English Spinach Flan
This recipe will demonstrate what a truly different animal the English style flan is from the Spanish flan. The flaky crust, the very different custard preparation, the complete absence of a water bath all separate the two in flavor, texture and orientation. It, in large measure, reflects the English taste for hearty foods and a rejection of the more delicate continental attitude toward food. Even so, it is well to remember the separate development of the English Flan separated from the continent of Europe by wide channel and a very different perspective that has influenced the cultures of half the world including the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, et al.
2 ounces fresh spinach
1 onion, chopped
4 ounces chopped mushrooms
1 dash salt and pepper (to taste)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
1 cup flour
2 or 3 tablespoons water
First prepare crust by mixing shortening into the flour with a fork until mixture is made up of crumbly pebble sized lumps. Add water and toss with a fork until batter is moist. Now, using your hands, form the dough into a ball.
Dust a large flat (clean and dry) surface with flour. Place ball of dough on surface; then dust the dough ball. Carefully press ball flat with rolling pin. Dust ball again and flip, repeating the process until dough is eight to nine inches in diameter. Flip dough over rolling pin and lay it into pie tin. Trim edges. Set aside while making filling.
Microwave or steam spinach until tender, drain and set aside.
Place butter in frying pan (iron works nicely) on medium heat. Fry onions and mushrooms until tender. Remove the onions and mushrooms leaving juices and butter in pan. Remove pan from heat and add flour, make certain that it is thoroughly damped by butter. If there is not enough juice left in the pan to do this, add more butter. Now return the pan to the medium heat and add milk salt and pepper. Stir relatively constantly, taking time out only to whisk up an egg.
When sauce in pan thickens, add mushrooms, onions, spinach and egg. Stir quickly to thoroughly mix, but not allow the egg to begin to harden. Pour the custard onto the pie crust. Place in 350° F oven for one hour. Flan is done when an inserted knife or toothpick comes out clean. Serve hot in wedges.
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