21st Century Schizoid Flan

I got some beautiful local raw milk and pastured eggs today to use in a couple of projects, and they unsurprisingly found their way into dinner. It’s been just lovely lately; today was a tad chilly but the sun was warm. I’ve gotten a bunch of stuff planted in the garden, and hooped those beds to keep them from freezing hard on cold nights. I’m having a hard time keeping up with all of the culinary ideas that I keep having, which is a wonderful problem to have, especially in contrast to my mood of a couple weeks ago.

Tonight I kept it simple and meat-free, since the day sort of demanded it. Also, the lamb sliders on homemade olive-rosemary rolls that we ate last night with friends were meat enough to get through today. I steamed a head of cauliflower, then puréed it with some of the milk (I skimmed off the cream for something else) and pushed the mixture through the tamis to silkify it. I cracked in three eggs, adding some salt and yellow curry powder to keep the color light and the flavors clean. I blended this all together quickly, and then poured it into buttered ramekins that went into the bamboo steamer. Meanwhile, I caramelized cubes of rutabaga, adding leeks towards the end, and then some spinach leaves to wilt just before serving. Some leftover sweet potato purée came out of the fridge and got hit with a smattering of garam masala, and feeling that one more element was needed, I whisked up a really good vinaigrette of sherry vinegar, mustard and olive oils, tamarind paste, and mustard.

Once set, I unmolded the flans onto a plate and placed them quivering on daubs of sweet potato. An artful strewing of vegetables guarded the flank, and the sweet-sour-hot vinaigrette sauced the lot. Some cilantro provided shade. This was good eating; there was a nice balance between sensuality and subtlety with the velvety flan and the sharp vinaigrette and the nutty caramelized vegetables, all united by warm, earthy curry spices. I almost added another egg, but I wanted these to be as soft as possible; they were fluffy clouds of curried cauliflower with none of the customary custardy bounce. This delightful plate of food seemed pretty appropriate, as the season of vegetable worship arrives imminently.

7 comments to 21st Century Schizoid Flan

  • I was just reading about a cauliflower puree on an ancient menu… delicious… I can imagine a flan would be lovely. WIth the new blast of cold air this kind of food is most welcome!

  • Oh, now, Peter that’s just lovely. I wish I had been there for dinner.

  • El

    Glad to hear you’re hoopin’ your goodies, Peter. It will only make you happier (am I alone in noticing your uplifting posts lately? I blame the dirt on your knees for this).

    oh and something to put in the fall/winter planting list: cilantro loves the cold of the greenhouse and hoops. Just think, super-fresh zesty cilantro, all winter long.

  • Peter

    Deana: Cauliflower just sort of lends itself to this. Also panna cotta.

    Zoomie: Sadly, you weren’t. But you could make this for yourself.

    El: I always have cilantro going at the ends of the season; the first batch is already sprouting with the early salad bed.

  • Mo

    Yum! I had a ton of cilantro sprouts coming up, but the insane storm we just had decimated most of my cilantro and arugula and a whole ton of other stuff.

    I can’t wait to try something like this!

  • Peter

    This would work with pretty much anything. Our last storm took out half the garden. The weather has been sucking.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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