I've heard and read that Marion Cunningham wants people to cook and eat at home together, as a way of keeping our society whole. That's a great idea, sure. But, my reason for using one of her charming Lost Recipes was more simple. I was tired and hungry and wanted to use as many leftovers as possible. Her recipes immediately came to mind, since it's straightforward comfort food. Oscar needed some soft comfort due to a recent yanked tooth. Ham Timbales, with some adjustments, fit the bill.
Lost Recipes offers wholesome, practical food that isn't too tough to prepare. I felt retro cooking the timbales, because it included so much butter, cheese and milk. For a lighter timbale, cheese could be omitted or used sparingly. You also don't need to use cooked maple bacon and soppressetta, but it is a great combo of richness and savory-meets-slightly sweet.
I wonder if Marion ever runs into trouble cooking with others. When Oscar helped me with the water bath step, he insisted on using a six ounce mug, refilled four times. He kept the tap running while he'd fill and pour, and it seemed silly (and wasteful) to me. My sage advice was to not-so-calmly screech, "Use a pitcher!", to which he responded, "There aren't any!" As he poured the last cup (finally!), I pointed to the not one but two pitchers sitting on top of the fridge. We maneuvered the water and timbales into the stove together, and bickered over how slow or fast we should do it. The hot air blast on our faces didn't help things.
All anxieties had safely disappeared by the time I served the timbales, a half hour or so later. Make up and hug or cuddle when one of you is acting crazy (with the crazy female hopefully initiating). Cook and eat together, and try to keep a sense of humor. Right, Marion?
"A timbale is a cross between a custard and a souffle, made in individual custard cups, or small molds, or even muffin tins; the timbales are then unmolded and served with a sauce." (I didn't make Mustard Sauce, but Oscar said ketchup tasted good.) "They may be made of almost any mixture of tasty cooked meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish, or vegetables and cheese...
5 T. butter
1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs
1 1/4 c. milk
2 c. minced ham (try a blend of crumbled cooked bacon and diced soppressetta for a moist result)
1/4 c. grated cheese (Parmesan, goat, or whatever sounds good)
2 T. minced fresh parsley
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt & pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using 1 tablespoon of the butter, lightly butter 8 custard cups or muffin tins.
Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan, add the breadcrumbs and milk, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for 5 mins. Remove from the heat and stir in the meat, cheese, parsley, and eggs. Season with salt & pepper. Fill the cups 2/3 full, place them in a pan, and pan with enough hot water to come 2/3s of the way up the sides of the custard cups. Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes. Unmold by slipping a knife around the inside of each cup and turning out onto a warm plate or platter. Serve 2 each person, with hot Mustard Sauce or a sauce of your choosing."