Open Thread: Cooking Classes

Random squee this morning.

So my local Central Market offers cooking classes and I went to one last night and it was WONDERFUL. Pastry 101, and we learned how to make biscuits and a Quiche Lorraine and it was so very yummy. Seriously, even Husband thought it tasted great, and he has a complex relationship with bacon. I've already signed up to learn to be a "volunteer" so that I can attend the classes for free and clean up after people, if my body will permit (we're in discussions, it and I).

If I can make it again, I'm thinking YouTube video, just because I've always wanted to be one of those YouTube cooking people and I know that Central Market isn't available everywhere.

OPEN THREAD. Talk amongst ourselves.


Yamikuronue said...

ooh, cooking videos... someone should organize a channel of them, I'd totally make one or two :) Not sure how much my skills are in demand but I love making tutorials. I've only done one so far on my blog:

Brin Bellway said...

We had a bunch of cooking classes as homeschool field trips a while ago. It's a shame we had to cancel most of them for lack of numbers. I enjoyed them, even when very little of the food was appealing. (There was usually at least one thing of the three or four I actually wanted.)

jill heather said...

Once you're good with quiche, might I recommend the best quiches ever? One: onion and cumin quiche. Two: caramelized apples with cinnamon and cheddar cheese quiche. (It's like apple pie which should, of course, be served with sharp cheddar cheese, but with even more fat. This is traditional in New England, the Maritimes, (much of the north east in general) and everywhere where people are right and good.)

But the onion and cumin quiche is less controversial. Mine is based on Clotilde Dusolier's, but you need to double or triple the amount of cumin. (I also leave out the salt, as cheese is quite salty and I don't like it much.)

Now that it's fall, it's time to start making quiches . . . yum.

redsixwing said...

Ohhhh quiche. Quiche, how do I love thee, let me count the ways... spinach and cheese.. onion and cheese... bacon and apple and onion and cheese...

My favorite trick is greasing the pan and making it crustless - this is also a coworker's favorite trick, as it renders the quiche gluten-free (I use no flour in the batter). But pie crust is one of my favorite things in the world, so I usually end up making it anyway, then making it into cookies.

The crust I make consists entirely of butter, salt, flour, and water, so it's easy to make and easy to store. I roll it to about 1/4 inch (thicker than I would for a pie, but eh, these are cookies!), sprinkle it with a favorite spice - I like cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger, with a little sugar - roll it into a log so the spices make a pretty spiral, slice it up into maybe 1/2 inch slabs, and bake it right alongside the pie. I am convinced that this creates the best shortbreads known to humankind.

@jill heather, I am so making some of those quiches. Onion and cumin? YUM. Also pretty sure that cheddar cheese is actually required on apple pie, at least on my plate...

jill heather said...

Pie crust cookies! A delicacy. A delicious delicious delicacy. (I don't even bother to roll things up, but perhaps I should.)

And yeah, that onion cumin quiche is the best of all possible quiches. I did have a really good fresh tomato and chevre quiche once, and I plan to make that too. Apple cheddar is just apples cooked with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, poured into the quiche, grated sharp cheddar cheese, and the normal milk/egg sauce. It's delicious.

Dav said...

The new crop beans are in here, and they are delicious. Onions and new beans and roasted chile and handfuls of garlic and cheese on top, nom nom nom.

And I discovered a new Vietnamese place just blocks from my apartment, which serves the most amazing noodles ever, with little bits of marinated, slightly crispy pork and a perfect sweet-spicy sauce over crispy fresh veggies, nom nom nom.


If anyone here is awesome at speaking/presenting and didn't start out that way, I could use some advice. Is just doing it over and over going to help? I've taken speech courses, but I don't feel like I come out better, only weirdly self-conscious-er.

Dav said...

Also, I have been watching this beginner cook live on webstream, and it is super-fun, in a sort of schadenfreude sort of way.

- He is really, really a beginner.
- He is in Japan, and only semi-fluent in Japanese.
- He is not wealthy.
- His equipment is cheap, and his single knife struggles valiantly to cut a cabbage leaf.
- Hundreds of people log on to give him advice while he cooks. Many of these people don't cook, either.
- He has a tendency to choose dishes where things can go horribly wrong. (The chicken fried steak episode was truly horrifying/titillating - the moment when he pulled a burned-on-the-outside, raw-on-the-inside piece of chicken out of the skillet and rated it 8/10 is something I will never forget.)

The stream is very dude-bro-y, so there is lots of dude bro humor. (The stream bought him a frilly apron to wear while he cooks, hurr hurr.) I haven't noticed any true hate speech, and I don't have the sense anyone is rooting for him to slice off his fingers, but YMMV on reading the comments.

All it needs is a video where a real chef watches this travesty.

The warm fuzzy part of this is that the stream makes it possible for him to pay living expenses, and people are generally supportive of this endeavor. Also, it will make you feel SO COMPETENT if you cook at all ever.

(He only cooks one-two times a week - the rest of the time, it's mostly D&D or fighting games.)

Dav said...

Also also:

Cheddar on pie? Blech.

Asha said...

I found a recipe for Earl Grey muffins. When I make them again, I plan to add more tea, or use a different type of tea entirely, because I couldn't taste it very well.

And quiche? IS AWESOME. Need more of it. *goes off to hunt for recipes for mini-quiches for bento*

What type of recipe did you use for the biscuits? I have used a very simple baking powder biscuit recipe and made drop biscuits that turned out wonderfully. Of course, then you give me a biscuit, I want some gravy. And for gravy, you need to fry something. And when you fry something...

You get a mess. >_<

Brin Bellway said...

Cheddar on apple pie? Pie crust on quiche? Weird.

(I don't like quiche (at least not when it's full of spinach like Mom makes it), but I do see it on other people's plates while eating my scrambled eggs. It does not have pie crust.)

Will Wildman said...

If anyone here is awesome at speaking/presenting and didn't start out that way, I could use some advice. Is just doing it over and over going to help?

I don't think I would rate myself as 'awesome', but I have gone from 'panics in front of crowds' to 'person who can step in and rescue the member of the group who is panicking in front of the crowd', which is a progression I'm personally proud of. Repetition might help, if it causes audiences to start blending together to the point where you think of them as background scenery instead of Lots Of People Judging You. But the pivot point for me was when I thought about what it's like being in the audience - public speaking (in our culture, anyway) seems to me like it carries with it the idea that the person speaking has all of the authority/expertise/etc, and most people won't really question that premise. They don't want to question that premise*, because that would be awkward and effort-intensive and probably boring.

So, to quote Rorschach completely out of context, it became something like "I'm not trapped in here with you - you are trapped in here with me!" Thinking of myself as the person with all of the power (to force people to stare at slides or listen to monologues...) helped substantially. It's like being a stage magician! (Caveat: I have not been a stage magician since I was nine.) People might occasionally think about how a trick is put together or presented, but they don't really want to know (see same footnote again).

My brother's only public speaking/presentation courses occurred in the army, where the rules were established very clearly: never say 'um', etc, and never hesitate - it doesn't matter if you repeat yourself or give entirely superfluous information. I don't know how well that tactic would translate to something like an academic lecture, but it probably works pretty well in any case where you're just going for rhetoric.

*There are, I suppose, those individuals who gain great joy from heckling presenters and attempting to argue with them; there are also those who really are in it to show they're smart enough to figure out the magic trick. I'm pretty sure no one likes them.**
**There are also academic examiners; it doesn't matter if anyone likes them because they're the ones grading you, but since they enjoy playing dirty already***, they seem like ripe targets for the military tactics arrayed above, where raw confidence might deflect them a bit.
***One economics professor advised us all, if we were ever going to do a thesis defence, to spend the night before with a first-year textbook on basic principles. Apparently his greatest delight when questioning a doctoral candidate was to say "This is obviously excellent work you've done. On a different topic, could you tell me why demand curves slope downwards to the right?" When you've spent the last six months fine-tuning a billion-part multivariate maximum likelihood statistical model based on untold tomes of economic theory and study, trying to access your very first day of econ classes can cause students to bluescreen.

Isator Levi said...

Oh, this reminds me that I need to find that page here reviewing the cookbook for my brother; after all, Christmas is coming up.

If you put up cooking videos, I'll have to point him in their direction, see if there's anything interesting he can make for me.

Dav said...

Thanks. That's helpful. Also, dear God first day of class questions is incredibly terrifying. Although the whole experience . . . yeah. Right now, I'm trying not to think too much about the thesis defense and the snake fight portion of the thesis defense. (Quals only requires making it through your presentation in a room full of mosquitos without ever scratching yourself, and then defeating three professors in hand-to-hand combat.)

Loquat said...

The chicken fried steak episode was truly horrifying/titillating - the moment when he pulled a burned-on-the-outside, raw-on-the-inside piece of chicken out of the skillet

Whoa. Hold up. This dude was trying to cook chicken-fried steak*, and the meat he used was chicken?! I think that breaks my brain more than anything else that could possibly be associated with such an endeavor.

*It occurs to me that some readers may not know what chicken-fried steak is, and be confused. In short: it is a steak, or some other flat piece of beef, breaded and fried in the manner more commonly used to produce fried chicken. Using chicken in a chicken-fried steak recipe.... you're going to end up with regular fried chicken, so you'd probably get better results cutting out the detour and just using a straight-up fried chicken recipe.

Brin Bellway said...

People might occasionally think about how a trick is put together or presented, but they don't really want to know [...] there are also those who really are in it to show they're smart enough to figure out the magic trick. I'm pretty sure no one likes them.

Well, the second group are annoying, yes, but I prefer them because at least I understand the thought process behind what they do.

The thing that makes a magic trick worthwhile is the bit at the end where they explain how they did it. For reasons I cannot comprehend, most stage magicians make a point of refusing to do this, completely removing the fun and rendering it an exercise in frustration. (That's why I only watch magic tricks done on educational shows, where they do it properly.)

Dav said...

Pretty sure. I'd have to go back to the archives and make sure I'm not conflating, but there was definitely discussion around the title/recipe of the dish at the time. (It was weeks ago. My short term memory has helpfully deleted a bunch of stuff.)

Will Wildman said...

I did leave out the intermediate group, who want to know how the trick works in order to satisfy their own curiosity rather than to prove that they're way smarter than everyone else. I count myself in this group, although I'm not overly frustrated when I have no idea how a trick is possible, because (if it's an open problem and not a Rubik's Cube) I can enjoy trying to puzzle out a puzzle even if I never get the answer.

Similarly, there are people who ask questions in presentations/lectures and who aren't just trying to look like the smartest person in the room, and good for them too, because asking an honest question requires admitting that one does not know all of the things, which in turn often seems to require titanic fortitude.

Dav said...

Sometimes I ask questions because the speakers are going down, down, down, or because I'm curious, but I also do the traditional academic thing of "that reminds me - how do you think this relates to the awesome research I'M doing?" I can't help it.

Will Wildman said...

and then defeating three professors in hand-to-hand combat.

Ah, yes, the reason one must never forget to dress in flexible and slippery clothes prior to quals. Does your university allow for false tear-away limbs? They can be difficult to keep convincing during the presentation, but are well worth it later.

I'm not sure if my ramble was much use, but good luck in any case.

Loquat said...

The thing that makes a magic trick worthwhile is the bit at the end where they explain how they did it. For reasons I cannot comprehend, most stage magicians make a point of refusing to do this

Let me clear that up for you: it's because the primary audience for a magic show is people for whom a magic trick is only fun if it does, in fact, appear to be "magic" - something special that can't be done by just anyone. Once the magician explains how a trick works, they're not watching "magic" any more, they're watching some mundane person with some slick patter and some fast moves anyone could copy, which isn't nearly as impressive.

Dav said...

If you maintain a 3.5 GPA, you're allowed a gallon of lard to grease up beforehand. If you're on academic probation, or any of your rotation professors didn't write you a glowing recommendation, the professors get foam bolsters to hit you with. (But thankfully, that's restricted to the methods portion of the talk, so it's really not that bad.)

Davrosinside said...

I dunno - I think those slight of hand movements trump real magic. But then, I'm clumsy, so YMMV.

Susan Beckhardt said...

I just got back from an afternoon of apple-picking, and all this talk of apple pies and apple quiches is making me so excited! I've got THREE GIANT BAGS of apples, all varieties, and there will be apple crisp, apple pie (with cheddar), apple sauce, apple jelly, spam spam spam spam apples sausage and spam…

Also, I heard a rumor that my university sometimes slips in a Komodo dragon instead of a snake in the case of students who've been in grad school more than seven years.

Loquat said...

Upon further research, it apparently is a thing to prepare chicken-fried chicken or steak-fried chicken or whatever you want to call it - you take a boneless piece of chicken, beat it flat, and proceed as with the steak. Not something I'd recommend to a beginner who's liable to undercook part or all of the meat, mind you - undercooked beef you can get away with calling "rare" and pretending you did it on purpose, but undercooked poultry is bad news.

Timothy (TRiG) said...

I'm in Toastmasters. I joined purely for social reasons. Clubs differ: some are very business focused, but Tullamore is friendly and supportive. Our meetings are in two parts, with a break for tea and biscuits in the middle. We like to say that they're actually in three parts, because as soon as they're over we leave the room we've hired in the hotel and make our way to the bar, and stay there for the rest of the evening.

That said, I've certainly progressed over the year-and-a-half I've been a member.


Timothy (TRiG) said...

Biscuit and gravy? I do remember that American biscuit is not the same thing as real biscuit, but I don't recall what American biscuit is. Remind me?


Asha said...

Sorry about that, should have specified. American biscuits are essentially lighter versions of scones without the sugar. How we got from English biscuit (and cookie, what we tend to use to equate, is Danish in origin if wikipedia is right) to this soft and fluffy thing that is absolutely wonderful with sawmill gravy and sausage or ham I... have no clue. But the recipe is very simple, though it may be an acquired taste if you are expecting something sweet. I tend to think of it as a savory dish, but some restaurants do make it more scone-like, with raisins and icing, too.

Loquat said...

American biscuits are savory fluffy bread things, commonly used to soak up gravy. They can bear a mild visual resemblance to scones, and share the scone's

Also, I have just learned about the existence of Chicken-Fried Bacon. Clearly, someone here must cook this.

Asha said...

Savory bread, let me rephrase. It's very common in the South/Southeast where I'm situated. It fits the same niche as dinner rolls, but the texture is very different. I tend to have them for breakfast.

Nina said...

I wouldn't say I'm awesome at public speaking, but I have gone from terrified to competent simply (ha!) by teaching 6 semesters of introductory comp to college first-years. I think what helped me the most was preparation and repetition. I figured out what style of note-taking worked best for me, practiced my talks/lessons by going over them several times before I gave them, and made sure I knew more or less exactly what I needed to say. I never memorized my talks/lessons, but I definitely made sure I was very familiar with them and practiced a lot. By repetition, I mean that I had to give lectures 3 times a week for 15 weeks, and then I did that 6 times. I absolutely got better at it over time and after I had taught a few classes, felt pretty comfortable with the whole thing too.

I also found that teaching translated well to giving talks at conferences. If nothing else, it helped me feel comfortable presenting information in an engaging way and standing up in front of a room of people and talking alone, something I thought I would never be able to do. I don't enjoy it, but I have gotten pretty good at it.

So, yeah, now that I think about it, in my experience this is one of those "practice makes perfect" areas. It's possible that in speech courses you just haven't gotten enough practice in to be comfortable yet.

Nina said...

I grew up in California and New Mexico and we always had biscuits for breakfast, but never with gravy. I saw the gravy thing a lot more in the Midwest and now in Texas. When I was growing up, biscuits were eaten with butter and jam, honey, or cinnamon sugar. Unless they were made with cheese, in which case they were usually just eaten with butter. So I guess that's more in the scone tradition than the dinner tradition.

Dav said...

Mom used to make drop biscuits, which are essentially flour, half and half, and a little baking powder and salt. As you might expect with something that is approximately 60% half and half and served with butter and sometimes raspberry jam, they are phenomenal.


Thanks, Nina and TRiG. I will step up the practice. It will give me a good excuse to buy a piece of acrylic to use as a whiteboard, anyway.

Dav said...

I am informed that I am wrong, and drop biscuits are flour, baking powder, salt, and whipping cream.

Silver Adept said...

Ooh, quiche. Bacon and cheddar does quite well for me.

@Dav - practice helps you learn your presentation and material. It will not help, though, if people ask questions (your expertise will cover that) or the unexpected happens. That said, Will is right - the audience will generally let you carry on as the expert on the subject, for the most part, so you can correct yourself later.

What I find helpful is the absolute confidence borne of successfully making a fool of myself in public deliberately - self-deprecating humor and "this reminds me of" shaggy dog stories, as well as the ability to ham slightly (see: technical difficulties and percussive maintenance) may not work for everyone, but they do work for me. If you can make your audience react the way you want them to, whether in rapt attention and awe or laughing at the side jokes, punny names, and funny pictures, it makes things easier. (Which is probably why I tend to have an opening joke somewhere to gauge the audience.)

I've also found that having your notes/outline accessible helps keep it all on track, if you're worried that memory will fail.

Loquat said...

Or you can go the lazy route and make your drop biscuits from Bisquick and whatever liquids you're supposed to mix with it.

Asha said...

For me, we usually had them with breakfast. My fondest Christmas morning memories were going to my Papa's, frying country ham and using that for gravy to eat with biscuits and eggs. Still, we had them for supper often enough, usually with fried chicken.

Asha said...

That was how my mom usually made them, as drop biscuits. That same recipe (though usually I used butter or margarine) makes wonderful dumplings for chicken and dumplings. Though I like mine big and fluffy and some people don't.

Asha said...

Drop biscuits refer to how they are made. The flour is not kneaded or rolled, just dropped by spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. That's my experience, anyways.

Asha said...

Bisquick works, but I like making mine from scratch instead. Of course, it might have had to do with being in Japan at the time.

FrenchRoast said...

Best trick to biscuits--use Lily White flour instead of just any old flour. Most all purpose flours in the US are made from hard summer wheat, but Lily White is made from soft winter wheat, which makes a big difference in protein content, which in turn makes a big difference in your biscuits. All this talk of biscuits makes me think I might have to make biscuits and gravy for breakfast sometime soon.

I adore quiche lorraine! I make it for dinner a couple times a month, but I usually add mushrooms, and I use proscuitto instead of bacon (you don't have to precook proscuitto, which cuts down on messiness and prep time). My French host mom once told me that she liked making quiche because you can use it to use up pretty much any veggie/meat you have lying around.

redsixwing said...

Hmm. My mother's biscuits (the American kind) are the be-all, end-all of biscuits in my opinion, and I've never been able to equal them. They're a rolled and cut biscuit, they're more heavy than flaky, and their flavor (being mostly butter, flour, and a little leavening and salt) is astonishing.

Pie crust on quiche? Weird.

I wonder if this is a regional thing? I'm used to quiche with one crust, but I've seen it with two (but lattice crusts, which is what it takes to vent 'em properly, are obnoxious, so I never make them) - and making it with no crust at all is the weird variation here.

I found a set of silicone muffin cups cheap last year, and they've been marvelous for making bento-able mini quiches. If you really feel creative, you can also make tiny pie-crust cutouts of cute shapes to put on top, for a little more deco bento feel.

I don't usually bother with deco bento, because it is more time than I feel like putting into my lunch, but it can be a lot of fun to decorate mini quiches for a special occasion.

Brin Bellway said...

I wonder if this is a regional thing?

It might be Mom trying to reduce the carbs. I can't think of any quiches I've seen that weren't made by her, so I don't know how other people around here make it. (I certainly don't know how they made it in either of the places Mom grew up.)

JonathanPelikan said...

I really need to learn how to cook better. The full extent of my cooking capabilities is 'place object in microwave, allow nuclear physics to do the work, chortle afterwards, burn self on hot container'. Although my fiance always gets a kick out of telling me to go make her a sandwich, despite the four or five states that separate us. Well, and I could probably cook an egg. But anything more than that and I need someone literally telling me 'turn on the oven. turn the dial to here. place the pot on the oven...'

Completely off-topic, but lately I've been wrapped up a little in American Civil War History Stuff.
A post with a bunch of links and stuff I compiled to interesting Youtube stuff about it. Mind the comments. We are so not over our Civil War here in Murica that it's barely even funny.

(maybe it's because we're engaged in our second one, which has thusfar been mostly nonviolent?)

(guess which side is the South)

(just guess)

Also, Ana, and anybody else who wants them, have some hugs.

Ana Mardoll said...

The biscuit recipe was (English measurements: cup, TABLESPOON, teaspoon):

1 + 1/2 c. flour
1 + 1/2 TB sugar
1 + 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 TB cream to brush on tops before baking

I think there was also accidentally some lemon zest in the mix because we didn't clean our bowl out between that and the lemon zest tart (she told us not to!).

Ana Mardoll said...

I don't enjoy public speaking and I recognize that weird "the more classes I take, the less confident I feel". I love this idea, Will. So creative!

Ana Mardoll said...

Brin, I am like you: I enjoy magic shows, but ONLY if they explain it. Otherwise, they might as well do it with CGI and I don't care about that, now do I? No, I do not.

So you are not alone. I'm delighted to hear they do it on educational shows. I must find these things.

Brin Bellway said...

I'm delighted to hear they do it on educational shows. I must find these things.

Unfortunately, I can't think of any specific examples. I just know I've seen complete-with-explanation magic tricks occasionally on PBS kids' shows and Discovery.

Thomas Keyton said...

There was an American series called Breaking the Magician's Code that was shown in the UK at irregular intervals, allegedly intended to force other magicians to move away from the old methods (albeit with a very male gaze-y narrator as I recall). It was repeated a few times over here, so might be shown more often in the US.

FrenchRoast said...

A traditional/French quiche has a crust on the bottom. I think the idea of going crust-less is neat, though, like a baked omelette.

Brenda said...

A really delicious variation on quiche is to use corn tortillas instead of a pastry crust. My sister found the recipe at It's really good, and incidentally gluten free - I often use it at potlucks because of that.

This is our version:

Corn tortillas - 5-8 depending on taste.
1/2 pound ground pork sausage, precooked (or other meat, or use double cheese.)
2 cups shredded cheese - chedder, monterey jack, etc. (Somehow I always use more than that...)
4-oz can of chopped green chiles
6 eggs
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease a 9-inch pie pan or square pan (I prefer square because there's less possibility of spillage...)

Tear corn tortillas and layer evenly in bottom of pan, 3-4 thick.

Spread half the sausage over the tortillas, then half the cheese, then the green chiles, then the rest of the sausage, topping with the rest of the cheese.

Whisk together eggs, then mix in cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, and chili powder. Slowly pour over meat & cheese in pan - use a fork to poke holes if the liquid does not soak in quickly.

Bake about 45 minutes, "until center is set and puffed." (It will puff up, and then sink again.)

This is good for any meal. The egg soaks in between the layers of tortilla, forming a thick layer underneath the meat and cheese.

Brenda said...

I just made that corn tortilla quiche and I would like to amend it slightly - layer the tortillas 2-3 thick. 4 is too much.

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