January 16, 2010

Il Timpano ~ For your Big Night, or any night...

There are films that make you laugh;  films that make you cry; films that cause you to take pause, reflect and meditate on your own life; and then there are some films that inspire you to express your love and passion through cooking ~ Babette's Feast, Like Water for Chocolate, Eat Drink Man Woman, and Chocolat to name a few.

After I first saw Big Night back in 1998, there was one thing I knew I must do:  make a Timpano!  As a busy, working mother of two my recipe has slowly evolved through the years to be a bit easier, quicker, and appealing to the kids, without sacrificing flavor and depth. 

What  I like most about this recipe is that it is versatile (you can add any ingredients that your family enjoys), fun for the kids to help make, and is always delicious.  The presentation never fails to garner "oohs" and "ahhs".

Rook No. 17 Big Night Timpano
serves 6

1 pound dry spaghetti
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (or homemade)
2 cups grated parmigianno reggiano
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered.
1 cup cooked italian sausage, black olives, spinach ricotta filling, halved meatballs, or grilled vegetables
1 package frozen puff pastry, brought to room temperature
1 egg, beaten with 1 TB water
butter for greasing the pan

To begin, adjust oven rack to lower middle.  Preheat oven to 400.

Grease a 7" high-walled cake pan with butter (bottom and sides).  Insert a round of parchment, as you would for a cake, and butter that as well.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the spaghetti.  Cook to manufacturer's specifications for al dente.  Drain pasta and return to pot.  Toss with spaghetti sauce over low heat.  Add 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup parmigianno and stir till spaghetti is completely coated and cheese starts to melt.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside to cool.

Lightly flour your work surface.  Open and unfold one sheet of puff pastry.  Lightly flour rolling pin, and roll the puff pastry to work out lines and wrinkles, and to extend it just far enough to fit in the 7" pan.  Place in prepared pan as you would a pie crust.  Let extra puff pastry hang over the sides.

Add a layer of spaghetti, about 1" high.  Using the bottom of a wide drinking glass, press down on the spaghetti to compact.  Top with 1/3 cup of each cheese.   On top of the cheeses, arrange a layer of one of your fillings. 

Next, add another 1" layer of spaghetti and compact.  Top with another 1/3 cup of each cheese.  Arrange egg quarters in a flower petal shape. 

Top with another 1" of spaghetti and compact.  Finish with remaining cheese.  You will have some pasta left-over.  Put it in the refrigerator for lunch the next day.  In my house, you can forget about the next day.  It usually disappears from the pot while my back is turned.  

On your lightly floured work surface, roll second sheet of puff pastry, just to soften the lines where it was folded.  Using a pastry brush, moisten the entire top rim of the puff pastry that is already in the pan (and filled with spaghetti) with your egg wash.  Gently lay the second sheet of puff pastry over the top.  Using your rolling pin, fuse both sheets together by rolling back and forth over the top of the pan until the extra simply drops off. 

Using a decorative cookie cutter, such as a leaf shape, cut pieces from the extra puff pastry and apply to the top of the timpano, adhering with a brush of egg wash.  Using a small biscuit cutter, cut a small hole in the middle of the puff pastry to allow steam to escape.  When decoration is complete, brush the entire top with egg wash.

Timpano likely got it's name from the Latin "Tympanu" meaning drum

Bake for 45 minutes, or until Timpano has risen and is a rich, golden brown.  Allow to cool for half an hour before inverting gently on a plate (it will be upside down), then gently flip back on to a serving plate.  Slice and Serve.

Has a cinematic experience inspired you
to create a new family favorite? 
Please share...


This recipe has been linked-up with:

Tuesday Night Supper Club


  1. ok first, I had to reread your question ... I swore I read climatic *blush*

    Now on to the food - girl, I swear I put on 10 pounds just reading your posts. This looks super yummy, and I may just try it out, but I will have to leave out the eggs and olives and anything too foreign. My husband would have a cow!

  2. i love it!!!!
    i have always thought I would make it...but never have. Perhaps it is time for me to give it a go

  3. What a beautiful job you did. I can't get that fancy with the stars. But I love that you did.

  4. That's one of my absolute favorite foodie flicks of all time. That and "Woman on Top" which is not, as the title might indicate, a movie you'd be afraid to watch with your kids. Thanks for the recipe. I'll give it a whirl one of these nights.

  5. Wow that is a crazy looking dish! The combination or ingredients is so interesting, I am going to have to try it out!

  6. Is this what you made me after I had Jules? I LOVE it. Yummy...I still remember it. Not sure my kitchen talents can take that on!

  7. Looks amazing and yummy. We once had a New Year's Eve in Chicago where we did a re-creation of The Big Night. One of our favorite all-time movies.

    After seeing Julie and Julia I was inspired to make a beef stew. Not quite up to Childs' standards.

  8. I don't have a 7" deep cake pan, so you will just have to make the Timpano and bring it over. Seriously, you did a beautiful job! It looks amazingly delicious!

  9. How have I NEVER heard of a Timpano before?!? I am SO excited to give this recipe a try!! Thanks for the great tutorial :)

    P.S. -- where can I get a nifty chef's outfit like that? ;)

  10. Okay, I'm glad I'm not the only one who's never even heard of a Timpano before. It looks SUPER DUPER cool though... I'll have to try it. Thanks Jenn!

  11. That looks really yummy. I can't think of a movie that made me hungry for a particular food...I'll have to stew on that for awhile.

  12. It looks really great, and the presentation is just divine!

  13. Hello Jenn, I'm visiting from SITS. What a treat - and I mean both your blog and the recipe. Il Timpano - I swear I have never tried or even heard of it, and I lived in Italy! One thing is sure, thanks for introducing me to this incredibly unusual dish (or should I say: carb bomb). I'll be making it in no time. All the best.

  14. Sorry, I'm the anonymous above, though I meant to introduce myself, but clicked the wrong button. Please come and visit.

  15. That looks so wonderful!! I've never seen that movie but it's been on my Netflix list for years. (The kids keep pushing my stuff to the bottom.)

    I can't think of cinema inspired dishes that I've made. I have always loved Fried Green Tomatoes. Does that count?

  16. The video was terrific. Cracked me up! That is the craziest looking dinner. Eggs...really? I think my kids would faint...they love eggs...but not with spaghetti. I have to try it cause it is just too fun. Your little chef is so cute! Holly

  17. My family in Sicily has made Timpano for us both times we visited them. It was delicious! They tried to give me their recipe but I wasn't able to convert all the measurements and ingredients to English. The movie "Big Night" really brought back memories. I will definately have to try your recipe. Thanks for the blog. Rose

  18. Thanks for stopping by on my SITS day. It was really overwhelming! I have never heard of this and am jazzed to make it for italian night at our house. (Hubs is italian).

  19. I would make it...but never have. Perhaps it is time for me to give it a go

    Work from home India

  20. Big Night is one of my favorite movies...i have seen it countless times and every time i promise myself that i will make a timpano...yet i never do. your version is gorgeous! i have to give this a try. thank you for sharing with tuesday night supper club!

  21. wow Timpano! I have always wanted to try making it after seeing that movie.

    I saw a few years ago that Giada had made an eggplant and angel hair (i think) version of a timpano and I was tempted again.

    I think it is time to bite the bullet and try it. :)


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