For the flan:
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons fine brioche or white bread crumbs
12 ounces Roquefort cheese
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
2 cups sour cream
6 yolks from extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice, or more to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup cream
Butter 8 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups or 12 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups. Dust with the brioche or bread crumbs and set aside. Set the oven to 350 degrees.
Put the Roquefort in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to crumble it. Add the cream cheese, sour cream, yolks, lemon juice, thyme, and pepper. Process until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Add the cream to thin the mixture, then pour into the ramekins or custard cups and place them in a roasting pan. Pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake for about 45 minutes if using 4-ounce containers or for about 60 minutes if using 6-ounce containers. The flans are done when they puff up and a knife blade inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and keep them warm or at room temperature. You can prepare most of the vegetables while the flans are baking and finish the final steps after they come out of the oven.
For the vegetable medley:
You can vary the vegetables and the quantity of each one, but they should total 6 cups, excluding the arugula and sage.
1 large unpeeled red potato, cut in 1/2-inch dice
2 Yukon gold potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1 or 2 purple potatoes (if available), cut in 1/2-inch dice
2 carrots, diced
1 cup diced rutabaga or other turnip
About 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 large leek, sliced in disks
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup beans such as cranberry beans, haricots verts, or white beans, precooked
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cooked beet, peeled and diced
Coarsely ground salt and pepper
20 sage leaves
2 large bunches arugula
Cook the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling salted water. In another pan of boiling salted water, cook the carrots and rutabaga. They will take only about 10 minutes. Do not let any of these vegetables get mushy.
In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and saute the onion and leek for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, carrots, and rutabaga, and saute. Add the beans, cooking until heated through. If necessary, add more oil. Sprinkle with the chives and parsley. In another pan, saute the beets. Finally, combine the vegetables and adjust the seasoning.
Keep the sage leaves in bunches and, holding the stems carefully with tongs, immerse them in a small pan of very hot oil for 1 minute or until they darken and shrivel slightly. Let them rest on paper towels. Immediately before serving, briefly saute the arugula until it wilts.
To serve, arrange the arugula on the plates. Unmold a Roquefort flan on top and garnish it with 2 or 3 crisp sage leaves. Scatter the vegetables around and serve immediately.
Serves 8 as a main course, 12 as a first course.
By Claire Hopley, Boston Globe Correspondent