In this day and age of disposables, why would any practical chef in their right mind choose glassware over throwaway bakeware and cookware? Busy and practical homemakers, men as well as women have busy schedules and believe that the quickest way to get in and out of the kitchen is the microwave and containers that can be used in them. It’s true that good tasting meals can be cooked efficiently in a microwave without having to use the sink and dishwasher.
However, there is quite a difference in the look and taste of foods that are baked in a regular oven in over-to table safe glassware. Whether it's your French quiche, your Jewish style potato kugel or Italian eggplant parmesan and lasagna there is no comparison between the two ways of cooking. Baking in aluminum pans is standard but cannot compare to authentic glassware baking.
For example, you have decided to spend some time making authentic eggplant parmesan for dinner on Monday night. Since the day before was Sunday, you were able to prepare your eggplant slices which take time and then you will assemble the rest of the recipe Monday.
Start with a nice size oblong firm eggplant. Eggplant must be used soon after purchase or else it will start getting soft and brown in certain spots. Slice the eggplant into thin rounds and place on prepared paper towels. Sprinkle liberally with kosher or sea salt, cover with paper towels to absorb the moisture and let stand as long as possible at least a half hour.
When you see the top paper towels wet you can begin the breading and frying process. There are recipes that skip the frying and instruct you to bake the breaded eggplant slices in a very hot oven, but this is not the way to go for the authentic taste and texture. Mop up any excess water from the slices and pile them up neatly near the frying pan where the oil should be hot enough to fry those aforementioned slices. Drain the fried eggplant slices on new prepared paper towels to remove the excess oil and keep the slices crisp.
The next step will separate those timesaving cooks and the professional chefs, it will make a big difference in the type of bakeware that you choose. Eggplant parmesan will come out delicious whether you use a disposable aluminum pan or a glass one, but the taste, texture and look will be distinguishable.
Take a bottle of marinara sauce and pour a little on the bottom of the pan. Alternate layers of eggplant, cheese, and sauce until you use all the eggplant slices. Bake uncovered till bubbly and crisp to your preference.
Do you prefer a crisp top and mushy bottom, or do you desire the bona fide crispness on the bottom as well as the top? Aluminum equals mushiness, glass equals just the right full-blown crispness that you want on the top and the bottom of the recipe. Washing a good quality oven-worthy glass dish is not as difficult as you would think, especially if you soak it in hot water and soap for a bit before cleaning.
Why Use Glassware for Cooking?
1) Glassware is healthier than disposable aluminum pans or the microwave. When my children were growing up, I refused to keep a microwave in my home. In those days this type of heating element was called a radar range, because we were advised that the rays were the same as used in radiation, now that the name has been changed, I hope that the rays have been altered as well. I still don’t own a microwave and can think of only one thing that I miss and that is microwave popcorn. Oh well, too bad those extra calories are not that important to take up extra room on my limited counter space.
2) The food tastes much better when it is baked in glass. Professionals advise that the hotter the baking pan becomes the better and more quickly cooked the recipe will be. It happens sometimes that you think a dish is ready because the top looks crisp only to take a piece and discover the bottom is next to raw. This will never happen with glass simply because you can view the bottom as clearly as the top. How inviting does food look in a glass container? Crisp on the outside as well as on the inside and no worries if it is done or not.
What is Borosilicate® Glass?
Pyrex® used to be what a glass baking dish was called and now there are many other names as Pyrex® is actually a brand name just like Kleenex® is the word that some use to describe a tissue.
Pyrex® and other brands such as Heatex, Schott, and Borosilicate® glassware to name a few are all made with boron trioxide as the main ingredient. These products are most resistant to thermal shock and can withstand normal oven temperatures well. When a baking dish is made from borosilicate glass it can be thin yet still sturdy. A high-quality glass cooking dish will have a clarity that makes the food inside very desirable and can be placed safely in the dishwasher.
Original French Quiche
There are many different variations that are called Quiche and that’s what makes them so versatile. You can make them every week with different vegetables, with cheese or without and by changing the shape of the vessel the differences are even more pronounced.
The crust is relatively easy to mix and does not need to be rolled out with a rolling pin but can be simply pressed into the glass plate it will be baked in. Butter, margarine, or shortening is the fat, flour, sometimes water and salt are the simple always on hand ingredients that constitute the makeup of the dough. Eggs, milk, cheese, spices and any vegetable or assortment of vegetables make up a typical quiche recipe. Some recipes call for onions to be sauteed in oil and the flour incorporated into the onion as a French roux. The internet is flooded with such recipes and depending on your calorie allowance, you can find a recipe to suit your needs.
How to Bake French Quiche and Italian Eggplant Parmesan in the same vessel?
We have told you about wonderful ways to use glass bakeware, but did you know that there are vessels that can hold two recipes without any of the ingredients becoming intertwined? You must find out about the latest craze in glass bakeware which is divided glass casserole dishes. These dishes are so pretty that they go from oven to table in the classiest homes. Some of them come with covers that can be put on after cooling to transport when you are traveling and want to bring something special to your hosts. Or if you choose to keep the casserole ingredients for yourself for later use, they can be transferred from your freezer or your refrigerator straight to the oven.
The two ideas above, eggplant parmesan and vegetable quiche are two perfect go together for a light dairy meal. By themselves or with an easy fish recipe they offer a balance of savory and spicy with lots of calcium and vegetables combined. Won’t your family and guests be surprised and impressed by how beautiful such a combination of foods looks at the table? The 8 by 6 by 7-inch size is perfect for two to four people as a main or even more people as sides with other prepared foods.
A summer brunch is a perfect time to use divided casseroles. Your family and friends will wonder how so many different casseroles come out of your average size wall oven. Often you end up making your casseroles in larger than needed dishes with leftovers that don’t taste the same when reheated. Rather than making one or two large casseroles try using clear glass baking dishes with glass dividers to increase the choices of your family and guests.
Some of us refuse to buy any more baking dishes for our kitchen and choose to remain with what we have on hand or use aluminum disposables. Food baked in glass casseroles look and taste better and are healthier methods of cooking. The food is crispy on the bottom as well as the top and there is no guessing when the recipe is done.
Environmentally, glass bakeware is a solid choice without having to keep throwing out one use aluminum oven pans or plastic microwave ones. The cleanup is not heavy, and the presentation is beautiful without having to transfer the foods from the aluminum or plastic to serving dishes. You will have to wash the serving dish anyway so you might as well start with the glassware in the first place.
Clear glass bakeware that has dividers is a great new way to bake in smaller ovens where multiple large round or rectangular casseroles won’t fit. There’s always room for improvement in any kitchen and oven so let’s be open to new options. Life is supposed to be interesting and so should be you’re cooking.