FFWD – Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans

Our cookbooks sit on a set of shelves near the entrance to our kitchen. All that fit, that is. Others have no permanent home, floating from kitchen to coffee table to nightstand. Those are the ones I look at most. Note that I did not say use most, although sometimes that’s true. For me (and I’d venture to guess for a lot of people in this culture), cookbooks represent an aspirational impulse. What I shall do; what I want to do; what I wish I could do. Not so very different from the aspirations served by window shopping or dusty mid-list novels.

The reality is that there is only one cookbook in the house, with recipes pulled from here and there in the books on the shelf and those peppered around the house, along with some bookmarked on the computer or printed on cards and slips of paper. The bulk of the recipes, though, are stored in my head. Those are the dishes I come back to over and over again, on the overwhelming majority of days when creativity in the kitchen is shunted aside for the tried and true. My everyday cookbook is a slim volume indeed.

This is one of the reasons I joined the Around My French Table cook-a-long. I don’t want to simply expand that everyday cookbook by a recipe or two, but rather I want to develop a practice of cooking again. Exploring techniques and ingredients that I don’t normally use or have let slip out of my repertoire. Testing the truth of what I believe to be to my taste.

Which brings us to this week’s recipe, Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans. This recipe has divided opinion almost evenly in our group, with people loving it, hating it or changing it completely. If not for the group, I know that it would be one of the recipes that I considered making, but never actually tried. Pumpkin is generally given sweet treatment in Canada and the U.S., while blue cheeses are challenging enough on their own here. Flans, too, are seen here as desserts, rather than savoury appetizers. All of which makes for intriguing reading and doubtful execution.

I liked it, but my two taste-testers weren’t enthralled. Kevin took one small bite, which was enough for him. Our friend ate half of hers, while helpfully telling me that if I’d served it hot, or with sweetened whipping cream, or with a syrupy sauce, it would be a much better dessert than it was. I thought that the pumpkin flavour was a good match for the strength of the gorgonzola and I liked the contrast of those flavours with the honey and sour cream that I’d used for toppings. I’m slowly working my way through the leftovers. After all, I can’t let the gorgeous gorgonzola that I got at Les Amis du Fromage go to waste.

Stretching my repertoire in this way is expanding my cooking habits beyond Around My French Table. I’m finding I’m cooking more from my other cookbooks, too, as well as experimenting in the kitchen. There’s satisfaction and a little bit of power in being able to look at the contents of my pantry and say to myself, “This with this…and this. Yes.”

We’re doing things a little differently for the month of November. We’re still posting weekly, but people are free to post this month’s recipes in any order. You can find many other blogged descriptions of this month’s FFWD recipes here: LYL: November 26


19 thoughts on “FFWD – Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans

  1. I love how you mentioned your cookbooks. I too have those favorite cookbooks that go from recipe holder to Kitchen counter! It’s those cookbooks I drool over everyday! Your flans are so pretty! I really enjoyed this recipe but the taste wasn’t all that great.
    I made the cake this week and loved it!!

  2. Thanks, Steph and Michelle! I’m glad you liked the post, sorry you didn’t like the flans, though. Michelle, I’ve got to get one of those recipe holders – I keep propping my cookbooks awkwardly on whatever’s close to hand.

  3. LOL – at least there were plenty of leftovers for you. I really enjoyed these flans, but just like you, I might not have made it but forit being selected for this month. Your photos of this flan are fabulous – they speak to me, whereas the ones in the book kind of turn me off.

  4. I joined FFDW for similar reasons. Although I do not have an index of recipes in my head. That’s amazing to me. Ah I feel another gauntlet being thrown down. A new long term goal. To not only fortify my arsenal of recipes but to have a selection in my head ready to go. Oh I like this!

    I absolutely adore your photos. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks, Cakelaw and Allison – I’m so glad you like the photos, it’s really encouraging to get such lovely feedback.

    It’s only the most basic recipes that I’ve got in my head, though!

  6. Beautiful photos! And I enjoyed reading your post. I, too, have a great cookbook collection that I enjoy reading late at night…and finding a recipe to try quite often. Actually, because I have a large family and I cook to bring them home to visit often…like every day…I get the pleasure of using most of my books. But, I most likely would not have tried Dorie’s flan had it not been for the group. I learned a few things from the experiences this month and that’s what it’s all about. Even though I’m not in love with all the foods, I do love the tips, the sometimes unusual ingredients, and the better ways of doing things in the kitchen. I find a big of an addiction to the kitchen…a great stress reliever for me…fun and productive at the same time.

  7. Great photos & I, too, have a roving stack of cookbooks. Such fun & do give the semolina cake a try with cornmeal instead. It was quite delicious!

  8. Your flans look lovely! I’m glad you liked them. I still can’t decide, even though I made them twice.
    What other cookbooks inspire you? My favorites are constantly changing.

  9. I think my problem with the flan was the strength of the gorgonzola I used and that I probably didn’t drain my pumpkin enough which probably gave it the texture it had. At the time I thought I wouldn’t do it again, but I’ve been having second thoughts. My idea, too, was to expand my repertoire and this is one of those recipes that does expand something beyond the waistline. Thanks for commenting on my blog!

  10. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about cookbooks and why you joined the cookalong. Your close-up shots of the flans are beautiful! I am so glad that you enjoyed the flan. I wish I had and I think I would have if I had seasoned it more – mine just did not have any flavor and needed the extra condiments. I do want to try making this again.

  11. Great post! I know exactly what you mean about the cookbooks. I spend much more time leisurely reading cookbooks rather than actually cooking from them! That’s why FFWD is so great. Your flans look great.

  12. @Krissy – I am really enjoying learning through this cook-a-long and agree that it’s easy to get a bit of a cooking addiction. It’s so satisfying, in a world where there are so many complicated tasks with no clear resolution, to be able to go into the kitchen and complete a creative task with nourishing results.
    @Lindsey – thanks for the cornmeal tip. I’ll definitely try it.
    @Betsy – I’ve always loved the Moosewood books (a great resource since student days); my Gourmet cookbook is a new favourite, along with a copy the Healthy Gourmet cookbook that I picked up at a library sale. I also really like finding old cookbooks, like the Blue Ribbon or Betty Crocker, which sometimes have the best baked goods recipes. Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking is a great read, though I’ve yet to make anything from it. Those are a few that I’ve been carting around lately. What are your current favourites?
    @Elaine C. – I used canned pumpkin in mine, but would like to try it with some I’ve roasted myself some time. I’ll be sure to drain it well. I love benefitting from everyone’s experience in the group. The internet can be so wonderfully collaborative!
    @Elaine – I enjoyed it as it was, but would really like to try it with spices or herbs. Some people used sage, which I think would be good with this. I also heeded others’ advice and made sure to salt and pepper the mixture well.
    @Gloria – Thanks!

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