Party and Picnic Timpano

timpano With the Fourth of July right around the corner and the many other celebrations that will be going on this summer, like graduations, family reunions, picnics, birthdays and loads of other get- togethers, I thought I would bring back the idea of making a timpano. What’s a timpano you might ask?

A timpano is a huge round drum or dome of delicious crust that is filled with pasta, meatballs, salami, cheeses and sauce, it is self contained, huge and feeds a crowd, It’s party food to the max and has a ton of WOW factor!

timpano Timpano was made famous by the movie Big Night, staring Stanley Tucci. The timpano, (which is the real star of the movie),was actually his moms recipe. I’ve been making it for special occasions and parties since the first time I saw the movie and bought his cookbook many years ago.

I love this scene in the movie, the first time we saw it, both my kids said “mom you got to make that! ” And I’ve been doing it ever since.

timpano pan The vessel you cook it in is VERY important so as to get the right shape, it looks like a big basin made out of old enamelware. I took a permanent magic marker and wrote my name on the back, this will be a family heirloom that will be past down to my kids with lots of happy memories attached. This is the pan I use.

homemade marinara Since I’ve made it so many times I sort of simplified the sauce, Stanley’s family makes a meaty ragu, I just make my homemade marinara, it’s much lighter and not as heavy, besides there’s so much going on inside with all the other ingredients. The mini meatballs I just make ahead of time and bake them.

timpano ingredients As far as all the ingredients go everything can be prepped ahead of time which is a great time saver for a big party going on. Like I said I make my marinara, cook up my mini meatballs, pre -cook the pasta (very al’dente), cook my eggs and chop up my cheese and salami. Everything gets put into a ziplock bag and ready for assembly.

timpano ingredients Even the dough I make the night before so it’s all prepped and ready, just make sure it’s at room temperature before you start rolling it out.

You see it’s really not that daunting of a recipe to make, don’t let it scare you, it’s fairly simple, a little time consuming with the prep, but then that’s it! The day you put it together will be a breeze and no clean up.

rolling timpano dough For all the years I have been making timpano I can honestly say I have NEVER had any problems with the dough, it always comes out perfect!

rolled out timpano dough Just take your time rolling it so that it drapes way over the pan, you’re going to be filling it with some heavy stuff and you’ll need to be able to close it up with out any of the ingredients showing.

 Fill it to the brim!

timpano Sauce it one last time then wrap it up like a present and bake it.

baked timpano The smells are unbelievable!

cooked timpano But I have to stress a very important step, LET IT REST, a good 45 minutes to an hour, think turkey rest, otherwise you will cut into it and it will be a big saucy mess, you won’t be able to slice it into nice wedges. You know how lasagna is when you try and cut it piping hot? It’s a hot mess, you don’t want that.

I have taken this whole, baked piping hot timpano, wrapped it up in heavy towels and brought it to picnics and family reunions where it would be sitting for 2 hours and it was still hot when I cut into it, just remember if you transport it you need something to cut it on and a good serrated knife. Did I mention it feeds a ton?

cut open timpano This is fun party food, people will be talking about it and craving it for your next gathering. It’s just some basic Italian essentials all wrapped up in a crusty drum of pasta dough where all the flavors meld together in perfect harmony with amazing results!

timpano wedge Try to stash a piece for your self the next day, leftovers are awesome.

slice of timpano

Stanley Tucci’s original timpano recipe is here, but remember I replace his rich ragu with my lighter homemade marinara.

Otherwise follow his directions to the tee I should show you my own personal copy of this recipe, it’s filled with yellow highlighted marks all over.

Study the recipe well, once a good friend of mine made this for a very special occasion, she forgot one important step, covering it with foil, the top burned, she cried…

Go ahead now, make a timpano for your next party or picnic, no need to be intimidated.

Come see what I’m cooking up during the week on Instagram, you can follow me here.


Family, Friends, and an Evening with Tony Bennett!!

This past Saturday our family and friends joined together again for our annual trek to Ravinia Festival, for the Tony Bennett concert.

Ravinia is one of the oldest outdoor music festival’s located in Highland Pk. The venue is a gorgeous park like setting with old trees, a sprawling open lawn area, an open air pavilion where Tony Bennett actually performs. Scattered along the grounds there are wine bars, espresso bars, ice cream stands, food areas where you can pick up some gourmet treats and baked goods, and even a sit down restaurant.

If you live in the Chicagoland area and haven’t been to Ravinia, you are missing out on one of the best times!! You just have to go! I repeat!….”Go to Ravinia!” Stealing a quote from my son, “It’s just not summer unless we go to Ravinia at least once!” And it’s so true!

The whole thing about Ravinia is the picnicking that takes place on the lawn. Yes, the lawn seating is the best! But there’s a strategy to it, you have to claim your spot quickly,you must have all your plans thought out ahead of time. And when the gates open, send in your best runners to claim your spot, all you have to do is lay out your tarps and mats, and then the fun begins. We have our “secret ways” and it works every time! Did you check out the crowd?
As far as the picnic fare, you will see a whole spectrum of things, humble eating straight from a pizza takeout box, to a turkey dinner on china with candelabras. It’s fun to walk around and see the different picnic’s going on, We actually saw a small wedding reception picnic there with the bride still in her wedding gown.

This is the Pavilion where the artists perform, it’s open, and there is seating for 3200 people, but you will pay at least $75.oo per ticket. Lawn seats are $15.00 per person and you will hear Tony being piped out from all the speakers they have set up in the trees. We always manage to get near the stage where the sound is great and if we want too, we can walk up to the fence and take a look at Tony performing. Many times you will see couples dancing on the lawn.

By the way, can I just say that Tony Bennett still sounds amazing! You’d never know he was in his 80’s! He’s as sharp as a whistle, and doesn’t miss a beat! He talks to his audience, and makes sure he plays all there favorite songs. Needless to say, “Chicago” was sung!

For our group of 14, we had 3 tables that we put together to make a buffet. We had a separate table that was for our beverages where homemade Sangria was made. The gates opened at 5:00 and Tony performed at 7:30, so we had 2 1/2 hours of ” grazing” before the concert started. Everyone all chipped in a brought something! The only thing we ever buy is coffee at dessert time.
For Appetizers we had:
Brie and fig, Goat cheese with Lavender, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Olive Salad Dip, Salsa and Chips, Feta Dip, Baba Ganoush, Hummus, and Pita Chips.

Main Courses:
Chicken Kabobs, Falafel, Spinach and Artichoke Quiche, Mini Prosciutto and fresh Mozzarella sandwiches, Breaded Chicken Fingers, Tortellini Pasta Salad skewer’s, Spicy Capicola and Mozzerella skewer’s, Mini Pizza’s of Caprese, and a Gorgonzola and Artichoke one, Stuffed Tomatoes, Roasted Veggies, Cucumber Salad, and, an assortment of Olives.

This is my son Tony, going in for the desserts which consisted of:
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Oreo Truffles, Mini Cheesecakes, 2 kinds of Brownies, Banana Bread, Lemon bars, and 2 different Fruit Kabobs!

It truly was a great evening had by all! Thanks everyone!

This is something I made which is great for a party, sort of a deconstructed pasta salad. In this case it is pre-cooked Tortellini that was marinaded with lemon and olive oil for 30 min’s, then skewered with fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and fresh mozzarella. Grate some fresh cheese over top. Mmmm!!

And finally, I just want to mention that this post makes it my 100th post!! Woo Hoo, I finally did it!
Buon Appetito Everyone!!