Big Night, Small Bites

It doesn’t have to be a “big night” to justify treating yourself to timpano. Even if it’s just a weekday meal for one, there’s no reason why you can’t have exactly what you crave.

For years, I’ve been dazzled by the specter of timpano, just like the rest of the movie-watching world, after seeing the unforgettable unveiling on screen in Big Night. Who could look away as the knife plunged deep into that thick pastry crust, revealing endless layers of pasta, meatballs, salami, eggs, cheese, and red sauce? Given that impossible depth and breadth, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a whole tomato vine in there, stems, leaves, and all.

What Goes Into Timpano?

It’s like the clown car of foods; it seems to contain much more than could possibly fit inside such a confined space, where truly anything goes. Some versions feature sausage, pepperoni, ricotta, wilted spinach, marinated mushrooms, olives, capers, pickled peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, cubed bread- At some point, you have to wonder if this was just a clever vehicle for repurposing the dregs of the fridge and pantry. The only limit is your appetite.

Unfortunately, for those eating alone, that is a considerable restriction.

How To Make A Tiny Timpano

While I’d relish the opportunity to cook up a few pounds of pasta, throw it into a flaky crust, and go to town, my stomach would hate me for it later. Even for someone who loves gluten, it’s quite the wheat bomb, to say nothing of the absurd serving size. Taming the towering timpano requires more than just downsizing, but significant redesign for a more sound construction.

  • Oversized ziti get replaced with more compact orzo to prevent gaping holes. Any other small pasta shapes like pearl couscous, pastina, or stelline are also fair choices.
  • Trade out the doughy exterior for tender zucchini, lightly roasted for a subtly smoky, charred essence and greater flexibility. Thinly sliced eggplant, yellow summer squash, or red peppers are excellent alternative edible wrappers, and can be used in concert for greater color and flavor.
  • Single serving portions take shape in standard ramekins, no fancy molds needed. Leftovers are a snap to freeze for later enjoyment and can be instantly thawed on demand.

Is A Timpano Of Any Other Size Still As Grand?

I’d answer that with a resounding “yes!” Given that the original dish was named after timpani, AKA kettledrums, I’d like to think that a more creative approach, allowing cooks to march to the beat of their own drums, only serves to better honor the concept. Rather than approaching it as a project, tiny timpanos fit into any schedule or meal plan, especially as an excellent way to use up any odds and ends on hand. Consider the following recipe more of a guideline; any night can be a big night with the right perspective.

Continue reading “Big Night, Small Bites”

TGIF – Thank God It’s Fauschnaut Day

Or more accurately, Thank God It’s the Friday after Fauschnaut Day. As per usual, I’m a day (or three) late and a recipe short. Though the “official” Fauschnaut itself is essentially a potato-based donut served dripping with a sticky, dark corn syrup, or showered in cinnamon sugar, in the free-wheeling spirit of Fat Tuesday, I figured that a slight deviation from tradition might be acceptable. Especially when the results are so delicious, and much less greasy, who could argue otherwise? Sure, the parties and celebrations may be long over, but considering that fact that these donuts are actually baked and not fried, they’re not such a sinful option even as we enter the more austere days of lent.

Originally destined for the pages of Vegan Desserts, but bumped in the final revision not out of distaste, but in favor of a more decadent, over-the-top rendition, these are more suitable treats for the everyday sort of indulgence.

If you don’t have a donut pan kicking around in your kitchen, you can also bake off the batter in a mini muffin pan to make something more akin to donut holes.

Baked Cider Donuts

Cider Donuts:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Apple Butter (No Sugar Added)
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
1/3 Cup Apple Cider
1/3 Cup Vanilla Soy or Coconut Yogurt
3 Tablespoons Canola Oil

Vanilla Glaze:

1 Cup Confectioner’s sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Plain Non-Dairy Milk

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a donut pan.

Bring together the dry ingredients in one bowl to start, combining the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set this bowl aside.

In a separate bowl, stir up the wet ingredients; the sugar, apple butter, maple syrup, apple cider, yogurt, oil, and vinegar. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir just to combine. Spoon the batter into your prepared donut pan, filling the indentations half-way to the top. Pop them into the oven and bake for 10 – 14 minutes, until the tops spring back when lightly touched.

While the donuts are baking, prepare the glaze by whisking together all of the ingredients in a shallow bowl.

Once baked, turn the donuts out onto a wire rack and let them sit for a minute or two, until they’re cool enough to handle but still hot. Dip them into the glaze and let them completely finish cooling. If you want a thicker layer of glaze, either dip them a second time after the first coat has dried a bit, or wait for the donuts to cool completely before dipping.

Makes About 1 Dozen Donuts

Printable Recipe

Trading Milk for Cookies

Bloggers are easily the most generous people on the planet. Perhaps it’s a shared gene that includes the desire to write and confide one’s intimate thoughts to complete strangers on the internet, but for whatever reason, I’ve found that those with blogs seem to go above and beyond to share the things they love with the world. All it took was a passing a mention of my jealousy for Marika‘s new found soy creamer, only available in Canada, and I found myself with a parcel containing just that a few weeks later, with a few single serve soymilks thrown in for good measure. I’m still floored by such unhesitating kindness.

Despite her protests that she needed nothing in return, no good deed can go unpunished, so I set to work scheming up an appropriate ‘thank you’ present. Trying to settle on a special treat that would still hold up to shipping across the border, it quickly became clear that the only option would be to trade cookies for milk.

Turning yet again to my Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies as printed in Go Dairy Free, I built an entirely new framework with the help of that solid foundation. Have I given myself away by now? I simply love that darn cookie, any way you slice it (or more accurately, any way you scoop and flatten it.)

This time, seeking to spice things up a bit and liven up the same-old, same-old, I created what I lovingly named Lively Lemon Cookies. Zesty citrus meets spicy galangal, essentially the southeast Asian version of ginger root, for a hot and sweet union. White chips add pops of cooling sweetness, but I can imagine that the bitter contrast of dark chocolate could make for an equally addictive treat. Spiciness is highly subjective, so I erred on the side of caution, dialing it back a bit, but now I feel that I might actually have done better to double the dose. Thus, I’m providing a range so you can suit your own taste buds.

Starting with the aforementioned chocolate chip cookie recipe, use all granulated sugar, add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground galangal (or ginger), the zest of 1 lemon, 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch cayenne pepper. Finally, switch out the semi-sweet chocolate chips for white chocolate chips, or if unavailable, roughly chopped macadamia nuts.