Conquering the Kitchen: Cooking Tips and Favorite Student Recipes by Hunter Kuester and Jonathan Zobek

From the Editor: Cooking is a practical necessity, but it can also be a fun form of creativity. Two students share their favorite recipes, tips, and tricks below. This info is helpful as we prepare for the the holidays and beyond!

Hunter Kuester studies restaurant management at Minneapolis college. He fell in love with cooking in high school and expanded upon that during training at BLIND, Inc. His dad introduced him to the kitchen, encouraging him to be creative. This helped develop Hunter’s a passion for cooking and hospitality.

Jonathan Zobek will be starting at Salus University in January of 2021, where he will begin the master’s program for teaching students with visual impairments.

Frozen Zabaione

For the past few months, I have been cooking a great deal. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I did not cook much at all. Throughout these cooking experiences, I have tried to find the most accessible way to cook with low vision. While some recipes are definitely easier than others to adapt, the recipe that I will highlight today is Chef John’s Frozen Zabaione. For all recipes, it is important to thoroughly read and understand them before starting, and have them nearby while cooking. Additionally, you can check if there Is a video depicting the recipe, whether on the recipe website itself or YouTube. The video could provide extra tips and insight that the recipe itself does not. Although not too descriptive, there is a video about the frozen zabaione, which, again, can be found both on the recipe page itself and YouTube.

Here is the link to the recipe:

YouTube video:

Let’s Make it

For any recipe, including this one, I like using nested measuring cups and spoons. This way, I can memorize the measurements of each, and use the entire cup to measure out ingredients. It is easier to dunk a ¼ cup measuring cup in a bag of flour and scoop it out instead of using a traditional measuring cup. For this recipe, you can measure the sugar by pouring it into one of the nested measuring cups, or if your box/bag is big enough, scoop it directly from the container. You can pour the required Marsala wine into one of the cups (I would imagine that most sets have a 1/3 cup measuring cup, so you can fill that twice), and leave your finger close to the top to know when to stop pouring. It is also easy to separate egg yolks from egg whites by hand. Just crack the egg open into your hand, and quickly transfer the yolk from hand to hand. The whites will fall between your fingers, and you will be left with the yolk. The yolk will feel slightly more solid and viscus than the whites. During this process, the yolk should remain whole and intact.

To cook the custard, you will need to use a double boiler, which is a bowl containing your ingredients over a pot of hot, but not boiling, water. For anyone cooking, whether sighted, visually impaired, or completely blind, it is important to get to know your cooking appliances, such as your oven, stove, mixer, etc. This way, you are familiar with how it heats up and just generally behaves. All ovens are different, and it is important to get to know yours. During this process, it is important to ensure that the water is not filled too high, and that it does not boil. To check if your water is too high, place the bowl you will be using on top of the pot before you put it on the stovetop. If the bottom of the bowl is wet, you have filled it too high and should remove some water. Try to have as much water while keeping the bottom of the bowl dry. Too much or too little are not ideal. Once you have a good water level, you can start heating the water and whisking the mixture in the bowl on top.

During this part of the process, it is important to make sure that your water does not boil. There are two ways to check if your water is boiling: by touch or by sound. If you feel steam from the water, especially on your stirring arm, there is a good chance that the water may be boiling. If you don’t feel it, but hear the water start to rumble, it is definitely boiling, and you should turn down the heat. While whisking the custard for this recipe, you will feel it thicken as you stir. It will take about 10 minutes of whisking. To tell if the mixture is thick enough, you can use the ribbon test. To perform the ribbon test, get some of the mixture on your whisk, and lift it over the mixture. If there is a sustained line, that is, it does not just fall off in drips or clumps, it is thick enough.

Next, the custard has to cool, preferably over an ice bath. It is very easy to determine if the mixture has cooled by touching it. If it feels completely cooled, then it should be good to go. Once cooled, you will have to make whipped cream to fold into the cooled custard. If you have a stand mixer, you should use it for this step. If not, just whisk it by hand; although this requires a lot of effort and continuous, vigorous stirring. Cool the heavy cream, the bowl, and the whisk/whisk attachment beforehand. Dump the heavy cream into the bowl, and turn on your mixer/start whisking. If whisking by hand, you will feel the texture of the mixture change. If using a mixer, stop every now and then and feel it. You can feel the necessary soft peaks. It should be light and airy with no liquid cream remaining.

Once the whipped cream is prepared, you have to fold it into the custard. Folding is lighter than stirring, and does not completely mix everything together. The key is in wrist motion. Instead of circling around the bowl, go down with the spoon, scrape the bottom of the bowl, bring it back up, and flick your wrist forward. Do this around the entire bowl until incorporated. Then, just place the mixture in a container, cover with plastic wrap until airtight, and let it freeze for at least three hours. Once frozen you can eat this by itself, or with fresh fruit, especially summer fruit, such as strawberries and raspberries. The final step: enjoy!

There are a few important things to note about this recipe, and cooking in general. First, recipes do not have to be followed exactly; they are just a guide. Feel free to add more or less of an ingredient, or swap it for another ingredient. If you are making a recipe, and think that adding an ingredient not mentioned would improve it, go ahead. Cooking is creative, and you can put your own spin on any recipe. Secondly, it is okay to make mistakes. In any endeavor, including cooking, everyone is bound to make mistakes. If you do, do not get down on yourself. Just try it again, and find what techniques work for you. The most important thing is to have fun.

Hunter’s root beer baby back ribs

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 2 and 1/2 hours
Servings: two or three (depending on how large the rack of ribs is)
Note: Before you start cooking, line the inside of your pan with aluminum foil to shorten clean up Time.


Note: Spices have an estimated measurement, since I never measure them. As long as the spices cover the entire rack, they will turn out delicious every time.

1 can of your favorite root beer
1 rack of baby back ribs (It is important that you get a rack of ribs that have good marbling or fat on them, so when the ribs cook, the fat gives extra flavor)
1 tablespoon salt
1 table spoon sugar
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground oregano
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons Lowery’s seasoning salt
2 teaspoons minced onion or onion salt
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Preheat your oven to 375°. Grab a medium sized mixing bowl, a glass 9x13 baking pan, and all ingredients.

Start by rinsing off your ribs. Then, dry them the best you can with paper towels. Mix all of your dry spices in a medium mixing bowl. Be sure to incorporate with fingers so that all of the spices are mixed together. Place the rack of ribs in your 9x13 pan. Then, evenly spread the spices o the ribs until covered. Once the ribs are covered, use the palm of your hand and medium pressure to push the spices onto the meat. Open your can of root beer and pour over the top of the ribs. Make sure there is a good amount of liquid inside your pan. Place in the oven, and let cook for 2 1/2 hours, checking every 45 minutes for doneness. The use of a meat thermometer is recommended.

Recipe Tips:

  • If you want to add extra flavor, let the ribs marinated in the spices overnight. Just wrap in tinfoil and put in the fridge.
  • You can substitute the Root Beer for other sodas, such as Coca-Cola or Dr Pepper. The reason for using soda in this recipe is to give the ribs a nice glaze.