A few weeks ago, I was at a new friend’s house for breakfast. She started to cook, and after a progression of events involving kids and coffee and other distractions resulted in burned butter in the frying pan, she confessed that although she was thrilled to have us over and she loved hosting people, she was, at her core, a frenzied cook. In fact, especially in these kind of situations, she said in a hushed tone, she didn’t even like cooking. “I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about,” she added.
Oh, I know.
You will never find a “preparation time” in any of my recipes. Not in my book now, probably not in any book I will write in the future (please let me write another book in the future!), and not here on the site.
In some ways, this is a conscious decision on my part based on my knowledge and feelings about how people cook. Although these times at the top of each recipe can be great (especially when there is a random “chill for 8 hours” wedged in there that would have been nice to think about before now, when you need this to be ready in 2 hours), I never know how other people are working in their own kitchens. For example, a person alone, cooking with no other distractions other than a glass of wine and “All Things Considered” playing on the radio (oh happy day), is going to make dinner a whole lot faster than someone making the exact same dish in a kitchen filled with hungry and tired just-home-from-school kids who need snacks/mediation/ hugs/to help make dinner/or just to stand in that person’s way while they try to get to the fridge. And maybe they’re trying to do a few other things while they cook, too, anything involving a phone/camera/computer/spouse/take your pick. And although that second person will most likely look at the prep time at the top of the recipe and make some adjustments for real life as it is right now, it will always be the case that those times are not only inadequate, but possibly also guilt-inducing or creating some sort of feeling like there are other people in the world who could make this in 25 minutes, and only, IF ONLY, you were them, you’d be eating by 6:00.
There is another reason why I don’t include prep time in my recipes. Besides the fact that I am most often in the latter type of kitchen, I am also a slow cook. I am not a quick, zen-like, mise-en-place cook. If you are in the kitchen with me, I forget what I’m doing. I talk, we drink, I burn something, and I leave all my potato peels on the counter. It takes me a long time to chop an onion.
Some people might write about food because they know everything about it and they want to share their infinite knowledge. Me? I write about food because it’s my way of learning how to feed myself and the people around me. I work with it because I need the practice. And I appreciate the fact that people still come into the kitchen with me to chat while I slowly chop the onion and forget about the butter on the stove. After all, it’s more fun with you here, and over the years, I seem to be learning how to make my way through these moments with a little bit more grace and a little less burned butter.
Well, quiche is one of the tricks I’ve learned along the way. If the crust is already made and snugly wrapped in the fridge, quiche comes together quickly and reliably, even if I’m mixing you a drink while I cook. It’s good to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Just keep your eye on the oven, and don’t set your sleeve on fire.
This quiche uses green garlic, which is the whole stalk of garlic that you get early on in the Spring when a garlic patch is being thinned out, or if there is garlic growing where a clove was left in the ground by mistake last summer. Right now in these parts, the best place to find it (besides your own garlic patch) is the farmers’ market. Feel free to substitute the green garlic with chopped garlic scapes (the curly stalk and “flower” of the garlic plant) if that’s where you are in garlic season.
Broccoli Raab and Green Garlic Quiche
makes one 9-inch pie
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 stalks green garlic, roughly chopped (use the whole stalk, unless the top is really tough)
1 bunch (about 6 ounces) broccoli raab, leaves and stems, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 recipe pie crust (You can use a frozen pie crust! It’s okay! But here‘s a good recipe for homemade, or feel free to use your own favorite recipe)
4 ounces (about 1 cup) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium pan (saucepan, frying pan, whatever is ready and waiting for you), heat the butter and oil together over medium heat. When it is fully melted and a bit bubbly, add the green garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the green garlic is soft and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the broccoli raab, water, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cover, reduce the heat a bit, and cook for another few minutes, or until the broccoli raab is nice and wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. If you’re using homemade pie crust, roll it out on a lightly floured counter at this point. Transfer to a greased pie pan and crimp the edges. Put the crust back into the refrigerator.
3. Whisk together the milk, eggs, remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and several grinds of pepper in a medium mixing bowl.
4. Remove the crust from the fridge. (Or if you’re using store-bought pie crust, take it out of the freezer at this point.) Put the pie pan on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the cheese over the bottom of the crust. Then, add the vegetables, leaving any liquid behind in the pan. Finally pour the milk mixture over top. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the center of the pie is firm and the crust is golden. Allow to cool, and serve warm or cold.
Laura Johnson says
Looks good. How is this posted with Wednesday’s date? It’s not tomorrow yet. It threw me off.
I’m not sure, Laura. I did post pretty late, and sometimes WordPress seems to be on their own schedule. I think the wordpress clock was a few hours ahead of mine.
… and this is reason one zillion why I love your blog. I call cooking with my kids around “relentless fragmentation” – and who can tell how long it will take to chop an onion when you are doing it in thirty nine 2-second increments?
Beautiful quiche. Love how it’s bursting with green!
I love your philosophy. And yes, I am one who does suffer feelings of inadequacy when it always takes me twice as long to prepare a dish as the recipe suggests – or at least I used to, until I started adjusting how I looked at it. If I want to go more slowly so that I can enjoy each step, then that’s a good thing, not a bad! Sometimes I need a meal I can throw together quickly, true, but most of the time these days, I’m more invested in the entire process, and rushing it doesn’t help anything.
That quiche looks gorgeous!
Yes, I have to agree with Hannah. I love reading your blog just because you understand what it’s like to try to cook with hungry people interfering every step of the way. I laughed when I read the front part of your book, where you describe how your kitchen looks. Mine is always less tidy than I would like. But we all hang out there nonetheless. Thanks for sharing!
Well Fed Soul says
Well said, as usual! My cooking “flow” tends to be peppered with an oft-repeated: “What was I just doing?” Over and over. Especially while entertaining. (Could be those cocktails.) That’s part of the fun, though, isn’t it? How dull to simply be tucked away, all by my lonesome, cooking with nary an interrupting soul to speak to, laugh with, lose my concentration while cackling over some gossip? (Well, that may be nice once in a while…at least in regards to those aprés-school, hungry kiddo-type interruptions…)
JoAnn C. says
Another book in the future? Yes, please.
Anne Zimmerman says
I loved this post! Especially this: “I write about food because it’s my way of learning how to feed myself and the people around me. I work with it because I need the practice.”
I had a total game changer moment last week when I discovered that my local pie shop (organic, good peeps, blah blah blah) serves pre-made pie crust for $4. The beauty and taste of a homemade quiche and I don’t even have to make the crust? Yes oh yes!
Anne Zimmerman says
That was supposed to be *sells* pre-made pie crust. I serve it.
Loved this post because of the memory it evoked. Up until a few months ago my daughter spent every night during dinner prep lying on the floor in front of the fridge playing with magnets. We have a bottom freezer so every time I had to get something out of the fridge I had to yell duck. I finally got her a magnetic board and moved the magnets into another room – dinner prep goes a little bit more smoothly.
Is green garlic the same as fresh garlic? I was able to get what my CSA farmer called fresh garlic last year and have been hoping that it is available again this year. And lastly, a few years ago I discovered by accident that you can skip the crust altogether as long as you grease the pan well. It was an AHA moment when I realized that a quiche is just a frittata in a crust. This sounds delish and will definitely be finding it’s way on our dinner plate.
Fresh Garlic is different- actually later in the season. It’s the actual garlic bulb, just not cured. In the Northeast, we’re just coming to the end of garlic greens season- next up we’ll be eating garlic scapes, and then comes the fresh garlic. (So many phases of garlic! Now you’ve got me thinking- maybe a phases of garlic post might be helpful!)
Mmmmm, green garlic and broccoli raab, what a great spring time combination. And I love the idea of having a pie crust ready made and chilling in the fridge. My mother used to freeze chopped fruit in waxed paper lined pie plates, which she would transfer to a plastic bag once frozen. The fruit would hold the shape of the pie plate, so when she wanted to make a pie in a flash it was just a matter of making the crust (or pulling one out of the freezer) and dropping the ready formed fruit into the pie plate. Little things make feeding people easier and more enjoyable. Thanks for the recipe!
Lol, love your honest perspective on this. I used to be that cook listening to NPR (usually Marketplace) and whipping things out in 30 minutes or less. But add in the camera and my compulsive need to take 50 pictures of each dish (with my hubby leaning over saying “when are we eating, stop taking pictures!!”) most things take me 45 minutes at least. I still love it… most days 🙂
Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says
Our garden is exploding with green garlic right now (whee!!) – can’t wait to try this.
Yeah, and “prep time” in recipes rarely includes the time it takes to chop stuff. They must think we all have sous chefs standing by with our veggies all chopped in a cute little bowl. 🙂
Alana, thanks for “keeping it real” in the kitchen in more ways then one. I found your book from 101 Cookbooks and have admired you ever since. I really appreciate how you present life in all its little imperfections. So many bloggers today can make a girl feel inadequate. Reading yours not only inspires me to continue to cook the best possible food I can, but reminds me that its normal when I can’t do so and life gets out of hand.
donoVAN CROSBY says
i’m kicking myself for not getting to the blog earlier. i want to eat that green garlic, and i love the idea of just having something DOWN. right on, A. high 5.