Sunday, May 3, 2009

Junk mail junkie

My sister-in-law and her family left today. It was a fantastic visit with all sorts of hijinx and hilarity involved. We even toured the South Island together, where I got to take a little break from food photography and shoot some of the stunning vistas that surrounded us in paradise. Heaven. But, it's back to the real world now, and back to the kitchen for a send-off meal worthy of their 13-hour return flight.
Lake Tekapo

We didn't have all too much food left, but there were plenty of leftovers from previous bacon-and-egg breakfasts, a hunk of really old and molding feta from a friend's failed pizza experiment, a red bell pepper purchased earlier ("just in case"), and my ever-present giant block of Edam. I decided that quiche was the way to go here. Of all places to find a recipe, I saw this delicious looking one in a promotional mailer for eggs. So there's my secret guilty pleasure: I like to read through junk mail. I'm not typically enticed by advertisement recipes, but we just seemed to have all the ingredients for this one. So I set to work.

Roasted capsicum and feta quiche

I made the pâte brisée the night before. No fancy equipment involved, just the simple ingredients and my fingers. It came together very quickly, then spent the night in the fridge while I spent the night in an equally frigid bedroom. The rest of the quiche was simple enough to make the following day, if a little more time-consuming. We were all starving by the time the quiche went into the oven and had resorted to snacking on ice cream and breakfast cereal before it was halfway done. Poor us. However, as our game of Settlers of Catan wound down and the timer signaled lunchtime for us, our appetites renewed themselves with gusto at the smell of the quiche coming out of the oven. The general consensus was that this was hands down the best quiche anyone in the company had ever tasted - and we've eaten our fair share of them. The sour cream and feta created a smooth, creamy texture and tangy zip that you just don't find in most quiches, while the bacon added the perfect amount of smokey saltiness for balance. The roasted bell peppers were wonderful for sweetness and color. Seriously, this was good.

Roasted capsicum and feta quiche

Roasted Pepper and Feta Quiche
adapted from egg promotional mailer

Pâte Brisée
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons (75 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 tablespoons (25 g) cold vegetable shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup very cold water

6 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon oil
6 strips of bacon (more or less), chopped
2 ounces (50 g) feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup grated Edam cheese
1 red bell pepper
salt and pepper
chopped parsley, optional

Make the crust
Combine flour and salt in a bowl, then add in butter and shortening. Working quickly, rub mixture with your fingers until it resembles coarse meal (with pea-sized bits of butter). Add the water, a little at a time, until mixture holds together when squeezed. If it's still too dry and crumbly, continue adding more water by the teaspoon until it sticks. Dough should be relatively dry. Dump dough onto a countertop and knead about 3 times to get everything to stick together, then form into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to one week.

Make the quiche
Rub the bell pepper skin lightly with oil, then grill until skin is blackened and blistered all over. If you don't have a grill, simply stick a fork in each end and roast it spit-like over a gas stove's flame, making sure to turn evenly. That method takes about 10 minutes. When the skin is sufficiently charred, remove pepper from heat and wrap tightly in foil to cool (without the forks, of course).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out pie dough into a 12-inch circle and place inside a 9- or 10-inch pie dish or quiche tin with removable base. Trim off excess and make the edges pretty if you want. Prick bottom all over with a fork, then place a piece of parchment paper (or foil) over it and fill with dried beans or rice to weight it down. Bake 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a small pan set over medium heat and cook onion and bacon until softened. Set aside. Whisk together eggs, sour cream, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. When the bell pepper is cool enough to handle, remove the skin (it should come right off) and core, then slice thinly.

Scatter onions and bacon into pastry shell, pour in the egg mixture, sprinkle the crumbled feta evenly, and scatter on the bell pepper strips. Add a sprinkle of parsley over top and bake until quiche is golden and set, about 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

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