Norman Makepa Gonsalves’ Asparagus and Gruyere Quiche. Photo by Norman Makepa Gonsalves

My cooking story begins in a café at the tip of another peninsula, this one in the north end of Tacoma, Washington. That’s the city that I grew up in and it remains the home of a fading style of food establishment known as the Antique Sandwich Company.

The restaurant, which opened in 1973, occupies an old, slender wooden structure. It’s a tall building that sits on a steep hill and magically maintains the serenity of  1970s hippie culture. Above the entrance, a mural of a curvy female figure peacefully sipping tea is surrounded by a bounty of flowers and floating musical notes. The words “Antique Sandwich Co.” appear on the mural, with the listing of an alphanumeric number fit for the telephone switchboard era. Inside, a jumble of antique chairs and tables sit atop a boldly patterned carpet.

Like similar cafes from the 1970s, The Antique Sandwich Co. took inspiration from the iconic Moosewood Cookbook, a collection of recipes from the Moosewood Café in Ithaca, New York. Moosewood Cafe helped create the natural foods movement that led to the organic food industry of today. Recipes in the funky cookbook are handwritten and are accompanied by doodles that look as though they were drawn by a young, idealistic person with a 1970s counterculture ethos.

I took a job at the Antique Sandwich Co. to pay the bills. At the time, I had almost no experience making food from scratch. I started out at the service counter, taking orders, then making sandwiches on whole wheat bread and piled high with alfalfa sprouts. From there, I moved onto making salads sprinkled with sunflower seeds and served with homemade dressings that were portioned into tea cups. I took to the job quickly so gained more responsibilities on the line.

My enthusiasm soon earned me an invitation to work in the back. “The back” meant the kitchen, and it was there that I learned to make a variety of food – including the café’s quiche recipe – that nearly 30 years later still impacts my life. The Antique Sandwich Co.’s quiche recipe resembled the one in Moosewood cookbook. Eventually, I bought my own copy of the book and familiarized myself with a recipe that, over time, I would transform into my own.

Making homemade quiche brought Gonsalves friends, deepened his confidence in the kitchen and introduced him to French culinary techniques. Photo by Norman Makepa Gonsalves

Making quiche taught me to make food with savor: browning onions in butter, adding flavor with herbs, pairing spices and cheeses with vegetables. Making the crust taught me equally important lessons, and it meant that I got to use a rolling pin, which ranks as a favorite tool. The experience gave me the confidence to experiment and improve, and it introduced me to French cooking and technique.


I also I like to think my crust helped turn acquaintances into longtime friends. Over the years, cooking for friends has brought me joy, and as a queer person, my friends are my chosen family. On many occasions, I’ve served quiche for brunch or as a Thanksgiving side. It has been at the center of many shared meals.

Last year, the crust recipe made its debut at the summer Portland Farmers’ Market. I used it to make the sweet and savory galettes, which were sold at Dandelion Spring Farm’s market booth. The owner Beth Schiller and I developed a relationship, as I did with other farmers, when I was the produce manager at the Portland Food Co-op. The farm, in Richmond, has a beautiful barn space known as “the hive,” which houses a kitchen. In March, I had the pleasure of teaching a savory baking class there focused on springtime occasions. The beauty and freshness of Dandelion Spring’s produce, the lovely space and my strong partnership with the farm operation buoyed my joy to create.

The culinary curiosity I developed decades ago at the Antique Sandwich Co. still reverberates in my life today. And creativity and connection through cooking are part of what persuaded me to move to Portland three years ago in March. I moved here to do just this: be a part of the dynamic food scene of Maine’s biggest little city. Cheers to the magic of peninsulas in my life.

Asparagus and Gruyere Quiche

You can adapt this recipe throughout the year to reflect the season. The arrival of local asparagus (supermarket asparagus has arrived but, you’ll still need to be patient for the local stuff) is a special occasion to mark for springtime brunches or as a main course for a hearty vegetarian meal.

In place of the usual gruyere, try Roxanne Cheese, a Jersey cow’s milk cheese coated in native sumac from Oaklands Farm in the Kennebec River Valley. Fruity and deeply savory, it makes a memorably delicious quiche.


I like to flavor this quiche with fresh thyme, but parsley also plays well with this ensemble.

Freeze the butter for at least 1 hour ahead of time for a flaky crust.


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
1 ½ – 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 stick (1/2 cup) frozen unsalted butter
4 cups dried peas or lentils, to use as pie weights

To make the crust, put the flour and the salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 30 seconds to fluff and combine.

Fill a liquid measuring cup with 1/2 cup cold water. Add the yogurt. Whisk well with a few cubes of ice and set aside.


Cut the butter into small cubes. Add to the processor, then pulse the machine on and off until the pieces of butter are about the size of small pebbles or small peas. Add the yogurt–ice water mixture and pulse until just combined. The dough will appear crumbly, but should easily adhere into a ball. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap and chill in a refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

After it has chilled, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lightly flour a cutting board or parchment paper, gently flatten the ball into disc and roll it out starting from the center, working out toward the edge, gradually expanding the crust by rolling the pin out from various positions to evenly form a circle wide enough to cover the surface of a 10-inch pie pan with overhang.

Gently settle the crust into the pan. Fold the overhang back toward the pan, just enough to form a ridge at the edge of the pan. Using your index and thumb finger, build the ridge slightly up and pat using a gentle clapping motion with both of your hands to support the ridge. Once the ridge is formed, use your index finger and thumb again, this time in a pinching motion to crimp the crust into arrow-like points facing out. Continue around the pie pan until you’ve crimped all the way around.

Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust. Fill the parchment-lined crust with the dried beans or lentils. Atop those, place a 6-cup souffle dish or small casserole dish that can fit into the pie pan if you’ve got one. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and set in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, allow to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment paper. Return the partially baked crust back to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until its edges are golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.



6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup diced onions
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
1 fresh or dry bay leaf, optional
1 pound asparagus
Freshly ground black pepper
5 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup grated Gruyere (or try Oakland Farms Roxanne Cheese)

While the pie crust is chilling and later while the oven is heating, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a sauté pan. Add the onion, the pinch of kosher salt, the thyme and the bay leaf, if using. Brown the onions on medium heat, deglazing with water as needed. Reduce the heat to medium low if the onions stick. You’re looking for caramelized-style onions, which should take about 30 minutes, although the slower and lower the sauté after the initial hot sauté, the deeper and sweeter the flavor.

Trim the asparagus, snapping off the tough ends, and discarding them or saving them for stock. Cut the tender ends into bite-sized pieces and add them to the sautéing onions, along with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and pepper, to taste. Stir the vegetables well and cook for another 5 minutes or until the asparagus is tender. Take the pan off the heat, remove the bay leaf and set the pan aside until you are ready to fill the quiche.

To make the custard, whisk the eggs with the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt (or to taste) and more freshly ground black pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon). Add the sour cream and yogurt. Whisk well.

To assemble the quiche, place the par-baked pie crust on a baking sheet, line the crust with the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle on the cheese. Pour the custard mixture over everything. The custard should fill to the top of the crust.

Turn the oven down to 375 degrees F, place the baking sheet with the filled quiche in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then rotate it and bake for another 30-40 minutes. When the quiche is browned and puffy, remove it from oven. (Some of the butter in the custard will pebble at the top, but, as with Julia Child’s Quiche Lorraine recipe.) Rest the quiche for 5-7 minutes before slicing and serving.

Norman Makepa Gonsalves. Katie Kelley Photography

MEET THE COOK, Norman Makepa Gonsalves

I am a cook and baker who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and now lives in Portland. I like to weave my love of fruits and vegetables into American comfort creations. I cook with and eat many plant-based international ingredients, and I use French techniques to curate familiar comfort dishes.

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