Thursday, December 10, 2009

Drum Roll please; introducing Timbales!

Wouldn't you know it, I have finally made a conscience decision to limit my blog post embellishments and look what happens. In roll the timbales!  Please bear with me just a bit longer. I will try to orchestrate this as simply as possible. Let's begin by trimming down the Five Ws.

Who invented timbales? What are timbale? Why post about timbale today?

Who invented timbales?

According to this website, timbales are "shallow single-headed drums," invented in Cuba. Yes, dear reader drums.

Timbales are cylindrical, usually metal drums which are played with two sticks, usually along with a bell or two and a wood or plastic sound block or two. They are of Cuban origin, and are actually related to the tympani. The are occasionally referred to as "pailas" or pails...

The timbale was originally a scaled-down timpani, as used by European orchestras, and typically consists of two metal (steel, bronze or brass) single headed drums. The drums are referred to as male and female ('macho' and 'hembra'), with the male having a brighter biting sound, and the female a deeper, more mellow sound. These are accompanied by two cowbells, a mambo and a chacha, all of which are mounted on a single stand. Occasionally a cymbal or kick drum are used too. (source)

What are timbale?

It would seem I have already answered this question. However, here's the dilemma. To my mind's eye, the word timbale is a homonym; (ie) one of two (or more) words that have the same pronunciation or spelling, but are different in meaning.

The origin of the word timbale was molded in the French language. In French, timbale literally translates to Kettledrum or drum, with reference to the shape of a prepared dish.(tympanum  tympani) Now, I'm not quite sure about the relationship between the French kettledrum and my favorite definition of a kettledrum. I'm guessing neither has anything to do with percussion instruments. I also know this post will get way to complicated if I dig to deep. Suffice to say, I didn't name my other blog Come to a Kettledrum for nothing.

The progenitor of the cocktail party, a relatively inexpensive method of paying off a great many social debts all at once, was the afternoon tea party, which was called in the 1870's and for several decades after that a kettledrum. All one needed to provide one's guests was sandwiches as thin as tissue paper and as dainty as lace doilie and tea. The American Heritage Cookbook

The Ladies Lunch and afternoon Kettle-Drum are social and graceful modern improvements. Common Sense In The Household by Marion Harland (1880)

Fancy this, today, we are exploring the nature of timbales (pronounced tim bulls) as pertaining to cooking.

Timbales is a literal translation of the French word as "Kettledrums," the original dishes so named partaking of the shape peculiar to those instruments. Custom has, however, extended the adaptation to a variety of shapes, all partaking more or less of a bell-like conformation, through in some rare cases the sides and top are flat and angular. Timbales may be either sweet or savory, large ones constituting dishes by themselves and small ones being used as garnishes for more important preparations. The Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery (1898)
In cooking, a timbale can refer both to a type of baking dish and to a type of food, usually prepared in and sometimes served from the baking dish of the same name. The baking dish tends to be round and shallow, and is well designed for cooking a variety of foods, including the eggy souffle called a timbale. Timbale can be made with a variety of ingredients, although a classic timbale usually includes spinach, mushrooms, onions, and breadcrumbs. Some countries use the word “timbale” to refer to a layered dish incorporating multiple ingredients, which can lead to confusion when reading a menu. If you are uncertain, consulting wait staff is advised so that you do not experience a surprise...( great source:)

Why Post About Timbales Today?

The answer to the third W lies between the pages of The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas by Jeff Smith. (short bio:)

Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas

As soon as I picked it off my bookshelf in Pennsylvania, I knew I had to share its contents with you this holiday season. The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas is brimming with wonderful Christmas recipes and seasonal traditions. Dedicated to Saint Francis and Saint Nicholas "who have given us our Christmas Traditions," Jeff Smith leads us through the history of Christmas while focusing on traditions, lore, theology (he was an ordained priest) and myths beginning with Advent preparations, his suggestion for "The Coming of the Season" is Lentils and Rice with Onions and Sesame Oil, all ingredients which would have been found in the kitchens of Bethlehem, and concludes with Christmas Eve Tree Trimming suggestions. Here's a list of the chapters.

The Advent
The Manger and Birth
Christmas Traditions
Christmas Puddings and Cakes
The Festival of Lights and Chanukah
Our Family Christmas
Favorite Christmas Menus
Christmas in Other Cultures
Christmas Eve Tree Trimming

Each chapter is garnished with recipes suitable to the theme. For instance, in the Manger and Birth chapter there are beautiful ancient pictures darning the chapter introduction to the Blessed Mother. The suggested recipe for the "Flower of Heaven" is a Flower Salad. A mixture of arugula and organic edible flowers such as roses, calendulas, johnny-jump-ups and little pansies; it's quite becoming. Don't you think? There's also a recipe for Unleavened Brown Bread for Joseph, Honey Cake with Rose Water for the Christmas Angels and of course a Milk and Honey recipe for the Baby Jesus.

Many of my regular visitors will know I don't usually reccomend cookbooks on this blog. However, I must make an exception today. Long out of print, I have seen this book selling on ebay for as little as $1.50. If, by chance, you should happen upon it for an affordable price, by all means, buy it! I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

So, why timbales? I found this recipe for Bulgur Pesto Timbales in the Favorite Christmas Menus chapter of the book. After reading through the book, I suppose the sensation of Christmas settled upon me and I immediately began humming Little Drummer Boy. Oh, okay, maybe all that holiday singing I did with the kids while they were here had a tiny bit to do with it but none the less, I began to try to remember the words to the Little Drummer Boy. Timbales are drum shaped I thought. I'll post my own theme. So here I am and without further ado, here is the recipe.

Bulgur Pesto Timbales
1 cup coarse-grain bulgur wheat
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup orzo pasta
3 green onions
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbs. pesto (home made or store bought)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine the bulgur and chicken stock in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer, covered, 15 minutes until the bulgur has absorbed the stock. Set aside.

In another small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until just tender. Drain well and set aside to cool.

Combine the cooked bulgur, drained orzo, and the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pack the mixture into well greased timbale molds and place in a baking pan. Fill the pan with hot water so that it comes one third of the way up the sides of the molds. Bake, uncovered, in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven (careful please:) and remove the molds from the pan. Invert the timbales onto plates. If you have any trouble getting the timbales out, run the blade of a table knife around the inside of the molds.

They should look something like this. For some reason, my scanner is acting up. Guess it's time to buy a new camera:)

Although a drum shaped mold may be instrumental in the presentation of this elegant dish, it is not all together necessary. For heaven sake, don't run out a buy a timbale mold. Not yet anyway:) You can always use custard cups or individual ramekins, oven safe glass bowls, or even muffin tins. I would venture to guess, you can probably use silicone molds also. Heck, timbales are so versatile, you can layer your favorite timbale concoction right in a casserole and flip it to grandeur! I've left a few recipes for you to try below. Many have serving suggestions. An assortment of timbale entrees or desserts make a most festive holiday presentation. Give them a try. They're easy than a souffle, can be usually be served hot or cold and are only limited to your innovative spirit and what leftovers are in the fridge. Come on now, we're all trying to use our leftovers more wisely, aren't we?

Canned Corn Timbales
1 cup corn pulp
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
2 whites of eggs
Chop, mash and sift enough corn to make 1 cup of the pulp. Add well beaten egg yolks, salt, white pepper and a few grains of cayenne, melted butter, sugar and fine, soft white bread crumbs. Mix them, then add the stiffly beaten whites. It should be stiff enough to just drop from the spoon. If too stiff, add cream; if too thin, add more crumbs. Turn it into well buttered, small tin timbale moulds till 2/3 full. Place them in a pan of hot water, cover with buttered paper and bake about 20 minutes, or till puffed up all over. Turn out on a shallow dish and garnish with parsley. The Settlement Cookbook

Swedish Timbales

Timbales in the form of a pastry are called Swedish Timbales. They are created with the help of timbale irons which are round, long, or heart-shaped, often with a fluted surface. They are heavy and hold a great deal of heat. They usually have long handles for protection. These timbale molds are used to make party shells for entrees as well as desserts. They are made out of very thin batters and cooked until brown and crisp, much like a crepe. You can find out more about Rosettes and Timbales @ Diane's Desserts.Here's a quick recipe in the mean time. I must note here, I know of no substitution for these types of irons. Enjoy:)

Swedish Timbales
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter
Sift the dry ingredients. Add the milk gradually, then the slightly beaten egg, and the oil; stir well, but do not beat; strain the mixture into a cup. Heat the timbale iron in fat which is hot enough to brown a cube of bread in one minute. The fat should be deep enough to cover the iron. When hot, dip the iron three-fourths into the batter, and then into the hot fat. Cook the timbale until a delicate brown; remove from the iron, and drain on brown paper. Makes 30 to 40 timbales.

FYI: Kate over @ Serendipity is having a most fascinating give-away. She's kicking off Chocolate Week with a Truffled Truffle Give-Away. All you chocolate lovers out there better hop right over and leave a comment. You're in for quite a treat! (Janet that means YOU too!!!)

1. Timbale Mold Images
2. Neapolitan Macaroni Timbale (Timpano di Maccheroni)
3. Gluten-Free Goat Cheese Timbales with Parmesan Crisps & Beet Vinaigrette
4. Spiced Quinoa Timbales with Avocado-Orange Spinach Salad
5. Porcini Timbales Scented with Rosemary (Delicious Living Magazine)
6. Creamy Salmon & Zucchini Timbales
7. Indian Spiced Millet & Black Bean Timbale
8. Pumpkin timbale with walnut and herb sauce
9. Spicy Tofu Timbales with Rice-Vinegar-Seasoned Broccoli (Bon Appetit Magazine)
10. Mrs. Calvin Coolidge's Spinach Timbales updated (and healthier) version @ Trader Joe's
11. Miniature Mushroom & Gruyere Timbales
12. Timbales à la Irving (Charles Ranhofer, chef at Delmonico’s & author of The Epicurean, named this dish after American author, Washington Irving.)
13. White Chocolate & Lemon Timbales, with Raspberry & Orange Coulis
14. Carmelized Pineapple Timbales with Lemongrass Creme


  1. I've known the culinary definition of "timbale" for years, but never thought to ponder its etymology. Fascinating!

  2. These are so sound soooooo yummy! We should make some timbales next time you're here :)

  3. Hi Louise--glad to see you're back too! Hope you had a restful non-blogging month. What a coincidence--I noticed the Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas on my library's FOL table this very afternoon. I'll have to go back on Saturday and take a closer look--it's only $1.

  4. Oh...great to have your back !
    Although I will soon stop to go to Belgium...

    See you again in January.
    I take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !

    You are really a living encyclopedia !

  5. Thanks for this post--so full of information! Here in I love these little timbales. The bulgur ones sound amazing!

    I'm glad you're back.

  6. I have never made timbales, they sound great!

  7. I LOVE learning about the origin of words!!! Thanks so much!

  8. Hi Adele, It sure was a fun post to do. Thanks for visiting...

    Hi dear sweet Kyla, I miss you guys already. You're on, when I get home we'll make timbales together. I think we can even coax that hubby of yours to try them!!!

    Hi Kathy, I too am glad to be back and it's wonderful to "see" you're back too! I must add you to my blog list so I don't miss one precious post of yours. Buy that book!!! It's filled with so many interesting holiday tidbits! Oh yes, the recipes are inspiring also:)

    Have a wonderful time in Belgium Sidney. I just know you will bring back more fascinating goodies. A very merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year to you and yours!!!

    I'm so glad you enjoyed this post Kate, The bulgur recipe reminds me of an encased tabouleh salad. I'm thrilled to be back too, although, I sure do miss those kids.

    Timbales are really easy to make Natashya. They "show" good too!!! Enjoy. Please share if you take the plunge!!!

  9. Oh I feel all enriched! Thank you for the education.

  10. Oh, Hey! Thanks for the link! Janet made it over...

  11. Just another brilliant post Louise. Glad you are back, I always enjoy reading your posts, they are so informative.
    I am going to try the canned corn timbales although all the recipes sound pretty tasty.

  12. Interesting! Those recipes sound fantastic!



  13. Again, I learn something new - timbales. Hmmm...interesting.

  14. I'd love to find that book. I love chocolate as much as the next girl, so chocolate week will have to be comemmorated in my house!

  15. Excellent, informative post! I used to LOVE the Frugal Gourmet when he was on TV, and I remember my mom had one of his cookbooks when I was young. I will DEFINITELY keep my eyes peeled for this cookbook ... as I hop over to Amazon.com....

    I really enjoy making timbales because they're a really easy dinner and pair easily with a side salad or some veggies roasted on a pan thrown into the oven at the same time. I usually add in some tuna for protein and use a muffin (since I, like you, am too practical to go out an buy timbale molds!). But that bulgur pesto recipe ... that will be a MUST!

    Glad you found my blog so I could find yours! :)


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise