Tuesday, June 05, 2007



Traditionally, a flamiche is a tart of a strong cheese (boulette de Romedenne) and eggs, thus a quiche, from the region of Namur in southeastern Belgium, just cross the ditch and one French administrative region up from one famous for its quiche, Lorraine. French chef Paul Bocuse advises that the flamiche is to Picardie (a northern administrative region that contains the departments of l'Asine, l'Oise, and la Somme) what the quiche is to Lorraine. Its most famous incarnation highlights leeks.

The leek is generally available year round but is at its peak during the cooler months of the year. Its soft onion flavors that offer so much comfort make it one of my favorite winter vegetables (having to share the mantle with beetroot). On a rainy day and paired with heavy cream, leeks are best served up in a tart.

The shortcrust pastry below is for a 25cm/10" fluted tart shell. I had the best time making the pastry because the kitchen was very cool late this morning, amenable to a sturdy (i.e. does not tear) result. I wonder, though, if making it by hand also made a difference, for I was able to get a much better feeling for the pastry as I was making it, knowing when enough water to bind had been added.

If you are going to make shortcrust pastry with a food processor, put the sifted flour, salt, and diced butter into the processor and blitz until sand-like granules are formed, then add 1-2 tablespoons of ice-cold water to cohere the mixture.

(from Tamasin Day-Lewis' The Art of the Tart)

For the shortcrust pastry:
1 1/4 cups flour, sifted
pinch of kosher salt
113g/4oz unsalted butter, diced
1-2 tablespoons ice-cold water

For the tart's filling:
slightly less than 1.5kgs/3lbs leeks, cleaned and cut into 1 1/4cm/ 1/2" slices
50g/4 tablespoons unsalted butter (Ms. Day-Lewis uses 6 tablespoons)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

To make the shortcrust pastry by hand:
1) Sift together the flour and salt into a large bowl.
2) Add the diced butter.
3) Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until sand-like granules are formed.
4) Add one tablespoon of ice-cold water to cohere; if this does not quite do the trick, add another tablespoon.
5) Once formed into a ball, wrap the pastry in cling-film and put it in the fridge for at least one hour.
6) Once chilled (and firmed), bring out of the fridge until pliable.
7) Lightly flour your surface and place the ball of dough on it, rolling away from the center and turning after each pass of the rolling pin until large enough to fit into your tart shell.
8) Put in the fridge again until ready to bake.

To make the tart filling:
1) Over a medium-low heat, melt the butter in a medium-sized skillet.
2) Add the leeks and saute gently until completely softened, approximately 15-20 mintues.
3) Take off the heat and cool.
4) In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, egg yolks, pinches of both salt and pepper, and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg.
5) Stir this creamy goodness into the cooled leeks and combine.

For the Flamiche:
1) Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
2) Pour the leek mixture into the cold pastry shell. Remember: the pastry is not baked blind, so it is imperative that the leeks are cooled before adding the cream mixture and, more importantly, before pouring into the pastry case. If not, you will completely melt the butter and have a very soggy pastry.
3) Bake for 35-40 mintues, until set with a very slight tremble.

This is not as runny as it may seem. The preferred consistency is not rock hard, for that would take away the work put into gently sauteing the leeks. The result of a tremle-set is a very creamy interior, which goes down comfortably and comfortingly. The pastry shell is just crisp to encase the interior but yielding enough to melt in the mouth.

Posted by Picasa

Labels: , ,

Oh, my! Distinctly not for dieters, but we ARE talking tart here. I like to rub the butter into the flour by hand, too, Shaun. Despite all the "conveniences" of equipment, there's something about hand crafting. There's great beauty in it, and it shows.

Did you use both the green and white of the leeks, or didn't it matter? Some recipes are very specific.
I've been looking at Tamasin's tart books recently only to be stopped in my tracks as Paul tells me that he HATES shortcrust pastry! And you know how many tarts I've already made! Still, he'll just have to scoop out the filling and leave the shell...
This tart looks delicious and I love tarts with a little tremble...
I always make my pastry by hand - unless it's a cocoa shortcrust which just turns to mush under warm hands - and I love how quickly it comes together. And you have much less washing up than using a food processor.
What a delicious looking tart. Leeks are one of my favorites, especially in soups and with eggs.
I've made this tart of Tamasin's, but yours definately looks better than mine did!
Susan - Definitely not for dieters, I'm afraid. This is why I do yoga! When I hit my mid-30s, though, I will probably have to start changing how (much) I eat, but that's still several years away. The recipe only calls for whites, but honestly, in a tart like this, I cannot see how it matters. This is not vichyssoise, so the color does not have to be pure. I used the greens from one of the leeks. What is essential is that the slices of leek are all soft after sauteing. Though I have had some great success with shortcrust pastry, this is definitely the one that has felt like my best effort, but that could also be the cumulative effect of one attempt after another.

Freya - Does Paul really hate it?? Why? Surely it cannot be tasteless; it is very buttery and rich in taste...Maybe he thinks it is too tempramental? I just think this is a good introduction to flaky crust, and I am sure there are many other versions to try. You are now an expert at puff pastry! Yes, shortcrust comes together quickly; I was able to brew a cup of coffee in the time I made the dough.

Sara - This tart is a breeze to make and so tasty, a great use of leeks. I love having leeks around for chicken broth, soup, and tarts.

Kelly-Jane - I am sure you are underestimating yourself, for the results I have seen you produce for many different dishes are excellent. And you always choose the best plates on which to serve your food!
Yum. Nothing better than a quiche/tart. You and I are right on the same page right now. I love the addition of leeks and will have to give it a whirl.
Christina - I love it when leeks are creamy, and it is no wonder they are so favored in Picardie. I had a cold slice leftover for the next day, and it was equally glorious as when hot. I urge you to try this simple but flavorful tart. I could imagine thyme working quite well, if you want a herby hit.
Thank you, thank you, thank YOU. My CSA box overflows with leeks in the winter and early spring, and I'm often looking for new applications. I've flagged this for the next batch. Comfort food, grown up. :)
This tart looks fantastic! I nearly bought Tamasin's The Art of the Tart at our local discount book shop. I got distracted & forgot to buy it! Kicking myself now as they've sold out. I guess I could pay more for it on Amazon but then I wouldn't feel so good about the book. Again great tart. Amanda
Culinarily Curious - This is an easy tart to mark, I promise, and you will get great mileage out of those leeks. It is so great that you are part of an agricultural network. I don't think we have such organizations here, which is a pity, but farmers' markets are only just slowly becoming more normal/popular, which is ironic given I live in "clean, green New Zealand". I'm keen to see what else you do with your produce, so I'll stop by your blog soon.

Amanda - I know the lighting is very dramatic, but it is natural. The webcam drives me nuts, but I have only to deal with it for a short period of time and shouldn't be so image-conscious (which is why I write about the food in the first place). The Art of the Tart is a great resource if you are seriously keen on making tarts; there is an intriguing variety. Just be stealth-like, you never know when an Amazon Marketplace vendor will reduce his or her price.
looks good. I've had something like this I believe in an Alsatian restaurant in Cambridge, USA.
David - Alsatians have a great love for pastry and for all things encased therein. I, too, like Alsatian food, particularly anything they do with cheese.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?