An easy, elegant appetizer or brunch dish!
These light flans are similar to soufflés, though less airy; they most closely resemble Italian sformati. Their mild, creamy flavour makes them an ideal base for all sorts of toppings, particularly those that offer a contrast of flavour and texture. Shaved and marinated zucchini, radishes or green beans would also be delicious on top. If you like, you can add chopped fresh herbs to the flan mixture along with the cheese and other seasonings. Note that flans can be made up to 48 hours in advance and refrigerated; vegetable toppings should only be marinated for a maximum of 30 minutes before serving to maintain some crispness. Serve the flans warm, at room temperature or cold.
For the flans:
- 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) butter
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) all-purpose flour (regular or gluten-free)
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1/8 teaspoon (.6 mL) each salt, pepper and nutmeg
For the shaved asparagus:
- 3-4 stalks fresh asparagus
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) hot water
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk egg and yolk in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Combine milk and cream in a measuring cup and set aside.
- Butter the bottom and sides of 2 half-cup (125 mL) oven-safe ramekins. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of each dish and press it into place; butter the top of the parchment. Set dishes aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add milk and cream and whisk vigorously to blend with flour and butter mixture. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and thickened.
- Slowly pour hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly as you do so. Add Parmesan and seasonings; whisk again. Pour into the prepared ramekins. Place ramekins in a baking dish at least 3 inches (7.5 cm) high; fill with boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins then carefully slide the baking dish into the preheated oven.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the flans are set in the centre (test with the tip of sharp knife).
- While flans bake, prepare the asparagus ribbons. With a vegetable peeler (a Y-peeler is ideal for this job) or a very sharp knife, slice asparagus lengthwise into very thin ribbons. Place in a medium bowl and drizzle lemon juice, hot water and olive oil over top.
- Gently combine the asparagus and vinaigrette then let sit for 15 – 30 minutes, gently tossing frequently.
- Let baked flans cool for at least 30 minutes (15 if refrigerated) before running a knife around the side of each dish and inverting the flans onto serving plates. Remove parchment and arrange marinated asparagus attractively on top of flan. Dust with freshly ground pepper and serve.
Serves 2; recipe can easily be multiplied.