With gorgeous, fat asparagus available at the farmers market, this Asparagus Custard was perfect for the first course (another recipe from Jacques Pepin's "Fast Food My Way") for my Stuffed Scallops on Mushroom Rice. It's worth watching his technique for peeling asparagus (click here to watch Jacques demonstrate the right way to peel asparagus in his Ragout of Asparagus recipe). The custard is an easy, quick recipe. Serve on a bed of fresh arugula with a nice chardonnay – and that's it!
1 pound asparagus (about 13 fat spears), tough ends removed and bottom half of stalks peeled with a vegetable peeler
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add asparagus, bring back to a boil and cook, covered, for 2-3 minutes. Drain. Cut off the top 3" and save for garnish (about 3 per serving). Put the rest in a food processor with the garlic and puree until smooth. Add the eggs, cream, salt (but save a little for the asparagus tip garnish) and pepper and process for 10-15 seconds.
Generously butter four custard cups or molds that hold 1/2 cup. Pour in the asparagus mixture and put them in a straight sided skillet that you used to cook the asparagus in, add enough hot tap water to come halfway up the sides of your mold. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350-degrees. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove molds from the skillet and let rest for 10 minutes before unmolding.
Split the asparagus tips lengthwise. For each serving I split one tip in half and put on top of the custard, and take one tip and split in quarters lengthwise and place around the plate. Then put the tips in a skillet with a pinch of salt and some butter. Heat gently until hot.
Unmold the custards onto four plates and arrange the asparagus tips on top.
– Jacques Pépin, "Fast Food My Way"