Asparagus flan with smoked salmon-potato salad

Adapted by StarChefs.com
Yield: 6 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Potato Salad
2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons malt, sherry or white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup Idaho potatoes, small dice, boiled until tender but not mushy
3 tablespoons celery hearts, finely chopped
3 tablespoons red onion, chopped
½ cup toasted bread croutons
½ cup diced smoked salmon (about 3-4 ounces)
2 tablespoons crisp bacon
watercress, for garnish
Flan
1 pound asparagus, trim tips to about 3 inches; chop the rest (except woody ends)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon shallots, chopped
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste

METHOD:

For Potato Salad:
Whisk shallots, vinegar and olive oil together. Season with salt and pepper. In separate bowl, combine potatoes, celery hearts, red onion, croutons and salmon. Stir in half of shallot mixture, season with salt and pepper, toss, and add more shallot mixture to taste. Add bacon, toss again.

For Flan:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Blanch asparagus tips in boiling water about 2-3 minutes, then shock in ice water and set aside. Melt butter in small pot and add shallots. Cook 2 minutes, then add chopped asparagus ends, milk and cream. Simmer gently about 10 minutes or until asparagus pieces are quite tender. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes, then pour into blender and puree until smooth. Strain, then measure and add milk or more cream to make 2 - 2 ¼ cups asparagus cream. In a bowl, whisk yolks and whole egg together until just frothy. Gently whisk in asparagus cream and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Pour into buttered ramekins or custard dishes, place in roasting pan and fill halfway up sides of ramekins with hot water. Cover pan with foil and place in oven. Bake 20 minutes, then open foil and shake pan gently to see if flans are set. Flans should be firm around the outside but just barely set in center, with no bubbles. If flans are still liquid in center, return to oven and check again after 5-10 minutes. When ready, remove from oven, uncover and set aside until service.

To Serve:
Divide salad between six plates. Place one warm flan per plate, and garnish with watercress.