June 22, 2019 — Italian
I’ve used Italian Fontina cheese. It’s famous as a ‘melting’ cheese. It has a mild nutty taste which complements the asparagus – but it also behaves itself during melting with not much fat separation leaving a smooth surface when hot or cold. These flans are so enticing that one may be tempted to eat them off the kitchen counter, but good as they are cold they are much better when warmed or still hot from the oven.
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500g ready-made puff pastry
200g Fontina cheese or 150g cheddar and 50g Parmesan or 200g Cheddar (for other cheeses see note by method)
1 egg beaten
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I’ve reduced this version of an asparagus flan to its basics: asparagus, pastry, cheese. I can hardly claim this to be an original recipe as there are hundreds of variations published riffing on the same basic ingredients. Of course the variable element here is the cheese. I tested several and discovered that they are not completely transferable – especially when trying to match flavours with asparagus. Brie and camembert are far too strong, mild goats cheese is a little nondescript, but will give the flan a lighter touch, havarti becomes rubbery after cooking, Port Salut is similar to Fontina and interchangeable. Gruyère and Taleggio work well. Cheddar tends to split easily and look greasy when hot. However, using cheddar has the converse effect after heating; it becomes surprisingly palatable when cold a bit like a large cheese straw! Adding Parmesan to cheddar (or other cheeses) will give the cheese a sharper bite, add a bit of saltiness and can help with the splitting. Avoid overloading with cheese as this can make the flan too heavy and make the base greasy. As a final note, do bear in mind the general principle with this recipe – it should be eaten like a pizza or cheese on toast – much better when its hot or warm from an oven…
A perfect winter warmer – Cassoulet!
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