In some professions, going to dinners is an unwritten part of the job description. Roasted Red Pepper and Parmesan Flans are served as the First Course of a Dinner Menu called “Mixing Dinner and Business“. What the menu includes is chosen with people in mind who eat out frequently in the course of doing business. It’s an attempt to use familiar ingredients in less familiar ways—to offer something different but not exotic–to the guest who–will he, nill he–dines out often.
That’s the rationale behind the menu. There are several good reasons for including Roasted Red Pepper and Parmesan Flans in the menu. These flans are made from a recipe that consistently turns out as it is supposed to. Also, it is pretty to look at and…guests have never left a single bite of it on their plates.Roasted Red Pepper and Parmesan Flans ~ Flans aux poivrons rouge et Parmesan (for 8 1/2-cup ramekins)
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I. Making the Flan: See below for instructions on making the Pesto used in the flans.
- 6 Eggs
- 150 grams of fresh, grated Parmesan (about 5 and 1/2 ounces or 2 cups), plus about 4 Tablespoons more to sprinkle over the unbaked flans
- 400 milliliters Heavy Cream (1 and 2/3 cups)
- freshly ground Pepper and Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
- 8 triangular slices of Roasted Red Pepper, of a size that almost covers the bottom of each ramekin: use 2 – 4 bottled Roasted Red Peppers, depending on their size, drained and patted dry
- a recipe of fresh, homemade Pesto (The recipe for the pesto is here in a previous diplomatickitchen post for Spring Vegetable Soup With Pesto and for convenience is repeated below in this post.)
- Olive Oil to brush on the insides of the ramekins
- Optional for decorating the baked flans: 2 Tablespoons of Pine Nuts, toasted for a few minutes in a dry pan or in the oven, 8 small branches of Basil for decorating the baked flans, and some of the pesto
- 8 ramekins, their interiors brushed with olive oil
- a Mixer, standing or hand
- a Mixing Bowl
- a Food Processor or Blender to make the Pesto
- a Cooling Rack
2. Beat the eggs, then mix in the Parmesan and heavy cream. Add a few grinds of fresh black pepper and salt and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Let the batter rest while you make the pesto. (See the instructions below for making the pesto.)
Note: The batter for the flans may be made a day in advance, covered and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before filling the ramekins with it and baking the flans.
3. Drain the roasted red peppers, pat them dry and cut them into triangles large enough to almost cover the bottoms of the ramekins. Place a triangle of roasted pepper on the bottom of each ramekin.
4. Place a teaspoon of pesto on each triangle of roasted pepper, then fill the ramekins with flan batter. (If there is extra batter it may be refrigerated and baked another day to serve with salad as a Light Lunch for 1 or 2 people….add a little extra cream and an extra Tablespoon of Parmesan if there isn’t quite enough batter for 2 ramekins.)
5. Sprinkle each ramekin with some grated Parmesan and put them in the oven to bake for 40 minutes.
6. Remove the flans from the oven and let them rest for 10 minutes. Then, unmould them onto plates. The flans look pretty decorated with a small branch of basil, a few toasted pine nuts and a tiny spoonful or two of pesto on each plate.
II. Making the Pesto:
- 2 cups of fresh Basil Leaves, measured in a liquid measuring cup
- 5 cloves of Garlic
- 1 Tablespoon Pine Nuts
- 1/3 cup of Olive Oil and a little more to drizzle on top of the finished Pesto if you aren’t using it immediately
- 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of Salt
- a Food Processor or Blender
- a small Bowl in which to keep the Pesto if you aren’t using it right away and a piece of Plastic Wrap
1. Place the basil leaves, pine nuts and olive oil in the processor and mix them together well.
2. Add the Parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and process again. Taste the Pesto and add up to 1/2 teaspoon more salt, if you consider it necessary.
3. If you aren’t using the Pesto immediately, pour it into a small bowl, drizzle the surface of it with some olive oil, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to seal out air. (To store unused pesto: Place the pesto in a glass jar, pour olive oil over the top of the pesto and press a piece of plastic wrap down into the jar onto the surface of the olive oil. Sealing out as much air as possible will help prevent the pesto from darkening and losing its bright green color.)
A Note: Roasted Red Pepper and Parmesan Flans are served as the First Course in the Dinner Menu: Mixing Dinner and Business. With a salad, the flans also make a good Light Lunch. The recipe is adapted from one for Flans aux piquillos in the French cooking journal Cuisine Actuelle (April 2009).