The experience of cooking varies vastly between different types of people. Those who genuinely take pleasure in the process tend to take one of two approaches: either relishing in the calm, methodical carrying-out of a recipe; or indulging in the myriad creative opportunities found in something so mundane – whether the outcome proves successful or not. For many, cooking provides an outlet through which to relieve stress, that inescapable affliction of student life.
One step beyond stress lays the quintessentially modern malaise, anxiety. According to Daniel Smith, author of the darkly humorous Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety, two principal archetypes of suffering exist: Stiflers and Chaotics. The former are usually the hyper-organized or the hyper-relaxed, burying their anxiety in denial, faux productivity or procrastination. The latter are incapable of such denial. Often found chain-smoking, their anxiety visibly swarms around them in a sea of debris: scrawled-on bits of paper; chocolate wrappers; tattered books and the empty containers of various caffeinated beverages.
In an unsurprising coincidence, these anxiety types fit very well with the two above-mentioned methods of cooking. Stiflers are the routine-based faction, enjoying the knowledge that a tangible, tasty result will ensue if instructions are followed. Chaotics in the kitchen are exactly that- loud and hectic, stirring three pots at once while slugging back the cooking wine.
A little anxiety is a good thing. In the kitchen, it may not only relieve, but also indulge stress by channeling it into a more productive and creative pastime. In life, it’s natural; being anxious is human.
What follows is a recipe for an infinitely adaptable quiche – both in terms of ingredients and preferred cooking method. Apart from being a surprisingly comforting meal, it’s quite difficult to ruin in a fit of culinary creativity.
- 1 pack shortcrust pastry (or any pastry recipe of your own choosing)
- 125g hot-smoked or pre-cooked salmon, flaked (other good alternatives are haddock, bacon or spinach)
- 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 250mL double cream (up to half of which can be substituted with milk for a lighter custard)
- 1 tbsp Wholegrain mustard (Dijon mustard works equally well here, as does increasing the amount to 2 tbsp for more of a kick)
- 30g cheddar + 10g parmesan, grated (cheese types and amounts are taste specific- use as much as 60g for a richer filling, or swap them for whatever you prefer)
- 3-4 green onions, finely sliced (optional)
- 150g frozen peas, defrosted (can be omitted, or substituted with any other greens you have on hand-sautéed leeks or asparagus would work well with salmon)
- Bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1. Preheat oven to 200˚c/gas 6. Line a 20cm tart pan with the pastry and trim off any excess. Prick it all over with a fork then pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes. Line pastry with baking paper, fill with baking beans or rice, then bake for 12 minutes. Remove paper and beans, then bake for 5 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.
2. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, yolk, cream and mustard together. Season, and then add in cheese, onions, parsley and greenery.
3. Scatter salmon over the base of the pastry, then pour over egg mixture.
4. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes.