Saturday, April 30, 2011

· Flammkuchen, Sequel to Flumkuchen

This is FLAMMKUCHEN (our variant)—distinctly a main course for lunch or the evening meal. I wish you could smell the wonderful tantalizing aroma that wafts throughout the house while the Flammkuchen is baking.

This savory treat's sprawling journey includes its honored place as tarte flambée or flammekueche, the specialty from the Alsace region of France, with the base topping being a creamy soft fresh cheese, fromage frais or blanc...or both terms will do. Fromage frais means 'fresh cheese' and fromage blanc means 'white cheese'. A readily available low fat cream cheese like Neufchâtel is a fine substitute. Traditionally, the tarte flambée would include onions and lardons—small strips of pork fat.

(There is also a sweet variant, topped with crème fraîche, apples or possibly bilberries, sugar and cinnamon. Crème fraîche is a soured fresh cream, typically less sour than the American sour cream.)

The pizza frenzy of the 1960's is what brought this comparable flat food to the forefront. But, the creation of it is a story! Time was, as the legend goes, that Alemannic (a Germanic tribe of the first millennium) farmers who baked only once a week, or so, would test the heat of their wood-fired ovens by tossing in one of these thin pies at the estimated peak time. It was a quick fix. If the temperature was right, the intense heat would bake the pie in 1 to 2 minutes, the edges would nearly be burned by the flames, and exiting the oven would be a flamed pie or cake, signaling that it was time to bake.

It is acceptable to change the basic recipe somewhat, based on the cook's immediate mood. As there are many moods, there are many variations.

For instance, take lardons (think bacon) along with the cheese, and the calories begin to fast forward. We prefer to avoid some of those galloping calories. And we really like red sauce. So, we nudge our tarte flambée, or Flammkuchen as it is known in Germany, over the Italian border! We keep the crust thin, as it should be. Bacon, or sausage, is optional if not banished at our evening table (hint: baby bella mushrooms serve well for the vegetable oriented palate), but we do like a reasonable fling of good cheese. Purple onions, mmmmmm. And, no apologies, heavy on the garlic, please. However, keeping the weight of the toppings on the light side is a good idea, to avoid a soggy crust. We like our crust crispy! The photo at top accurately depicts how we like our Flammkuchen.

When Sam first sampled it, he slyly announced, "We could sell this!" Though his enthusiasm was appreciated, it did not motivate me to carry out his ambition. Other than again and again exclaiming,
"This is so good," Sam and I were unusually quiet while eating, completely focused on the delicious flavors and harmonious scents! We both agreed that Flammkuchen could easily become as popular with us as our gourmet nachos.

A short side note—In my own 100 percent German farm family, during garden season we were regularly treated to a sweet Onion Kuchen which highlighted green onion tops. Blended with soured cream and sugar, this custardy pie was part of the main fare at lunch (or dinner, as we called it), while at supper it was dessert. Either way, even the children looked forward to it with delight. Perhaps I should speak for myself only, eh? I personally don't recall tasting onions, though they were present in abundance in all their green glory. This Onion Kuchen may be a distant cousin to the sweet Flammkuchen. And Flumkuchen (previous post), well, it is basically the crust of Flammkuchen, though it stands alone as a quick-to-prepare comfort food. Beyond that, my first taste of anything pizza-like was when my oldest army-aged brother Ray once took two or three of us, who were tweens, out for pizza, early in those pizza-frenzied 1960's. Flammkuchen was not on the menu though. Seems to me unnatural. You would think in North Dakota someone would have thought of it.

If you would like to try what appears to be a traditional recipe for Flammkuchen, go to Delicious Days. For more details on the regional history of Flammkuchen and, for the sake of comparison, a truly traditional recipe, go here: Tarte Flambée d'Alsace or Elsässer Flammkuchen...where porcini mushrooms are recommended, but may be hard to come by. And here, ah, a Flammkuchen recipe which includes my beloved garlic. If you are really up for some adventure, try this Quarky recipe!

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
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mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques

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