I had a stressful week. School is nerve racking. A woman I am in class with is being a huge pain and taking way too much space in my head. Legal struggles with my Sons father are escalating. It has been cold and rainy...and I feel cranky. My fiance' is sick and has the most annoying cough. I know I am being a brat...but I just feel so wiggy and cannot contain myself. So what do I do when I get like this?
And when I am this "fried" I make something complicated, that takes many steps and lots of planning.
Recently I had an epiphany about "Timpano." I rented the film,"Big Night" and referenced about twelve recipes...all claiming to be the "Familia Tucci Timpano." I did a composite of the recipes and late Thursday night...heaven came out of my oven, in all of it's visible and aromatic glory! All hail the "Timpano."
I started on Monday with the meatballs and the sauce. My meatballs are easy and tasty. I mix ,in thirds,ground beef,ground pork and ground fresh hot italian sausage. Chopped garlic,shallots,Greek Seasoning,oatmeal (instead of bread crumbs..less fat and more fiber) and eggs. Saute' the meatballs in olive oil and then simmer for the entire day in a simple Italian "Gravy" or as we Americans call it... sauce. Cooking the meatballs and sauce a day or two in advance makes them taste better inside the Timpano.
I used a variety of salami's and meats. Seven "barely" hard boiled eggs.A good quality Ziti. Shaved Reggiano Parmesan. Provolone. Mozzarella.Slightly under cooking the pasta helps it hold up under the pressure of all the layered ingredients. Layering pasta with meatballs,eggs,sauce,salami,cheese and then again..until the pan is "chuck a block" full...and brimming with "ini" goodness!
The star of this culinary show is the pan. You can go to Sur La Table' and pay $30 or you can go to CVS and pay $9. It is important that the pan be enamel coated. If the pan is wider at the top than the bottom, you get a "dome" shaped Timpano. The pan I got was flat bottomed so the Timpano comes out in more of a disc shape. Easier to cut and hold it's shape in my opinion.
The pastry was a bear! I don't do pastry. Scares me. But I watched the film and made the well on the cutting board,used very cold ingredients,crumbled two sticks of organic butter and handled the dough as lightly as possible.
Yeah know when something contains two sticks of butter...it can't taste bad. Despite much external and internal grief and some hair pulling.. I did not kill the pastry.
After we..and I do mean.."We"...it was about 10 pounds...after "we" pulled it out of the oven it had to sit for 30 minutes before turning it onto a platter and then 5 more minutes on the platter for the contents to settle.
All of my frustrations of the week. The crazy woman from class not paying rent in my head...my family...my sons father...all dissolved as I pulled the pan off ..and revealed the most beautiful pastry-covered pasta-concoction...ever.
People can drive me crazy...but food...food always stands by me...is loyal..true..and fair. Food can heal the sick...the sad..the lonely and when I immerse myself in a recipe...love happens. It is a funny thing that something as absolutely simple as a bowl of pasts can melt fears and madness. Because I do get quite "mad" at times...see here...
Then I crack open a cook book,find a recipe,gather the goods and begin the meditation of cooking. It is a way of saving my sanity, saving my relationships and having a damn fine time!
Nothin' says lovin' like somethin' from the oven!
I love you Stanley Tucci! Thanks for the Timpano!
Stanley Tucci after receiving his award at the 2010 Santa Barbara Film Festival