You can serve these warm broccoli flans with a homemade tomato sauce or an anchovy and garlic sauce; or simply slice cooked baby beets, put them on the plate around each flan, and then add lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper and extra-virgin olive oil.
Chop the stalks into 4 or 5 pieces, and separate the florets. Drop them in a saucepan of boiling water with the parsley, keeping back a few leaves for garnish, if you wish.
When the stalks are just cooked, drain, and rub the broccoli through a sieve. Add seasoning, and stir in the eggs and cream, making sure all is thoroughly mixed.
Spoon into lightly oiled moulds, darioles, ramekins, or whatever you have. I use small heatproof French glass tumblers, which have the shape of a pudding basin.
Place the moulds in a bain-marie, a large saucepan or a roasting tin, with water two-thirds of the way up. Partially cover, and cook over a low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. You can also put them in the oven, preheated to about 180°C/ 350°F/gas mark 4.
When set, remove, and when cool enough to handle, turn out onto plates and garnish as you wish, adding some freshly grated nutmeg while the flans are still very warm. Although these can be served hot or cold, the flavour comes through best when just warm.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.