Shh! Don’t tell anyone, but this is another item we’re making for an upcoming party. The reason we don’t want you to tell is that we’ve never made roasted red pepper quiches before, and we don’t want anyone at the party to know that they’ll be secondary guinea pigs. (We, of course, are the first guinea pigs, as we work out the recipe).
Of course, it’s not as bad as it sounds, because we’ve made plenty of miniature dishes, and we’ve made quiches before now, too. In reality, all we need to do is work out the correct proportions of the ingredients — how many red peppers, how much custard for filling, and how many mini-quiches can come from a batch of pâte brisée (pie crust). That’s all; we just like to make it sound more dramatic than it is. But, that means that you might not see the same amount of ingredients in our photos, or, in the case of the leek, it wasn’t in our original version, but will be in future versions.
Okay, if you don’t want to search out a leek, at least use a bit of onion, scallion, or shallot. We’d say about 2-3 tablespoons diced in place of the leek. Our first batch didn’t have any of these, and it showed, with a slightly one-dimensional taste. Eggs, baby: quiche is about eggs, so get some good ones. We’re lucky to get ours from Josh’s Foraging Fowls — yes, they forage, we’ve met the chickens. As far as heavy cream goes, if possible, we like the kind without seaweed, and, for us, that means we have to buy organic, but you’re making these, so do what you think is best. Finally, Emmantal cheese is a type of Swiss cheese and is great in baked goods; you can use Swiss cheese or another cheese that has a strong flavor.
Procedure in detail:
Roast pepper. Set your oven to broil and turn it on. Quickly form a small roasting sheet from aluminum foil (any pan you use will get blackened, so you might like to use something that can just be tossed) and place the pepper on it. Use a knife to pierce the pepper so it doesn’t split open explosively in the oven and place it under the broiler. Check every few minutes and turn the pepper as it blackens so all sides are nice and charred. As an aside, you can also do this over an open flame of a grill or burner
Cool pepper. Once charred, remove the pepper and place it in a brown paper bag. Some people like to use plastic bags, but not us. We like to let some of the moisture escape as the pepper cools. Leave the pepper in the bag until cool while it continues to cook, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
Cook leek. While the pepper is cooling, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leak, a pinch of salt, and the thyme, and cook until the leek is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Peel, seed, and dice. Pull the blackened skin off the pepper, then cut off the top. Slice down the side and open the pepper so it lies flat on your cutting board, then remove the membrane and seeds. You can place these in that handy paper bag for disposal. Dice the pepper into 1/4-inch dice. You want small dice since they’ll go into mini-quiches. It would be kind of weird to have large pieces of pepper in a mini-quiche. Place the pepper cubes in with the leeks and stir to combine.
Roll crust. Okay, we want 36 mini-crusts from the one piece and they need to be close to the same size. We think the easiest way to accomplish this is to cut the piece of dough into three equal pieces, then cut each of these into three more pieces (nine pieces, now). Working with each piece one at a time, divide it in half, then in half again, so you have four pieces of dough. Shape into something resembling a ball, and roll out between two pieces of parchment, then press into a mini-muffin pan.
Add filling. As you roll dough, if you have a helper, have him or her place about 1/2 teaspoon of the grated cheese on the bottom, followed by the red pepper mix. This order will help keep the crust from getting soggy — something we just learned in doing this trial run, so we’re passing it along as a tip. If you don’t have a helper, do the best you can.
Make custard. Let’s go the easy way and blend the custard. Place the egg, cream, and milk in a blender along with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Blend until frothy, about 30 seconds.
Fill quiches. Pour the custard into each crust, filling them almost to the top. Sprinkle the top with a bit of additional cheese and a piece or two of red pepper for color.
Bake. Bake the quiches for 35 minutes or until nicely browned and puffed. A skewer inserted into the center will come out clean.
It’s more trouble to make mini-quiches than a full-sized quiche, but we sometimes like the small bite-sized treat. Plus, they’re perfect for parties, as a guest can just pick one up, and munch it down in two bites. And, just so you know, if you’re making these for a party, they seem to freeze very well after they’ve been baked, allowing you to bake them a few days in advance; just thaw (and reheat, if desired) before serving — we happen to thick quiche tastes good at any temperature, so whatever works best for you will be good. Four stars, because of the extra effort in rolling the crust.