Saturday, January 5, 2008

Quiche Challenge #1

Quiche pictured: Roasted red pepper, fennel and sausage with a savory rosemary crust.

My sous-chef went to his day job and revealed to coworkers what we'd been up to in the kitchen. I am not sure what he said exactly, but it prompted a bit of a dare. "If you can make such an amazing quiche; prove it." They told him to bring four perfect specimens into lunch on Monday for sampling and a heavy critique session. They would pay us for the ingredients and if they liked the finished product, they'd order more.

When he got home that night and told me about the challenge with that familiar glint in his eye, I said,"fine, bring it on. This is market research."

By this point, I was officially unemployed a.k.a. liberated and had all the time in the world to contemplate the finer points of quiche making. We were up to the test.

I created a menu:

Asparagus, Pancetta & Gruyere

Roasted Red Pepper, Fennel & Sausage

Smoked Trout, Spinach & Leek

Smoked Gouda, Bacon & Cherry Tomato

Caramelized Onion, Gorgonzola & Mushroom

Smoked Salmon & Sweet Pea
w/ Savory Dill Crust

Goat Cheese, Roasted Garlic & Thyme

It took all of Sunday afternoon, and a trip to the baking store on W. 26th to get pans, pie boxes etc, but by Monday morning we had four perfect quiches boxed up and ready to go.

We had thirteen willing guinea pigs. I sat at home nervously awaiting the outcome of our first taste test. I had sent them what I thought to be perfectly flaky, herb-infused crusts with the right consistency of egg/cream/cheese and the exact balance of crust to ingredients. We wanted every mouthful to have the right ratios of everything in it. Too often quiche is too eggy, crust-heavy or just plain bland. We avoided this by treating every ingredient individually. We minced, diced, sauteed, pureed and blended everything separately. For our smoked salmon quiche I shelled a bowl full of fresh spring peas and added finely chopped dill to the mix for the freshest taste possible. We layered the ingredients to make sure every slice would be divine.

I got the phone call. The verdict was in and their response was overwhelming.

Best quiche ever.

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