When making certain dishes, you have to accept the outcome won’t be perfect the first time around. Try as you might, the final product will not look like the picture in the cookbook. One really needs to come to terms with this fact when making tarts and pies, or anything that involves pastry. Making pastry dough makes one realize how much cooking is truly a science. For someone who loathed high school chemistry, pastry intimidates me.

For a while I could avoid the act, as I didn’t care for pies that much growing up. Correction, I liked pie crust, I was just squeamish about the cooked fruit. Thankfully I’ve outgrown those tastes. And then, after having this quiche for Easter brunch last weekend, it became very clear I needed to take the plunge and attempt homemade pastry.

So for the past week I scoured the web for tips, tricks, and secrets to creating perfectly flakey pastry crust. Of all the article, blog posts, and recipes I read, they all shared the two main tenets: make sure every single ingredient is very cold, and work quickly. In the end, I settled on Deb of Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for “Pate Brisee,” the french version of classic pie or tart pastry. I figured with a combination of Martha and Julia, one really couldn’t go wrong. With an abundance of vegetables in our fridge, I chose a mixture of asparagus, scallions, and shiitake mushrooms. You could easily do all mushrooms or asparagus, or a variety of other vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, squash, etc. Whichever you choose, you’ll need 2 cups of chopped vegetables.

The outcome? In terms of flavor and texture, I’d say pretty darn good for my first attempt. I had a few snafus; my crust shrunk a bit (a common pastry problem), and I forgot to pierce holes in a my crust prior to baking which made it puff up slightly, but overall, we were more than satisfied with this quiche for our at home Sunday brunch. With berry season just around the corner, I predict many pies in our future.

Asparagus and Shiitake Mushroom Quiche

Serves 6

Pate Brisee adapted from Smitten Kitchen

I followed Deb’s recipe very closely, except I needed a few more tablespoons of water for my dough to come together. I was concerned it would affect the texture, but I still found it to be flakey and light. I also stored my dough in the fridge over night, and then rolled it out the next day. Once rolled out, I placed the pie dish back in the fridge until my oven was fully heated. While the tart shell is par baking, prep the egg mixture.

Remaining Ingredients:

6 stalks thin asparagus, 1/2 inch dice

8 shiitake mushrooms, wiped with a damp cloth, stems removed, diced

3 green onions, finely chopped

3/4 c shredded gouda cheese

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk


s+p to taste

Set a medium size sauce pan to medium low heat. Add a pat of butter to the pan. Once melted, add in the vegetables, tossing to coat with the butter. Let cook for 10-12 minutes until vegetables are slightly softened. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, several grinds black pepper, and a 1/2 tsp salt. Once the vegetables have cooked and cooled slightly, gently fold into the egg mixture. The fold in half the grated cheese.

After the crust has been par baked, pour in the egg mixture. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Deb instructs you to lower your oven to 375. I kept mine at 400 and and found the results to be fine. Mine took just 25 minutes, with a lower temp it would likely need the full 30 minutes to cook. Let the quiche cool for 5 minutes, then serve immediately along side lightly dressed greens.

  1. It looks delicious even easy, except for the pastry crust.

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