Some of the things that Fanny cooked have just not survived into our stylish, state-of-the-art kitchens. Some of the things are perhaps just a little too retro to be considered cool or chic today. Some of the things don't seem to be required any longer in our modern lives. Some of the things have perhaps disappeared for good reason. Some of the things were probably already seen as 'old hat' by the time the partwork was produced in the 1970s. Some of the things just wouldn't have been retro, cool, or worth remembering even then. But, Fanny loved them. One of those such things is aspic.
You just don't see it pop up on menus any more. Nowhere. No TV chefs are clambering to bring it back. No-one is desperate to give it a make-over or in any way keen to reintroduce it to our table. Not a mention. Essentially it's a flavoured stock, set with jelly and poured over meats and vegetables to keep them sparkling and fresh, and often including elaborate designs. What's not to like? It sounds so much fun. I have no idea why aspic is not back, back, back. On every menu. Every buffet table. In every kitchen.
Fanny uses it to keep things looking bright and appealing, of course. And what could be more appealing than the broad bean. I love them. So green and fresh looking, they are most vibrant of the beans. Once you release them from their 'overcoats' that is. While they are still wearing those, they look dull and unappealing. Fanny's idea is to make a flan to show them off to their max, all nestled closely together in their shortcrust pastry case. We know the recipe by now, so Fanny merely refers to it in the past. Quickly pulled together and blind baked, all ready to be fancied up.
Fanny insists we steam our broad beans. She may have insisted that they be freshly picked from the garden, and if I had a garden I would have pursued this insistence. Instead, I insisted on visiting the local supermarket, and found some lovely looking ones lurking in the freezer. They steam well. I have hidden an egg in the boiling water underneath, which bubbles away while the steaming takes place. Even fancier ideas from Fanny are afoot.
Fanny piles the luscious green beans into the pastry cases, and makes little decorations to look like flower petals from tiny little slices of tomato and the hard-boiled egg white, efficiently cooked. It's quite fiddly work. Fanny asks that we chose our favourite aspic, or cheats aspic, and cover the flans gently. My favourite of course contains no gelatine, instead a simple flavourless jelly made from Agar flakes. The finished flashy flans have flair and form. The 'aspic' makes them shimmer. It all seems much more exciting than simply some broad beans in pastry. That alone is surely enough reason to Bring Aspic Back? Ah, but then there is the taste...