Thursday, August 10, 2006

Needed: More Days!

I was actually looking for ideas to incorporate some of our summer fruit into a dessert.

The watermelon was high on the list, along with peaches.

Maybe a flan, with a few reduced fruit purees to add color and flavor. And a parmesan crisp for contrast.

But I just couldn’t find the right thing. All these desserts seem to require a lot of down time for chilling. Most suggest chilling, or freezing, overnight for best results. Plus a lot of cream, which I didn’t have either.

So, being that it was already almost 6pm, with no time for chilling or cream acquisition, and people here expected the dinner trough to open shortly, I had to modify plans. Oh well, another day!

But the flan idea stuck in my head.

And I had noticed a few savory flans. That don’t require such cooling treatments as they are served warm or at room temp. And use cheese instead of cream. Which we have.

The goat cheese flan stuck in my mind.

I had been reading how a good flan needs a pile of fat to give it that sexy wiggle when it is baked just right. And the goat cheese seemed like it might work. Plenty ‘o fat there!

The question was more how to serve it. I think the goat cheese flan would work as a dessert, goat cheese going pretty well with fruit. But a different idea had begun forming.

I saw a recipe for parmesan flan (also sounds good) served on a tomato salsa.

And I was thinking about the tomato soup we made the other day. Which would go nicely with the goat cheese flan. With a pecorino crisp (no parmesan at the moment). And some basil.

But this time, I wanted to roast the tomatoes. Mainly because the flavor (have I mentioned this already?) of tomatoes around here is not so stellar. And the caramelization during roasting always brings out a nice deep flavor.

So I made some thyme roasted tomatoes, in a little olive oil. Pureed with a little lemon juice and lemon peel. And pushed this through a sieve. To get a nicely flavored, quite thick tomato soup. I cut this with just a bit of chicken broth, and set it in the fridge to chill.

The flan was simple. Just eggs and goat cheese. Baked in a water bath until set.

TeenBoy made the pecorino crisps. Just grated pecorino arranged on a baking sheet and baked for 5 minutes. Pretty good for his first try!

And we were done!

So we thought!

These damn flans are soooo delicate! It was like trying to open an oyster made of egg shells. Despite the most gentle of shaking and prying, along with some more agitated maneuvers, they did not come out whole. So, since pictures of a whole flan seemed out of the question, we arranged them, cut on the diagonal. With the pecorino crisp. Which naturally began melting as it touched the flan and the soup. All while the basil chiffonade turned black before our eyes. (How does Wolfgang do it?!)

We eventually did get some of them out whole. As the pictures show. But it was a delicate affaire. And the angled broken flans tasted just as good as the whole ones, by the way.

The result, however, was wonderful. The tomato soup had the expected deep roasted flavor, but the lemon really shone through. A very nice complement to the flan. Which had a more delicate, less pronounced goat cheese flavor than I would have expected. But the pecorino crisp – that fairly exploded in your mouth with a sharp bite.

I guess if I was Emeril or Wolfgang (Puck) I would have put some micro greens on the flan. But, lacking those sorts of embellishments in our humble kitchen, we went with the thinly sliced basil. Those are basil flowers arranged on the soup as well. A nice look. And a nice flavor addition.

It makes a very tasty first course!

Roasted Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese Flan and Pecorino Crisp
Recipe by surfindaave
Makes 4 servings.

3 lb ripe roma tomatoes, halved
several sprigs of fresh thyme, roughly chopped
Olive oil
Juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chicken broth (optional)
Goat cheese flans (recipe follows)
Pecorino crisps (recipe follows)
Fresh basil, chopped, for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the chopped thyme, salt and pepper. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Place tomatoes, along with any juice, and thyme, into a food processor. Add the lemon juice and zest, and process until smooth. Force the puree through a sieve into a large bowl, discarding remaining solids. Thin with a little chicken broth if necessary. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as necessary.

Chill soup until cold, about 1 hour.

Place one goat cheese flan into each of four large, flat soup bowls. Spoon soup around flans. Place one pecorino crisp decoratively into each flan. Arrange chopped basil on flans or sprinkle around bowls, if desired. Serve. Enjoy!

Goat Cheese Flans
Recipe adapted by surfindaave
Serves 4

4 eggs
8-ounce log fresh white goat cheese at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly coat four 4-ounce ramekins with olive oil.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, goat cheese, salt, and pepper together until smooth. Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared ramekins and transfer them to a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Fill the dish with hot water halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Pecorino Crisps
Recipe by surfindaave
Makes 4 crisps

½ cup pecorino cheese, finely grated
parchment paper for baking
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

On the underside of a piece of parchment draw four 4-inch circles not touching – leaving at least 1 inch between.
Place the parchment on baking sheet with the drawn side down.
Sprinkle 1/4 of the pecorino cheese in each of the circles – spreading evenly – but not leaving too many holes.
Bake in preheated oven for approximately 5-8 minutes or until they are light golden brown. Baking time will vary depending on oven. Crisps should be crisp when cooled. Do not over or undercook.
Remove from oven. Let cool on sheet pans.

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