food

post38 // french crêpes

good morning to you! or afternoon, or evening — just the time of the day you happen to be reading this. you’re in luck because whatever time it is, it’s time for a crêpe.

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crêpes have never been a routine meal of mine. i’m usually eating their cousins (a.k.a. pancakes and dutch babies), which i have more confidence in cooking. my memories of crêpes are special though, associated with château montebello, a hotel in quebec that my family used to drive 12 hours to each new years eve. the endless hot chocolates and crêpes at the hotel made up for the “when are we there yet” and often nauseating car rides for my brothers and i. year after year, crêpes with maple syrup were reason enough to go back.

since those days at montebello, i haven’t spent much time eating crêpes. until now! just two months ago i was invited over to my friend stella’s apartment, which she shares with her sister sarah. sarah is a francophile and has lived in france on-and-off over the years. she has a wonderful host mother from paris, who was visiting new york at the time. given my impending move to france for the year, the sisters thought that i should meet sarah’s host mum and experience a true french crêpe.

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aside from learning so much about paris, i learned how to make (and eat) many french crêpes that night. fast forward two months and sarah is now living with my family for the summer in washington, d.c. (her own american homestay of sorts!). within her first week here, crêpe ingredients were added to our grocery list.

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crêpes are an anytime meal. while we made these ham, egg, and cheese crêpes for dinner, they could just as well be your breakfast or lunch. the batter itself is simple, as sarah says, “think 4-4-2: four eggs, four cups of milk, and 2 cups of flour.” a bit of salt and vegetable oil added complete the batter and next is just the fillings. both sarah and sofie, her parisian host mum, cooked off the entire crêpe batter, kept the cakes warm, and then prepared the fillings right before serving. this is the best way to ensure your crêpe comes out hot. the batter will be much thinner than a normal pancake batter, so don’t be afraid if it looks runny! sarah describes that the consistency is best when it coats a wooden spoon upon lifting, but still drips back into the batter bowl.

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once you’ve cooked off all your crêpe batter and have a stack of eager cakes waiting to be filled, it’s time to load on the toppings. a couple good tips for fillings are to keep them thinly sliced so that they don’t overwhelm the crêpe, another being to spread your crêpe with sour cream (for flavor!) before adding the fillings. if working with uncooked eggs, cover your pan so that the egg can cook off while the rest of the toppings are melting together.

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folding the crêpe together at the end is a simple envelope fold. visually divide the crêpe into three, fold the bottom third up and fix it together by folding the top third down. you can use a little sour cream to seal. by this time, your egg yolk will have burst and it is seriously time to sit down and eat your crêpe.

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very soon, i’m sure you’ll be reading about all the different types of crêpes i’ll be trying in france. until then, i’ll be working on my own crêpe-making skills.

au revoir!

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p.s. this week’s other stuff!!!

i’ll admit to singing this with the windows down very loudly this past weekend. one of my favorites

obsessed with this account and their shop in greenpoint, bk

the drink of my summer (recipe comin’ soon to foodstuffs!)


french crêpes

makes 12 crêpes

fixings

4 eggs

4 cups milk

2 cups flour (all-purpose is fine)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (+ more for coating the pan)

1 teaspoon salt

sour cream

toppings: parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, nutella, powdered sugar, maple syrup, etc.

special tools

a medium-sized fry pan

instructions

  1. mix the milk, flour, eggs, and salt together to form your batter. heat the fry pan over medium-high heat. prepare any toppings such as slicing or shaving the cheeses.
  2. pour a large spoonful of batter into the pan and move it around so that the entire pan is coated in a thin layer. let warm until the bottom side turns lightly brown. turn and repeat. take the crêpe off the burner and let it rest on a nearby plate. repeat until you’ve baked off all the crêpe batter.
  3. you can eat your crêpes now as is with sweet toppings but if you are looking for a more savory crêpe, keep your fry pan warm and add a crêpe back to it.
  4. top crêpe with a thin layer of sour cream. add your egg immediately to the center of the crêpe. as the egg begins to cook, add other toppings around it. cover pan until the egg cooks off and other toppings have melted.
  5. fold the crêpe in an envelope manner, as i described above. visually divide the crêpe into three, fold the bottom third up and fix it together by folding the top third down. you can use a little sour cream to seal.
  6. serve immediately and enjoy!

post36 // flag trifle

hello people! happy 4th of july!

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i know you might be thinking it’s too late to make a dessert for the holiday but i promise, it’s not! over the past 5 years, i’ve had high hopes for my independence day desserts. i’ve dreamed of making this flag cake and this flag cake and this flag cake. but year after year, even after purchasing ingredients to make said cakes, i never do it. who wants to spend their whole day-off baking when they could be napping, drinking, sunbathing, swimming, vegging out, etc? not me.

so this year, i vowed that i would finally make a dessert for july 4th. the only way i knew i would actually get it done was if this dessert was easy — simple, quick, and unfussy. after seeing a number of trifles pop through my email and instagram, i decided i’d give it a go. what’s easier (and tastier) than cake, fresh berries, and whipped cream? not too much in my opinion.

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this dessert is simple because the only baking required is mixing one big bowl of batter, plopping it in two cake pans, and baking for 30 minutes. after that, all that’s left is cutting the cake into chunky pieces, whipping up some cream (or buying whipped cream), and chopping some berries. for an even lazier route, you can purchase a store-bought cake, no baking required. no judgment here.

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also, the fact that i made a trifle for the fourth of july is a big joke! trifles are traditionally british. but i made sure to make an ~american statement~ with this one, 50 blueberries and 13 strawberry-and-whipped-cream stripes complete.

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so go on, make your own flag trifle! your family and friends will be a) impressed and b) very full after they eat it.

but, on the “off” chance you don’t get to it this year, that’s okay too. take it from me, there’s always next year!

oh, and this week’s other stuff!

been listening to these guys all morning

the weirdest/funniest video if you’re trying to learn the french alphabet


flag trifle

makes one 9-inch trifle cake

fixings

cake:

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh baking powder

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs, separated

1 cup buttermilk

assembly:

2 pints heavy whipping cream

3 pints blueberries

2 quarts strawberries

1 lb cherries

anything else you want to throw in there that’s red or blue! i added blackberries to mine.

special tools

trifle bowl (i used this one and would highly recommend!)

hand mixer

instructions

cake (adapted from Divas Can Cook, Moist Yellow Cake):

  1. preheat oven to 325 degrees and generously butter two 9-inch cake pans.
  2. cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl.
  3. mix all the dry ingredients (baking powder, salt, and cake flour) in a smaller bowl.
  4. add the vanilla extract and egg yolks to the butter and sugar mixture. whisk the egg whites but do not add them to the mixture yet.
  5. slowly add the buttermilk to the wet ingredients, alternating with adding the flour mixture.
  6. once all buttermilk and flour is added to the big bowl, gently fold in the whipped egg whites.
  7. pour batter evenly into the two cake pans and pop them in the oven. set a timer for 30 minutes. (mine baked a bit over, around 35 minutes so keep watching the cakes once they’ve passed 30.)
  8. take pans out of the oven and let cool before cutting into 1-inch pieces.

assembly (this two recipes really helped me visualize the assembly: Tasting Table’s Cherry-Pistachio Trifle and The Feed Feed’s Red, White, and Blue Trifle Cake):

  1. whip your cream and hull and chop all your berries.
  2. layer in the trifle bowl, starting with cream, then cake, then berry. repeat.
  3. layer until you’re just short of the top of the trifle bowl. to assemble the flag on top, delicately place 50 blueberries in the left-hand corner, and thinly slice your strawberries and place them across, 7 red stripes.
  4. eat!!!

post35 // saturday pancakes

hi friends. i realize it’s not saturday just yet. but you are likely wishing, hoping, wanting it to be saturday and soon enough it will be and you’ll be enjoying a holiday weekend, celebrating the fourth of july. whether you’re spending the holiday with a dozen drunk friends, at home with your family, or maybe on this rare occasion, by yourself, making pancakes this saturday morning is a good idea.

pancakes have always been one of my favorite things to eat. growing up, they were a saturday ritual in my house. unlike my family’s sunday breakfast routine of fried eggs, bacon, and bagels, which my dad still cooks up weekly, saturday pancakes were made by my mom. i have memories of her whipping up pancakes on the lake in north dakota where she grew up, in chincoteague, maryland before watching the pony parade, and in our house on lazy saturday mornings where i would wake up smelling the maple syrup, hot out of the microwave. my mom’s pancake batter varied from truly homemade to a quick bisquick assembly, always bubbling with her signature blueberries.

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it isn’t surprising that i developed a pancake routine of my own. when living in new york, pancakes grew back into saturday ritual status, a time when i could invite friends over for breakfast or enjoy a homemade (and cheap!) meal as fuel for the day. the photo collage up top is just a sampling of pancakes i ate while living in new york, both homemade and diner-bought.

throughout the last few years, i’ve tested different pancake recipes and experimented with add-ins. the pancake recipe below is one of those always reliable recipes, time after time producing delicious, basic pancakes. a trick to give your pancakes some fluff? whisk the egg white before you add it to the rest of the pancake batter, a trick i learned from at food52. and don’t hesitate to play around with fun toppings and fillings. lemon zest! jam! nuts! honey! coconut! add some maple syrup and a fat slice of butter — you’re set.

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when breakfast duty inevitably comes up this saturday, step up to the plate and keep this recipe in your back pocket. oh, and here are some other things to do with your holiday weekend!

if you find yourself in nyc this weekend or any other, make sure to check out lorimer market for a+ sandwiches

watch this and this. not really #foodblogger aesthetic lol but hey, they’re great films

my friend sam just recommended this. next on my reading list!!!

check out this account. she makes bread = art

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saturday pancakes

makes 12 four-inch pancakes (adapted from martha stewart’s easy pancakes)

fixings

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk (i like to use buttermilk)

2 tablespoons salted butter, melted (+more for cooking)

1 large egg, separated

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 pint blueberries, or other fillings (optional)

special tools

nothing! (assuming you have a bowl, spatula, and skillet. i hope you do, call me if you don’t.)

instructions

  1. overachiever step 1 that actually pays off but is by no means necessary. i rarely do it: preheat oven to 200 degrees. place a baking sheet in the oven as it heats up and transfer pancakes to that sheet as you finish cooking to keep them nice and warm.
  2. mix all your ingredients together, with the exception of the egg white (and blueberries if you’re using them). whisk your egg white for 30 seconds and then add to the rest of the batter. remember, do not overmix. lumps are a-ok.
  3. place your skillet on the stovetop and heat to medium-high. upon heating, add a (fat) slice of butter to the skillet. wiggle your skillet around so that the butter covers the entire bottom surface, coating the pan. once the butter melts off, add two big spoonfuls of pancake batter. add more or less depending on how big you want your pancakes to be. try your best to dollop cleanly, so that you get those pretty symmetrical circles for your pancakes. if you’re making blueberry pancakes, add a handful of blueberries to the spoonful of batter you’ve just placed on the pan.
  4. cook pancakes for 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on your stovetop’s heat and how big you make them. once cooked through (you’ll see both sides browning), transfer pancake to your heated baking sheet in the oven. they’ll keep cozy there.
  5. repeat steps 3-4 until you get through all your batter. a little bit left over? make a baby pancake like you can see in the top right of the first photo. it’s a good topper for any pancake stack.
  6. keep pancakes in the oven while you prepare your toppings: heat up maple syrup, pull out the powdered sugar from the pantry, or cut fresh fruit. once ready, pull the baking sheet out and enjoy your saturday pancakes!

photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs

post33 // melting berry pie

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there was a lot to celebrate this past month, most notably my big brother rob’s move up to the big apple. i’ve been hoping he’d make the move since, well since i moved up here, and on saturday april first it came true! i was glad it wasn’t an april fool’s joke. he showed up with my brother jake and i showed up with the best thing i could think of: pie.

pie, pie, pie. we really love pie in my family. probably because i really love making it. on summer weekends together, pie is my baking project of choice. i run out of hands when i start counting the number of friends and family i’ve made pies with.¹ so it seemed only right that upon rob’s arrival, a pie would be a nice treat. not to mention, a really good mid-move snack.

fullsizeoutput_75fi had planned to make the pie saturday morning and bring it over to my brother’s new place that afternoon when they arrived. butttt my plans got a bit meddled after a night out on friday, spent very wisely at my favorite place in nyc: sid gold’s request room, which led to sleeping in on saturday.  who can blame me? needless to say, pie making was pushed a bit later in the day. and my brothers’ plans? they were actually arriving *earlier* than expected. not exactly what i wanted to hear. i got to baking right away.

two hours later and the brothers had arrived in brooklyn as i was just pulling out a hot berry pie from the oven. wow it looked good. but how the hell was i going to get this thing over there? i live seven stops away in manhattan requiring two trains to get to my brother’s new place. would i bring the pie on the subway? i thought about this. for like a second. hell no i was not taking a warm pie in the subway. how would i swipe my subway card and hold it? this pie was still hot so i would have to carry it on a cookie sheet. nope.

the pie didn’t make it on the subway. instead, i went with uber. i was already late anyways so hopefully a car would get me there faster.

fullsizeoutput_760my uber driver was not happy with my entrance. i had to ask a random man on the street to open the car for me and i didn’t really think through driving on nyc streets in a car with a liquidy, bubbling pie. as i sat clutching the pie plate so hard, the dessert spilled and leaked onto the cookie sheet. one big pothole and that pie would’ve leaked all over my uber driver’s car. and boy was he noticing. “is that going to spill??” he kept asking me. “everything okay?” came out of his mouth at each stoplight. i felt terrible, but what could i do! i needed to get the pie there! and i did. a few sticky fingerprints were left on my uber man’s car (sorry sir), but i made it and greeted my brother with a “welcome to new york city” shout and a pie shoved right into his face. a warm welcome right there.

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¹s/o to some special folks i’ve made memorable pies with: this thanksgiving apple w/ my mom, this lattice beauty with stella, this strawberry cream version w/ my dad, this low-res pie w/ yarbs (from my ig’s days of infancy), and this berry number showing off pie process with avh.


berry melt pie

makes 1 double-crust pie

fixings

pie crust:

2½ cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) well-chilled unsalted butter

filling:

1 1/2 cups sugar

5 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

7 cups fresh berry medley (i used strawberries blueberries, and blackberries but cherries, peaches, plums, and any other fruit will be delicious.)

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons sugar

special tools

rolling pin (or wine bottle!)

pie plate

instructions

pie crust (adapted from Kate Lebo’s, Pie School):

  1. fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 3/4 cups of water, plop in some ice cubes, and place it in the freezer while you prep the following steps.
  2. in a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. drop 1-tablespoon pieces of butter into the flour and toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
  3. place your palms up and curl your fingers back to scoop up the flour and fat. rub, rub, rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. make sure you reach into the bottom and around the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. it should be chunky—mostly cherry-size pieces, the smaller bits resembling coarse cornmeal.
  4. take the water out of the freezer. pour it (slowly!) in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. toss to distribute the moisture. as you add a bit more water and toss, the dough will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. if it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. if the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done.
  5. gather the dough in 2 balls, one slightly larger for the bottom crust. quickly form the dough into thick disks using your palms and thumbs. wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap. refrigerate for an 30 minutes to 3 days before rolling.

filling: 

  1. heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. in large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups sugar, the cornstarch and salt. gently toss with all the berries and let stand for 15 minutes. dump into the bottom crust-lined pie pan. fold the top crust over the pie plate and arrange strips in a lattice if desired! crimp edges and brush crust with milk, followed by a sprinkle of sugar.
  3. place pie in the middle oven rack and put a cookie sheet below it in case of leakage. bake 20 minutes and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. cover edge of crust with foil strips to prevent burning. bake 40-45 minutes longer or until middle part of crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. recommended: let stand 2 hours before serving (we know I didn’t do that…).

photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs

post31 // sweet potatoes with thyme

DSC_0193Thyme-Infused Sweet Potatoes

Like many people, I have a sweet tooth. I love cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, cobblers, crisps, ice cream, floats, the list goes on and on and on. However, recently I’ve been trying to substitute these cravings of mine with smaller portion sizes and sugar I can benefit from. High in fiber, potassium, and Vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes are a starchy root vegetable that should be added to your grocery list ASAP. Low in grams, one sweet potato contributes an extensive amount of nutrients for its percentage of the recommended dietary allowment (RDA). Also beneficial, sweet potatoes are high in amylopectin, a digestible type of starch.

If those scientific benefits didn’t lure you in, then this taste will. Littered in thyme leaves and a kick from red pepper flakes, these sweet potato rounds are full of flavor. I promise they’ll keep you full for a long time and if you make the whole recipe at once, you’ll be able to add them to meals throughout the week!

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Thyme-Infused Sweet Potato Rounds

Adapted from Kathryn Matthews, Epicurious

Materials:

Large bowl to mix

Cutting board

Knife

Vegetable Peeler

Cup/spoon measurements

Baking sheet or baking dish (13X9)

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 large garlic cloves, minced

⅓ cup fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 thyme sprigs for garnish

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Extra butter or oil to grease pan

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Grease your baking sheet or dish with butter or oil.
  2. Combine all ingredients and toss in large mixing bowl.
  3. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on baking sheet or dish.
  4. Place on middle oven rack and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with thyme sprigs.

post18 // giada’s eggplant timbale: where meat, cheese, pasta, and eggplant reach an apex

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Stepping away from my traditional posts on Latin cuisine, I couldn’t resist writing about one of my favorite dishes of all time. As a big fan of many Giada recipes, this delicious Italian meal will leave you washing plates that have already been licked clean. If you’re unfamiliar with Giada de Laurentiis, I’m sorry. Then again, I’m not the sorry because you’re reading this post, which means you at least now know who she is.

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Look, there she is! Fitting that she’s holding an eggplant (wow, what a perfect transition into talking about the eggplant timbale!). Anyways, she’s got some great recipes, this one in particular coming from her book Giada’s Kitchen. For the past four years, my Dad Tom—who first inspired me to start cooking alongside baking— and I have cooked an eggplant timbale, fixing our previous errors each time and stuffing our faces together. I love cooking with my Dad and some of our recipe nights have been my greatest memories with him. But as any familial relationship goes, there are ups as tall as Kimye’s soon-to-be wedding cake and lows as low as the burnt bottom of a cookie pan that you just can’t quite scrape clean. While we struggled to agree on the pasta quantity that fills the eggplant covered pan, which then led to a time out for the two of us, I eventually won the portion squabble using my baking background as ammo for how to fill a spring-form pan. If this is the worst thing we’re fighting about, I think we’ve got it pretty good.

In terms of what this eggplant timbale actually is, let me explain. Tucked between the eggplant layering and the sprinkled pecorino cheese seen in the above photo is an outrageously delicious meat pasta made with Italian sausage, ground beef, onions, green peas, and mozzarella cheese. Despite two brothers who are not enamored with eggplant (unlike my Dad and I, self-trumpeted eggplant worshipers), the pasta makes up for what they perceive as a veggie distraction. I on the other hand, can’t help but enjoy every bite of my timbale helping, a tasteful blend of vegetables and cheesy meaty goodness.

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If you’re going to undertake this recipe, and it is an undertaking, please make sure to give yourself three hours from start to finish. Do not plan to do anything after you eat the meal because all you will want is your bed. Stick to the instructions! I cannot repeat these guidelines more to people I’ve shared this recipe with. If you don’t, you’ll wind up with a poor ratio between the different ingredients. With any extra pasta that doesn’t fit in the timbale, you can store it in a tupperware container for up to five days. That time period is the same for storing the eggplant timbale.

Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis:

Ingredients
2 medium eggplants, sliced 1/4-inch thick *I suggest buying the largest eggplants you can find
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian pork sausage
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups store-bought marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups diced smoked mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1/4 cup
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan *You can use an 8-inch too, just be aware that you might not need as much eggplant

Directions

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the beef and pork, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheeses, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the springform pan with the grilled eggplant. Be sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the pan is filling up evenly. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and add a few more slices on top to completely enclose the timbale. Bake the timbale until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes to set.

To serve, invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Slice and serve.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/eggplant-timbale-recipe.html