Recent College Culinary Adventures

So the last few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some real delicious dishes, either home-cooked or at some fabulous B-Town restaurants, as my meal plan at school has been running low. For the sake of keeping track of good food/recipes for when I will be living in my own apartment off-campus a month from now, I’m going to take a minute to review two restaurants and two recipes here for my own future reference and perhaps for others to enjoy. Unfortunately no photos this time, more to come in the future though!

First up: The Daily Planet

Located on Center Street, just a block up from Church Street, I ended up at The Daily Planet with my good friend Simon recently. I think this is easily amongst the best food I’ve had in Burlington – definitely the best burger. Simon went for a burgundy beef tip dish, which of course I had to try. It was a lot like a stew, came with a portion of a french baguette in the gravy ready to go, and was perfect as a dipping sauce for the fries that came with my burger. Simon enjoyed his beer – I don’t remember what he had, but I do remember there being a decent variety to choose from. Really cozy atmosphere, friendly staff. The place wasn’t cheap, but neither was it too pricey. I’d say each meal averaged $15-$20 per person, including the tip.

Next on the list: The Farmhouse Tap and Grill

The Farmhouse was definitely a special treat for a college budget – especially as it followed closely my small splurge at The Daily Planet (I can’t wait until a $20 meal is no longer too expensive!). Last night was a friend’s 21st birthday, and The Farmhouse is known for having the largest variety of beers on tap in Burlington, as well as some of the best food, so of course we had to head over. Tucked away on Bank Street, across from the new Padagonia store, we came in for our 5:00 reservation and found the place bustling with a wait for tables by 6. Three of us ordered the beef burger, one ordered a lamb burger from the specials menu, another a veggie burger, the homemade macaroni and cheese dish, and of course, this is where I lost track. All the food is local, and they proudly boast having 23 varieties of beer on draft with over twice as many other varieties to choose from as well. The birthday boy enjoyed his first Ayinger Brau Weisse, and a few of the others who were able to indulge found themselves with some kind of chocolate beer, or at least that was the word that spread down the table to my end. On the whole it was a bit pricier (think $20-25 per person with tip, without drinks), but worth every dollar spent.

Recipe #1: Classy College Salmon Fillets w/Veggies and Orzo

Serves 2
Last Thursday I headed downtown to see Simon again, my culinary partner in crime since our first pepper-jack cheese and apple grilled sandwiches back in the fall. We wanted to make something delicious to enjoy for dinner while we studied for finals, so we wracked our brains and got to work in the kitchen. Pulling a few things from the pantry and then heading to the local co-op downtown, we threw together a classy salmon dinner for 2 in about 30 minutes for only $25 total.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Clean up: 10 minutes
Difficulty: some effort required, but relatively easy

You will need:

  • 1 lb Atlantic Salmon fillets
  • 1.5 cups orzo
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 10 fiddlehead ferns
  • 1 small box cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups spinach
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • about 1 tbsp olive oil
  • chili oil – to taste
  • salt and pepper- to taste
  • white wine – a splash for cooking, a bottle for drinking
  • 1 pot
  • 2 pans

Directions:

  1. Prep your veggies – cut tomatoes to desired size, trim the ends of the ferns, mince the garlic. Bring water to a boil in the pot during this time.
  2. In one pan, start to saute the garlic in a small amount of olive oil. While this is happening, begin cooking salmon in a separate pan. If the fish’s skin is still on, lay it skin-side down for a minute or so. Flip it over and the skin will be turned up at the edges and very easy to pull off. Leave the salmon cooking as is for a few minutes.
  3. In the other pan, add the fiddleheads to the oil and garlic mixture. At this time, your water is probably boiling and ready for the orzo, so get that cooking as well. Orzo will take about 8-10 minutes to cook.
  4. After the fiddleheads have become a bit tender, throw in the tomatoes, and finally the spinach. Keep an eye on the salmon during all this, you will have to flip it over at some point so that it cooks through evenly.
  5. Continue cooking both the salmon and the veggies. When they look like they are almost done, throw a splash of white wine into the salmon, and add the chili oil, lemon juice, pepper, and salt to the veggies.
  6. Once the salmon and veggies are done, remove them from heat. Strain the orzo, and then return the pasta back to the pot. Mix in the veggies with the orzo.
  7. Cut your salmon fillet in half, serve on two separate plates, and pour the orzo and veggies over top. Your dinner is ready to be served.

To top it all off, grab a glass of white wine, throw on some jazz music, open up that bio book, and enjoy studying in style!

Recipe #2: Cheap, Fast, Food that isn’t Cheap Fast-Food

Serves 1
Perfect for finals week, this has been my go-to meal recently for eating quickly on a budget (so I can save up for eating out at those fantastic Burlington restaurants mentioned above!). It is relatively healthy (has grains, veggies, and dairy, about 300 calories total, and is a filling serving size), and while the ingredients cost me a whopping total of $5, it looks like I’m going to get 5 meals out of it all, making it a $1 dinner. Did I mention that I prepped, cooked, ate, and cleaned my dishes all within 20 minutes too? Fast food that isn’t fast-food. Yum!

Prep time: none. The little bit you have to prep you can do while the pasta is cooking
Cook time:
10-12 minutes, depending on how firm you like your pasta
Clean up: 2 minutes max if you eat from the pot like I did!
Difficulty: you could make it with your eyes closed.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of uncooked noodles – any kind works. I used gemelli simply because I like the shape.
  • 1 tablespoon light sour cream
  • 1/3 cup of frozen spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • McCormick Parmesan and Herb spice (or whatever spices you think would taste best or happen to have lying around)
  • 1 pot
  • 1 eating utensil of choice. I recommend a fork, but there’s always a good ol’ fashioned spoon. Knives aren’t as friendly. Keep it real with the fork, if you want my opinion.

Directions:

  1. While pasta is cooking, defrost the spinach in a microwave. Then, remove excess water from spinach by squeezing it with paper towels. Set aside until pasta is finished.
  2. When pasta is done, drain and return noodles to pot.
  3. Keeping burner on low so the additional ingredients don’t cool your dinner too much, stir in the sour cream, spinach, and spices to taste.
  4. Remove from burner, sit down, eat straight from the pot, and enjoy.
  5. Clean up your two dishes – the pot and spoon/fork/whatever – and get back to studying. That was faster than the “quick break” you took to update your Facebook status before you even opened your textbook.

Easy, simple, delicious. Go beast your finals on a full stomach.


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