During the peak of lockdown in the UK, we enjoyed the high season of British green asparagus. Since asparagus has an affinity with cheese, we collected some lovely “asparagus and cheese” dish ideas from the food / cheese loving Japanese community in the UK (a few of them are Associates of AoC). See here to get some ideas.
The distinctive fresh asparagus taste and deep, yet mellow flavour of good clothbound cheddar comes through nicely in cheddar and asparagus flan; one of England’s food heritage. Make the most of the asparagus season with this delicious recipe.
Ingredients – Serves 5-6
- 175g / 6oz Plain flour
- 85g / 3oz – Well chilled butter, cut into cubes
- Pinch of salt, ground black pepper
- 350g Fresh asparagus (fresh if thin, quickly boil or steam if chunky)
- 80 – 100g / 3oz mature traditional clothbound cheddar , coarsely grated or crumbled
- 3 Spring onions
- Savoury custard filling: 300ml / 10fl oz double cream mixed with 2 eggs lightly beaten, and pinch of salt and black pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
Sift the plain flour and salt in a bowl. Then add the butter and rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture becomes consistent and resembles fine breadcrumbs. It is easy to do if the butter is chilled well.
Video: Continue this until the mixture becomes consistent and resembles fine breadcrumbs
When it becomes consistent add 1 tbsp cold water at a time while kneading by hand to bind the mixture together. 3 table spoons of water would be suffice. Knead it for about 3 minutes. You can substitute the water with beaten egg, and the end pastry will be more biscuit-like fine texture which would also enhance the egg flavour.
Video: Add cold water or beaten egg little by little and knead by hand to form the mixture into a ball of dough
Wrap the dough in cling film and crush it a little flat (it will be easier to roll out later with a rolling pin). Leave it to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas 6 with a flat baking sheet in. When the oven is ready, roll out your pastry and use it to line a lightly greased flan tin. Line the pastry case with baking paper and pour baking beans on to it to secure it. Put the tin onto the heated baking sheet in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes or until set.
If you do not have baking beans, dried pulse such as chick peas will do the job!
Fill the cooked pastry in the order of asparagus, spring onion and cheese, and pour the custard filling . Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Put the flan into the oven again and cook for about 30 minutes. After taking it out of the oven, place it on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes to set.
A piece of delicious flan even when cold, which can be prepared beforehand and is convenient for family lunch gathering. The most important key factor to make it very tasty and delicious is to use good quality clothbound cheddar .
At our Academy of Cheese Level 1 course, we talk about the basics of cheese, such as how they are made, the difference between block cheddar and clothbound cheddar, how to taste cheese, cheese and drink / food pairing. For more details, click here.