Sunday, August 12, 2012



“The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.”
 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dust swirls around our heads, the noise is deafening as walls fall. Bits of plaster and brick drop to our feet. The satisfying curls of glue twirl up against the blade of the scraper, back bent, fingers curled in an uncomfortable claw gripping the tool as sweat trickles down my back. Our days are now filled with the lingo of construction workers: drywall, particleboard, and who knows what else I don’t often listen. Mornings and afternoons filled with hard labor standing on ladders or crouched on the floor, work defined by the clock, silence compulsory during lunch and dinner hours and Sunday, of course. So we slide home, grabbing sandwiches and fruit on the way. Once lunch is swallowed we collapse on the sofa to recuperate. Day after day, the work is pushed forward, harder and harder we go to the tinny music of a tiny transistor radio. We continue our discussions at home in the evenings, weighing out choices, analyzing the pros and cons of appliances, compromising this oven for that stovetop or this color cabinet for that color wall.

 The birth of a bathroom

And so if you are wondering where I am… I am squatting on an old wooden floor, or hunched over, legs spread, trying to stretch my aching back, and lovingly pushing a blade across the parquet, over and over, back and forth, the wind tickling the back of my neck, my breath coming in short gasps, muttering to myself as walls fall around me. And I’ll be dreaming of a new kitchen.

 A double livingroom

 A bedroom

Meals are simple fare now. Summer heat slows us down and all I want to eat are salads and fruit, morning, noon and night. Top it all off with icy sorbet and cold, creamy, tart goat cheese to soothe body and soul and I am happy for the season. Now throw some heavy labor into the mix and I am knackered, too exhausted to even drag my sorry old bones to the market; the renovations take away any remnant of energy usually reserved for meal preparation So we swing through the stalls on the way home after the morning’s physical efforts and pick up a bit of this and a bit of that, cold roast lamb and fresh pasta, a platter of Italian cold meats and containers of olives, marinated artichokes and tapenade. We gather around the coffee table in front of the television, flick on the Olympics and enjoy a picnic.

Will I ever finish? I'm hungry.

When I do cook or bake, come summer I often turn to quiche. Quiche is versatile in so many ways: one basic crust and one basic, easy-to-make filling recipe and the possibilities are endless! A variety of vegetables, fresh, sautéed or grilled; an abundance of cheeses, grated or chopped; salty lardons or elegant smoked salmon; fruit, olives, anything goes. One large quiche served up for a family or individual tarts, each garnished with everyone’s preferences. Lunch, dinner, picnic or party, I always seem to be offering up quiche.

 Roasted Tomato, Feta and Rocket Quiche

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Quiche

Zucchini Ricotta Feta Quiche

Served simply with a tossed salad dressed with a tart vinaigrette, a baguette and a platter of cheeses followed by fresh fruit or a cool sorbet and one has the perfect summer repast.

Cherry Prosecco Granità 

Lemon Ice Cream

Peach Prosecco Bellini Sorbet

So as I take time away from Life’s a Feast, know that life is indeed a feast, both savory and sweet: the hard physical labor, the grime and the sweat give birth to a beautiful new home and a happy family with a common project we are each proud of. If you come looking for me know that I am not very far, just a room away, working on our lovely little family project that will be the next roof over our heads. We work, laugh and plan together as a family; we talk about kitchens and bathrooms and the conversation gently melts and shifts to other topics. We are okay.

A family favorite, I often buy individual Goat Cheese Tomato Quiches at our local boulangerie. Why not, I thought, make my own?

Makes about 8 x 4 1/2 –inch (11 cm) individual quiches

Pastry Crust for Quiche:
1 3/4 cups (245 g) flour
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
12 ½ Tbs (180 g) unsalted butter, cubed
4 - 6 Tbs cold water

Place the flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the cubes of butter, tossing to coat with flour. Using the tips of your fingers and thumbs, rub the butter and flour together rapidly, as if pushing the butter into the flour, until the mixture is crumbly and it resembles damp sand. Do not overwork this mixture as the butter will melt and start to clump; it will be blended better later.

Add about 4 tablespoons of the cold water and blend vigorously with a fork. Add more water, up to 2 more tablespoons, only as much as needed, onto the dry flour and continue to stir up from the bottom until all of the dry ingredients are moistened and the dough begins to pull together in a shaggy ball.

Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface. With the heel of one hand, rapidly smear and push the dough onto the surface and away from you, about a tablespoon of dough at a time, smearing it onto the work surface. This will complete the blending of the butter and the flour.

Scrape the dough up and gather it into a ball. Knead gently and briefly, just enough to make a smooth, homogenous ball of dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll out easily, about 15 minutes.

Lightly butter the quiche or tart molds.

Roll out the dough on a well-floured work surface to cover about 6 of the tartlet tins. Gently lift and fit into each tartlet tin, lifting and pressing the dough into the corners and trim. Gather up all of the leftover dough and knead very briefly and roll out again. Line the remaining tartlet tins. Line the tins up on a large baking sheet, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and chill for 20 to 30 minutes. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork before baking.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Remove the plastic and place a square of parchment or oven paper in each pastry shell and weigh down with dried beans or pastry weights. Bake for 7 or 8 minutes then remove from the oven. Carefully (so as not to burn yourself) lift out the parchment and beans and return the shells to the oven for an additional 5 to 6 minutes or until pale and light golden brown. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack or wooden cutting board.

 Quiche Filling:
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Dash nutmeg
1 log goat cheese
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced to a thickness of about ¼ inch

Preheat – or lower the oven heat to 375°F (190°C).

Measure out the milk in a large measuring cup then whisk in the eggs until well blended. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Doing this in a measuring cup or glass with a pouring lip is ideal for pouring into individual or mini quiche/tartlet tins to avoid a mess.

Place one ¼-inch or so thick round of goat cheese in each pastry shell and then top with a slice of tomato. Fill the pastry shells almost to the top of the pre-baked shell with the egg filling. Slide the baking sheet with the individual quiche tins into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the filling is puffed up and set. The top – or at least the edges – should be a deep golden color.

Remove the baking tray from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Quiche is fabulous hot from the oven, warm or room temperature. Or even chilled. Perfect for dinner, lunch, picnic or brunch.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

You are so corageous! I admire people who are comfortable with renovating apartments or houses....

A rewarding treat! This is an incredibly scrumptious quiche.



WiseMóna said...

My back aches reading this post. I remember the same feelings when we renovated our restaurant. The best feeling in the world to be doing the work yourself - a true labor of love - and the planned new kitchen looks gorgeous. I am sure you can't wait for it to be finished and ready to live in.
Hugs to you xx

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

With all of the remodeling you're doing, you need someone to cook for you and pamper you. The floor is beautiful, but looks like a LOT of hard work.

Your quiches are adorable Jamie. With each bite, think how fabulous your new place is going to be.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Just think of how much fun it will be to bake these quiches in your brand new kitchen! We have renovated two houses, one of them top-to-bottom, so I know what you are going through. Yet it is amazing how quickly you will forget the aches and pains once the work is done and you are living in your new apartment. Hang in there.

wendy@chezchloe said...

Yes...renovation - a labor of love where we quickly forget and move on to enjoy the spoils of our work until the next time and it's all a bit blurry- a bit like childbirth.
I like your photos very much- and the tart. It's a treat to watch your process in the apt- thank you for sharing it.x

Deeba PAB said...

You go girl! You are going to come out of the other side LOVING this beautiful space. I'm already loving the idea of what it's gonna become. Just done with a tedious back breaking renovation and I feel for you hun! Made quiche this morning as well, but mini quiches are what I love. Yours are gorgeous! WOW!!

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

When I was a new bride and in my twenties, we moved far from our home to North Carolina. Our neighbors were an elderly couple that invited us for dinner and served us quiche. I still have that handwritten recipe card from Alma Snyder all these many years later and I still love quiche as much now as I did then when I thought it was the most exotic thing I had ever eaten (hey...I'm from the Midwest!). Now I love new elements and this one sounds divine.

All of your backbreaking labor will result in something beyond fabulous; I just know it.

Renata said...

All your effort with the renovation will be remembered with joy and rewarded when all is over and looking gorgeous. Gorgeous as these quiches, one of my favorite dishes. I just love how versatile they are.

Bunkycooks said...

You all will feel such a sense of pride and accomplishment when it is all done! We did the design work for some rooms we renovated and were involved in the process on various levels. It is very rewarding and you will have everything just the way you want it. Have fun! :-)

Erin said...

Jamie, it's been a long time since I've commented here, but this one...I just had to. I want to make this recipe so badly! I just recently discovered the beauty of quiche, and I'm a little obsessed. Thank you for posting this. Someday I will make it and come back to tell you how wonderful they were. I hope your renovations go smoothly!

A Canadian Foodie said...

ANOTHER savoury recipe! DEFINITELY ON MY LIST! Anything with tomatoes in it - and a savoury tart? I ADORE THEM!

Priscilla | ShesCookin said...

Eeek! Good luck, love - it will all be worth it in the end. You needed a break from cooking and blogging about it anyway, right ;) I, too, love quiches and savory tarts and adorned with fresh tomatoes - the best alfresco meal!

Carolyn Jung said...

These are so precious looking with a lovely tomato slice smack in the center. Good luck on your kitchen remodel. It's a lot of work -- but you will love it afterward. ;)

Lizzy Do said...

Wow, your home will be spectacular when it is finished! I can't wait to see the finished product...especially your kitchen :) I'm amazed you were able to bake up these gorgeous mini quiches...I'd love one right now!

Rambling Tart said...

Oh Jamie, you must be exhausted!! We're in the midst of house/farm upheaval too and I'm tuckered out. It IS good to see some improvement and change though. Helps me keep plugging along. :-) Love these cute little quiches. :-)

love cooking said...

It looks so delicious. I am thinking to bake a big one and add some ham, sausages or shrimps. And DIY renovation, it is so cool. When finished and stay in your lovely home, it is so warm in heart. :)

Cake Duchess said...

We renovated our house a little bit a couple years ago and it was definitely challenging to go through. I'm sure it was nice for the guys to come home to these lovely quiches. I make torte salate in the summer for their ease and b/c I love them even more the next day;)

Kate | Food Babbles said...

You are brave! I couldn't do such home renovations on my own. Soon the dust will settle and it will all be worth it. On another note, I love these goat cheese tomato quiche! I adore goat cheese and these are right up my alley.

Lisa said...

I remodeled the breakfast nook in my parent's house because it looked to 80's. Your photos bring back memories of tearing off the floor tiles and scraping off all the sticky glue for almost 2 weeks! Regardless, it was well worth it and very rewarding in the end. Your tomato goat cheese quiches are little works of art, but not too pretty to eat! ;D Love!

Kiran @ said...

That's some serious renovations, honey. I admire your devotion to recipes as well.

Hugs and I can't wait for the reveal :)

Jeanne said...

Aaaargh - scraping floors is back-breaking work! But also strangely addictive, as you pointed out elsewhere ;) Wonderful that you still take time out to whip up these incredibly beautiful little quiches (you'd find me at KFC if I were in your shoes!)

thelady8home said...

Wow!!! That's SO much work!!!!!! I am truly loking forward to see how it all turns out. I am sure your labor of love will bear amazing fruits. The quiches look delightful.

Terra said...

It looks like you are having fun fixing your new home! The hardwood floors are going to be AMAZING! I love mini dishes, especially your beautiful quiches:-) Hugs, Terra

KG said...

i am still thinking of when to renovate my making quiches for dinner!

Mairi @ Toast said...

Something wonderfully comforting & satisfying a bout quiche...I also add salad and convince my self it is somehow very healthy at the same time! Can't wait to see the finished renovations.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

When you are finally done we need a housewarming party - Spice Sister style! Loving the quiche with some of my fave flavors. I have a tomato goat cheese galette up today!


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