ll Cibo é L'essenza Della Vita....

"The rooms that you use on a daily basis are the rooms people will always want to sit in, because they have soul." --Bunny Williams


"If you want to live forever and ever, drink wine and eat maccheroni." ~~~Sicilian Proverb

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Foodie Friday Timbale di Pasta

What a week! It's been a week of high stress, concern, and prayers here at Casa B- Allie has had a rough time and the doctors are working hard to find the problem.  She had a good day yesterday and a tough one today

Your prayers and wonderful emails and messages have really lifted her spirits (and ours)- we are so very grateful

Tonight we are celebrating Mr B's birthday! (Hi Daddy! Happy Birthday! I love you~ Allie)

His favorite dinner EVER is chicken parmesan, so that's definitely on the menu. We have some dear friends stopping by to visit with Allie and toast the birthday, so I decided to make one of my go-to crowd pleasers

Timbale Di Pasta!

I did a quick Google search to find you all some history on this very traditional southern Italian dish, and found this:

"The movie ‘Big Night’ opened in 1996 at the Sundance Film Festival. The story is about two Italian-American brothers who stage a final ‘Big Night’ at their restaurant, in a wonderfully defiant gesture in the face of imminent closure forced by the competition from the slick operators across the street.
Their ‘Big Night’ is a marvellous celebration of life, and love, and food, and of how life, and love, and food are intertwined because they are the same thing to these brothers – and to us too, if we are lucky.
The real star of the movie is the pièce de résistance of the meal – a giant timpano or timbale. A ‘timbal’ used to mean a kettle drum, but sometime, somewhere, some chef co-opted the name for ‘a dish made of finely minced meat, fish, or other ingredients, cooked in a crust of paste or in a mould.’ The mould being, of course, in the shape of a kettle drum.
The brothers could have made individual timbales for each guest, it would have been an easier and safer decision, but easier and safer options were not being celebrated this night. A single large timpano - in spite of the inherent risks in its construction (getting the layers of filling right), cooking (what if it was not cooked through?) and especially its turning out of the mould (would the unthinkable happen?) – was the only option. A single timpano was crafted with skill and care and patience - large enough to share with friends, lovers, and families - a dish that celebrated heritage and culture and joy, a grand creation that symbolised everything that the brother’s restaurant was, and the opposition restaurant wasn’t.
The essential feature of a timpano/timbale, as we have said, is its shape. The filling may be as varied as the circumstances and whim of the cook allow, and the lining of the mould – the OED definition above, notwithstanding – is not always of dough."

When I serve Timbalo for special occasions or put  one on a buffet table, it is a lot more elaborate. I've put herb leaves in the dough, used cut out pastry for decoration, and surrounded the mold with seasonal decor- you can get as creative as you want. But tonight is a family night and this family is very tired, so this simple rustic version will do fine.  This is a satisfying, hearty dish- one pound of pasta will easily feed 6-8.

Pasta, eggplant, peas, smoked mozzarella, tiny meatballs made of lamb and pork, and porcini mushrooms all held together and layered with a rich tomato ragu and encased in a sweet, buttery "pasta frolla" (pastry dough)

Timbalos can also be encased in thin slices of meat, slices of eggplant, or any of a number of other options. Every village has it's own version and boiled eggs, chicken livers, diced cooked meats, and slabs of eggplant are all considered traditional. 

Tonight's version- simple and satisfying- Enjoy!

Timbalo di Pasta

Pasta Frolla (I made 1 1/2 recipes for this large Timbalo- 1 recipe lined the mold, the 1/2 recipe rolled out was the bottom):
3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 large eggs
4 egg yolks

Put all ingredients in food processor and pulse till dough forms a ball- this is a soft dough. Roll out into a very large circle on a well floured board (I topped my board with waxed paper, and floured the paper. I use a fairly large mold and it's easier to just flip the paper over the bowl) Spray mold with Pam and line with dough. I use a large enamel bowl for my mold, but a springform pan would also work. Refrigerate till ready to fill. Roll out another 1/2 recipe into a circle slightly larger than diameter of your mold (again, I roll it out on paper) Set aside

For the filling I used:
1 1/2 ounces porcini mushrooms- cover with boiling water, let soak for 15 minutes, drain and chop
1 recipe mini meatballs made from combination of lamb and pork (recipe below)
1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas or thawed frozen
1/2 pound smoked mozzarella, cut in 1/4 inch dice
2 medium eggplants- sliced 1/4 inch thick, salted and drained- rinse, pat dry and grill till tender (I use my panini press)
handful of sage leaves
handful of basil leaves
1 recipe of your favorite ragu sauce- with or without meat- let sauce cool to room temperature
1 pound ziti or rigatoni, cooked very al dente, rinsed with cool water and drained

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cooked, cooled ziti with some sauce and the peas. Stir in the diced cheese, sage, and basil. In your lined mold, start layering-sprinkle with some mushrooms, a bit of pasta, a layer of eggplant slices, some of the meatballs, and then a layer of sauce. Use enough sauce that the filling won't be dry. Continue layering and end with pasta and a light layer of sauce. Fold down edges of dough over the filling to form a rim. Lay the dough round on top and seal the edges well- you don't want leaks. Bake for about 60-65 minutes till golden. A smaller springform will be done sooner- check at 40 minutes.
Allow to cool in mold for an hour or so. Invert serving platter or board on top (or release springform sides). Cut with long serrated knife and serve with more ragu on the side

1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 pound ground pork
couple of slices of day old Italian bread, soaked in milk, drained and squeezed dry
1 egg
2-3 tblsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tblsp chopped basil
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, crushed and  minced
Freshly ground black pepper
 fine bread crumbs- seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Parmesan
Canola oil, for frying

Mix first 11 ingredients in a bowl and mix and squeeze all together. My Nonna always swore that the ONLY way to make decent meatballs was with your hands so you could "feel" the right texture. That's the only way I know :)
Form tiny meatballs- I use a small melon baller- about the size of a small walnut. Roll each of them in the dry breadcrumbs. Fry in a large skillet till golden brown on all sides. Drain on a rack over a cookie sheet to remove any excess oil

Tutti a Tavola!!

We're linking up tonight with our very favorite Blogland party- Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum. Thank you Michael! Hope Mr Rooster didn't wear you out!

Again, Mr B and I ask for any prayers and healing thoughts you can spare as our girl undergoes more testing this weekend. The heart monitor comes off tomorrow and she'll be much happier!

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. You are so amazing! You did all this on a night when you are so worn out in every are such a giving lady..God bless you and yours! :D

  2. Your love for your family obviously gives you the strength to have life carry on as usual. Allie is one very lucky girl to be surrounded by family and friends who love her dearly.

  3. Oh Pattie - My prayers for Allie and the entire family are on their way! It's funny how this blogging community is - you kind of get to know people even though you've never met, but your heart still goes out to them when they experiencing trials in their lives.

    Many blessing to you two, my blogging friends!


  4. Patti, please know you all are in my thoughts and prayers. Allie, special prayers being said for you. Happy birthday to Mr.B. This dish looks amazing. I'd love to try it. Maybe I'll do it over the holidays when all the family will be home. Take care and know we're thinking of you!

  5. Best wishes and prayers to Allie and Happy Birthday to Mr. B. This looks like a great main dish. Do you have to do homemade pasta. I love the shape of it -- very fun! Joni

  6. First...prayers are coming your way for Allie. Yes, this is a scary time, but God is with her...will be praying for her doctors to find "the glitch" and repair it.
    Second...Happy birthday, Mr. B
    Third...This recipe sounds fabulous!!!
    Thanks for taking the time to share...
    Jane (artfully graced)

  7. You have our deepest thoughts and prayers for Allie. I hope that they find out what's wrong soon and she starts to feel better. Happy Birthday to the Mr. What a lucky man to have you spoil him so!! Delicious looking dish! Wish my man liked pasta! xxoo

  8. Happy Birthday Mr. B!!!

    Allie, my heart, thoughts and prayers are with you! I hope they find out what is going on soon and are able to deal with it and your recovery is quick!

    Pattie, this looks fantastic! I am so sorry your family is going through so much at this time. I wish there was something I could do. It is such a helpless feeling knowing friends of yours are going through such hard times and you can't do anything for them!

    But, know you and the family are in my prayers!

    Hugs my sweet friend!

  9. That looks fantastic. I would never have thought that it's filled with pasta...!

  10. Prayers and healing thoughts for sweet Allie! The waiting has to be hard so, hopefully, you'll have an answer very soon.

    This dish looks like a delicious way to celebrate Mr. B's birthday. Happy birthday to him!!


  11. Looks beautiful and as always so pretty. Praying for Allie and your family. God Bless.Take care,~Emelia~

  12. I'm sending constant prayers your way, Pattie, and hope that Allie is back to normal life very soon. With all you have going on how in the world do you have time to make a gorgeous meal like this??? Happy birthday wishes to Mr. B.

  13. What a fabulous looking meal. LOVE that enamalware bowl. Birthday wishes and prayers offered for Allie. Take care :)


  14. Hi! I am visiting for the first time and let me start by saying that my prayers are with you that your sweet Allie gets better soon. Second I want to say that I am in love with this dish. It is gorgeous! I lOVE pasta so this was love at first sight! Angie

  15. Pattie, yes I am in Fayetteville, NC about 1 1/2 from you. Hey just so you know, one of my bloggie friends, Penny at, is hosting a NC bloggers brunch at her home in Asheville on 16 October and is asking us to pass the word around. So consider yourself officially invited. :) Would love it if you could come! Angie

  16. This is an amazing dish. I so loved that movie and never dreamed of making the dish at home. I hope the birthday goes well. All of you are in my thoughts. I keep Allie in my prayers. Blessings...Mary

  17. My best to Allie for a quick and speedy recovery. What a perfect way to celebrate a birthday with an awesome dish. I'd like that for my B-Day for sure.


  18. Hi Pattie,

    I'm sorry I haven't found time to visit my blogging friends lately. I had no idea your sweet Allie's been ill. It must be extremely difficult for her, you, and your family. I'll definitely be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

    I've appreciated your visits and kind words so much. Your Timbalo looks fantastic, btw!


  19. So glad you stopped by my blog! It has been fun reading through yours. We spent 2 weeks in Italy a few years ago and loved it. I saw a picture of San Gimignano on your side bar. That was one of the places we visited. We were on a tour and only had 3 hours there - funny thing is we spent it in a wonderful restaurant on a side street drinking wonderful wine and eating wonderful food. We never really got to see much of the city!

    Hope you can make it to the brunch.

  20. It's been a hectic work week for me so I have been away from blogging all week. I am so sorry to hear about Allie's problems!!! You can count on many positive thoughts from me.

    On another positive note, Happy Birthday to Mr. Bramasole and thank you for that beautiful timbale recipe!

  21. How I wish there was good Italian food in my little corner of the world. What a masterpiece that timbale is!

    Again, my warmest hopes and prayers are being sent your way for a quick resolution to Allie's condition. And a very happy birthday to Mr. B!

  22. Oh my, this looks so good. Now I am not the greatest cook in the world, but I would love to give this a try. Wonderful.
    Thanks also for you comment and input on the fabric for the bedroom. I love all of these fabrics, just deciding what to use in the mix is so hard.
    I still have Allie in my prayers. Have a super weekend. Hugs, Marty

  23. Birthday blessings and healing prayers. Of course a serving of the timbale would work wonders too.

  24. That looks incredible! The rice balls were a hit and I'm guessing this will be too!

  25. Wow! That looks amazing.
    Allie is in my prayers!

  26. Oh my but this does sound wonderful, and I like knowing a bit of the history. Mr B was a lucky guy to have such a tasty b-day dinner. Hugs to all of you, especially Allie.

  27. Patty-I am just catching up on my blog reading and had no idea Allie had had problems. I am a great believer in the power of prayer and will put you all in my prayers. Our daughter left a couple cheerleading practices and competitions in an ambulance (severe asthma attacks)and I know there is no fear like the fear for your child's health and safety. I hope you are all able to relax a little and celebrate the birthday with what sounds like a wonderful meal. Give Allie my love and tell her I am praying she makes a FULL recovery and is back to her old routine in no time. Sending you big hugs~~Susan

  28. Pattie

    I am so sorry I didn't know Allie was not feeling well....I do hope she is getting better, our prayers are with all of you......You are truly amazing to make such a wonderful dish, if your like me I know cooking takes my mind off my have created a masterpiece with your Timbale....I would love to have been there to try it, I know it must have been delicious.

    I hope you and your family are having a restful labor day weekend, you and Allie are in my prayers and thoughts.

  29. wonderful Timballo di pasta!I'll try it very soon,xoxoxo

  30. Hi there, just found your blog. You have some amazing recipes here. And this is such an intresting and flavourful dish!! I'm so excited to read about it. Best wishes to you, and Allie.


  31. You timpano is adelightful triumph Pattie!

    I hope Allie is doing well and feeling good -- has she gotten a final diagnosis as yet? I'm keeping you all in my prayers!


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