Mini Quiche, and some thoughts on cooking

I’ll get to the quiche recipe. I promise. But first I have some thoughts on cooking.

My mom recently read an article on how people in their 20’s and early 30’s don’t know how to cook. She also sent me this article, which just hurt my brain. How could anyone, even if it is just 11% of people, think that eggs come from wheat? My mom suggested that I could use my blog as a place to teach young people how to cook. And it’s a good idea, I’m twenty-something and I make my living teaching and explaining things to people.

My college friends and me cooking up a storm!

My college friends and me cooking up a storm!

But I didn’t really believe that it was true, so I decided to talk to my friends. I felt sure that my friends knew how to cook. My college friends and I used to do a cooking blog together. And I was sure I had either eaten something, or seen my friends eat something, that they themselves had made. So imagine my surprise when some of my friends did say they didn’t know how to cook!

However, it sort of seems to me, they think they don’t know how to cook, because what it means to cook means different things to different people. People said cooking was something more than putting prepared ingredients together. It’s making the inedible, edible. It usually means using heat. For some people it was knowing how to improvise and go off from the recipe. And it’s putting largely raw/basic/unprocessed ingredient together so that the finished product is better than the individual parts. It’s not a super clear definition; because is a sandwich from a panini press cooking? Is making a salad cooking? Opinions were mixed, but what’s obvious is that cooking is on a spectrum. I mean, I would say I know how to cook, but I haven’t been doing it for very long and I’m no celebrity chef. I know how to do many things, but I don’t know how to cook everything! Ultimately, what it means to cook is varied. For my friends who say they can’t cook, I hope this is encouraging and might make you feel like you can cook. Or, at the very least, maybe I can help you find some recipes you’re comfortable with.

I’d also like to say, that in considering this topic, I went a little overboard. I asked my friends a bunch of questions, I sought out articles, I thought about this all the time, and I wrote pages and pages of single-spaced commentary. I was getting consumed with the ideas of why people didn’t cook, regardless of their cooking ability. But I felt like I was getting crazy and somehow moving off track. What I want from this blog, is to have a place to share what I’m cooking. I want to share my learning experiences. I don’t know everything and I’m trying to challenge myself to make good meals, and to try to cook things that I only ever thought I’d buy at the grocery store.

novice

This funny guy is from Microsoft Word Clip Art

And that’s when I realized I should definitely take my mom’s advice and make an effort to share some great recipes. I want novice cooks to have some recipes where they can learn and challenge themselves. I get excited with myself when I make something new and  it tastes good. I’d like to help other people have that feeling. So, I’m going to mark beginner recipes at the start of a post using this funny picture of a chef. He looks like he’s marching boldly forward into new cooking terrain. And that’s what I’m trying to do with this blog, and I hope it’s what you’ll do if you want to learn to cook. And I think recipes that are good for new cooks are those that have some combination of the following:

1. Ingredients you probably already have in the house

2. That have simple techniques, but also might push you to learn new skills

3. That take less than an hour to make

4. Are so darn delicious that you just gotta get out of your comfort zone and try it.

Today’s recipe, has 1, 2, and 3. I mean, it’s also delicious but it’s not likely to be hugely out of your comfort zone. Something I think would be a good #4 is the post I did on Pad Thai Inspired Noodles.

Also, before we get on to the recipe, I wanted to share the reasons why I cook. These reasons make me happy and maybe something will resonate with you.

My reasons:

  1. Makes me feel healthy – Being healthy means a lot of different things. I don’t always cook nutritious and low-calorie foods, because I love sweets and cheese. Cooking makes me feel healthy because the number of ingredients in prepared foods makes me nervous. I like knowing what’s in my meals.
  2. Cost – I get to have yummy leftovers for lunch and so don’t have to go out to eat all the time.
  3. Spending time with my Family – I grew up every night eating home cooked dinners with my family. Yes, we could have had the same experience over pizza but there’s something special about cooking. My parents would experiment and try new dishes and see how it played with the family. And cooking at home builds anticipation! There’s bubbling sounds of soups and the yummy smell of baking cookies. There’s also the less good sound of a shrieking fire alarm and the smell of a smoky kitchen. But even when it goes a little wrong, it’s funny later and makes for a good memory.
  4. I like shopping – I can’t afford to go out and buy dresses, shoes, and purses every week. It’s bad for my finances and a little excessive. But food, I can buy all the time. And I have fun browsing the farmer’s market and the grocery store, choosing the most beautiful red strawberries, the smoothest olive oil, or the crunchiest granola.
  5. Productive Leisure Time – I like watching TV, playing video games, and starring off into space but I also like spending my time doing something useful. I like that I get to be creative, to challenge myself, and to make a beautiful and tasty finished product.
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Teeniest strainer with a quarter for scale. Photo Credit: Charlotte. THANKS!

Now I’m done philosophizing on cooking, so let’s get to the recipe. Quiche always makes me think of my parents because the first time they saw the word they thought it was pronounced “kwee-chee.” It’s really pronounced key-sh. If you’re not familiar with kwee-chee, it’s a dish usually associated with the French. It often has a pastry crust (although this recipe is crust-less) and the inner filling is made with eggs and milk or cheese. Basically, it’s like a pie with eggs. And it’s something that you can pretty much eat at any meal. I think this recipe is good for beginners because it has ingredients that are probably already in your house. Also, if you’re feeling brave there is opportunity to improvise and make the recipe your own. Now, my friend did most of the cooking for this recipe, and I was the sous-chef. My job was to blanch the asparagus and use the world’s teeniest strainer. I didn’t take too many pictures because I was the assistant. My bad.

Ingredients:

2 cups asparagus, chopped

1  12 oz. can evaporated milk

3 large eggs, beaten

2 tbsp flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

If you’re feeling adventurous: In this recipe you can substitute asparagus and mushrooms for other ingredients. Think of the things you prefer in an omelette. Ham? Bell peppers? Do it! Just stick to 2 1/2 cups or less of your fillings. Also, if you prefer mozzarella, you can use that instead of Cheddar!

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan. Use cooking spray or butter

3. Blanch asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes. Blanching means that you’re putting the vegetable in boiling water for a very short time. What this does is to cook it just a bit before the “main” cooking. It’s usually done with a firm vegetable, like asparagus. This is also something you do to clean the vegetables, so if you’re thinking of freezing veggies, you should blanch them first.

4. Drain asparagus and set aside.

5. Whisk evaporated milk, salt, pepper, and eggs in a bowl until well mixed

6. Stir in cheese, asparagus, and mushrooms

7. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with the egg mixture. Stir the mixture after every few cups. This is to make sure the veggies and cheese don’t sink to the bottom. You can see that we filled more than 2/3 full. I recommend you stick to 2/3.

image (9)

8. Bake for 25 minutes. It could be more or less time depending. You will know it’s done when it’s lightly brown on top and if you stick a toothpick in the center it will come out clean. It is NOT done if it looks wet or jiggly in the middle. Because we super filled the cups, most of them overflowed and looked like muffins. Some just cooked straight up in the air, and had a nice shape. Regardless of what they looked like in the pan, they all deflated a little when we took them out of the oven. So, it might look weird in the oven, but it will look like an nice little egg biscuit at the end.

image (10)

9. Let them cool for 10 minutes.

10. Use a knife and run it around the edge of the quiches. This is to loosen the quiche from the pan. Sorry I don’t have a picture of it out of the pan. But aren’t they pretty anyway?

image (11)

11. Serve and eat!

Messy Factor:

1 spoonLow. The biggest mess we had was when I used the teeniest strainer to strain the asparagus. And that was barely messy because all I did was drop asparagus into a bigger bowl. This recipe requires very few dishes and the quiches pop out of the muffin tin really easily. Even when they overflowed in the oven, the quiche shrank down to size, making very little mess.

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