Mar 11 2019

Artichoke Flan

I am pretty sure you will love this artichoke flan: artichokes are in season, the recipe is easy and the flan can be made the day before. You will just have to warm it a little before serving and decorate it according to your taste.

Serves 8

  • 750 ml fresh whole milk
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 100 gr plain flour
  • 80 gr butter
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 3 large artichokes
  • 1 small onion, thinly chopped
  • 4 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1 lemon

Clean and trim the artichokes (if you are wondering how, look at this good video tutorial https://www.finecooking.com/article/how-to-trim-artichokes), halve and reduce to thin slices. Place the slices in cold water and juice from 1 lemon as you go along so they don’t darken in colour.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan, then add the chopped onion and fry until tender. Add the artichokes, cover the pan with a lid, and let cook for 10 minutes. At this point remove the lid and let the juice almost completely dry.

For the béchamel: melt butter slowly in a saucepan, stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Turn down the heat and slowly pour in the milk, while accurately whisking. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from heat and season well with salt and pepper. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, parmesan and the artichokes and stir well. Set aside.

Whisk  the eggs whites until they form soft peaks or until stiff and glossy and combine with the artichoke mixture using a spatula, so that the fluffy egg whites you have thoroughly worked won’t be damaged. Wash, dry and chop the basil leaves by hand, and add to the mixture. Do not use scissors to cut herbs, or they will turn sour and loose flavour together with their essential oils.

Grease a tin with butter, dust with some flour and remove the excess. Pour in the artichoke mix, level the surface and beat the bottom of the tin on a hard surface in order to eliminate possible bubbles. Bake at 180°C, still, for 45 minutes. When ready, turn the flan over while still lukewarm- gently moving a knife between the flan and the tin first if needed- or it will irreparably stick to the tin. In case it unluckily happens, you can fix the tragedy by warming up the flan over a very low heat for a couple of minutes and trying again.

 

 

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Posted in Recipes, Main dishes, Vegetarian
Oct 12 2015

Vegetarian Moussaka

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I have put together a convincing vegetarian version of the traditional Greek Moussaka by replacing beef and lamb with lentils. To add flavor to the recipe, I recommend the generous use of Provolone and Pecorino. Aubergines are not fried but baked in the oven, yet they still taste amazing.

Serves 10

  • 2 kg aubergine
  • 200 ml extra virgin olive oil + 100 ml for drizzling
  • 1 ½ tin of lentils
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp nutmeg powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves powder
  • ¼ tsp cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander powder
  • 200 g provolone cheese, finely sliced
  • 600 ml fresh milk
  • 70g butter
  • 70g plain white flour
  • 2 egg yolks (organic, if possible)
  • 70 pecorino cheese, grated

Place the carrots, garlic cloves, onions and celery in a blender until coarsely chopped. Heat the oil in a large pan, stir in the chopped vegetables and sauté until soft and light golden (25 mins.) Add the lentils and sauté on medium heat for 20 minutes regularly stirring. Pour in the red wine and wait to evaporate. Add the tinned tomatoes and  ¼ tsp of cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp clove powder, ¼ tsp cumin powder and ¼ tsp coriander powder. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and let simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes. Scatter with the oregan, season well with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

moussaka (1024x768)

Rinse the aubergines, and cut into slices 0.5 cm thick. Season with sea salt and place in a colander for an hour or in a bowl (the result is even better if you cover the bowl with a lid and something heavy on top). Rinse the aubergines with cool water and pat them dry with a clean tea towel. Brush the slices with some oil, place on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and bake at 180° for 25 minutes or until golden but still soft.

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Now prepare the bechamel. Melt the butter in a pan over low-medium heat, whisking continuously; add the flour and pour in the milk while stirring. Keep stirring until thickened. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the cheese and egg yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg ¼ tsp. Whisk quickly or the eggs will start to thicken and cook.

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Finally assemble the moussaka. Oil the bottom and sides of a baking dish of medium-large size and make a first layer of eggplants. Spoon over the sauce, even out and scatter the provolone. Add layers until you’ll have finished up the ingredients, top with the bechamel and smooth out with a spatula if needed.

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Bake the moussaka at 180-200 ° C for about 60 minutes, until light golden brown. Let the moussaka cool down for a while before serving. Enjoy!

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Posted in International, Main dishes, Vegetarian
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