Tarte Flambée

Welcome to the October/November round of Cook the Books.  Thanks to Claudia from Honey from Rock for hosting with The Patriarch by Martin Walker.

I am not much of a mystery fan.  Never have been—I think it is my impatient nature.   Walker’s cast of characters (and there is a lot of them) did keep me intrigued along with the rustic traditions and beauty of St. Denis.

Claudia promised that we would find lots of food and drink in the novel as the main character, Police Chief Bruno, is somewhat of a gourmand.  Indeed he is and indeed I did find much culinary inspiration in the novel, everything from fine French wine to smoked fish to croissants.  (I did keep a roster of all the food and beverage found in the novel.  If you’re interested, it’s at the end of this post.)  Really, the amount of feasting in the book is as rich and plentiful as the French countryside.

I took my inspiration from an impromptu dinner invitation that Bruno accepts from a Paris colleague.    Monique, the Prunier’s wife, serves two versions of Flammenkuchen  (Tarte Flambée) for dinner.  The dish is “a Teutonic form of pizza.”   The first version brought to the table was a traditional one:  “The thin crust of pastry was covered in creme fraiche, thinly sliced onions and bacon” (131).  The second Flammenkuchen  Monique served was “bedecked with leeks and sun-dried tomatoes” (132).

The edges got a bit “golden” as I was ensuring the bacon was crisp.

I was inspired by this familial scene, the atmosphere of which was such to make Bruno wish and wonder if he would ever have such a family life.

Tarte Flambée

Based on a NYT Cooking recipe

Note: I found a hint that if you can’t find fromage blanc, you can substitute the fromage blanc and crème fraîche mixture with either quark or equal parts buttermilk and cream cheese (blended until smooth).  I also found many recipes for making your own fromage blanc.  For this pizza, I used the 1/4 c. creme fraîche and regular cream cheese for the fromage.


  • 1/4 c. crème fraîche
  • 1/3 c. fromage blanc
  • 1/8 t. nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
  • 1 t. fine sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped into thin strips
  • 1/4 c. kalamata olives, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.  Place pizza stone on middle rack of your oven.  (Do this first thing.  The longer the stone preheats, the better.)
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine crème fraîche, fromage blanc, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Set aside while you make the dough.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, olive oil, egg yolk and 1/4 cup water. Pulse to combine.  You may need to add a bit more water (depending on the size of your egg).  Process until a ball of dough forms.
  4. Place a piece of parchment paper on a work surface and dust with four.  Roll out dough to a 12-inch round shape.  (Dough will be thin.)  Transfer dough AND parchment paper to a pizza peel or a rimless baking sheet.
  5. Spread cheese mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the edges. Layer on onions and then sprinkle on the bacon. Slide tart, still on parchment paper, off peel and directly onto pizza stone in oven.
  6. Bake until top is beginning to brown, and sides are golden and crispy, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
  7. Sprinkle on olives.  Serve warm.

The crust on this “Teutonic form of pizza” is pastry-like and holds up well to the soft cheese.  The outer rim got a bit well-done as I waited for the bacon to crisp up.  When I make this again, I think I will partially cook the bacon before it goes into the oven.  I also think this would be delicious with caramelized onions.  And, I would certainly like to make the leek and dried tomato version as well.

Tarte Flambée with Olives

As mentioned above, Bruno, though he seemed mostly satisfied with his lot in life, showed signs of covetousness in his observations:

  • He was intrigued by his idol, the Patriarch’s life—all aspects of it.
  • He examined Crimson’s art collection and wondered if he could possibly acquire a collection like this over time.
  • He often wonders how his life would have been different “if he’d had better schools, better teachers and a chance to go to university”(216).

Yet, despite all these musings, he never seemed enviously jealous.  Instead, I got the impression these were fond observations with just a hint of wistfulness.

Although it becomes a bit obvious as to whom the villain is in the novel, I still had to prove myself right and my reading speed got quicker and quicker as the end approached.  I enjoyed all the characters Walker created (even though I sometimes had to draw a family tree map) and the twists and turns and side roads were entertaining.

Thanks again for hosting, Claudia!

I did not even attempt to list all the wine, but this is what I listed before I landed on the Tarte Flambée, but if you’re interested in what was mentioned, here you go!

  • Deadly cocktail: 100 proof Stolichnaya Blue (24)
  • Dinner at Pamela’s:  Smoked trout and horseradish; Lamb with Monbazillac, garlic, rosemary and Worchestshire; apple pie with black currants(46-48)
  • P’tit apero in Jack’s garden:   single malt whiskey like Bowmore (66)
  • Bachelor evening: lasagna along with 2005 Côtes de Bergerac and 2009 Divine Miséricorde (73)
  • Raquelle’s simple lunch:  “salad Niçoise, bread, cheese and fruit” (82)
  • Bruno’s invitation to join the Confrérie du Pâté de Périgueux (89)
  • Wine tasting party (109)
  • Family dinner at the Prunier’s home:  Tarte Flambee (131)
  • Fauquet’s Cafe with espresso and croisants  (numerous references)
  • Refreshments at Yevgeny’s:  champagne, dark bread, smoked fish, cream, pickled mushrooms, ham and cornicons (147)
  • Gift for the Countess:  Duck eggs (167)
  • Countess’ “California style” lunch:  salade périgourdine and cold vegetable soup with smoked ham (170)
  • Political wrangling with the Green Party menu exposé:  cream of mushroom soup, Périgord foie gras, and Médaillons de chevreuil (178)
  • Market vendors eating their cassecroûte (numerous references)
  • Bruno’s homemade raspberry jam that he takes to Crimson’s (193)
  • Dinner at Crimson’s:  Carrot soup with ginger, “a fish pie topped with mashed potatoes and dusted with cheese,” petits pois, hazelnut meringue with raspberries (198)
  • Akhromeyev’s two words of English:  Spam and Studebakers (201)
  • Lunch with Chantal and Marie-Françoise: citron pressé and steak frites with a green salad (213)
  • Bruno and Madeline’s postcoital dinner:  pizza with tomatoes, onions, cheese and lardon (225)
  • Bruno’s working lunch:  trout stuffed with garlic and lemon, stuffed mushrooms, bread, pâté de Périgueux, honey, cheese, currant preserves, and ice cream (236-239)
  • The club’s hunting events:  wild boar, herbs, garlic, honey, wine, pâté, vegetables, apple pie, “hearty soups and stews, rabbits and hares, roasted ducks and pigeons and grilled venison,” jam, pastry (252-253)
  • Lunch served by the notaire and his wife:  cold pork, fish salad,  pates, cheese, rolls and a seedcake (266)
  • Drinks with The Patriarch in his library:  Pertsovka–vodka spiced with red peppers along with a tray of salami, smoked fish and black bread (291-292)
  • Late dinner at Bruno’s:  homemade pate, enchaud de pore and cheese, salad and bread (297)
  • Raquelle’s birthday picnic:  whole salmon, ham, salads, and lobster tails (308)


Please join  Cook the Books for the next reading selection, The Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King for December/January.  (I am hosting.)  The novel is set in ancient Rome with the plot revolving around Thrasius, a slave that is coveted by many masters because of his culinary prowess.   This is a tale of intrigue, power, and obsession as Thrasius’ master, Apicius, is determined to become the culinary adviser for Caesar.   He sees his new slave as the key to his success.   (Apicius is a historical figure that lived during the First Century AD.  He was known as a gourmand and epicurean.)

Look for an announcement post soon at Cook the Books.

Deadline for posting is January 31, 2018!

Come join the fun!





I am linking this post to November Foodies Reads.



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