A perfect elegant yet simple dinner starter or light summer lunch served with crusty French baguettes to mop up the most silky creamy parmesan sauce.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F/160°C fan/Gas 4. Prepare 4 ramekin oven dishes (or 6 muffin moulds) by greasing them well with softened butter.
Snap the asparagus spears about 1/4 off the bottom, where they break naturally. Peel or scrape them as close as possible to the spear heads then cut the spears into 3.
Fill a large pan with water and bring to a rolling boil. Add a generous heaped teaspoon of salt to the cooking water. Prepare a large bowl of (preferably iced) cold water.
Cook the asparagus for 3 minutes (no more than 4 minutes if they're more chunky). Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer to the cold water to stop the cooking process.
Prepare the clafoutis batter: beat the eggs, yolks, grated parmesan, flour and season with salt and pepper.
Drain the asparagus, setting aside a spear top per person for the decor and one spear top each for the clafoutis. Place the rest of the asparagus in a food processor and mix to a purée with some of the batter.
Stir in the puréed asparagus to the rest of the batter. Pour into the individual buttered ramekin dishes/muffin moulds, placing a spear top in each. Alternatively, pour into one buttered ovenproof dish, throwing in the rest of the spears. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes (35 mins for a large clafoutis).
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes, then using a sharp knife, release the clafoutis from around the edges and place directly on the serving plates.
Bring the cream to the boil, adding some salt, pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Add the parmesan then beat together well until smooth with a balloon whisk. Serve immediately around each clafoutis.
Decorate with an asparagus spear, a basil top or edible flowers. Also delicious with smoked salmon. Serve with a crusty French baguette.
I used 4 ramekin dishes but regular muffin moulds also work well, including briochette silicone moulds (makes 6 generous portions).
Wine Suggestions: Serve with a fruity white wine - such as a Voignier (Condrieu a real treat!), a dry Muscat or Riesling from Alsace, or Chenin from the Loire (Savennières).