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Chorizo, Roasted Pepper & Goat Cheese Quiche

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I like quiche. Like, a lot.

My first job working in a restaurant kitchen involved a lot of pastry dough. I started working during the busiest time of the summer, during the Summerlicious festival in Toronto, and my day would start around noon and end roughly 12 hours later. It was my introduction to working in a real, professional kitchen and it exhausted me completely.

It was; however, one of the best restaurants in Toronto. I got used to the hours and my feet eventually got used to the constant running around. I learned to ignore the searing pain of citrus juice and salt getting into an open knife wound and, eventually, didn’t even flinch when my skin came into contact with red hot steel or 500 degree ovens. I was just too busy.

Pastry was a great escape for me. In the pastry section of a kitchen, there is order and organization and exact measurements. You know how something is going to turn out before you even start. It’s fun. I love the chaos and hustle of the main line, but also love pastry for it’s relative solitude and peace.

That’s how I started being the quiche blind baker every night. When things weren’t too busy, just before the dessert rush came during dinner service, and when most of the other kitchen staff had left, I would methodically roll out homemade pastry dough, line the quiche pans and weigh them down before baking them in the convection oven. Then I would carefully wrap the prepared pastry with plastic wrap and leave them for the opening chef to fill the next morning.

We had a weekly quiche at the next restaurant where I worked, so filling these tasty tarts became a weekly lesson in creativity and ingenuity. What did we have a lot of? What was good right now? What cheese would work with this veggie? What wasn’t going to take a million years to prepare? These were all questions that had to be answered every Sunday evening with the chef. It became more of a fun logic puzzle than a boring, mundane, kitchen task (also, I was lucky enough to have chefs who let their cooks do a lot of problem solving, giving guidance where it was necessary – you won’t find that in a lot of kitchens).

I don’t make quiche at home very often, but when I do, I fondly remember my first days in a professional kitchen. They weren’t easy. Anyone who romanticizes about being a chef is in for a rude awakening. But if you’re the kind of person who likes the instant gratification that comes along with a busy service well-done, isn’t bothered by the prospect of self harm and has a good sense of humour (and a high tolerance for crude behaviour) it might just be the job for you.

Chorizo, Roasted Pepper & Goat Cheese Quiche

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

2 cups AP flour

1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed

1/2 cup ice water

Pinch of salt

For the quiche:

1/2 cup caramelized onion (homemade or jarred, whatever you have)

1 large roasted red pepper, julienned (again, homemade or jarred is fine)

1 cup (approx.) sautéed and drained chorizo (cured or fresh is fine)

1 log creamy goat cheese of your choice (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup scallions, finely sliced

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk or cream

salt & pepper

Directions:

  • For the pastry: in a food processor, using a pastry blade, add in salt, flour and cold butter. Blitz until the mixture consists of coarse crumbs (you can also do this by hand with a pastry cutter or by rubbing, but the food processor gives the best result). While the blade is still running, slowly add the ice water (leave out any chunks of ice) until the mixture begins to form a ball.
  • Lightly flour your counter and knead the pastry dough two or three times until it all comes together. Shape it into two discs, wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for about an hour, or until firm.
  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (210 degrees Celsius). Remove one the pastry discs from the plastic wrap (the other can go into the freezer or be kept in the fridge for a few days to use for something else). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry dough until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Line a tart or pie dish with the pastry dough and crimp/trim the edges.
  • Cover the pastry with parchment and fill with pie weights or dried legumes (I used dried lentils since they were what was in the cupboard at the time). Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the bottom is cooked through.
  • Make the quiche: layer the prepared pastry shell (still in it’s pie dish) with the caramelized onion, red peppers, chorizo, scallions and crumbled goat cheese.
  • Mix the eggs and milk/cream well and season with salt and pepper (about 2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper). Pour the egg mixture over the prepared cheese, meat and veggies. Place the pie dish on a baking sheet (in case of overspill) and set in a 375 degree (190 degrees Celcius) oven for about 30-40 minutes. The filling should be completely set with a bit of a wiggle in the center.
  • Serve hot or at room temperature with a side salad.
 
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