My first forays into cooking started a little later than most. Growing up, both of my parents were excellent cooks, but not very patient teachers. And in college, a mandated meal plan kept me from learning the basics, like scrambled eggs or lentil soup. But finally, at 22, a job brought me hundreds of miles away from home, and into a kitchen all my own.
My relationship with Food52 began in those learning months. Desperate to break away from salads and sandwiches, I combed through the site to find beginner-friendly recipes and much-needed tips. I eventually discovered Hilarybee’s Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche, an ideal combination of exciting, unfamiliar quinoa and leafy kale (this was 2014) with the approachable promise of ‘crustless.’
In my sparsely equipped kitchen, I learned to de-stem kale, rinse quinoa, and caramelize onions. I watched as my pan bright yellow liquid transformed into golden, puffed up perfection in the oven, then proudly shared slices with my roommates.
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That fall, I made this crustless quiche countless times; first working to perfect the original, then learning to make it my own. I substituted feta or goat cheese for the cream cheese, spinach for the kale, and rice for the quinoa. I added red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, or pine nuts to the mix. I ate some form of crustless quiche for breakfast, lunch, and late-night snacks. Each iteration taught me something slightly different, building my confidence in a time and a city that felt so unfamiliar and new.
Eventually I expanded my culinary repertoire, venturing into roasted roots, spicy squash, and hearty stews. And then, later, I moved from that first kitchen into another new city. It’s been years since I baked my first crustless quiche, but I still think about how that recipe helped me find my place at a pivotal point in my life—and how wonderful it still tastes when I return to it.
What was a recipe you learned to cook with? Any from our site? Share your stories in the comments!
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).