Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Dinner: Timpano a la Big Night

This year for Christmas, we essentially had one very long Sunday Night Dinner, which started on Friday afternoon and ended on Sunday morning - complete with two sleep overs. For Christmas Eve we made Kev's beef stew and for Christmas morning I made this strata.  None of that compares though with what we ate on Christmas night.  If you've seen the movie Big Night, you probably know what a Timpano is. If you haven't - you can check it out here.  

I wish I could take credit for this creation, but it was really all Simon. He had been talking about making a timpano for well over a year and this seemed like the perfect time to do it. The recipe isn't hard, but it is super time consuming and labor intensive.  He prepared the meatballs and sauce a couple of days in advance and then the rest of the steps were done on Christmas day. 

While he made the dough, we drank some tea and ate some of Heather's amazing linzer torte. 

And then the assembly began.  We prepared two different timpanos - one meat and one veggie.

(click on any photo to make it bigger) 

 Got all that? Once the timpano comes out of the oven, you let it sit in the bowl for 30 minutes and then you very delicately flip it over onto a plate - this requires two people.  Let that sit there for another 20 minutes. 

Here's one of our timpanos (timpani?) patiently waiting its required 20 minutes. 

And then, very very carefully, we sliced into it. 

This is the veggie version. We held off slicing the meat version until we had all had a slice of the veggie. By the time we made it into the meat version, I was already in a food coma so don't expect any photos of that one.

After we were all thoroughly stuffed and couldn't possibly eat another bite, we had dessert.  I made this Pear and Raspberry Crostata, from a new cookbook I received as a present.  I love that the pears are halved and not thinly sliced.  I also love the little hints of ginger in there and the tartness of the cranberries. This recipe is a keeper. 

We used the timpano recipe from the official Big Night Cookbook. If you don't have $1,000 to spend on a cookbook (Simon found his in a used bookstore), you can look here for the recipe.

Hope you all had a happy Christmas as well.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sunday Night Dinner: Slow Cooked Brisket + a Whole Lot of Other Stuff

Hello Internet! I took an unintended break from writing/photographing, for no real reason actually, but then one week became two then two became... six and then here we are. So annnyway...

Here's a meal from a few weeks ago that makes me super happy.  It was our turn to cook Sunday Night Dinner, and it was a cold and gray day, so I took the opportunity to spend the day in the kitchen, something I really wish I would do more of.  The starting point for the meal was that I wanted to slow cook something, and I thought that this pulled brisket recipe sounded pretty good.  But that didn't take all day, because basically you just brown it, add some spices and let that thing sit in the slow cooker all day. And by all day I mean, all day - a good 8 - 10 hours. Make sure you start early. 

What did take all day were the accessories.  The Smitten Kitchen recipe suggests serving the pulled pork with pickled onions and some slaw. Those things all sounded good to me, so I got to work on that.  Because we weren't going to be eating though for another 8-10 hours, I just prepped what I could ahead of time, which meant getting those onions pickling, making the dressing for the slaw and chopping up a bunch of cabbage.  Also, because we were transporting all of this stuff over to our friends' house I got to use our fancy new glass storage containers, which I highly recommend.

And then the baking began. I wanted to bring some cookies into work, and I frequently check out the Smitten Kitchen cookie section and think, "I wish I had time to make those" about pretty much everything on there. And since I was already having a love affair with Smitten Kitchen, and spending the day in my kitchen, I decided to make two different types: Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Pecan and Chocolate Toffee.

These are the Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, Pecan (but you knew that). I forgot to take pictures of the Chocolate Toffee cookies, which is just as well because I didn't think that they looked nearly as pretty as they should have.  I highly recommend these oatmeal ones though, especially for this time of year. They taste like fall, due to the orange zest, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon, but still have that good old fashioned chocolate chip texture thing going on. These are a keeper.  I personally didn't love the chocolate toffee cookies, but others preferred them, so go figure. 

After all the cookies finally finished baking, we transported ourselves, the glass containers, and a slow cooker full of brisket over to our friends' house.  We plugged the slower cooker back in for another two hours, and got back to work - next up was Mac and Cheese.  I decided to use the Jamie Oliver version, because well, I love Jamie Oliver and also I liked that he used tomatoes in his as well as breadcrumbs on the top.  We also added in what we like to call "cheesy nuggets" - basically the rinds of the parmesan that are set aside when the cheese is all done.  These little bits add lots of chewy, cheesy surprises in the dish. While that was baking, we assembled all the other ingredients.. and then had ourselves a feast. 

The only low point of the meal for me were the rolls - they just weren't very good.  The brisket was excellent, and super super easy.  The verdict on the mac n cheese was: More Cheese! (and that was after we had added well more than was called for) but I'd still make it again. 

It was a long day and in the end, I wasn't very hungry - somehow being around all the food all day just completely made me lose my appetite - but it was extremely satisfying. I am very much looking forward to having some time off in the next few weeks to get back to making some more big meals.
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