Learning to Cook

      

I’ve never really been much of a cook. My mom made sure all of her daughters knew how to cook, but it was never something I experimented with or enjoyed. But walking through the French markets for my first time last year gave me an itch to try new foods, and make some of them myself. So Maggie, Lydia and I signed up for a cooking class. I will never forget that day: the class began one Saturday morning in the middle of a market, underneath the ligne 6 metro. We stood huddled together in the midst of a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, while our instructors picked through vendors’ herbs. After learning what fresh parsley looks like, we began our adventure of soupe de queues de persil & raviolis frais (Parsley & Ravioli Soup).

We quickly became the event of the day for those meandering through the market. I peeled potatoes while a passer-byer helped move the shavings into the poubelleI’m not kidding… people walking by would stop and reach in to help. The American in me thought, ‘You haven’t washed your hands!’ but… c’est la vie!

So that’s where it all began. Now that I’m back in Paris, I’ve been to the market multiple times and tried to make a few things. I absolutely love to make things that you can’t mess up. Things that you can throw the contents of you refrigerator in. In France, most of those dishes include a pâte (rolled out dough, like pie crust but not sweetened and less flakey). So far this week I’ve made three pâte dishes. And none of the things I made took much time to prepare or cook, and I didn’t have to go to the store to get something essential. Here’s what I did (in order of the pictures):

Apple Tart   2-3 Servings

SO easy! I just sliced my apples into small wedges, mixed them with a little cinnamon and sugar, and then laid them on my pâte (with a little butter underneath them). This time I just put the apples on one side, and then folded the pâte over them but you could make it open face, more like a tarte tatin. You could even put some apple sauce on the bottom of the pâte and then layer the apple slices on top!

Chausson aux Lydia

One of my roommates last year in Paris, Lydia, used to make this all the time. We didn’t really know what to call it, so we named it Chausson du Lydia because in French food, a chausson of something tends to be pocket-like.

You can use pretty much any meat and vegetables you have in your fridge for this. I used chicken, cheese (dairy free for me, but it doesn’t matter what kind you use), onions, arugula (spinach would cook much better, but it’s all I had), and hummus (Crème fraîche would be a good dairy substitute). Obviously I didn’t have much in my fridge.

Unroll your pâte and tear it into two pieces. Stretch your pâte lightly, hopefully without ripping it, to make it more of a square or rectangle shape. Smooth your base ingredient (hummus, crème fraîche, or whatever you like) on the center of your square and then pile your ingredients high on top of your base. Lastly, pick up the four corners of the pâte, pull them together and twist. It should stay closed now, and you can bake it in the oven.

Quiche

This was my first time ever making a quiche, and it certainly won’t be my last. All three of these tasted SO good and were amazingly simple.

Unroll your pâte and place it in a pie dish. Mine was larger than my dish, so I just folded the excess over on top of the eggs and other ingredients. In a bowl, whisk together eggs and other ingredients such as cheese, ham, some milk, a little bit of flour (to help your mixture solidify), and onions. Again, you can use whatever you like. Then pour your ingredients into the pâte and bake it in the oven. It’s great for any meal!

*Clean up tip: Keep your pâte on the paper to make clean up faster. You’ll still need to wash your dish, but you won’t have to scrap food off it.

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