Radicchio and Potato Timballo With Warm Apple and Gorgonzola Sauce and The Countryside of Cerveteri-Ceri

The blue sky opened and the sun was roaring down on us.  There were just a few specks of white signifying the clouds and the air was so still.  It was a perfect winter day.  To top it off, there was still a strong whiff of freshly cut grass from the other day so the lawn around the house looks crisp and clean.  It's the kind of setting that lures you to grab a good book (currently reading Life Well Blogged: No Laughing Allowed which I will be telling you all about later on), spread a blanket on the grass and read to your heart's content under the sun.  But then that's before your two kids realize that you have been gone from their sight for 5 minutes and find you in a splendid new play area.   Tranquility slashed off. 

When I opened the windows yesterday morning and saw the immaculate weather, that was the first thing that I thought of.  Wouldn't it be nice if...?  I didn't even finish the thought because of course these things never happen when you have a couple of young kids taking over your life.  So my reading on the grass stint will just have to wait for the next years.  For now, I am contented in reading on the bed with an iPad with a remaining battery life of 8% every night that I have to slowly extricate from my daughter's fingers under her blanket squashed under one of her "pet toy" dogs.  The book I am reading is in there but her usage of my iPad has won the priority.  I don't think I am the only parent who has lost proprietorship over their iPads with their children.

But sometimes, it's good that she's intent in tinkering with the iPad because these are the moments when I can also peacefully tinker with my own things in the kitchen.  This timballo came into fruition during one of those quiet afternoons.  It's one of those moments when I felt  a great sense of accomplishment because the dish came out as I expected, perfectly as I had imagined it.

The radicchio, gorgonzola, taleggio, speck and the apples all come from the northern part of Italy.  They are the pride of the towns that produce them and it makes me happy to be able to come up with something that uses the products of one of my favorite parts of the country.  

This timballo is a great idea to serve as a side dish to meat or fish.  The two kinds of cheese that I used can be replaced with other kinds that you can find.  Gorgonzola, being a kind of blue cheese can be replaced with other kinds that are produced in other countries like the French roquefort and the English stilton.  All three have been given by the European Union the Protected Designation of Origin meaning that they can bear the names only if they have been produced in certain areas in their countries.  Like the gorgonzola, taleggio also bears the PDO certification of the EU.  If you cannot find it, replace it with any mild flavored soft cheese. 

I hope you like this recipe!

Even if I wasn't able to lie down on the grass with a good book, enjoying the warmth of the sun, we were able to enjoy instead, the beautiful countryside of Cerveteri-Ceri (about 40 km. from Rome) where some grape vines are being grown.  And we were able to sit peacefully under the sun after a wonderful lunch spread we had at an agriturismo (agritourism) in the area while the kids were playing with the other kids of the other parents who were also sunbathing on a really warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. 

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend too!  Have a good week!

Radicchio and Potato Timballo With Warm Apple and Gorgonzola Sauce

Makes 3
  • 2 radicchio
  • 60 g. taleggio (can be replaced with brie or any mild, soft cheese), chopped
  • 100 g. speck (can be replaced with smoked pancetta or smoked bacon), diced
  • 2 medium potatoes or 250 g., peeled & cubed
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped finely
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more for brushing the food molds and baking tray
  • 100 g. gorgonzola (can be replaced with other kinds of blue cheese)
  • 150 ml. light cream (panna light)
  • 2 apples, diced
  1. Separate leaves of radicchio.  Grill them on a griddle.  Set aside.
  2. Boil potatoes until tender. Drain.
  3. Mash potatoes in a bowl. Add butter, parsley, speck, pepper and taleggio.  Mix well.
  4. Oil the inner walls of the food molders.  Put them on an oiled baking pan. 
  5. Place grilled radicchio leaves one by one inside a food mold starting from the central part at the bottom of the food mold (which is on the baking tray).  The leaves should be long enough to drape halfway outside.  When all the sides of the mold is covered, fill up with the potato mixture halfway.  Flatten with the back of a spoon.
  6. Close the leaves by just draping them back inwards at the central part.  Twist the leaves altogether on top. 
  7. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  8. Bake at a pre-heated oven at 180 Celsius for 20 minutes.
  9. Let them rest & cool for a few minutes before taking them out of the molds.
  10. Steam the apples until tender, about 15 minutes.
  11. In a hand blender, mix gorgonzola, cream and oil.  Put in a saucepan and warm up but don't let it boil.
  12. To serve, place the timballo at the center of the plate.  Distribute steamed apples on the side then top with gorgonzola sauce.