Tarte flambée ... it's almost a pizza

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By Robert Harland

What's cooking?

Monday, March 31, 2014


THE French claim it, the Germans claim it, but tarte flambée is an Alsatian dish though, in its time, Alsace has been both German and French territory. Since the end of World War II, Alsace, located on France’s eastern border, has been part of France.

I lived in Strasbourg, the capital city of Alsace, in the late 70s when I worked for Adidas France.

The local food and wines were exquisite. And on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, it was tarte flambée time at our local bistro.

We would all trundle off for the evening as tarte after tarte arrived on our tables. As I recall, the tarte was free - you just had to buy the wine.

With this wonderful memory in mind, I recently set about to make a tarte flambée. I wasn’t disappointed.

Tarte flambée is an Alsatian dish composed of bread dough traditionally rolled out very thin in the shape of a rectangle, but these days it can be a circle. It’s covered with white cheese (e.g. goats cheese, kesong puti), ricotta or large curd cottage cheese and crème fraîche or sour cream with thinly sliced onions and sliced bacon.

One can also add mushrooms and other cheeses as preferred. There’s also a dessert version with apples, cinnamon and a liqueur like Calvados.

Tarte flambée was originally a homemade dish which did not make its urban debut until the pizza craze of the 1960s.

It’s easy to make is a great snack for the family.

This is the recipe I used. Not all the ingredients are easy to find in Negros so I’ve given some alternatives.

For the bread dough, you can make it from scratch, but it’s more convenient to buy a pack of ready-made pizza crusts.

Topping
400 grams bacon
3 tablespoons butter
4 onions, thinly sliced into rings
60 grams creamy white cheese (goat cheese or kesong puti), softened or at room temperature
1/3 cup ricotta cheese or large curd cottage cheese
1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 large egg
Coarse salt
White pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grate nutmeg

In a large frying pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the onion rings and slowly sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and just beginning to color, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Fry the bacon for about 7 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside. When cool, cut into small, short strips (lardons).

In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the white cheese, ricotta cheese or cottage cheese, crème fraîche or sour cream, egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Pre-cook the crust for approximately 4 minutes before adding the toppings. Remove the partially baked crust from the oven and pop any large air pockets with a fork. Let crust cool before topping - this will produce a crispy and chewy crust.

Pre-heat the oven to 450F.

Spread the cheese topping over the crust, add the onions and bacon and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

You are now ready for an authentic taste of Alsace. Bon Appétit!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 31, 2014.

Lifestyle

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