LUTÈCE TARTE FLAMBÉE

Every December, my husband visits our local independent bookstore and carefully chooses a gift for me. Always a cookbook, it has become a cherished tradition. Christmas morning I anticipate a new book, new recipes, and a personal message. In 1996, the year we were married, he chose the Lutèce Cookbook. Inside, he inscribed "DMcQ, my little chef, cookbook gifts will be a tradition so you don't have to resort to the side panel of the Rice Krispies box. (The Alsatian Tart is a favorite). Merry Christmas. Love always, Timothy."

Nota bene: It is important to place the puff pastry on the bottom rack as close to the heating element as possible. This keeps the puff pastry crisp.

Lutèce Tarte Flambée

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces high quality frozen puff pastry

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil

  • 1/2 cup fromage blanc, or cottage cheese

  • 1 tablespoon flour

  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche

  • 1/2 pound high quality thick bacon, cut crosswise in 1/4 inch strips

  • 1 small onion, sliced thinly

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Remove puff pastry from freezer. Unwrap and let sit out for 20 minutes to defrost. Divide the puff pastry into 8 equal parts (or 4 if making a large plate). Roll each into a 4 inch, very thin round. Use a fork to prick the center of the pastry several times.

3. Using a small amount of oil, oil a pastry sheet. Put the pastries on the sheet and pinch up a very small edge of each pastry circle. Refrigerate.

4. Put the fromage blanc (or cottage cheese) in a food processor and process until smooth--about 30 seconds. Add the flour, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and the crème fraîche. Process again until smooth--about 30 seconds.

5. In a skillet, sautè the bacon and onion in the remaining oil, until the onion is barely tender.

6. Take the pastries from the refrigerator, and spread the cheese mixture over them, leaving a 1/4 inch uncovered path between the mixture and the edges of the pastries. Sprinkle the bacon on top.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the pastry and topping is golden brown.

Serves 8 as a small plate, or 4 as a large plate