Ham Custard

These moulded savoury custards or timbales are quick to make and may be served as an hors d’oeuvre or, in larger quantities, as a main course with avocado and courgette salad. The quantity given here is for Ham Custard as an hors d’oeuvre.

2 oz. plus

1 tablespoon butter

4 oz. small mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced

1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped

1 oz. fresh breadcrumbs soaked in

1 tablespoon milk

8 oz. lean ham, finely chopped or minced

8 fl. oz. bechamel sauce

2 oz. Cheddar cheese, grated

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

3 eggs, separated

Using

1 tablespoon of the butter, grease eight

4 fluid ounce timbale moulds or

8 breakfast cups. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to warm 325 °F (Gas Mark 3, 170 C).

In a small frying-pan, melt 1 table-spoon of the remaining butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes or until they are just tender. With a slotted spoon remove the mushrooms from the pan and place them on a board. Chop the mushrooms very finely and transfer them to a large mixing bowl.

Set aside.

Add the remaining butter to the frying pan. When the foam subsides, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until it is soft and translucent but not brown. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the soaked breadcrumbs, ham, bechamel sauce, cheese, tomato puree, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, marjoram and egg yolks to the mushrooms in the mixing bowl. Add the onions and their cooking juices and mix all the ingredients together until they are well blended.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a wire whisk or rotary beater until they hold a soft peak. With a metal spoon, fold the egg whites into the ham mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared moulds, filling them three- quarters full.

Half-fill a baking tin with boiling water. Place the filled moulds in the water and place the tin in the oven.

Bake the custards for 40 minutes or until they are lightly set and a knife inserted into the centres comes out clean.

Remove the baking tin from the oven and the moulds from the water. Dry the outsides of the moulds and place serving dishes, inverted, over them. Turn the custards out on to the dishes and serve immediately.

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