Not that we ate al fresco on the night we had the flan, but it would seem like a very civilised thing to do. Maybe once we've got a table and chairs for our new patio!
I've had some success with tarts and flans since I bought the new flan/quiche dish and - owing to an oversight on the shopping front - had two packs of ready-rolled shortcrust pastry in the freezer, doing nothing.
So, I began to think about what I could put into a pastry case. Sweet flans are relatively easy - and pretty much off limits at the moment. Hence, I began to ponder on what went with what, savoury-wise. Smoked haddock immediately sprang to mind, but have you seen how much it has gone up in price just lately? I can only think that it's out of season - and as I like to eat seasonally (where possible) I rejected that on both those grounds.
Chorizo was the next on the list. I don't know why Chorizo keeps on coming to mind, considering I don't really like it. It's one of those things that I think I'll like, but when it comes to it, it's just to strong on the paprika. I suppose it could be the type of Chorizo I buy and maybe I should source some from elsewhere and see if I like it better. I wonder if Spring Fields butchers does it? I'll have to find out.
So anyway, that was out for obvious reasons.
I'd recently done a Quiche Lorraine, so that ruled bacon out - unless I could find a flan topping that was so far from Quiche Lorraine as to be unrecognisable.
However, before I could come across a flan topping that used both chorizo and bacon (well there's bound to be one!), my mind travelled down the celeriac lines (remember the Cheesy Celeriac Slice?), and after a quick dalliance there, it hopped over to parsnip. I pondered on whether if you cooked your parsnip pieces (just boiling them), then riced (or mashed) them and added oodles of sharp cheddar, some cream (just a small amount), maybe some mustard (Dijon or English?), before topping up the whole thing with some beaten egg - whether you'd wind up with something good?
Well, funnily enough, you do! In fact, you wind up with something that is so good, it quite defies belief.
It isn't as deep as a quiche's middle, and the parsnip gives it a totally different kind of texture. The cheese and the parsnip go together quite ridiculously well. I had been worried that the parsnip would stamp all over the cheese, but so long as you make sure you've got a good flavoursome sharp mature cheddar, it'll be fine. Incidentally, at the last minute, I added a teensy bit of Grana Padano just to add another dimension to the cheesy flavour.
Again, this is another dish that is so easy to do, it'd be a great one to prepare with your kids (if you've got some - if not, then borrow some just for this). You'd better issue them with their own little piece of cheese to munch though, or all your recipe cheese will disappear!
We ate it with some gorgeous chutney from the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm, that my parents had brought back for us. The pair of them were made for each other.
CHEESY PARSNIP FLAN (feeds 4 hungry people)
A piece of shortcrust pastry, enough to line your quiche dish
200g of cooked parsnip, cut into chunks
175g strong cheddar cheese, grated
75g grana padano or another cheese of your choice, also grated
3 large eggs
100ml double cream
1 tsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper.
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180deg C//350deg F/Gas 4.
2. Line the quiche dish with the pastry, then crack one of the eggs into a bowl and give it a light whisk with a fork.
3. Brush some beaten egg onto the surface of the pastry and prick with a fork. Line with non-stick baking paper and baking beans, then blind bake for 15-20 minutes.
4. Remove the beans and baking paper and leave to one side while you prepare the filling.
5. Into a large bowl, either mash the parsnip pieces or put them through a ricer. You are aiming to have a smooth paste of parsnip.
6. Add all but a handful of the cheeses to the parsnip.
7. Crack the remaining two eggs into the bowl with the original egg and add the cream, mustard and some freshly ground black pepper. Whisk them up until they are nicely combined. There is no need to add salt, as the cheeses will take care of that.
8. Add the eggs to the mustard and cheese and stir gently to combine. Pour onto the pastry case and smooth the surface, giving it a final flourish with the remaining cheese.
9. Put back into the oven to bake for around 35-40 minutes, or until browned all over and firm to the touch.
Serve with a lovely piquant chutney and some salad.