Trois Timbales

August 8, 2009

Nah. Not the percussive type—those shallow, conjoined Cuban drums differing in pitch with metal casings that are usually struck with drumsticks instead of hands, and masterfully played by artists like Eguie Castrillo or Tito Puente.

Rather, these timbales are the culinary version which resemble a quiche or torte without a crust, somewhat like a soufflé. Derived from the French word for “kettle drum,” luscious timbales are a custard like dish baked in an oversized thimble shaped mold. In savory clothing, these delicate little asides are usually baked in individual ramekins and served hot with or sans sauce. Timbales can be prepared with vegetables or meats, served as an appetizer, side dish or even a main course at lunch or brunch…there are also sweet versions.

SPINACH TIMBALES

4 C (already cooked) fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
8 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 C bread crumbs
4 T shallots, peeled and grated
1 C Gruyère cheese, grated
1 C heavy whipping cream
2 gratings of nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F and bring water to a simmer in a large saucepan.

Fill a large heavy pot or Dutch oven with water, bring it to a boil, add salt and then spinach leaves. Blanch the spinach for approximately 30 seconds—or until they turn a brilliant green. Remove the spinach from the pot with a slotted spoon and drain through a sieve. Immediately plunge the leaves into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Meticulously squeeze out all of the excess water with paper towels, and then let cool to room temperature. Finely chop the spinach. Spinach cooks down dramatically, so you should have 4 cups as your final product.

Combine and whisk together the chopped spinach, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, cheese, whipping cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Pour into ramekins or custard cups about 4/5 full. Place the filled ramekins into a baking dish or roasting pan. Pour the simmering water around the ramekins until it comes halfway up the sides. Bake until a toothpick comes out almost clean, about 25 minutes. Let rest for about 15 minutes, then invert onto individual dinner plates.

CORN TIMBALES

4 C fresh corn, stripped from the cob
8 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 C bread crumbs
4 T onion, peeled and grated
1/4 C tarragon, finely minced
1 C Emmental cheese, grated
1 C heavy whipping cream
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F and bring water to a simmer in a large saucepan.

Combine and whisk together the corn, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, cheese, whipping cream, salt and pepper. Pour into ramekins or custard cups about 4/5 full. Place the filled ramekins into a baking dish or roasting pan. Pour the simmering water around the ramekins until it comes halfway up the sides. Bake until a toothpick comes out almost clean, about 25 minutes. Let rest for about 15 minutes, then invert onto individual dinner plates.

MUSHROOM TIMBALES

8 oz mushrooms (such as Shittake, Oyster, Porcini), cleaned and sliced
3 T unsalted butter
2 t chopped shallots
1 t chopped garlic
1 C whole milk
3 whole organic eggs plus one egg yolk
1/2 C heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 T tarragon, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 F.

In heated skillet add butter until hot, then mushrooms. Just cook partially. Add shallots, garlic, tarragon and cook until tender. Salt and pepper to taste and strain reserving liquid. Set aside.

In bowl, lightly beat eggs and yolk. Stir in cream. Add milk and reserved mushroom liquid. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Stir gently to combine.

Lightly butter ramekins and place in a deep baking dish. Ladle equal amounts of the mushroom mixture into molds. Carefully add hot water to deep baking dish about half way up the molds.

Bake 25 minutes or until timbales feel firm and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Let rest for about 15 minutes, then invert onto individual dinner plates.

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