Back when the economy was booming (well, right about the time it started to crash and burn), we took our honeymoon to Tahiti. All the stars were aligned in the sky – which is the only way we were ever able to afford it (in reality, it was Chase Bank -known to me forever by another, more colorful moniker – messing up our property tax escrow for a full year and supplying us with a hefty refund when they finally got it right). The French influence abounds in the local cuisine. Of course, fresh fruit and Tahitian vanilla were everywhere. But so were Croque Monsieur and Crepes.
Our first night, we walked to a nearby restaurant on Moorea called Le Sud. My husband had a chicken curry and I had a personal pizza. Cracker-thin crust was layered with creme fraiche, thinly sliced potatoes, herbs, olives, caramelized onions, and topped with gruyere. Hot and bubbling and intensely flavorful, it was my new favorite food. I’ve been trying to recreate it ever since. How could something so simple be so hard to produce? Perhaps it was the romance of the islands that had me under its spell.
Where to start?
Suzanne Goin has a wonderful recipe for a Wild Mushroom Tart with Onions and Gruyere in her Sunday Suppers book that seemed like a good jumping off point. From that recipe, I came to understand that her influence was the Alsatian pizza, Flammekueche. The base is puff pastry layered with creme fraiche and gruyere. What could be more French than that? While a little different than the pizza from my memories, it was pretty close.
Mexican Crema =/= Creme Fraiche
Cause I’m cheap, I thought I could use Mexican crema in place of the creme fraiche. It worked out ok in a pinch, but I wouldn’t recommend it cause it curdles pretty easily. In the recipe below, I replaced the crema with the creme fraiche.
Don’t forget to caramelize the onions!
The recipe also requires caramelized onions. Easy to make, just takes awhile. The longer you let them cook the better they are. I lightly sauteed onions in a combination of butter and olive oil. Then I reduced the heat and let them cook down for maybe 10-15 minutes. Finally, I popped them in the oven while I was cooking something else and let them go for another 45 minutes.
Serves 2 for dinner, more as an appetizer
1 sheet puff pastry – thawed
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/4 cup caramelized onions
2 pieces bacon – crumbled
sprinkle of fresh thyme
handful of olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup grated gruyere
1. Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
2. Unfold puff pastry. Score the edge with a knife – so, about 1/4 inch from the edge, run your knife parallel to the edge all the way around all four sides of the sheet of puff pastry. This will make the edge rise up nicely.
3. You could brush the edges with an egg wash, but I didn’t…
4. Spread the creme fraiche evenly along the surface – up to the scored edge.
5. Sprinkle caramelized onions, thyme, bacon, and olives across the creme fraiche.
6. Sprinkle the gruyere on top of the other toppings
7. Bake in 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cut into pieces and serve.
Ms. Pantry Raid