Paris: In the Kitchen with Yves Camdeborde, David Turecamo and Puff Pastry Pizzas

tomato tartlets 1.jpg

I think I may have talked about puff pastry tartlets before (why can’t I find the post?) and maybe even given you the recipe for these Tomato Tartlets.  Did I?  If you already know the prevent-the-puff technique, skip ahead; if not, hold on – it’s nifty and great to have in your bag of tricks.

To make non-puffing puff pastry tartlets, pizzas or galettes, roll the pastry out very thin on a floured surface.  I make my own puff pastry only very rarely – I use Dufour or Pepperidge Farm – and, guess what?  Yves doesn’t make his own pastry either – he gets gorgeous all-butter puff pastry from either Jean-Luc Poujauran or Gerard Mulot .  (Lucky guy!).  Using the tip of a very sharp knife, cut out the shapes you want (I use a 4 1/2-inch bread plate as my guide) and gently lift the pieces onto a baking sheet lined with either a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Prick the dough with the tines of a fork and then cover with another sheet of parchment or silicone mat.  Finally, put another baking sheet on top.  Bake in a 400-degree-F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the bases are browned and baked all the way through.

This whole process is counterintuitive, since you’re forcing the pastry to act against its nature and not puff.  But what you get is pastry that’s extremely flakey and full of the flavor we love in puff pastry.  And, most important, you get a palette on which you can construct boundless sweets and savories.

For the tomato tartlets in the picture, I spread the baked bases with pesto – sometimes I use tapenade as the hidden layer of flavor – and then overlapped slices of tomato and mozzarella.  Well, one of the tarts has mozzarella (that one was for my husband) and the other has goat cheese (that one was mine).  You can serve these as soon as they’re constructed, or you can slide them into a 400-degree-F oven for 2 to 3 minutes, just to warm (not melt) the cheese.  Drizzle them with a little olive oil before or after you warm them (you could finish them with a drop of balsamic vinegar) and don’t forget to season them with salt and pepper.

I’ve got two terrific puff-pastry-based tartlet recipes from Yves Camdeborde in Around My French Table – one is the tuna-mozzarella pizza and the other is a tarte fine with caramelized onions and thin slices of sea scallops – but the idea is so play-aroundable.  While soft fruits and berries are still available, think about brushing the tartlets with melted jam or giving them a layer of curd or pastry cream, and then topping them with a pile-up of sliced fruits or berries – no baking necessary.  Make a mini salade Nicoise and plant it on the puff-pastry base.  You could even pretend it’s a bagel – slather it with cream cheese, top it with smoked salmon, capers and onions and call it brunch.

If you decide to play with this, let me know what you do – please and merci.

Dorie Greenspan