Sunday, May 25, 2008
If there was some kind of prize awarded for procrastination, I’m sure I’d be in the running. I always have the best of intentions, but somehow I end up thinking about things for too long, or I get busy and distracted and don’t have enough time to actually produce the thing I’ve been planning, or at least not quite to the inner-perfectionist standard that I’d hoped for. The deadlines for so many fantastic blog events have passed me by, even though I’d had a page in my little food journal dedicated to a brainstorm of ideas. However, when the lovely Tartelette announced that the theme of this month’s Sugar High Friday was citrus, I made a note in iCal and was determined to get an entry in. And this is why I was in the kitchen at 11.30pm last night...
This is my first time participating in SHF, the delicious monthly event created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess. I love almost anything citrus – the bright fresh colours and zingy tastes – but as I’ve mentioned before, I can’t resist anything lemon flavoured. I wish I could say that there was a Eureka! moment, but it was actually a heated game of Scissors, Paper, Rock that fortuitously decided on this lemon flan.
I’ve always loved the combination of lemon and strawberries, so it was nice to play with it here. The flan was creamy and silky, sweet but with a nice lemon tang. It wasn’t too rich or heavy, so the delicate flavours weren’t overpowered by egginess. I think it was the addition of lemon thyme in the syrup that really made it something special. I’d never used any kind of herbs in a dessert before, so I was quite surprised at the result. It’s a subtle taste, but the lemon thyme gave the dessert a sort of casual sophistication. I think this would be the perfect dessert for a spring or summer dinner party, as all the preparation can be done in advance. The flan would also be delicious using different fruits in the compote, like raspberries, blueberries or even thin slices of orange.
This is also my entry to this month's Monthly Mingle created by Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey? The theme is Appetizers and Hors'Doeuvres, of both the savoury and sweet variety. Entries close June 9th, so you still have some time to whip up something spectacular!
Lemon Flan with Strawberry and Lemon Thyme Compote
Adapted from Epicurious
Strawberry Thyme Compote
• ¼ cup sugar
• ¼ cup water
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves
• 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 cups strawberries, washed and cut into halves or quarters
• 2 cups whole milk
• ½ cup sugar
• Peel from half a lemon, removed with a vegetable peeler in strips
• Pinch salt
• 2 large eggs
• 2 large egg yolks
1. To make strawberry lemon thyme syrup, combine sugar, water, lemon thyme and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature and then stir in vanilla.
2. Spoon 3 teaspoons of syrup into each of six ¾ cup ramekins. Place ramekins into a large baking dish. Allow syrup to infuse overnight.
3. Combine milk, sugar, lemon peel, and salt in medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Uncover and let milk mixture steep at room temperature 1 hour. Return milk mixture to a simmer. Strain into a small bowl and discard the lemon peel.
5. Preheat oven to 170°C (350°F). Whisk eggs and egg yolks in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk warm milk mixture into egg mixture.
6. Divide custard among prepared ramekins. Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake custards until centers are set and thin knife inserted at edge of dish cleanly separates custard from dish, about 45 minutes. Remove flans from water. Cool for 1 hour, and then refrigerate flans uncovered overnight.
7. Pour lemon thyme syrup over the cut up strawberries. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours maximum before serving.
8. Run small thin knife around flans to loosen. Invert each flan onto plate. Serve with strawberry lemon thyme compote.