Eggs were on sale this week. There was a time when I would not have bought a half-dozen eggs, let alone three dozen. Eggs were an ingredient for brownies, not actual food themselves. Sure, who can resist a perfectly cooked omelet or some huevos rancheros on occasion? But for me, breakfast thoughts were mostly full of pancakes, biscuits, and muffins. When I thought about eggs, it would be to accompany a giant plate of griddle crisp home fries. Eggs were an afterthought. It’s a good thing that about a decade ago I changed my mind-set: I now share a home and a kitchen with someone whose food philosophy can be summed up as “Everything tastes better with a fried egg on top.” And on this we now agree. When eggs are on sale or the egg lady’s hens are laying on strong, eggs are on the menu for dinner.
Runaway Spoon’s post on Zucchini Sort of Soufflé got me thinking that I had not made a savory flan in quite a while. And, that I also had a “shopping problem” when I comes to veggies and markets. At that very moment there were mushrooms needing to be used up, a pepper, a half another pepper, those cute little yellow tomatoes (bought even though we are not a big tomato eaters) and lettuce, and you know how this goes…either you figure a way to use it up or it ends up in the compost along with your farmers market fantasies of what you were going to cook. There are many low carb recipes out there for crust-less quiche or potato-less frittata and similar egg based dishes. This one is a custard stuffed with goodies, very eggy but still silky on the tongue like any flan should be. And don’t worry; you won’t need to flip it upside down on a plate like dessert flan. Plus, it has the added benefit of using up all those bits and pieces of cheese from your shopping frenzy at the cheesemonger.
The basic recipe is this (the version from my picture is below it):
2 cups cream (or Calorie Countdown dairy beverage, or milk if you are not low carbing, or some combination)
4-5 cups of cooked vegetables
1.5 cups of chopped meat (vegetarians, substitute more veggies)
4 oz of shredded cheese, plus 2-3 oz additional for top
salt and pepper
For my recent version:
8 oz mushrooms, sliced and cooked
1.5 bell peppers, diced and cooked
½ small onion, diced and cooked
A handful, about 3-4 oz yellow grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1.5 cups of chopped kielbasa (about ½ a packaged kielbasa)
4 oz Fontinella cheese, shredded*
3 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon butter plus ½ tablespoon oil to sauté the veggies
Sauté onions, peppers, and mushrooms until cooked but still firm and the mushrooms have given up much of their water. Season with a few sprinkles of salt and pepper. Use less salt if you are using a salty cheese or meat – you don’t want the final dish to be too salty. Add in kielbasa chunks, sauté for 2 minutes more and take off heat. Whisk eggs in a
bowl large enough for all the liquid ingredients add cream/milk and whisk again until well blended.
Spread veggies and meat over the bottom of a baking dish. I use a 9.5 by 9.5 by 2 inch square ceramic baking pan that does not need to be oiled. If you are using a metal pan, be sure to lightly oil the pan before adding the ingredients as eggs may stick. Evenly distribute the 4 oz of shredded cheese over the veggies/meat, then do the same with the sliced tomatoes. (Save rest of cheese for later). Pour egg cream mixture over this and place in a pre-heated 325 degree oven. A dish this deep will bake for 45 minutes total. You may need to bake less time if you are using a shallower pan. After it has baked for 30 minutes, open the oven and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the flan. (This prevents the cheese from sinking below the surface of the egg custard). Dish should bake about 15 more minutes until it is set in the middle, but not quite firm. Take out of the oven and allow to rest for five to ten minutes before cutting and serving the squares.
Makes about 6-9 servings.
Serve with a nice green lettuce salad or fruit.
*Fontinella is one of my favorite cheeses for baked dishes and for snacking. It has a firm texture and a sharp aged flavor: a little bit provolone, a little bit cheddar, a little bit Romano, but better. If you cannot find it, an aged provolone, or some sharp cheddar and grated Romano will work nicely. As will ANY of your favorite cheeses.