DIY Dining Q&A: Author tells how to turn bland ingredients into gourmet meals

krishna_headshot2 The Rider News (TRN) was contacted by Storey Publishing about featuring Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks, written by Priya Krishna.

TRN: What is the purpose of Dining Hall Hacks and why should Rider students be interested in it?
PK: Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks is meant to show students how they can make the most of their (often mandatory) meal plan and actually enjoy — and look forward to — the food they eat in college. Anyone who is looking for new and creative ways to approach the basic foods in their dining hall (or even their first kitchen) should pick this book up!

DiningHall.Cover.BC4 - CopyTRN: How did you come to write this book?
It started as a column in my school newspaper that was essentially based on a desire of mine to write about food in a way that would actually be accessible and mean something to college students. There were about five restaurants in the college town where I went to school and the dining plan was mandatory, so I thought the best food column I could write would teach kids to make extraordinary meals from the basic items we had in our dining halls.

How did you come up with all of these creative recipe ideas and how long did it take you to compile them?
The inspiration comes from a lot of different places — dishes my mother used to make, recipes I gleaned from reading food blogs or watching cooking TV shows, amazing meals I had while studying abroad. One thing that makes the book unique is that while there are basic recipes like sloppy joes and mac and cheese, there is also shakshouka (an Israeli egg dish) or panzanella (an italian bread salad) — things students wouldn’t necessarily associate with the dining halls. I hope that anyone who reads it comes out having discovered one recipe he or she has never heard of before! I started working on these recipes my freshman year of college and finished them about a year ago, so the book comprises about four years of developing and testing.

What advice do you have for Rider students who are looking to add a little creativity to their meals?
Take familiar ingredients and try them in new ways. For example, if you love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, try putting that same combination on top of ice cream. Or if you like caprese salads, put mozzarella and tomatoes atop a piece of grilled chicken or in a burger. Don’t let where some ingredient is located in the dining hall limit that ingredient’s applications.

I was told that you work for a magazine — can you tell me a little about that?
I work for Lucky Peach, which is a quarterly food magazine, and I am lucky (no pun intended) not only to work among some of the most intelligent and creative people I have ever met, but also to get to live and breathe food for a living and to constantly be thinking about it in new ways.

Do you plan on writing any other books?
I sure hope so!

 Click here to view this week’s recipe for Asian lettuce wraps from Krishna’s book.

Excerpted from Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks (c) Priya Krishna, illustrations by (c) Jude Buffum used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Printed in the 9/24/14 issue.

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