Berlin is the city of techno parties, döners, hipsters, vegans, start-ups… However, in those two years that I have been living here, there has been something else I always noticed as well: the “Kleingartens”. Those are basically pieces of land that are subdivided into small gardens people can rent. Of course, this is perfect when you live in a flat with only a small balcony, or not even that. Especially when you have a family. On one of my standard running-routes I always pass by some of those Kleingartens. In spring you can see the most beautiful fruit trees flowering, and people planting new plants and tidying up after the winter. In summer they are being used as places to relax, you can smell the barbecues from far away. And even in winter there are people around, especially since many of the gardens also have a small garden-house. Somehow it always feels like those are fun places to be.
As much as I would like to have a garden as well, preferably my own, that’s not the reality right now. Instead, I do have large windowsills. So that is what I have been trying instead of real gardening: some windowsill gardening. Of course, I always have herbs like rosemary and basil in pots. But since last year I have been trying to grow small vegetables from seeds as well. And this has been quite successful. I have had a decent harvest of cherry tomatoes and chillies for a first try.
Besides, the other thing I miss about not having my own garden is eating outside. Having meals outside with friends, in the sun, sharing good food and wine, is certainly one of my favourite things to do. Now, fortunately there are always picnics for this purpose. And luckily Berlin has plenty of parks. You do just have to think a bit more about what to take to a picnic in a park, compared to a lunch or dinner in your private garden. For me, one of the easiest things to take is a quiche. And a good quiche is always a hit, I have learned. For the quiche recipe here I could even use my own home-grown cherry tomatoes (if the harvest is big enough, that is!). And although not vegan, it is vegetarian, which is also a big plus for sharing with a group of people in Berlin.
Pastry tin of about 28 cm in diameter.
- 220 grams of flour + some extra for dusting
- 180 grams of cold butter + some extra for greasing
- 1 egg
- Oregano – 2 teaspoons
- 2 red capsicums / sweet peppers
- 1 zucchini
- 250 grams of cherry tomatoes
- 300 ml full fat milk
- 4 eggs
- 120 grams of Gruyere or Gouda cheese, grated
- 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
- Black pepper
The first task to complete is to make the pastry. Cut the cold butter into small pieces. Place the flour on a clean working surface and add a pinch of salt and the oregano. Add the butter as well and start working through the butter and the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Then add the egg and knead slightly until the pastry sticks together. If the pastry is too dry and breaks easily, add a tablespoon of cold water. Don’t knead the pastry too much, just until it all sticks together in one ball. Grease your pastry tin slightly. Then roll the pastry out to a circle of approximately 3 mm thick. The circle of dough should be a bit larger than your baking tin. Place the pastry dough in the tin and tuck it in well in the corners. The pastry should come higher than the edges of the tin, since it will shrink. Prick the dough with a fork everywhere, cover, and place in the fridge to rest.
While the dough is resting, prepare the vegetables. Cut the capsicums in halves and remove the seeds. Place them on an oven tray with baking paper with the cut side down, and place under a hot grill. I usually put the grill in my oven to around 230°C. Leave them in the oven until the skin blackens and blisters. This should take around 25 minutes. Let them cool down until they are cold enough to handle, and peel of the blackened skin. Slice into small pieces.
Cut the zucchini into slices of around half a centimeter thickness. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat and sprinkle with salt. Grill the slices of zucchini on both sides until there are grill marks on the slices. This should be around 5 minutes per side. If you do not have a griddle pan, you can also fry the zucchini in some oil in a normal frying pan.
For the cherry tomatoes, just slice them in halves.
For the rest of the filling, break the eggs in a big bowl and mix them up with a fork. Add the milk and the grated cheese and mix well. Season with a pinch of salt, black pepper, and the smoked paprika. Make sure to taste a little bit of the mixture to check on the seasoning.
Finally, it is time to bake the quiche. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Take the dough out of the fridge and place a sheet of baking paper over the top. Use beans, or small heavy ramekins as I usually do, to keep the dough down while blind-baking the quiche. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. After this time, remove the baking paper and keep in the oven for another 10 minutes until the dough starts to turn golden brown.
Take the quiche base out of the oven and divide the slices of zucchini and pieces of capsicum over the bottom. Poor in the egg and cheese mixture, and nicely place all the cherry tomatoes on top. Place the quiche back in the oven and bake for around 35 minutes, or until set and golden brown.