Monday, August 16, 2010

Tomato Flans from Tomato Coulis--a Summer Delight

Undeniably, more than anything else, this is a tomato season, and not only in Poland where for an equivalent of one dollar you can get two pounds of ripe tomatoes, but all over Europe, from Russia to Portugal. Also in DC, at farmers markets, or along the cross-country rounds on the way to the beach you can get now the locally grown tomatoes that are much tastier than the imported ones, which will be available in the supermarkets all year round.

If you buy such tasty tomatoes and have some leftovers after enjoying them with mozzarella or in any other tomato salad, I encourage you to make your own coulis, using this recipe. But if you did not find ones that taste like true summer tomatoes, just get a can of the fire-roasted tomatoes and the result will be acceptably good most of the time.

It is a rather light dish, as it is mainly made of tomatoes. It can be served for lunch or for dinner. It must be baked in water, or as the French say "au bain marie", but please don't be scared to try this because there is nothing simpler than that. And once you overcome the fear of baking in water, you will be ready to try all kind of delicious dishes requiring this technique, including crème brulée, everyone's favorite French dessert.

I am sure that, if you are a vegetable and light cuisine lover, you would appreciate this dish. I bake it usually in small ramekins, but it can also be made in a bigger, 10-inch oven-proof pie dish and cut into triangles. It will still taste and look great.

Tomato Flans

3 eggs,
1 pound of tomatoes or one medium-sized can of fire-roasted tomatoes,
1 cup table cream,
1/2 medium sweet onion,
2 cloves of garlic,
1 brunch of celery sticks,
1/4 cup chopped chives,
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley,
2 brunches of fresh thyme,
1 tbsp of butter,
1 tbsp olive oil,
salt, pepper to taste.

1. For the coulis:
If you use fresh tomatoes, put tomatoes in a boiling water for about 2 minutes, then move them to the cold water in order to remove the peel, cut the peeled tomatoes into pieces.
If you use canned fire-roasted tomatoes, just open the can and cut the tomatoes.
2. Cut the celery, onion and garlic in small pieces and fry on the butter and oil mixture in a pot, until transparent.
3. Add to the pot tomatoes and simmer them for about 15-25 minutes--it will take a little bit longer if you use fresh tomatoes.
4. Cool the sauce a little bit and blend it into a smooth purée.
5. In a separate bowl, whip together whole eggs and cream until well blended.
6. Add to the egg mixture chopped chives, parsley and thyme leaves, and season with salt and pepper.
7. Combine tomato coulis and egg sauce.
8 Heat the oven to 375 F.
9. Butter 6-8 small ramekins or one oven-proof dish.
10. Divide the mixture over the ramekins to about 2/3 of the height,as the flan will rise slightly.
11. Place ramekins on a baking tin and pour around hot water up to half of their height.
12. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Serve warm, or at room temperature with French or Italian white bread and accompanied with a glass of red wine that always tastes good with tomato dishes.

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