Everything I know about cooking I learned from Julia Child.
Watching The French Chef when I should have been doing homework for my college classes, I learned how to debone a chicken while leaving the skin intact (did it once, never again), and how to turn pate a choux balls into a croquembouche (did it once, never again), and how to buy socca at a market in Nice, should I be lucky enough to get there some day.
Julia was not all about the esoteric, though.
In one of her more recent series, I watched her take a container of shredded cheese out of the freezer. Cheese in the freezer? All different types, mixed together?
As Julia would have said... voila!
Now, just like she did, I keep a container of bits of grated or shredded cheese, left over from whatever frittata or pasta dishes I've made, in the freezer, ready and waiting to fill quesadillas or lasagne, or an impromptu weeknight quiche. Store like-minded cheeses together, and you'll be ready for whatever culinary inspiration strikes you.
What is grated or shredded cheese?
Medium-firm (Cheddar, Gruyere, fontina, havarti) or firm (Parmigiano-Reggiano, romano) broken down into small bits with a box grater or food processor. Soft cheese (blues, muenster) should be minced in a food processor or by hand. A Microplane rasp makes quick work of small amounts of parm.
How/where to store:
In a tightly-sealed container or ziploc bag in the refrigerator (up to one week) or freezer (up to three months). To create your own mix, store cheeses of similar texture together.
More facts about grated or shredded cheese, with ingredient photos, on The Perfect Pantry:
Grated or shredded cheese (Recipe: zucchini frittata)
Red pepper, asparagus and spinach quiche
One great thing about using store-bought pie crust for quiche is that the package holds two crusts, so after you've made one, it's easy to make another with whatever bits of vegetables and shredded cheese you have on hand. Serves 6.
1 refrigerated pie crust, or homemade pie crust for a single-crust pie
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
10 thin asparagus spears, ends trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, diced
3 oz baby spinach leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaf or 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or flat-leaf parsley
4 eggs + 1 egg
2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Unroll one pie crust (for a 9-inch pie) and center it in a pie plate. (I used a standard Pyrex® pie plate.) Crimp the edges by hand, or press a design all around with a fork. Set aside.
In a nonstick frying pan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add the onion, asparagus, and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the spinach and thyme, stir to combine, and cook for 2 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Remove pan from the heat and set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes. (This step is important; if the filling is too hot, it will melt the pastry before the quiche gets to the oven. The filling also can be made in advance and refrigerated.)
In a large measuring cup or bowl, whisk 4 eggs until they are smooth. Add the yogurt, and whisk again. Stir in the two cheeses, salt and pepper.
Scatter the vegetable filling evenly in the pie crust. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Push it around with a rubber spatula so it covers all of the vegetables.
In a small bowl, beat 1 egg with 1 teaspoon of water. Using a brush, paint the crust with the beaten egg.
Bake for 40 minutes. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Other recipes that use grated or shredded cheese:
Gougeres, from David Lebovitz
Baked macaroni and cheese, from Gluten-free Goddess
Chile con queso, from Homesick Texan
Grilled cheese panini on dark rye, from Panini Happy
Ham and cheese empanadas, from From Argentina with Love
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