Crostata di Peperoni in Pasta Filo con la Mozzarella
Bell Pepper Tart Tatin in Filo Pastry with Mozzarella
Those crafty French... they have a lot of tricks up their sleeves, don't they? Especially in the kitchen! And Tart Tatin is one of my favorites, as it is the best sure-fire way to make a pie that is guaranteed to work for even the worst baker... namely, ME! It is such a simple idea and at the same time, pure genius- make the damned thing upside down in a frying pan and then flip it over onto a plate... now why didn't I think of that?!!
The preparation for this is really, really simple. For one medium sized tart, about the size of a regular dinner plate, all it took was 1 bell pepper, 1 shallot, a small handful of diced bacon and a few sprigs of thyme... easy and cheap or what? All the more reason to try this out! Oh... and 3-4 sheets of filo pastry of course- but basically, apart from a few herbs and spices, that is all.
And the whole thing takes no more than 45 minutes to put together! So let's make us that pie- you know you want to!
Slice the bell pepper thinly and fry in a dry Teflon pan with the diced bacon. As soon as it starts to sizzle, add a good pinch of sugar and some cumin seed. After 2-3 minutes, add the sliced shallot and few chili flakes. Keep stirring and make sure that all of the pepper slices get a light glaze from the caramelized sugar. After 5-6 minutes, add a squeeze of lemon, a little olive oil and a last sprinkle of sugar. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
If you feel that way inclined, you may want to arrange the slices decoratively in your pan like I did- but this is of course not a must! But if you DO decide to- remember to think upside down and lay down some herbs first in the bottom of your pan, as these will end up on top when you flip-over the finished pie. So, first we have cumin seed and thyme and then we lay out the slices on top of them. Now lay a sheet of filo pastry over the peppers and fold over the edges into the middle. Brush lightly with olive oil and cover with thyme. Add a sprinkle of salt and repeat with another 2-3 layers. Make sure to have a good, intact final layer, as this is going to be the base of the pie and you don't want tit to fall apart! And then into the oven it goes! Bake at a moderate heat for 10-15 minutes but keep your eyes on it- Filo pastry doesn't take much baking and also doesn't take much to burn to a cinder!
Once the pastry is crispy and brown, take the frying pan out of the oven, carefully place a plate over it and then flip it over. Now return it to the pan right-side up, sprinkle with a little more sugar and bake under the broiler for 1-2 minutes- the pastry will brown VERY quickly!
Before serving, I gave the whole pie a light drizzle of honey. I sprinkled a little fresh time and cumin on top and then set a center-piece of torn mozzarella to finish it off. A few cracked pepper corns, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and a leaf or two of basil and you are ready to serve!
And even though it was yet another stormy and rainy night again in Frankfurt- for a short while it still seemed like Summer after all!