Mmmmm two of my favourite ingredients. I love Rowley Leigh’s column in the FT and I have wanted to visit the Café Anglais for ages, but never seem to have enough money. I’ve read some wonderful things about these parmesan custards so decided to have a go at making them myself using Rowley’s recipe. I had a bunch of tarragon in the fridge that needed using up so added a tiny bit to the toasts. I don’t have a Panini or sandwich maker and only had ciabatta for the toasts; so had to weigh them down with a pestle and mortar to make them requisitely thin.
I found 15 minutes was nowhere near long enough in my stubborn mule of an electric oven, so had to cook the custards for 40 minutes altogether, but it depends on how set you want them.
They are really delicious, and surprisingly easy to make. I think next time I’ll try adding some sun dried tomatoes, prosciutto and perhaps some olives, like a Mediterranean chawanmushi.
If you don’t have a sandwich machine or sandwich maker, a thin piece of crisp toast spread with the anchovy paste will work just as well. The custards can be made well ahead of time, cooled and then reheated in an oven or steamer before being finished off under the grill.
300ml single cream
100g finely grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 tsp tarragon, finely chopped
4 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
12 anchovy fillets
50g unsalted butter
8 very thin slices of pain de champagne or crisp toast
● Mix the cream, milk and all but a tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese in a bowl and warm it gently over a pan of boiling water until the cheese has fully melted. Allow to cool completely before whisking in the egg yolks, salt, finely milled white pepper and a little cayenne pepper.
● Lightly butter 8 china moulds of 80ml capacity and pour in the mixture. Place the moulds in a pan of boiling water, cover with buttered paper and bake in a low oven, 150°C, for 15 minutes or until the mixture has just set.
● Mash the anchovies, tarragon and butter to a smooth paste and spread over four of the slices of bread. Cover with the remaining bread and toast in a sandwich maker or Panini machine. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the warm custard moulds and brown gently under a hot grill. Cut the toasted anchovy sandwiches into little fingers and serve alongside the custards.