Flamiche – a simple leek tart originating from Picardy in northern France – is often presented as a seasonal special on winter menus in Parisian brasseries and bistros. I came across this version at the Brasserie St Quentin – an authentic French bistro that opened on Brompton Road in 1980 which was named after the late travel writer and bon vivant, Quentin Crewe. It was a quintessentially English francophile who regularly took me to lunch there and taught me a lot about the importance of taking time out for a proper midday break with wine, animated conversation and a complete lack of concern for time. My extremely young self was very grateful for this diversion for the gentleman in question was my boss and, although Friday afternoons were pretty much written off for several years, I learnt more from him than any other. This tart was one of our favourites.
1 pack all butter puff pastry, chilled
500g leeks, thinly sliced
20g French salted butter
2 large free range eggs
200g Normandy crème fraîche
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Whole nutmeg, finely grated
Handful of new potatoes, unpeeled and very thinly sliced
20g Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
How I make it
Place a large pan over a medium heat and, when it’s come up to temperature, add the leeks and leave them to gently cook for 20-30 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Remove pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
Heat an oven to 200C.
Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the cooled leeks, crème fraîche, the thyme leaves and the nutmeg. Mix everything together and season to your taste.
Cover an oblong baking tray with parchment. Remove the pastry from the fridge and gently score a line 2cm away from the edge making sure that you don’t actually cut through the pastry – this will allow a crust to form.
Taking care not to go over the scored edge, smother the pastry with the mixture and top with the sliced potatoes and the grated cheese.
Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden and the base is crisp.
Remove from the oven and set aside for a few minutes before serving with buttery mixed greens or a classic green salad.
Try adding some baby spinach leaves, peppery watercress or wild garlic to the filling when in season.