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August 12, 2009

Mid-Century Menu – Spaghetti Timbales

Dairy004Happy Wednesday everyone!  Today is a great day for many reasons.  The first is that Tom’s fever broke sometime last night and he is feeling much better.  I am really glad, because he was pacing around driving me crazy because he couldn’t go to work!  So, after waiting a few hours this morning to make sure it didn’t come back, he is eating a peanut butter sandwich and getting ready to go to work this afternoon. Thank goodness!  Not that I didn’t like having him around, but I knew that him being home was driving him crazy.

Also, I have my computer back, all fixed and ready to go!  Thank god.  I didn’t know what I was goingf to do if I couldn’t get the Mid-Century Menu up. 

Speaking of which, the main dish for the Menu this week comes from the cookbook to the left, 300 Tasty, Healthful Dairy Dishes. This book is part of a larger collection that I received from my grandma, The Culinary Arts Institute  Encyclopedia of Cooking and Homemaking. It has about 20 individual pamphlet-type cookbooks all bound together.  They are from 1940, so I am assuming she received these neat books as a wedding gift.

Now, today’s meal was the meal I was supposed to serve to Reader Sara when she came to visit, but Tom got sick and that scrapped that plan.  I picked it based on its presentation picture alone, what it was made of was a secondary concern.  I actual picked it out from the “Menu” section of the encyclopedia, which has dinners and luncheons for each month of the year.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with a Timbale, it is kind of like a crustless quiche baked up in a little individual dish. So, eggs, milk, cheese and some sort of meat or veggie are usually tossed in according to what leftovers you have laying around. 

This seems a little calm, but then you see the picture of the luncheon…..


Oh my goodness.  Look at it! Look at it!  I KNEW as soon as I saw it that it was the luncheon for me!

So let’s get started!

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The recipe didn’t specify which cheese to use, so I picked a pretty reasonable sharp cheddar that is made locally.  I figured since there weren’t that many spices or flavorings in the cheese sauce, it would need something to make it taste like….well…something.

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Quarter cup of butter melting in the pan.  That is a lot of butter!

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Peppers and onions browning in the butter.

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Cooking the flour in the butter mixture. Whisking to make sure there are no lumps!

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Here is a good action shot captured by Hubs; pouring the milk into the butter/flour/onion/green pepper mixture.  I guess the pan was a little hot…the shot is obscured by steam!

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The milk/butter mixture cooking and thickening away.

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Melting in the cheese….

You know, this is actually a little dull this time. Usually I have had to perform some sort of unholy cooking sin at this point, ruining the dish so badly you need dental records to identify it.

But this actually looked pretty good.

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Another nice action shot taken by Tom. Crackin’ some eggs!

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Okay, I don’t know if this is cheating or not, but here I am tempering the eggs before I threw them into the hot cheese sauce.  It didn’t actually call for this in the recipe, but I wasn’t sure if this was one of those things that women were just supposed to know how to do or what.  I suppose I could have just slung them in there and had scrambled eggs in my sauce, but I am assuming that wouldn’t be the good ‘ole culinary arts way.

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Mixing in the spaghetti and the eggs.  I wasn’t sure about the sucess of the tempering, so I decided to throw the pasta in before the eggs just to make sure.

Okay, now things are starting to get a little crazy.

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And then we come to this picture.  Which is insane.

So, I didn’t have little timbale molds or anything like the recipe called for, and I thought regular muffin cups would be a little too short.  In the end, I decided to use this jumbo muffin pan I had from Wilton. I had purchased it on a whim a long time ago when I was going to make individual Christmas cakes one year as gifts.

You don’t even want to know how that went.

Anyway, do you know how hard it is to get spaghetti into a muffin cup?  Do you? !? It turns out it is really hard.  Looking back, I should have cut up the spaghetti or something.  It was ridiculous, like trying to get a bunch of wriggling eels into a teacup.

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In the end, I had to use tongs for reapportionment.  Which is what I should have done in the first place!  Grabbed the spaghetti out first, then poured over the remaining sauce.

Sigh.  So I am an idiot.  What’s it to yah?

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But here I am using my brain in this picture.  For once.

I decided to put the pan with the timbales in the oven first BEFORE adding the hot water. Hah!  Take that water!

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The timbales, cooked to perfection.

By the way, I ended up taking them out about 5 minutes early.  They were plenty brown and pretty solid by then, and I didn’t want them to dry out.

Okay….here is the best part….wait for it….

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The timbales plated and ready to go!

I have to admit, I was pretty proud of this one.  I thought the sandwich loaf was impressive, but it was nothing compared to this platter!

Tom came into the kitchen, saw the platter and said, “Holy Cow!  Look at that thing!” So I know he was impressed too. 🙂

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Hubs serving up his portion of dinner.  By the way, the garnishes are buttered broccoli and broiled muhrooms, and the recipes are at the end of the post!

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Excited to take his first bite.

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“So,” I said, “how are they?”

“Eh.”  He shrugged. “They just taste like mac and cheese.” 

I took a bite.  He was right, curse it!  All that work, and they just tasted like mac and cheese!  It was good mac and cheese, but still.  It would have been easier to just throw it all in a casserole dish and bake it together.  But I guess this is what happens when I pick a recipe based on the presentation.  I ended up getting a regular recipe, but end up spending and extra hour on plating it.

The Verdict:  Very Good

Spaghetti Timbales:  Very Good.  Taste just like regular mac and cheese.  Make sure to use a good, sharp cheddar, since there aren’t many spices or extra ingredients in the sauce.  Moves up to the #2 Mid-Century Menu meal!

Cheese Sauce:  Very Good!  Tasted like a good cheese sauce. Once again, use a good, sharp cheese!

Buttered Broccoli:  Good. Tasted like broccoli.

Broiled Mushrooms: Very Tasty if you like mushrooms and have garden fresh tomatoes.

Orange Sherbert: Good. Tastes just like sherbet!


*Note, I know the menu says Orange Ice, but I opted for the sherbet because the egg whites in this recipe are “cooked” by the hot sugar syrup. In the Ice recipe, the egg whites were folded in at the end and then frozen with no cooking.


I couldn’t find a recipe with the tomatoes on the bottom, so I just threw tomato slices on the bottom and didn’t turn the mushrooms. 

The broccoli was just boiled and then tossed with butter.



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12 Responses to Mid-Century Menu – Spaghetti Timbales

  1. sablemable Reply

    August 12, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I’m so glad to hear that Tom’s fever broke, Ruth! I was getting worried that he had the Swine flu (shudders!).

    I’ve seen recipes for rice timbales with cheese sauce (Kraft-Phenix cookbook circa 1930s), but not with spaghetti. It looked good and the orange sherbet sounds refreshing on a hot day!

    LOL @ tempering the eggs! I never knew about that little trick until a few years ago when I was watching a cooking show.

    Aren’t those whisks a marvelous invention?

  2. mub Reply

    August 12, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I love these recipes so much! They just get better and better.

    I’m glad your Tom is on the mend, that’s great news.

  3. 50s Pam Reply

    August 12, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Yum. Not disgusting for once. Has made me hungry.

  4. AmberDusick Reply

    August 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Thank goodness it actually tasted good though! Such a bummer when you go through all that work and it isn’t good, I started to wonder if you ever have hit upon an amazing one? I’ll have to dig your archives.

  5. Jen Reply

    August 12, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Oh, boy, this looks fun. I might have to try this one myself!

  6. Sara in AZ Reply

    August 17, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Oh Drats!!! I would have loved to eat this MCM menu. My Mom and I both love Mac & Cheese, so this would have been a big hit! Total bummer that we could not do MCM lunch Ruth. 🙁 There is always next time though!!! 🙂

    • RetroRuth Reply

      August 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm

      It was really fun, I was so sad you couldn’t eat it. But I think you should make it for Mike! If you want to experiment with MCM cooking, this is the one!

  7. Sara in AZ Reply

    August 17, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    PS – I think Tom and Mike would get along REALLY well – Mike was OBSESSED with Star Wars back in the day and we still have a bunch of the toys! 🙂

    • RetroRuth Reply

      August 17, 2009 at 3:41 pm

      Awww…our geeks together. It would be so cute. 🙂

  8. Tikimama Reply

    August 20, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Okay, I’ll be the one to ask (as I am anything but an experienced cook) – what is “tempering the eggs”?

    Wonder if you could make this recipe with elbow macaroni, since you said it was difficult to wrangle the spaghetti, and it tasted like mac-n-cheese anyway. Oh! By the way – this is one I could make and eat! No meat! Yay!

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