Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tarte flambée with Purple Asparagus - Lila Spargel-Flammkuchen


Tarte flambée is the Alsatian version of the Italian Pizza. Traditionally, it is cooked quickly at very high temperature in a wood-fired oven and takes its name from the fact that the edge of the dough often caught fire in the intense heat of the oven, it is said to have been "licked by the flames". For all those of you who do not own a wood-fired oven, tarte flambée can be made in a regular oven and stii have a deliciously crisp dough, it just will not have that typical "smokey" aroma.

Depending on the region, this tart can be called "flammekueche" (in Alsatian), "Flammkuchen" (in German) or "tarte flambée" (in French).
Flammkuchen ist die elsässische Version der italienische Pizza. Traditionell wird er bei sehr hohen Temperatur in einem Holzofen zubereitet. Seinen Namen hat der Flammkuchen der Tatsache zu verdanken, dass der Rand des Teig oft in der Hitze des Ofens Feuer gefangen hat, es heißt auch der Teig wurde "von den Flammen geleckt".  Für alle, die keinen Holzkohleofen zuhause haben, ein Flammkuchen wird auch im Backofen kross, jedoch ohne Raucharoma.

Je nach Region kann heißt diese Gericht "flammkueche" (im Elsass), "Flammkuchen" (auf Deutsch) oder "tarte flambée" (auf Französisch).




A traditional tarte flambée always consists of a thin bread base, either round or rectangular, that is typically topped with fromage blanc or crème fraîche, lardoons and onions - all popular ingredients in Alsatian cuisine.

There are many variations of the original recipe and there are really no limits as to what can be added as a topping. For example you could add smoked bacon and reblochon or gruyère cheese or maybe red onions and pancetta.

For today´s springtime version, and also as an hommage to the wonderful Month of May, I chose a seasonal topping of Belgian purple asparagus, as well as red onions and soft goat cheese from France.
Ein Flammkuchen besteht immer aus einem sehr dünnen Hefeteigboden, der entweder rund oder rechteckig ausgerollt wird, in der Regel mit Crème Fraîche, Schmand oder Sauerrahm bestrichen wird und mit Speckstreifen und Zwiebeln belegt wird - alles beliebte Zutaten der elsässischen Küche.

Es gibt viele Variationen des traditionellen Rezeptes und was den Belag angeht, sind dem kulinarischen Einfallsreichtum wirklich keine Grenzen gesetzt. Man kann zum Beispiel geräucherten Speck und Reblochon oder Gruyère verwenden oder vielleicht rote Zwiebeln und Speck hinzufügen.

Für meine frühlingshafte Version des Flammkuchen, und auch als Hommage an den wunderschönen Monat Mai der am heutigen Tage beginnt, habe ich mich für lila Spargel, rote Zwiebeln und Ziegenfrischkäse aus Frankreich, entschieden.




While the French prefer their asparagus with purple tips or entirely purple, the favorite British and American varieties are mostly green. In contrast, Spanish, Dutch and Germans cook mostly the white stalks. White asparagus is grown beneath the soil and cut just as the tips emerge. While all three types of asparagus have a different flavor profile, they all pack a nutritional punch, with high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium.

While we eat mostly white asparagus around here,during the last couple of years, green asparagus has certainly gained in popularity. European asparagus is a distinctly seasonal product. Just as apples mark the fall season, for us nothing epitomizes spring quite like the revered white stalks. While I really enjoy white and green asparagus, I was utterly delighted to come across some purple, very slender asparagus at an outdoor market in Belgium last weekend where it is called "paarse asperge" ("paarse" is Dutch for "purple").
In Frankreich isst man meist violetten Spargel, britische und amerikanische Sorten sind eher grün. Im Gegensatz dazu ist spanischer, niederländischen und deutscher Spargel meist weiß, da er unter der Erde wächst und geerntet wird, bevor dir Spitzen aus dem Erdreich hervorschauen. Aber egal für welche Sorte Spargel man sich geschmacklich entscheidet, alle drei Sorten sind gesund, mit einem hohen Gehalt an Vitamin A und C, Kalium, Eisen und Kalzium.


Während wir hier größtenteils weißen Spargel essen, hat grüner Spargel sicherlich an Popularität gewonnen. Europäischer Spargel ist ein sehr saisonales Produkt. So wie Äpfel den Herbst symbolisieren, scheint Spargel der Inbegriff für den Frühling zu sein. Obwohl wir den weißen und grünen Spargel unheimlich genießen, war ich doch völlig begeistert als ich am vergangenen Wochenende diesen dunkel-violetten, schlanken Spargel auf dem Wochenmarkt in Belgien gefunden habe, dort heißt er "paarse asperge" ("paarse" ist Niederländisch für "violett").




Purple asparagus can be eaten raw as well as cooked. When you break the purple stalks they are bright green inside and taste a bit like fresh peas – utterly delightful. The only qualm I had with this purple asparagus is that after being cooked, some of the the purple stalks turned rather dark green, especially when looked at in the sunshine. But the taste was amazing, definitely different from the white stalks.
Lila Spargel kann sowohl roh als auch gekocht gegessen werden. Wenn man die violetten Stangen durchbricht, sieht man, dass die Stangen innen hellgrün sind, der Geschmack erinnert ein bisschen an frische Erbsen – herrlich!. Es ist nur ein wenig schade, dass der gekochte Spargel nicht mehr ganz so violett war wie im ungekochten Zustand, einige Stangen sahen im Sonnenlicht eher dunkelgrün aus, aber der Geschmack war außergewöhnlich gut.




A few days ago when I brought my loot home, I could not settle on a recipe at first. I was looking for a recipe because that showcased this extraordinary looking vegetable as best as possible – salads and stir-fries came to mind but Tarte flambée with Purple Asparagus seemed like the best good choice.
Als ich meine Beute sicher nach Hause gebracht hatte, konnte ich mich erstmal nicht auf ein Rezept einigen, da ich die natürliche Schönheit des Spargels mit dem Rezept hervorheben wollte. Ich entschied mich dann für einen Flammkuchen mit violetten Spargel, roten Zwiebeln und Ziegenfrischkäse.




Tarte flambée with Purple Asparagus

Ingredients for the Dough
(please note that the dough makes enough for two tarts – you can freeze half or make two of these and double the ingredients for the topping)
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup)  warm water
  • 1 package (2 ½ tsp) active dry yeast
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 300 grams (2 cups) strong flour, plus some more for flouring the work surface
  • 2 tbsp mild olive oil
  • some fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tarte flambée with Purple Asparagus

Zutaten für den Teig
(der Teig ist genug für zwei Flammkuchen, entweder friert man die Hälfte des Teigs ein, oder man macht zweit Flammkuchen, wobei der Belag dann verdoppelt werden muss)
  • 160 ml  warmes Wasser 
  • 1 Paket (2 ½ TL) Trockenhefe
  • ½ TL Zucker 
  • 300 Gramm Mehl, Typ “1050”, plus ein wenig für die Arbeitsfläche
  • 2 EL Olivenöl (mild)
  • etwas feines Meersalz und frisch geriebener schwarzer Pfeffer



Ingredients for the Topping
  • 250 grams (8.8 ounces) fresh purple asparagus
  • 2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 100 grams (35 ounces) soft goat cheese
  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces) crème fraîche
  • some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsps mild olive oil
  • red beet cress, for serving (optional)
Zutaten für den Belag
  • 250 Gramm frischer violetter Spargel (ungeschält)
  • 2 rote Zwiebeln geschält und in dünne Scheiben geschnitten
  • 100 Gramm Ziegenfrischkäse
  • 100 Gramm Crème Fraîche
  • etwas feines Meersalz und frisch geriebener schwarzer Pfeffer
  • 6 EL Olivenöl (mild)
  • rote Beete Kresse (wahlweise)



Preparation of the Dough
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Then add the flour, oil, 1 tsp fine sea salt, and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Pull the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times, then form into a ball.
  5. Oil a second bowl, put the dough ball in the bowl, and turn to coat it with oil.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free area.
  7. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about an hour or an hour and a half.
Zubereitung des Teigs
  1. In einer mittleren Schüssel das Wasser mit Hefe und Zucker mischen. Zirka 5 Minuten stehenlassen, bis die Hefe Blasen bildet.
  2. Dann das Mehl, Öl, 1 TL feines Meersalz und 1/2 TL frisch gemahlenen schwarzer Pfeffer hinzugeben.
  3. Mit einem Holzlöffel rühren, bis der Teig homogen wird. 
  4. Den Teig auf eine bemehlte Arbeitsfläche geben und ein paar Mal kneten. Zu einer Kugel formen. 
  5. Eine zweite Schüssel mit ein wenig Öl ausstreichen. Den Teig in die Schüssel geben und ebenfalls mit etwas Öl bestreichen. 
  6. Die Schüssel mit Plastikfolie abdecken und an einem warmen, zugfreien Ort stellen. 
  7. Den Teig so lange gehen lassen, bis er sein Volumen verdoppelt hat. Das dauert ungefähr 1 bis 1 ½ Stunden.



Preparation of the Topping
  1. While the dough is rising, prepare the topping. Wash the asparagus and bend each spear until it snaps, then throw the woody ends away. Cut the asparagus into thirds (on the bias), place them in a bowl and toss with 2 tbsps olive oil, salt and black pepper. Set aside. 
  2. Once the dough has risen, place it onto a floured work surface, divide the dough in half. 
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit). Place a baking sheet in the oven as well.
  4. On the lightly floured work surface, roll out thinly into a rectangular shape and transfer onto a pizza peel or parchment paper. 
  5. In a medium pan, heat about 2 tbsps of the olive oil and sautée the onions for about a minute or two. Take off the heat. 
  6. In a small food processor or bowl, mix or whisk together the soft goat cheese, crème fraîche, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, pepper and salt. 
  7. Spread the dough with the goat cheese mixture, then add the sautéed onions and asparagus. 
  8. Season well with black pepper. 
  9. Immediately transfer the tarte flambée onto the hot baking sheet, using either the piaa peel or by pulling the parchment paper onto the baking sheet. Of course, you can also use a pizza stone if you are lucky enough to own one.
  10. Bake until the crust of the tart is firm and browned at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. 
  11. Transfer the tart to a wooden board, garnish with some red beet cress, a bit more olive oil and some more salt and pepper to taste. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
Zubereitung des Belags
  1. Während der Hefeteig geht, kann man den Belag herstellen. Dazu den Spargel waschen und die holzigen Enden abschneiden. Dann den Spargel dritteln (dabei schräg schneiden), in eine Schüssel geben und mit 2 Esslöffeln Olivenöl, Salz und schwarzem Pfeffer würzen, mischen. Beiseite stellen.  
  2. Sobald der Teig gegangen ist, auf eine leicht bemehlten Arbeitsfläche geben. Den Teig halbieren. Eine Hälfte einfrieren oder anders verarbeiten.
  3. Den Ofen auf 200 Grad Celsius (390 Grad Fahrenheit) vorheizen. Ein Backblech hinein geben.
  4. Den Teig dünn ausrollen, entweder rechteckig oder rund. Auf Backpapier oder eine bemehlte Teigschaufel legen. 
  5. In einer mittleren Pfanne etwa 2 Esslöffel Olivenöl erhitzen und die Zwiebeln für etwa eine oder zwei Minuten oder darin sautieren. Vom Herd nehmen. 
  6. In einer kleinen Küchenmaschine, oder Schüssel mit einem Schneebesen, den Ziegenfrischkäse, Crème Fraîche, 2 EL Olivenöl, Salz und Pfeffer mischen/verrühren.
  7. Den Teig erst mit der Ziegenkäse-Mischung bestreichen, dann mit den sautierten Zwiebeln und dem Spargel belegen.
  8. Mit frisch gemahlenen schwarzem Pfeffer würzen.  
  9. Sofort mithilfe der Teigschaufel auf das heiße Backblech geben oder das Backpapier auf das heiße Backblech ziehen. Man kann die Tarte natürlich auch auf einem Pizzastein backen.
  10. Den Flammkuchen solange backen bis der Teigboden schön knusprig und der Rand leicht braun ist (10 bis 12 Minuten).
  11. Auf einem Holzbrett anrichten und mit rote Beete Kresse garnieren. Nach Geschmack mit etwas mehr Salz, Pfeffer und Olivenöl würzen.



This is a tarte flambée with the most quintessential spring vegetable you can find, asparagus. The ingredients showcase the asparagus in a most delightful way. And the use of the goat cheese, crème fraîche, sea salt and red onions are a nod to the French origin of this lovely dish.

Serve this tarte flambée cut up as an appetizer (like I did) or with a spring salad alongside. If you cannot find purple asparagus, you can certainly substitute young green asparagus.
Dies ist ein Flammkuchen mit einem der wunderbarsten Frühlingsgemüse, Spargel. Die Art der Zubereitung lässt die doch eleganten Stangen sehr schön zur Geltung kommen. Und die Verwendung von Ziegenkäse, Crème Fraîche, Meersalz und roten Zwiebeln ist eine Anspielung auf die französische Herkunft dieses schönen Gerichts.

Man kann den Flammkuchen als Vorspeise servieren (wie ich) oder mit einem gemischten Salat servieren. Wenn man keinen violetten Spargel findet kann man auch grüne Stangen verwenden.




Just remember when buying asparagus, that freshness is the key to the perfect flavor and texture. Gourmets know that it tastes best when "picked in the morning and eaten the same day", but if you cannot use up all the asparagus at once, you can wrap the stalks in a damp, clean kitchen towel and keep it for a day or two in the vegetable crisper.

No matter whether you buy white, green or purple asparagus, you should always make sure that the stems are firm, crisp and plump, and have the characteristic velvety sheen. And no brown spots. The tips should be intact and firm. And the end should snap off easily and certainly be woodsy or dry. When you rub the stalks against each other, you should here a bit of a "squeaking sound".

So why not resolve to try out a different, new recipe while the asparagus season lasts - maybe this lovely tarte flambée!
Man sollte beim Kauf von Spargel immer daran denken, das Gemüse so frisch wie möglich zu verarbeiten. Jeder kennt ja den Spruch „morgens gestochen und mittags oder abends auf den Teller" schmeckt der Spargel am besten – aber in ein feuchtes Tuch gewickelt und im Kühlschrank im Gemüsefach gelagert, hält sich der Spargel aber auch noch ein paar Tage länger.

Egal ob man weißen, grünen, violetten Spargel kauft, frischer Spargel sollte einen seidigen Glanz haben, ohne braune Stellen. Er sollte einen saftigen Eindruck machen, eher brechen, als beim Biegen nachgeben und eine wenig quietschen wenn man ihn aneinander reibt. Er sollte ohne trockene Enden sein und die Köpfe sollten möglichst geschlossen sein.

Also, während der Spargelsaison ruhig mal ein etwas anderes Rezept mit Spargel zubereiten – diesen Flammkuchen sollte man auf jeden Fall ausprobieren.



45 comments:

  1. Oh the memories of flammkuchen or tarte flambé during our visits to the Alsace, I love its thin crispness and wonderful smokey flavor. Yours certainly is prettier than any I have every had and it is a perfect way to celebrate the spargel season.

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    1. Karen, what a wonderful comment - thank you! I agree with you, tarte flambée counts as one of life´s delicious pleasures and there are so many ways to prepare it. This recipe happens to be a particularly wonderful one, of course - if you like goat cheese and the taste of red onions and asparagus, it is certainly worth a try!

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  2. This looks like a very nice recipe! I found your blog from Just One Cookbook and I have to say that you have one beautiful blog! I remember the little stands where people sell asparagus during the asparagus season when I still lived in the Germany, it was sort of cool! Going to browse your other recipes now, I love German food :)!

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    1. Thank you very much for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment - I stopped by your blog as well and admired your very creative bento boxes! Nice to "meet" you this way"!

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  3. This is so unbelievable beautiful - for its colors, for your amazing photos and for the flavors I am sure it imparts. I never knew that about purple asparagus being French. Until last year, we saw lots of green and white, but never purple. Now, one of our farmers is growing the purple and and we love it. And we find it has two season - spring and fall! Viel Dank für dieses sehr schöne Rezept! Liebe Grüße von sehr windigem Tucson! ~ David

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    1. Dear David, ah, we both love asparagus - yes, here the purple asparagus hails form France. I had never eaten it before, let alone been able to find it at the green grocer. But when we visited Belgium a few days ago, there it was and I could not resist. I just love the taste that it has, like fresh peas and this recipe is my very favorite tarte flambée that I have ever come up with (if I may say so). Now, if only I had bought more.

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  4. What a lovely tart - such gorgeous light, delicate and elegant Springtime flavors - really beautiful!
    Mary

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    1. Mary, thank you so much - springtime in and of itself is quite inspiring, it seems. So many vegetables to choose from and so many recipes to try. It is fun isn´t it?!

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  5. Flambée makes everything sound so much more exciting, right? Andrea, this tart is just so pretty, especially with the purple aspara and edible flowers. I'm going to look for them and see if I can make this for dinner tonight. xoxo

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    1. Colette, flambée does make everything sound so much more interesting - this was the first time I prepared purple asparagus - I am so taken by the way it tastes and looks like, I just need to get some more soon.

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    2. I'm making this tonight, my dear. I came back for you recipe! Hope your Tuesday is going well. xoxo

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  6. So beautiful. I love all asparagus, and jump at the chance when our markets have purple and white available. Using it as the spotlight for a tarte flambé is so appealing. Can't wait to try this!

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    1. Chritsy, nothing seems to beat the taste of fresh asparagus, no matter whether it is green, white or purple - and it is healthy too. One could not ask for a more delicious vegetable - and tarte flambée is the perfect vehicle to showcase these pretty stalks! Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments!

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  7. Oh what lovely asparagus! And of course, the tarte is just glorious as well. I don't see purple often here but I always keep my eye out for it at market. Thank you for sharing such a lovely spring dish, Andrea!

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    1. Monet, spring seems like such a bountiful season, doesn´t it?! Thank you for your nice comment! Hope all is well with baby Lucy!

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  8. Hi Andrea, Had no idea there was purple asparagus, very interesting. The tarte flambé looks wonderful love that it is so thin and then topped with the asparagus. Sounds delicious!

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    1. Cheri, purple asparagus was new to me as well. I discovered this bunch at an outdoor market in Belgium, we really enjoyed the taste! And tarte flambée is just such a treat, no matter what the toppping - although I am quite partial to the flavors of this one!

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  9. Andrea this is absolutely gorgeous!

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  10. Dear Andrea, your recipes and expert cooking skills always amuse and inspire us....we had never known of this extraordinarily beautiful tart....it looks so scrumptious with purple asparagus...gorgeous food clicks and a delicious recipe,thanks so much for the inspiration...Have A Great Day!!! :-)

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    1. Kumars, thank you for the kind words - while tarte flambée is well-known, purple asparagus seems as a topping is not. In combination with the sautéed red onions and the goat cheese, this was quite wonderful. And a great way to showcase that wonderful "paarse asperge".

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  11. Just groaned at an awesome food pic!

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    1. Candy, thank you very much - glad that you enjoy the pictures of my tarte flambée with purple asparagus.

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  12. Hi Andrea :)
    I must say I don't really fancy aspargus, but you flammkuchen looks pretty delicious even so! Plus, it is beautiful! I must definitely give aspargus another try.
    München is going good, but extremely rainy and cold these days...
    Liebe Grüße!
    Inês

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    1. Liebe Inês, hopefully the weather in Munich will turn for the better soon! May is usually a month with balmy tempertaures and lots of sunshine. And, of course, you should give asparagus another try - when properly prepared, it is one´s of life´s great pleasures (well, at least for a lot of people around here it is) - I am curious, are there any special Portugese recipes with asparagus. If yes, I would love to know about them!
      Do take good care of yourself! Viel Erfolg bei deinem Studium in München und ganz liebe Grüße,
      Andrea

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    2. Hi!
      I can't think of any Portuguese recipe with asparagus, but I got curious about it and I will search for it! In case I find some I will tell you :)
      Vielen Dank ;) Gute Woche!

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    3. Dear Inês, thank you very much - it would be fun to prepare a Portugese asparagus recipe! I am always on the lookout for new and delicious ways to prepare asparagus.
      Muito obrigado!

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  13. Oh Andrea, this looks fabulous! I do love the white (German) asparagus. We were near Heidelberg a number of years ago and the little village we were staying in had a Spargelfest; every restaurant in town had a Spargel-Menü. It was totally amazing!

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    1. Chris, ah, the Germans and their the revered white asparagus - we love it and eat a ton of it these days but I was just as delighted to find purple stalks, never had them before and really appreciated their pealike, bold and nutty flavor.

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  14. Hi Andrea, I love your photos to bits, they are so enticing and pleasing to look at...have not seen purple asparagus here, even the white ones are hard to come by but lots of green ones here....I should try making this healthy looking tarte flambee, looks really delicious!

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    1. Jeannie, this tarte flambée is equally nice with green asparagus - it is wonderful that we can find different colored stalks nowadays and they all taste somewhat different. Nice to experiment with different recipes using asparagus when it is so abundantly available these days.
      Thank you for the kind comment!

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  15. This is a work of art!!! Just beautiful. Loving the deep purple colours

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    1. Trishie, thank you so much - how nice that you enjoy the color theme of this post - those veggies do have a distinct natural elegance, don´t they?!

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  16. Hi Andrea, for some reason your post got sent to my spam in box, and everyone else's who uses blogger! I have to now regularly check my inbox to find all my mail!
    This tart is gorgeous! I love the idea of flame kissed! I love all kind of tarts, and this is just fabulous and I would love it!

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    1. Nazneen, sorry about the glitch with blogger - I am sure that this issue will resolve itself soon, at least I do hope so! "Kissed by the flames" is a fabulous way to describe the tarte flambées that are traditionally prepared in wood burning ovens - oh, I would love to have one in the backyard!

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  17. Asparagus.
    One of my favorite things in the world.
    This looks 'Out of this World' GOOD, Andrea! WOWWWWWWie. xx

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    1. Kim, how very kind - thank you so much for your fabulous comment! Making my Tuesday (it is so grey and rainy outside)!

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  18. This looks beautiful, Andrea! And sounds mouthwatering! Lovely!

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  19. I love asparagus, but have to confess that I never bought the purple ones...this tart looks to beautiful Andrea. I love the color...all purple tones...
    Thanks for this delicious recipe dear...hope you are enjoying your week :D

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    1. Juliana, well, purple asparagus is not very common and hence it is a bit difficult to find but you can easily substitue green asparagus in this recipe!
      Thank you for the kind comment!

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  20. This tart looks gorgeous and love the bright color of asparagus! Advance happy mothers day… Have a great one...

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    1. Same to you - hope you had a wonderful Mother´s Day! And thank you very much for your kind words - this was indeed one very lovely tarte flambée.

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  21. Oh, this is wonderful. Red beet cress? I have never heard of it. I didn't know different nationalities really preferred different colored asparagus. But, it seems to make sense. Love this Post. Your baking is fabulous.

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    1. Absolutely, Mary - different nationalities are very serious about their asparagus - it is a really a big deal around here. German go crazy mostly for the white stalks, while the French definitely prefer the purple ones. And the red beet cress, is a bit a craze coming from the Netherlands - they have the most amazing varities of cress there and we love to taste them. Thank you for the very kind comment!

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