Monday, September 26, 2016

Belgian Cuisine: La Flamiche aux Poireaux et au Chèvre - Belgian Leek Tart with Goat Cheese

Today’s post is about Flamiche, a traditional Belgian dish. Well, more precisely, a classic from the town of Dinant, a Walloon city and municipality located on the River Meuse in the Belgian province of Namur. The citizens of Dinant love their flamiche, a type of savory tart prepared using 500 grams of Boulette de Romedenne (a pungent local cheese), 250 grams of butter and lots of eggs, 13 eggs for a smaller version (30 cm) and 15 eggs for a larger version (35 cm), to be precise. Flamiches used to be baked in a wood oven and the tiny flames – „flammèches“ – that the charcoal produced may have given rise to the name.

The origins of flamiche are not without contention. Some say it hails from Dinant in southern Belgium, while others claim that it is, in fact, French, from the Picardie region. Legend has it that a farmer’s wife from the small Village of Romedenne is responsible. She was walking down the rue Saint Jacques on her way to market when she slipped on an icy patch and broke all the eggs she was carrying. A quick-thinking baker managed to catch the broken eggs, added cheese and butter and baked the lot on a base of bread dough.

Flamiche is very popular in Dinant, where it is celebrated in an annual festival. Every September, the Confrérie des Quarteniers de la Flamiche Dinantaise - the Brotherhood of the Flamiche (founded in 1956) - organizes an annual flamiche eating competition.

Having defined the term „flamiche“ as a „quiche-like tart“, the „flamiche aux poireaux“ combines the flavors of salty goat cheese and jammy leeks in the form of a leek confit.  And from what I can tell from my research, this is where the difference between a quiche and a flamiche lies. For the flamiche you start off by preparing a leek confit which is nothing more than leeks that have been sliced into thin rounds, placed into a Dutch oven some butter, and left to cook under a tight lid for about half an hour. With the help of moist heat, the leeks soften beautifully and their oniony flavor gives way to something delicate and sweet. For a quiche, you usually do not cook or sauté your veggies before you add them to the eggy custard.

You can also eat the leek confit straight from the pot, it is a delightfully rich, and that's part of its charm. You can also fold it into scrambled eggs or an omelet—anything, really, that involves eggs. You could also use it as a bed for a piece of seared salmon, dab it onto flatbread, or spoon it into baked mushroom caps with some Parmesan or for an easy appetizers slice a baguette, spread it with goat cheese, and pile warm confit on top. Or better yet, put it in a flamiche aux poireaux, or leek tart.

The more I read about flamiche, the more I realized that every flamiche aux poireaux recipe is a little different. Most include leeks, but some also call for onions or bacon or ham. Some have a double crust, like an American apple pie, and though many include cheese or custard, others don't. Every Belgian family, it seems, has its own way of making it. And, of course, I have tried my hand at Julia Child´s famous flamiche - quiche aux poireaux recipe (no cheese in sight) a while ago and loved it too - her recipe can be found on page 151 of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".

Today´s version of flamiche is fairly classic. It's not unlike a leek tart, really, but for added interest, it calls for crumbled aged goat cheese into the confit before I pour in the custard. In general, leeks and goat cheese are a great pair—one of those matches made in heaven—but leeks and aged goat cheese are a particularly delicious duo. This tart is amazing with a standard fresh goat cheese, but with an aged one, it is utterly addictive.

Whenever I can, I get goat cheese in Antwerp (Belgium) at the Exotic Market (for more info go here) from a Belgian goat cheese manufacturer called Kempense Geitenkaas Polle (for more info go here) and once I am back home with my loot, I always make sure to bake one of these amazingly delicious flamiche all the while planning my next visit to lovely Belgium....This artisan Belgian goat cheese is fabulous, it adds an enticingly tangy flavor to the flamiche and tucked into leek confit and custard, it is absolutly divine.

Belgian Leek Tart with Goat Cheese - La Flamiche aux Poireaux et aux Chèvre

Ingredients for the Crust (Pâte brisée)
  • about 4 tablespoons ice water
  • 3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) AP (plain) flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick (113 grams) butter, unsalted, chilled

Preparation of the Crust
  1. In a small bowl combine ice water and cider vinegar, stir.
  2. Blend flour and salt in a food processor. Add butter and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, slowly add water-vinegar mixture, processing until moist clumps form. If dough seems dry, add ice water by teaspoonfuls. NOTE: you can also do this by hand.
  3. Gather dough into ball and flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes or more.
  4. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F (190°C).
  5. Roll dough out on lightly floured work surface to 12-inch (30cm) round. 
  6. Transfer to a 9 inch (23 cm) diameter tart pan with removable bottom - I used a French tart pan with high sides - Press the dough onto bottom and up sides. Fold in overhang and press to extend dough 1/2 inch (1 cm) above the sides of your pan. 
  7. Line pan with baking parchment and dried beans or pie weights. 
  8. Bake until dough looks dry and set, about 20 minutes. 
  9. Remove the baking parchment and beans and continue to bake until crust is pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes longer. 
  10. Remove from oven and cool on a rack while preparing the filling.

Ingredients for the Leek Confit
  • 1/2 stick (55 grams) butter, unsalted
  • 4 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation of the Leek Confit
  1. Melt butter in pot over medium-low heat. 
  2. Add leeks and stir to coat. 
  3. Stir in water and salt. 
  4. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. 
  5. Cook until the leeks are tender, stirring often, about 20 minutes. 
  6. Uncover and cook to evaporate excess water, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Set aside until cooled.

Ingredients for the Filling
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk (I use 3.5%)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) cream (I use 20%)
  • 1 egg (L), free range or organic
  • 1 egg yolk (L), free range or organic NOTE: if your pre-backed flamiche shell has cracked during baking, use a bit of the left-over egg white to brush over the cracks and "seal" them
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (150 grams) crumbled aged goat cheese or use fresh goat cheese, rind trimmed
  • 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) Leek Confit, cooled 

Preparation of the Filling
  1. Whisk milk, cream, egg, egg yolk, and salt in medium bowl to blend.
  2. Scatter some of the cheese over the bottom of the warm crust.
  3. Then spread leek confit over and scatter the remaining cheese overthe leek confit.
  4. Pour the eggy mixture over.
  5. Bake until the filling has puffed, is golden in spots, and the center looks set, about 40 to 45 minutes. 
  6. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool slightly.
  7. Remove the baking pan. 
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature (whichever you prefer).

The leek confit and goat cheese set in an egg and cream mixture makes for a luxurious yet simple meal. I usually serve a slice of this rich, lovely tart with fresh seasonal fruits such as some glorious figs and grapes, as I am addicted to the combination of sweet and salty flavors but you could easily opt to serve this tart with a green or mixed green salad.

Such wonderful flavors and textures. Sometimes I use aged goat cheese and other times I opt for fresh soft goat cheese. Both turn out beautifully and delicious, so if you prefer more mild flavors just use fresh instead of aged. But whichever cheese you choose, do make a note to try this recipe soon.


  1. Wow, this looks amazing. I feel like I've been missing out on something wonderful all my life! Thanks for such a thorough explanation too Andea!

  2. Andrea, diese Quiche ist dir sehr gut gelungen. Wir essen auch immer haeufiger Ziegenkäse, wir moegen den frischen Geschmack.
    Feigen sind eine geniale Kombination.
    Ein tolles Rezept! Vielen Dank und ganz liebe Grüße :-)

    1. Liebe Wally, ich liebe Ziegenkäse und die Familie auch und es macht mir wahnsinnige Freude verschiedene Ziegenkäse bei kleinen Käsereien zu probieren - für diese Flamiche war es passenderweise ein Ziegenkäse aus dem schönen Belgien.
      Liebe Grüße aus dem inzwischen spät sommerlichen Bonn,

  3. This has to be the prettiest tart I have ever seen, looks delicious Andrea!

    1. Thank you, Cheri! And it happens to be one of my favorites.

  4. Absolutely. Gorgeously. Amazing.

    Andrea, you are an incredible artist. xxx kiss from Duluth.

    1. Thank you, my friend! Love the aamazing compliments that you always send my way!!!
      Wish I could share some of this food with you!

  5. Europeans are so sophisticated and humble all at the same time. Poireaux has such a beautiful ring to it. One of my most favorite herbs, if it qualifies as such.

    What a beautiful quiche, lovely Andrea. I love how you paired rich red figs with it. I'll be the salty bite of the quiche will get on famously with the sweetness from the figs. A last kiss to Summer!

    It's only Tuesday, but I'm already thinking of Le W/end. Wishing your beautiful family a very lazy and fun w/end! xoxo

    1. Dear Colette, a last kiss good-bye to summer or the first kiss to welcome autumn...whichever way, this is a mighty tasty way to celebrate either. And, yes, the combination of the salty aged goat cheese and the sweet, burgundy fruits is addictive - if, like me, you are into this flavor combination.
      Weekend seems a bit far away still but what the heck, it is already Wednesday today...
      Hugs and kisses,

  6. What a great looking tart and thank you for the detailed instructions. It looks lovely and I will have to make it soon. I love leaks and are always looking for different ways to prepare them.
    Liebe Grüße

    1. Gerlinde, lots of instructions here, I know but I just could not resist, flamiche has such a fun and interesting history and I love Belgian food, so I indulged a bit here...
      Having said that, this is a mighty fine recipe and it tastes amazing with leeks that seem to be readily available year round.
      Gnaz liebe Grüße nach Santa Cruz - was für eine tolle Reise ihr nach New York gemacht habt! Bin richtig neidisch!

  7. Oh Andrea, this leek tart looks fabulous...I can imagine how this would taste...flaky crust with the creamy and savory filling...thanks for the recipe...the picture with the sliced tart is just mouthwatering...
    Hope you are having a great week my dear :)

  8. This looks absolutely amazing, Andrea! I am hoping to find leeks at the market this morning so that I can make it for guests this weekend, At first it looked complicated but it is really is quite simple, isn't it?

  9. Andrea, the flavors in this tart sounds incredible :) That filling sounds so perfectly rich. I absolutely love reading all the history you share about your recipes too.

  10. I love when I can take some time to read through your recent blogs. Although I see everything on Facebook, it is not the same as visiting The Kitchen Lioness' link. Like Chris, I enjoyed reading about this amazing leak tart. I also realize more every day that there is soooooo much I don't know. What made me laugh out loud was the fact there is an annual eating competition of Flamiche. (In America we do hotdogs!) Your photos are lovely. Your tart looks delicious. Your "very spoiled" family must have devoured it.

  11. This is one gorgeous looking tart.

  12. It looks beautiful, Andrea! And I agree with Mary, seeing all your lovely photos on Facebook and Instagram is wonderful, but I'm very happy when I can also find time to read your posts. You do such a wonderful job of introducing your reader to your subject, whether it's a classic recipe, a local producer, or a travel destination.