Thursday, June 2, 2011

Flan? Sounds like a plan

I'd come to the conclusion that I haven't been eating enough vegetables these past few weeks. The obvious action was to open my Edmonds book to the vegetables chapter and see what I could make to remedy the situation. For some reason, a recipe I'd never really noticed before caught my eye: vegetable flan (p166).

Ok, so it's not entirely vegetables. There's some butter-heavy pastry and a bit of egg and cheese. But it's also chock-full of pumpkin, courgette, onion and potato. That makes for more veges than I have been managing lately, at least!

The first thing to do was make the pastry: rubbing butter into a mixture of wholemeal flour, salt and baking powder, then adding enough water to make a dough. There seemed to be an awful lot of butter - I think you could probably reduce the quantity quite a bit.

When I had the dough made and in the fridge chilling, I made a start on the filling. The pumpkin, potato, courgette and onion all had to be grated: a big job, if I didn't have my trusty food processor to do all the hard work! Soon I had a large bowl of grated vege, and only needed to add some herbs, cheese, and a sizeable dollop of my homemade relish before mixing it all together.

I rolled out the dough and lined a pie dish, but there was still one element to be added to the filling. Four stiffly beaten egg whites had to be folded through the vegetable mixture. I wasn't sure about this: clearly the idea is to make the flan nice and light, but the grated veges were so heavy I didn't see how they could combine successfully.

Surprisingly, the egg white and the vege mixture combined quite well. The filling seemed a lot lighter once I'd added the egg and was spooning the filling into the base. There was actually a lot of filling - the pie dish was almost overflowing by the time I'd got it all in.

The flan went into the oven for 40 minutes. When I took it out, it was golden on top, as described in the recipe, but I wasn't sure if it was really cooked through. Only one way to find out: I stuck a knife in and had a look.

The centre of the flan was so gooey as to seem almost juicy. I think quite a bit of the liquid had come from the vegetables - I should perhaps have squeezed the juice out after I grated them. My biggest worry was that some of the moisture was from egg that hadn't cooked through. I put the flan back in for another five minutes or so.

When I took out the flan for the second time, I decided it was as cooked through as it was likely to get. It was starting to gt a bit dark on top, and I didn't want to burn it. So I cut myself a wedge of flan, (which fell to bits when I tried to get it out - I had to use a spoon in the end) and had a taste.

Well, the pastry was kinda soggy and falling to bits, and the texture of the whole flan was a bit weird, but actually it tasted not too bad. Veges, cheese and egg, with the occasional hint of relish - perhaps not 'flantastic' (ok, that was terrible: I apologise), but nice enough.

Would I make it again, though? No, probably not. It was quite involved, when you consider the pastry, the veges and the egg-whites. It took quite a while to prepare and the result was only average. On top of that, what am I going to do with four leftover egg yolks?

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