Tarte Flambée

One of these days, I will draw up a map of my flower garden. In the meantime, look what is popping up! Spring is coming!

Look what is popping up in the flower garden! Spring is coming!

As I mentioned once before, there is a small French bakery near home, where I love to spend a lazy Sunday writing and eating. One day last fall, they served in the late afternoon slices of tarte flambée, topped with local Gilfeather turnips and fresh rosemary. Tarte flambée could be called a French pizza, made with or without yeast, topped not with tomato sauce but with a creamy base instead. It was heaven and I’ve been dreaming of it ever since. A recent stop had the bakery filled with college students and nary a seat to be had. I was so disappointed, I figured it was time to pull out a recipe I found online and make my own!

The crust is super easy and you could make it on a work night for a quick pizza dinner since there is no yeast, but there is a 30-minute waiting period. The texture is a bit different from a yeast crust, though; a bit more on the bready side, I found. The toppings came together nicely; Gilfeather turnips are an heirloom vegetable native to Vermont. The size of a rutabaga, they are a bit sweeter than the traditional purple-topped turnip. I sliced them very thinly and sautéed them with a little bit of butter and onion before placing them on the tarte and scattering some fresh rosemary needles on top. The recipe I found came from The Boston Globe and uses bacon instead of turnips, which, honestly sounds perhaps even more delicious! If you prefer, just fry up a few slices and crumble them on top. The original recipe also called for the topping to have 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream. If you have the cream on hand you can make that adjustment, but honestly, it wasn’t worth buying a pint  to just use a tiny portion.

This was delicious, but I will advise you to eat this immediately, hot, right out of the oven. I had some left over to eat later and it didn’t stand the test of time. So get a crowd together and munch on this tasty treat!

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Tarte Flambée
Adapted from an April 17, 2012 Boston Globe recipe

Dough
2 cups of flour
½ cup warm water, or more if necessary
3 Tablespoons olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt

Topping
½ cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons water, or more if necessary
1 cup Gilfeather turnip, thinly sliced
½ medium-sized onion, thinly sliced
A scattering of fresh rosemary

To make the dough
In a bowl, combine the flour, ½ cup water, olive oil, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Sprinkle more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, on the mixture until it forms crumbs. Knead with your hands directly in the bowl until it is smooth and no longer sticks to the sides.

Roll the dough into a ball and sprinkle it with oil, rolling it around so it is oiled all over. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Topping
In a bowl, whisk together the sour cream, water, and 3 tablespoons of water. The sauce should be the consistency of regular yogurt; add more water, if you like. Refrigerate.

In a warm skillet, add a little bit of butter and the onions. Sauté gently. Add the turnips and sauté until soft.

To assemble
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Lift it on to the rolling pin and transfer to the baking sheet. Prick the dough all over with a fork.

Spread the dough with the cream and top with the turnips and onions. Gently pat the toppings into the cream so they stay put. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary.

Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 15 minutes or until the edges are brown and the topping is crisp. Cool slightly before cutting into pieces.

Cook’s Note
• Instead of oiling the baking sheet, I covered it with parchment paper

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