Sunday, April 25, 2021

Eggplant Timballo

We have been greatly enjoying Stanley Tucci's Searching for Italy and I'm quite certain that we are not the only ones that have been so inspired to try to recreate some of the fabulous food dishes that make appearances on the show. 

In the Season One finale in Sicily, Stanley visits the house of a Princess in search of the perfect Timballo. The name Timballo, or the French word timbale, means kettledrum. And when you see the final resulting shape of this dish, you can understand why it may have been given the name. Thankfully, the ingredients tend to be flexible, using some kind of pasta, dough, or rice, and adding cheese, meat, and/or vegetables. The ingredients are layered into a beautiful and delicious casserole.

While on the episode they show three different methods of making the dish, and then there's the Stanley Tucci family original as seen in the movie Big Night, we decided to start with just one recipe and see how things went. And shockingly, much to our astonishment and disbelief, it worked!



Ingredients
2 Large Eggplants
1 pound fresh Cavatelli pasta *
1 pound fresh Mozzarella
1 cup Grated Parmesan
1 32-oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 bay leaves
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Deep Soufflé Baking Dish

Directions:
1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2) Wash and cut the Eggplant into thin slices length-wise (similar to what might look like a lasagna noodle). 

3) Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lightly drizzle each side of the eggplant slice with Olive Oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then line the slices on the tray (you may need to do this multiple times or use multiple trays). Bake for about 20 minutes to soften, then remove to cool.

4) In a large saucepan, heat about 1 Tablespoon of Olive oil. Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until softened.

5) Add the garlic cloves and cook for about 1 minute. Then add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer until the sauce comes together.

6) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta as directed (less than five minutes for fresh pasta versus 15-20 minutes for dried pasta). Drain, rinse, and set aside.

7) Oil the bottom and sides of the Soufflé dish. Using the Eggplant slices, line the bottom and sides of the dish allowing half of the eggplant slices to hang over the edge as they will fold over ontop of the stuffing (note: once the dish is cooked, you will flip it over to serve, so the bottom will become the top, in case you want to artistically layer the bottom pieces).

8) Remove the tomato sauce from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the pasta, Basil, Parmesan, and cut up Mozzarella. 

9) Spoon the mixture into the eggplant lined dish and fold the eggplant slices over the mixture to enclose.


10) Place the Timballo into the oven for about 10 minutes, then remove to rest for 5 minutes.

11) Place the serving platter of your choosing ontop of the Timballo and quickly, but carefully, flip over the Soufflé dish!


* Cavatelli pasta is very fun. It has so many nicknames - hot dog buns, seeds, even belly buttons! It's not always easy to find, but it's simple enough to make. Alternatively, you can use any other small pasta, like shells or elbows.


Monday, March 22, 2021

Homemade Carrot Cake

My dad came to visit, for the first time in 18 months (thank you COVID vaccine!), and I was over the moon. It felt special, and I wanted him to feel special. And my father, the doctor, loves his vegetables. So of course, one of his favorite cakes is Carrot Cake. Luckily, I have a friend who is a marvel in the kitchen and gave me this recipe for a homemade carrot cake. I was skeptical at first when she said it was easy, but all truth be told, the most difficult part was slicing the carrots! So, without further adieu, here is the best recipe for...


Homemade Carrot Cake

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups canola oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
5-6 medium carrots, peeled and sliced *
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup raisins

Directions
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prep two 9-inch round cake pans lightly greased with oil, lined with parchment, and lightly grease the parchment.
2) Whisk together the oil, sugars, and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, one by one, until all ingredients are combined.
3) Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and the salt. Blend together, then add the remaining flour, baking soda, and ground cinnamon. Stir until all is smooth.
4) Add the carrot slices, pecans, and raisins, and mix together.
5) Bake for 35 minutes, then remove from oven, flip over on a rack, and let cool and release from the pan (about 15 minutes).

*To "slice" the carrots for this cake, use a peeler to peel off the skin, then just keep using the peeler all around to get your thin, fine slices. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
16 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup of butter, softened
4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat all of the ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Makes a generous amount of frosting.


Now put it all together... Place some frosting in a full circle on the bottom of a plate. Top with the first cake round, layer the top with frosting. Carefully place the second cake round on top of the first, and frost the entire cake around.



Recipe courtesy of Inspired Taste

Monday, February 8, 2021

Valentine's 2021 - Happy at Home

Well, we've all mastered our homemade bread recipes and found a new norm accessory in our friend, the mask. All this time for reflection has helped me to remember just how happy I am at home. 

So, as the Valentine's Day holiday approaches, I look for more love to add to my humble abode, and Nod Hill Soap has it all! I endorse their products, not only because it is local to my town (Wilton, CT) and because we live on a street called Nod Hill, but because the products truly are remarkable. You can order online (thanks COIVD-19), and these are some of my favorites:



Here are some other favorites of mine that would make for a thoughtful gift around the home: Tea for One Set, Molton Brown Products, C.O. Bigelow Products, Kiehl's Haircare, a Water Carafe & Cup for anywhere you want! And of course, there's always Godiva...