- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A new dish, smoked salmon and asparagus flan, seems perfect for an Easter egg hunt. The crustless quiche is based on an English recipe I found for smoked-haddock custard.

Because smoked haddock is not readily available in our markets, smoked salmon sounded like a good substitute. I pureed salmon and cream cheese in a food processor, then added eggs, cream, milk and seasonings of lemon and dill.

I poured this mixture over cooked and diced redskin potatoes and sliced and blanched asparagus. When baked, the flan was a glorious golden color with a rich, creamy texture.

A watercress and cucumber salad and a basket of good peasant bread from a bakery will accompany the Easter flan. Cupcakes, frosted in pastel colors, and chocolate candy eggs will please both young and older guests.

You could use this special quiche as the centerpiece of an Easter brunch or lunch (as we are doing) or offer it as a first course, followed by a baked ham or a roast leg of lamb. Either way, the flan lends itself well to make-ahead preparation.

The potatoes and asparagus can be cooked and arranged in a buttered pan, and the smoked-salmon mixture blended a day ahead. At serving time, all that is required is to pour the custard over the vegetables and pop the dish into the oven.

Smoked salmon and asparagus flan

1 teaspoon butter for greasing baking dish

½ pound small redskin potatoes

½ pound medium asparagus spears

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces sliced smoked salmon

3 ounces cream cheese, diced

½ cup whipping or heavy cream

1/3 cup whole milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill, divided

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Butter well a 9-inch oven-to-table quiche or tart pan (not one with a removable bottom).

Scrub potatoes but do not peel. Cut off and discard tough ends from asparagus. Then cut the spears on the diagonal into ½-inch-thick slices.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook until potatoes are tender (not mushy) when pierced with a knife, 12 to 15 minutes. Add asparagus and cook 1 minute more, just to set the color. Drain potatoes and asparagus and pat dry. Cut potatoes into ½-inch pieces. (Don’t worry if some of the skins slip off.) Toss potatoes and asparagus together in the buttered pan, and salt and pepper them to taste.

Set aside 2 salmon slices for garnishing, and coarsely chop the rest. Place chopped salmon and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor or blender, and process until mixture is smooth. Add cream, milk, eggs, half the dill, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt (less if the salmon is very salty) and cayenne pepper. Process a few seconds more until blended.

Pour salmon mixture over vegetables in pan. Cut reserved salmon slices into triangles or other decorative shapes and arrange them on top of flan.

Bake flan on center rack of preheated 375-degree oven until it is set and the top is golden, about 30 minutes. Remove and cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining dill. Serves 6.

Note: You can cook vegetables, arrange them in the buttered pan and season them a day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate.

You can also prepare the smoked-salmon-custard mixture a day ahead, pour it into a bowl or a large measuring cup with a spout, cover and refrigerate. Pour custard over vegetables in pan and decorate with reserved salmon slices when ready to bake.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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