pretzels.

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup rolled oats

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 to 3 cups chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon (or use an electric mixer fitted with a paddle) until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Add the vanilla, oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chips. Mix to combine thoroughly and scrape again.

Drop large teaspoons of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet (if you don't have one, turn your cast-iron skillet upside down, wash the bottom, and use it as a baking sheet) and bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. For crispy cookies, let cool on the sheet. For soft cookies, remove quickly from sheet with spatula and cool on a rack or a plate. Repeat with remaining dough, cooling the sheet between batches.

QUICK TOMATO SAUCE

Makes 6 cups

This easy sauce can be served on pasta, rice, barley, quinoa, canned beans, or baked potatoes or as a topping for a beef or bean burger or a layer in lasagna. One-half to 1 cup of sauce, with pasta, serves 1 person.

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, not drained

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat, and when the skillet is hot, add the oil. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until tender but not browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the basil, oregano, and tomatoes, and cook until the sauce thickens and turns more orange than red, about 15 minutes.

Puttanesca Sauce To the finished sauce add 2 tablespoons capers, 2 chopped anchovies, ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, ½ cup chopped black olives, and ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Creamy Tomato SauceRemove ½ cup finished sauce to a medium bowl, add ½ cup heavy cream, and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. When the mixture is completely combined, add it back to the pan.

CAESAR SALAD DRESSING

Makes 1¼ cups

Caesar dressing is typically served on romaine lettuce with lots of Parmesan cheese and croutons, but you can use it as an all-purpose dressing for darker greens, tomato and bean salads, and as a marinade for chicken. Additionally, you can substitute feta or blue cheese for the Parmesan, or add an array of raw vegetables, fruit, cooked chicken, shrimp, or steak to make a main-course salad.

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and finely chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/3cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Place the garlic, anchovies, mustard, and lemon juice in a blender or a food processor fitted with a blade and mix well (you can also mix this in a bowl, mashing anchovies with a fork to incorporate). Slowly drizzle in the oil, mixing all the while, until mixture turns a light cloudy yellow and is emulsified. Add 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and Parmesan cheese, and mix again. Use immediately or pour into a glass container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 month. If the dressing solidifies or separates, leave it out at room temperature for a few minutes and then shake well.

Caesar Salad (Serves 2) Use 1 large head of romaine, torn, 2 tablespoons of Caesar dressing, 2 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan cheese, and a handful of toasted croutons. Toss and serve.

Sally Sampson is the author of 100-Calorie Snack Cookbook. Send comments to cooking@globe.com.

Study break Learn the recipe for chocolate chip cookies and you'll always have friends in the dorm. (Photo by Jim Scherer; Styling by Catrine Kelty) Study break Learn the recipe for chocolate chip cookies and you'll always have friends in the dorm.