Tarte Flambée


So I was rolling around the north of France last year, part of an art-history class, when we stopped for lunch in this little village, Madame, our teacher gave us an hour for lunch. Usually I was one of the first ones back on the bus, considering my affection for street food, and cheap lunches, however on this occasion things turned out different. This is the day I met Stefano and Kara. The three of us, well, instantly bonded, and we ended up at this little resto off-the-beaten-path, down a couple alleyways, whereby the locals, less the tourists, ate. Sure enough the food was fantastic, the conversation impeccable, and our friendship began over a little dish called tarte flambée. 



What is a tarte flambée you ask? Well in layman's terms, it's a thin crust pizza that utilizes crème fraîche instead of red pasta sauce (or marinara if you will). Much like its Italian counter-part you can choose to have as little as a-topping-or-two, to a plethora of of garden vegetables, meats and cheeses.


It's rich, it's savory, and best of all it's French. Well, sort of; it's technically one of those German-slash-French crossover dishes originating near Alsace. Crème fraîche has a buttery, but creamy taste that just makes the whole thing rich. You probably can find some at your high-end grocer like Trader Joe's or The Fresh Market (where I found mine). You're also going to want to grab some Gruyere cheese. While expensive in the U.S., these two bare minimal ingredients make this dish worth every bite. Not only that you can impress everyone you know by saying you made a tarte flambée. How often do you get to do that?

So after a filling lunch in France with two new friends we decided that since we were already late, to be a little more bad, and visit the local boulangerie (bakery). Of course we thought we'd be in very big trouble holding up Madame's schedule, however, she of course, was kind enough not to point out our  rebellious streak, as we boarded an angry tour bus of students 30 minutes late.  That evening we spent the evening in the hallway of our hostel, after many bottles of wine, talking about everything we could. This was one of my favorite days that I can remember from being abroad, and making tarte flambée tonight brought all that joy back to me.

Now I went a little overboard with toppings. In France the tarte flambée I ate was a combination of ham, onions, and mushrooms with Gruyere cheese. This recipe steps it up a notch, but feel free to make your flambée, your own.

Ingredients:
  • A ready-made thin crust pizza dough 
  • Crème fraîche
  • Gruyere cheese
  • onion
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Ham steak and/or bacon
  • sliced black olives
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • tomatoes

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F (or per directions on crust).
  2. Saute the onions, ham, and later the mushrooms.
  3. Cut bits of tomatoes
  4. Top crust with the crème fraîche.
  5. Add chunks of mozzarella cheese
  6. Add onions, ham, bacon, mushrooms and olives.
  7. Shred Gruyere on top.
  8. Garnish with the red tomatoes.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes (or per instructions).
  10. Season with a bit of pepper.
  11. Enjoy.

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