Eric's Trip

When Eric went away for a week, he left me in charge of his farm-fresh organic food basket. It was filled with peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, leeks, and many other vegetables, as well as some fresh-cut herbs and fruit.

It was a plethora of delicious local produce so I wasted no time in organizing a vegetable-themed dinner with as many friends as I could find. The food and wine menu was:

Aperatif: Château Bonnet 2004 (Sauvignon Blanc)
Poached yellow and red tomatoes with oregano and savoury in olive oil
Sunflower seed and squash sourdough bread, served with soft cheese

Cauliflower and caper gravlax in dill and shallots

Choucroute Alsacienne
(simmered in and paired with Hugel Riesling 2004)

Zucchini Flan served with sweet hot peppers and cherry tomatoes
Sparr Réserve Pinot Gris 2004

Wawel cheesecake served with fresh cantalope and ground cherries

When we weren't savouring every morsel, we managed to take a few pictures...

poached yellow red tomatoes oregano savoury olive oil
zucchini flan sweet hot peppers cherry tomatoes
Wawel cheesecake fresh cantalope ground cherries
local sustainable organic ground cherries
Oh yes, those ground cherries are quite a trip. They come with their own paper-skinned packaging. That's what we call sustainable. Thanks Eric!

zucchini flan

Zucchini Flan from Meg

Meg says this recipe originally appeared in an old copy of the New York Times food section (that's where I first saw a great recipe for my choucroute, but more on that in a later post). So I got the flan details from her site and then made sure I added the optional nutmeg as well as the leek I had on hand. These two additions add extra depth to the dish. Here's how I adapted the rest of the recipe.

megs zucchini flan recipe thyme garnish3-4 medium zucchini
a leek, chopped into discs
3 cloves garlic
5 eggs
¼ cup sour cream, thinned with whole milk
salt, pepper
dash of nutmeg
sense of humour (just kidding)

You will need: a sauté pan, mixing bowls, a loaf pan, a baking dish large enough to put the loaf pan in, and a kettle of boiling water.

Slice the zucchini thinly. Heat some olive oil in a pan and sauté it over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with salt. When zucchini releases some liquid, add the leek and the garlic, also sliced thinly, and reduce heat. Continue to toss until all the zucchini has softened and the bottom of the pan is covered with liquid. Take off heat and let cool. Cover it if you have half an hour to let it rest and reabsorb its juices.

When you’re ready to assemble the flan (about an hour and a half before you want to serve it) pre-heat oven to 350F and set a kettle of water to boil. Beat the eggs and sour cream/milk mixture lightly in a bowl with some salt and coarse pepper. Add a generous dash of nutmeg. Stir in and thoroughly coat the cooled vegetables (must be cool or else it will cook the eggs prematurely).

Set up the Bain Marie. Pour the mixture into a lightly buttered loaf pan. Place the loaf pan in the baking dish and place in oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the baking dish so that water reaches at least half way up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake for about 30-40 minutes.

The flan is done when the whole thing is set but still slightly jiggly but not runny in the very middle (check by gently shaking the loaf pan -- carefully, mind you, so as not to scald yourself with the hot water).

Remove the loaf pan from the Bain Marie when set and let the flan cool. When you are ready to serve, run a knife or spatula gently around the sides of the pan. Then put a serving plate on top of it and invert forcefully to un-mold the flan. Serve cut in thick slices.

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