Apparently it’s going to be 26º later this week and though that should lift my spirits, you know what, it doesn’t. I’m bored with cold food (aka salad) and lighter clothes and have already started clearing out all the stuff I’ve not worn this summer and wondering if it’s indecent to start braising a few pig cheeks yet. I want to kick leaves, collect conkers and wear a jumper.
So, in the spirit of celebrating autumn, rather than hanging onto the dregs of summer (Christ, I must be getting old), here is my first cold-weather dish of the season: flammekueche, an easy Alsatian tart which requires very little prep or shopping. I first came across this, as I describe here, when I was a student in Strasbourg and, until recently, I had never found a decent recipe for it.
But, ha, I have just translated a French cookery book, the first book in fact that I am publishing next year, and it contains a marvellously straightforward flammekueche recipe that will take you about 15 minutes to prep, 30 to bake, and for which you’ll probably only need to buy three ingredients.
It’s marvellous on its own, even better with a green salad (okay, call me a hypocrite) and, if you have any left over, it’s still quite lovely for lunch the next day, whether reheated or eaten cold. I have baked it in a shallow baking tray and in a slightly shorter but deeper tart tin; both work just as well. Here’s to colder weather. For now.
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
a little flour for the tin
25g butter and a little extra for the tin
salt and pepper
1 sheet of ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
125g smoked lardons (the original recipe specifies this but I bought a 200g packet and used the lot so I think this is a minimum; more bacon is always good!)
200ml crème fraîche
1. Butter and flour a tart tin, then roll out the pastry and press it firmly into the tin. Trim the edges of the pastry if necessary, stab with the tines of a fork and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan-assisted/gas 4.
3. Peel, trim and finely slice the onions then soften them with the butter in a frying pan until they are translucent.
4. Mix the lardons with the crème fraîche, the onions and a little salt and pepper then tip over the chilled pastry (it sounded odd to me at first, the not cooking all this lot together but, trust me, it works).
5. Cook for about 30 minutes until the cream is bubbling and the pastry golden and serve hot.