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TIMPANO

3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup olive oil
2 eggs

1 lb. hot or mild Italian sausage
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
4 cups penne
1 jar (700 mL) smooth tomato and herb pasta sauce
6 cups sliced mushrooms (1 lb.)
4 cups eggplant, cubed and peeled
3/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 sweet green pepper, chopped
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 hard cooked eggs, quartered lengthwise

In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In separate
bowl, whisk together milk, oil, and eggs; pour over dry ingredients
all at once. Using fingers or mixer with dough hook, blend until
liquid is absorbed and dough is smooth. Turn out onto lightly
floured surface; kneas for about 2 minutes or until velvety smooth
and elastic. Transfer to bowl; cover with plastic wrap and
refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 2 days.

For filling, cut sausage into 1/2-inch-thick slices; cook in large
non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, turning to brown all over,
for 8 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Drain off fat. Stir
in oregano and fennel; cook for 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl.

Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for
about 6 minutes or until tender but still quite firm; drain well.
Add to sausage along with pasta sauce; toss to coat. Set aside.

Wipe out skillet, cook mushrooms, eggplant, 1/2 tsp of the pepper
and salt over medium-high heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
Add green pepper and cook for about 5 minutes or until liquid is
evaporated. Set aside. Whisk one of the eggs; whisk in ricotta,
Parmesan, and remaining pepper.

Knead any oil back into the dough; set aside 1/2 cup for pastry
decorations. Cut off one-third of the remaining dough to make 1
large piece and 1 small piece. On lightly floured surface, flatten
large piece into disc; turn over to coat with flour. Roll out into
19-inch circle, resting a few times to allow pastry to relax; fit
into bottom and up side of 10-inch springform pan, leaving 1-inch
overhang.

Spoon half of the pasta mixture into pan, pressing down lightly;
nestle half of the egg wedges into filling. Sprinkle with half of
the mushroom mixture. Spread with ricotta mixture; sprinkle with
remaining mushroom mixture and edd wedges. Top with remaining
pasta mixture, pressing down lightly. Beat remaining egg; brush
some over top of overhanging pastry. Roll our small dough piece
into 12-inch circle. Place over filling and overhanging pastry;
fold edges over bottom overhang, pinching to seal; brush top with
some of the remaining egg. Roll out reserved pastry to 1/4-inch
thickness. Using small cookie cutters, cut out moon and stars or
other shapes; arrange on top of pastry. Brush with remaining egg.
Cut 10 small slits in top of pastry for steam vents.

Bake in bottom of 350F oven for about 90 min or until pastry is
golden brown and filling is piping hot. Let cool on rack for about
30 minutes. Remove ring and serve.


Notes: Naturally, you don't have to fill it with any of this stuff.
A somewhat thin alfredo sauce or a pesto sauce can be used instead
of tomato; seafood or veggies may be substituted for the sausage;
I dislike eggplant and mucshrooms, so I use borccoli, onion and
cauliflower. Like lasagna, this lends itself to experimentation
with various fillings and mixtures.

In the movie, the chef used a big bowl, not a springform pan, in
which to cook the timpano. It's more authentic and more impressive
to use a high-sided bowl. I use a large pyrex mixing bowl (sorry,
I don't know the exact size; I imagine it's about 3 litres, which
is roughly 12 cups). Grease the bowl, or spray with non-stick
coating. Don't bother with the egg or decorations.

Penne is very much the best pasta choice. Any other will make for
a rather dense timpano. I tried and failed with rigatoni, and I
can't think of any other likely candidate.

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