Connie and Annie Wu

Connie and Annie Wu

Connie Wu is a junior at Brown University concentrating in Human Biology, with a focus on Brain and Behavior. What she would really like to do is find out how the brain directs our behaviors toward the foods we crave. Her goal this year is to break that terrible habit of digesting food blogs and refusing to leave her dorm until she knows she will be 5 minutes late for her morning class. In her spare time, she enjoys baking for friends’ birthdays, baking for no reason at all, and bringing out the best in dining hall fare along with her twin sister, Annie.

Favorite Dining Hall Menu: Heart Attack Sunday Suppers – Gigantic sweet and tangy pork spareribs, caramel-sweet potatoes, and mousse-like cheesecake

Best Breakfast at Brown: Organic oat-bran with vanilla soymilk and microwave-roasted bananas

Beast Breakfast at Home: Avocado-stuffed toast, lemon chiffon cake, berries and lemon cream, yogurt with honey (...Should I be embarrassed to admit that this is one meal?)

Favorite Easy, Healthy Treat: Mango “ice cream” – frozen mango pureed with a teeny bit of soymilk in a food processor, served with a dollop of organic plain yogurt

Favorite Cooking Utensil: Rubber spatula. It is amazing.

Annie Wu is a junior at Brown University concentrating in Biology. She is the co-writer of RattyGourmet, a blog about food from the Ratty (Brown’s main cafeteria) that she started with her twin, Connie. Annie is still on meal plan and absolutely adores the Ratty despite its lack of avocados. When she’s not taking pictures of cafeteria food or peeling eggs for Dining Services, she is usually busy dreaming about her next meal, practicing Tae Kwon Do, or attempting to speak Japanese.

Favorite Dining Hall Food: roasted sweet potatoes (these are extra good when they are partially caramelized!)

Tastiest Travel Experience: cream puffs in Japan, or hole-in-the-wall places anywhere (such as dark, cramped noodle shops in Asia; the sketchier the place, the yummier the food)

Culinary Pet Peeves: broken oven lights and overcooked anything

Dining Hall Pet Peeve: those trays full of uneaten egg yolks

Best Dining Hall Surprise: the tiramisu dessert special! Those cakes were enormous and allegedly had actual ladyfingers and booze in them.


Dining Hall DIY: Rice Krispies Banana Napoleon

rice krispies napoleon

It finally dawned on us why our dining hall doesn’t serve pastries like they do in the patisseries of Paris. If it did, we would likely fail our classes just to stay back another year to indulge in the desserts. There must be a correlation between deliciousness of cafeteria food and graduation rate.

But don’t get us wrong – the Ratty does make mean Rice Krispies treats, and their bananas aren’t too shabby either. If you want to impress the special someone you happen to be sharing the dining table with, then this dessert is the perfect way to


Dining Hall DIY: Cocoa Cookie Plum Sundae

cocoa cookie plum sundae

Ah, the notorious dorm-dwelling Ice Cream Thief. Just as your brain, depleted of all its juice from final papers and exams, starts craving that rum raisin Haagen Dazs and your hand starts its attempt to rescue it out of the depths of the communal fridge, the Ice Cream Thief strikes again, leaving you empty handed. As fellow victims we feel your pain.

In times like these, we turn to our trusty dining halls for comfort in the form of cookies, cereal, and good ol’ soft serve vanilla ice cream. Seasonal fruit adds some juice and tang, and just …


Dining Hall DIY: Pita Pizza

pita pizza skc

Sometimes you’re at the dining hall and you’re in the mood for pizza, but the offerings feature congealed cheese or strangely thick and mushy pizza crust. Not to hate on the cafeteria, since sometimes they do offer fantastic options with fresh dollops of ricotta or verdant basil leaves. It’s mainly just the fact that we’ve been spoiled by great pizzerias around town that offer bacon scallion pizza or almond, cranberry, spinach pizza on thin, handmade wheat crust. Anyhow, if you’re in the mood for pizza and nothing appeals to you, take a break from your usual pita pocket and …


Dining Hall DIY: Fancy Roast Beef with Cornbread

Roast beef with cornbread remake

This week, we recreated the above plate from our very own réfectoire de Sharpe, inspired by a fine bistro in downtown Providence.

The original featured a lovely blueberry compote instead of grape jelly; foie in place of roast beef; and the “cornbread” was actually a buttery toasted brioche.

But all that aside, our humble re-make didn’t end up tasting all that bad. With a little creativity and a lot of free time we hope you’ll find that playing with food in the cafeteria can be fun, and might occasionally yield edible results.

Connie and Annie are


Dining Hall DIY Honeyed Peaches on Buttered Toasted Crumpets

Nothing dresses up an English Muffin like some cream cheese and lightly cooked fruit.

The humble English muffin is a forgotten species. In our perpetual daze as distracted college kids, we too often forget to stop and smell the crumpets as we cruise on autopilot, loading up our trays at the dining hall with a stale bagel or dry undersalted scrambled eggs. We can turn instead to the warm natural sweetness of honey and peaches, complemented with a generous smear of tangy sophisticated cream cheese, all atop a crispy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside warm crumpet of buttery goodness. With a little help from the microwave and toaster, we can all wind down, open our sleepy eyes, and appreciate life in the slow lane with some good ol’ TLC and afternoon tea with honeyed peaches and buttered toasted crumpets.


Dining Hall DIY: Gourmet Olive Oil Ice Cream Sundae

olive oil ice cream skc

Sometimes you’re in the mood for hot fondue, sometimes for cupcakes from around the world.

With spring on our heels, frozen desserts are a comforting and classy way to welcome the sweetness of sunshine.

There’s a delicious ice cream shop in San Francisco called BiRite Creamery. It has quality ice cream AND soft serve, and the caramel sauce is incredible, teetering on the brink of amazing flavor complexity and bitter burnt-ness. There is also a combination called “Sam’s Sundae” which combines chocolate ice cream, fruity olive oil, sea salt, and whipped cream.

Our sundae combines oilve oil with the signature Ratty vanilla soft serve and rice krispies. The flavors of the olive oil and ice cream complement each other fabulously. Don’t trust us, try it yourself!


Dining Hall DIY: Luck o’ the Irish Mashed Potatoes

Lucky Irish mashed potatoes with pork and green beans

Ah, potatoes. Something about them just screams comfort. Humble yet impressively versatile, as the Irish have demonstrated in their endless creativity with potato-inspired cuisine. From pub fries to colcannon, boxty (potato pancakes) to champ (mashed potatoes with scallions) – no part of the potato goes to waste. This St. Patty’s day, honor the potato in your very own dining hall, by dressing it up with deep green veggies, roast pork, and a generous drizzle of golden honey.


Dining Hall DIY: Custom Cobb Salad

cobb salad

Whoever came up with the bacon, lettuce, tomato combo was a genius. Crunchy, salty bacon just yearns for a tangy sweet juicy burst of ripe tomato…the two dancing their sensuous tango atop a bed of crispy fresh lettuce.
The Cobb Salad takes this flawless trio to yet another level, adding more colorful players to jazz up the stage.
According to Wikipedia: “The Cobb Salad is a main-dish garden salad made from chopped salad greens (head lettuce, watercress, chicory, and romaine), tomato, crisp bacon, boiled or roasted chicken breast, hard-boiled egg, avocado…, chives, red-wine vinaigrette and Roquefort cheese.


Dining Hall DIY: Festive Cajun Chicken Pasta

Cajun Pasta skc

People really do read those menus on Brown Dining’s website. Either that or they are tuned into a wavelength that reliably broadcasts whether the cafeteria is having a Good Lunch Day or a Just Average Lunch Day. In any case, they flock self-assuredly to the cafeteria on certain Good Lunch Days. For instance, you can count on there being a substantial wait in line if you happen to go on Polynesian Chicken Wing Wednesdays, Gnocchi Tuesdays, or Cajun Chicken Pasta Mondays.

It’s got to have something to do with the chicken and/or the pasta – which are great on their …


Dining Hall DIY: Jazzed up Broccoli

broccoli with chicken saladc

It may seem difficult to eat healthily at college, especially when all the veggies at the dining hall are mushy, overcooked, or just plain inedible. We always fall back on “broccoli made with love,” also known as microwave steamed broccoli. The trick is to steam your broccoli until just cooked through and still a little crunchy. This way, when you melt the cheese on top, the broccoli is just right, even by Goldilock’s standards.

Now, we advocate getting broccoli into your diet but this can be pretty monotonous if we don’t jazz it up somehow. You can easily make …