Friday, November 27, 2009

A Vegetable Flan for Thanksgiving

I know what you're thinking. Vegetable flan?? But it was good! It was velvety and didn't scream I CONTAIN ASPARAGUS or RUN AWAY CHILDREN, so please, don't judge me yet. I really liked it.

See? It looks good.

The one thing I would say is that the broccoli complicates things. Its tiny little floral buds will not blend down to anything other than those tiny little floral buds, and so the resulting flan is not as smooth as could be. I tried to pass it through a sieve, I really tried, but it would have resulted in losing most of the puree, so I decided to forget about it and just blend the vegetables as smooth as possible and then throw caution to the wind. Perhaps you might want to use all asparagus though?

The all asparagus version is actually what is pictured above (yes, I have made both versions), but I think the broccoli one is actually prettier, because of the aforementioned "buds" (what are they called?), which add a nice, dark green spottiness. Although maybe that's not what you're looking for in a flan.

Vegetable Flan
1 cup fresh asparagus, diced
1 cup fresh broccoli
2 large eggs
½ cup skim milk
1/6 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tsp salt
a pinch or two of freshly ground black pepper
a pinch or two of freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 325
°F, and set a rack to the middle position. Butter four 5” tartlette shells. Wrap then with aluminum foil on the outside of the tartlette shells if they are the type with removable bottoms, as mine were. (That phrase “removable bottoms” sounds a little funny, doesn’t it?).

You will need a baking dish large enough to hold the tarlette shells and deep enough to safely hold at least an inch of water.

Fill a large pot with water, and bring it to a boil: this water will be used in the water bath.

Place the asparagus and broccoli in the pot and boiled till tender. Allow to cool briefly before transferring to a food processor or blender and processing till smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to break them up. Add the milk, cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, whisking to blend. Add the vegetable purée, and whisk to thoroughly combine.

Divide the mixture evenly into the tartlette shells. If needed, place one folded kitchen towel into the baking pan first (like seen to the side), then place the tartlette shells on top. (This is only necessary for extra stability)

Carefully slide the pan into the oven and pour the boiling water into the larger pan until it comes about halfway up the tartlette shells. Bake until the flan is set and beginning to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 minutes. Transfer the cake pan to a rack to cool slightly, about 10-15 minutes.

Run a thin knife around the edges of the tartlette shells to loosen. Invert a serving plate over the shell, and invert onto the plate.

Yield: four-five servings (if using 5 inch tartlette shells)

Note: I suppose, to simplify life, you could just use seven or eight ramekins, but I am obsessed with presentation, and so I went with the tartlette shells.

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