Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fig and Goat Cheese Flammekuche/Tarte Flambée

I don't often royally screw things up in the kitchen.  Last Sunday, I did.

My first attempt at this flammekueche wound up on fire, on the kitchen floor (and sort of stuck in the crack of the open oven door and the adjacent drawer), while still mostly raw and gooey.  I don't really want to retell the whole tale, so let's just skip to the moral of the story.  

No, first we'll graze over some background.  Flammekueche/Tarte Flambée/Flammkuchen is fantastic not only because it tastes good, but because it hails from one of those twisted regions of the world that totally mess with your sense of cultural order: Alsace.  I've had flammekeuche is both France and Germany, but it hails from the zone that lies between the two.  So it isn't really French or German, but uniquely Alsatian.  In any case, and in either country, flammekuche is a super-thin flatbread topped with crème fraîche, onions, and in some cases other very thinly cut veggies and lardons. 
Hansi is famous for his pro-French depictions of Alsace during the German occupation (1871-1918).

The challenge of a good flammekeuche is getting the crust as thin as possible, but having to maneuver this very thin dough from your rolling surface and onto a very hot baking sheet or pizza stone.  My error was rolling out the dough on parchment paper and loading on the toppings, and then attempting this transfer by sliding it onto the hot pan.  Well, at that point the crust is not sliding anywhere, no matter how much you floured the surface.  Follow my instructions below will save you this tragedy, and you'll see the solution is very simple (breadcrumbs).

The great news is that even if you do totally botch this up, it's easy to make (even the crust takes only 5 minutes) and well worth a second attempt.  Combining figs, caramelized onions, goat cheese, and crispy crust is sort of a no-brainer recipe for awesome, but the end result really exceeded my expectations.  I was particularly happy with how the greek yogurt worked as a crème fraîche alternative to keep this as healthy as possible (assuming you exercise some self control when it comes to goat cheese). 

Ingredients (serves 2-3):
  • 1 super fast dough for crust (see below)
  • 5-6 figs, sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, caramelized
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fat free greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp. horseradish 
  • chopped parsley for garnish

 Super Fast Pizza Dough:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (plus an additional 1/2 cup for dusting)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • handful of breadcrumbs (helpful for keeping your dough from sticking to the pan)

Caramelizing onions takes some time, so start by bringing a pan to medium-high heat with 2 tbsp. olive oil.  Add the onions and salt, but turn the heat to low.  Stir regularly over low heat until caramelized, which can take up to 40 minutes.  Feel free to speed up this process by cooking the onions over slightly higher heat, but expect a less caramelized effect (it will still taste great).
While the onions caramelize, make the dough by mixing together all the ingredients by hand.  Knead well, adding additional flour until the dough is not at all sticky.  Allow it to just sit there and rest while you pull the other ingredients together.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. 
In a small bowl make the sauce by mixing the yogurt, balsamic vinegar, and horseradish.  Slice the figs.  Place your baking sheet in the oven to heat up.
When the onions are ready, remove from the pan and set aside.  You can now roll out your dough on a large piece of floured parchment paper, getting it as thin as possible without breaking.  A large rectangle is traditional, but any rustic shape you want is great.
Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and transfer the dough to the sheet as quickly as possible.  Also working at lighting speed (or close to it), layer the sauce, onions, figs, and goat cheese on the dough.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned to your liking. 


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  3. I tried this recipe and it turned out great - very yummy! Thanks!