How I Conquered One of My Biggest Cooking Fears October 13, 2017
With the spookiest holiday of the year right around the corner, we figured it was as good a time as any to talk cooking fears.
Hey there, Fresh Fam! It’s me, Jacqueline — the voice behind many of the recipes, tips, and tricks here on the blog. I may write about food all day long, but that doesn’t mean I’m fearless in the kitchen. Far from it, actually. And to prove it, I’d like to share a personal (and embarrassing, but hopefully inspiring) story about how I overcame my fear of cooking crepes.
Now you’re probably thinking… CREPES, Jacqueline? That’s not something most people claim to be scared of. Usually, it’s under-cooking meat, or over-cooking broccoli, or accidentally slicing your finger instead of the onion. But making a thin, savory pancake? Not so much.
But here’s the thing: at the time, I was living in France. And let me tell you, they don’t mess around when it comes to crepes (or cheese, or baguette… but that’s another story). The savory ones (aka galettes) are traditionally made with buckwheat flour and come loaded with stewed veggies or meat, the requisite dose of Gruyère cheese, and a sunny-side-up egg to top it off. And the sweet kinds? Honey, berries, jam, or even Nutella.
Throughout my first few months in France, I ordered crepes whenever the opportunity presented itself. Because C’MON; how can you step foot in a French restaurant and not order the most French thing on the menu?
And every time, I would stare in awe into the open kitchen as the chef poured the perfect amount of batter onto the pan, swirled it in circles, and effortlessly flipped the impossibly thin pancake. Slightly crispy around the edges, it somehow always remained intact when the sides were folded gently towards the center.
In my American tourist eyes, it was magic. And I was terrified to try it myself.
What if I get the ratio of flour to eggs wrong? What if I don’t flip it in time and it burns to a crisp? What if I flip it too early and it breaks apart? What if I can’t master the pouring and swirling technique? WHAT IF I RUIN THE MAGIC?
Although what if’s flooded through my mind, I knew I was never going to get over this fear if I didn’t face it head on. So on a frigid afternoon sometime in late January, I charged full steam ahead and tried my hand at homemade buckwheat galettes.
And it was a total fail.
To this day, I still don’t know what exactly went wrong, but the batter didn’t hold together correctly. Or at all, for that matter. And I’m pretty sure I poured WAY too much into the pan to begin with, because when I tried to flip it over, it became one mushy glob of dough. Totally un-salvageable. A dud, if you will.
But instead of giving up, I tried again. And again. And again. (Go ahead and multiply those agains by 10.) Each time, the batter got a little better, my pouring technique a little less clumsy, and my flipping skills more natural… until I succeeded.
And throughout all the mishaps, I learned the following three principles of overcoming cooking fears:
1. Always go back to basics
Experimenting with unfamiliar foods or techniques is not the time to get fancy. Instead, stick with a basic, bare-bones recipe. Once you master it, then you can jazz things up. But remember — you have to crawl before you can walk.
2. Be patient as you find your rhythm
If you don’t end up with a #HelloFreshPics-worthy result after the first try, it’s totally okay. I should know. It takes time to get into your cooking groove. Just be patient with yourself and trust that it will happen as long as you keep trying.
3. Don’t go at it alone
Cooking is so much more fun when you do it with loved ones — and it also has the added bonus of keeping you accountable to conquering those fears. If friends or family members are coming over to help cook, you’re far less likely to give up.
From now until Halloween, we’ll be sharing simple recipes, tips, and tricks to help you conquer common cooking fears (like what in the world to do with wonky-looking root veggies), so be sure to keep these three mantras in mind along the way.
And for even more proof that you and I aren’t the only ones with cooking fears, check out this video. We asked other HelloFresh employees what they’re most scared of, and everyone had something to say.
You didn’t think we’d let you leave without the crepe recipes, did you? Never. Try your hand at homemade savory galettes or sweet cinnamon apple crepes, and remember to tag #HelloFreshPics so we can cheer you on.
Savory Buckwheat Galette 2 Ways
- 3/4 Cup + 3 Tablespoons Buckwheat Flour
- 3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- Pinch Salt
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 1/4 Cups Milk
- 1 – 1 1/3 Cups Water
- Unsalted Butter, for cooking
- Meat Fillings: Ham, Gruyère Cheese, Egg
- Veggie Fillings: Spinach, Roasted Butternut Squash, Sautéed Mushrooms, Gruyère Cheese, Egg
- Whisk together buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, and salt.
- Add egg, milk, and water. Whisk until well combined.
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add enough batter to thinly coat pan.
- Cook until edges begin to brown, about one minute. Use your fingers to flip, then cook another 30-45 seconds.
- Sprinkle cheese around the center. For a meat galette, add slices of ham. For a veggie version, add spinach, butternut squash, and mushrooms.
- Carefully crack an egg on top. Fold the four corners in towards the center. Reduce heat and cook until egg whites are set.
Cinnamon Apple Crepe
- For the filling:
- 2 Large Granny Smith Apples, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/4 Cup Apple Cider
- For the batter:
- 3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 1 Cup Milk
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- To make filling, melt butter in a skillet. Add apples and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cook until apples begin to brown, 4-5 minutes. Pour in apple cider and cook another 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
- To make batter, whisk together flour, salt, and sugar.
- Add milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined, adding more milk if necessary to achieve a loose, pancake batter-like consistency.
- Melt butter into a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add enough batter to thinly coat pan.
- Cook until edges begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Use your fingers to flip, then cook another 30-45 seconds.
- Transfer to a plate and spoon a portion of apple mixture into the center. Carefully fold, sprinkle with powdered sugar or add a dollop of Greek yogurt, and enjoy!
On the hunt for more dessert inspiration? We’ve got you covered.