Recipes, Insight, Theory and Every Day Management for Students, Ships Cooks, and those with an interest in Marine Catering Operations.
Cheese Onion and Tomato Flan
An exercise in lining a flan tin with pastry and baking blind.
Cheese Onion and Tomato Flan
Savoury Flans always seem to be a very popular choice on the menu, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can make flans in large gastronome trays, your crew will not appreciate sloppy intuitional style of presentation. As with all pies, tarts and flans make them in round tins, the presentation is so much better, anything else looks like prison food. No matter if I make flans for 10 people or 100 people I always use flan tins.
If you are experienced in rolling out pastry and making flans this recipe is not for you, as you are already familiar with the techniques involved but if you are new to pastry work, or if you a student still learning your craft, this recipe is for you, follow my step by step instructions to help you, and also see the recipe for Short Pastry.
Grease your flan tins with Crisco. I recommend using loose bottom flan tins and you will see why later in this recipe.
Take a suitable size ball of short pastry, so that when you roll it out there is sufficient pastry to have pastry hanging over the outside edge of the tin all the way around.
Roll your pastry to about 5mm thick then roll your pastry back over the rolling pin and place your flan time on the bench just in front of the rolled pastry.
Carefully unroll the pastry over the top of the greased flan tin ensuring you keep the rolling pin suspended above the tin, do not allow the rolling pin to come into contact with your flan tin.
Here we can see the pastry just draped over the flan tin.
Carefully pick up the edge of pastry in one hand and with the other hand gently ease the pastry into the corner of the flan tin taking care not to break or crack the pastry, continue the process all the way around the flan tin.
Here we can see the flan tin fully lined with excess pastry hanging over the edges.
Trim some of the excess pastry from the flan tin, but still leave an overhang of at least 1cm of pastry, we do this so the pastry won’t fall back into the flan case during baking.
Please Note;- When we rolled out our pastry to line our flan this was a fresh ball pastry, we call this “Virgin Paste”, in other words it has not been moulded or rolled out before, this virgin paste is superior in both handling and the finished texture of the pastry. The pieces of pastry we have trimmed off will not be as good once re-moulded and rolled out for a second time. But this poorer quality pastry is still suitable for use. I collect the pastry trimming together, mould and roll and line the bottom of pie plates with it. And freeze them, we always have savoury pies such as steak or Chicken so there is never any wasted pastry. Of course if your pastry is good and won’t crack you could use it to continue lining your flan tins, this is a judgement call you can make?
Place your flan tin on an oven tray and line with greaseproof paper.
Fill the greaseproof paper with Baking Beans, here I have used dried Kidney beans, these beans are over 1 year old and all they are only used for baking blind. You may have ceramic baking beans which are really good as the conduct the heat so much better and improve the efficiency of the baking , but as a cheap alternative any sort of dried beans, lentils or rice can be use, and keep them in a container after use, marked as baking beans not edible.
Repeat the process for the rest of your flans.
Place the flans in a pre-heated oven set at 150°C and bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes.
When the cooking time is compleate remove the flans from the oven, here we can see a close up of the baked short crust pastry, notice the slightly uneven texture and colour, small white flecks and cracks which are evident, it is this slightly irregular mixture of the ingredients that give this pastry its excellent eating qualities.
Remove the baking beans from the baked flans discard the greaseproof paper and store the baking beans for use the next time.
Sweat off the diced onions and tomato until soft adding a little salt and pepper, and place to one side.
Fill your flans with grated cheese then divide the onion and tomato mix on top of the grated cheese
Pour egg custard into flans, but not all the way to the top of the flan because we don’t want the custard to spill over the sides as we lift the flans to place them in the oven.
Carefully lift the trays and place in a pre-heated oven set at 150°C and fill the flans to the top with custard, (The oven will cool whilst your doing this), It should take about 30 to 40 minutes to bake the custard filling, start checking you flan from 25 minutes onward, is the custard starts to swell and lift this is an indicator the custard is cooked.
If the ship is moving to any degree don’t fill all the way up to the top of the flan. I have had experience were the ship has rolled and the custard spills onto the tray, so judge your sea conditions. As a result I make savoury flans in good weather conditions, or in port, I’m lucky the ships I work on tend to be very steady in the water except in extreme weather conditions.
Check the custard is cooked and the top of the flan is nicely browned and remove from the oven.
Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Whilst the flans are still warm keeping them on the oven tray we are going to trim the excess pastry. Take serrated steak knife, hold it at an angle from the inside of the flan, and with a slightly down and outward motion saw the excess pastry, and the pastry will fall away, try not to saw the pastry as you bring the knife back you will end up with pastry crumbs on the top of your flan.
I would like you to pay particular attention to the pasty I have just cut away from the flan, can you see just how light and crumbly it looks and it does just melt in the mouth, it is perfect.
This is the part of the recipes where you will appreciate the benefit of using loose bottom flan tins. Place any sort of suitable container or bowl upside down on the bench and rest one of your flans on the top, carefully loosen the fluted outer part of the flan ring from the flan and allow it to drop to the bench, and repeat with the rest of your flans.
The next part is to remove the flan tin base from the flan do this with a pallet knife siding you flan onto a cooling wire or a clean white copping board if you wish to cut the flan.
I have used 9.5cm flan tins so I cut these into 6 portions, Some people will take one slice and some people will take two slices.
Here you can see a cheese onion and tomato flan which was made in a larger 28cm cake tin, this day I garnished the top of the flan with slices of tomato. Obviously a larger flan can take longer to bake the custard all the way through, but the rest of the technique remains the same.