Vintage Star Wars Recipe: Death Star Cookies

This Death Star Cookies recipe is taken from the Star Wars: Darth Vader’s Activity Book, originally published in 1979 by Random House (I have the UK Armada reprint).

Death Star cookies, Star Wars, Darth Vader Activity book
This Death Star Cookies recipe is taken from the ‘Star Wars: Darth Vader’s Activity Book’, originally published in 1979 by Random House (reprinted in the UK by Armada Books).

Death Star Cookies

Yield: 2 Large Death Stars

There’s nothing evil about these delicious shortbread Death Star cookies. They’re quick and easy to make, especially if you have an adult to help.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar. Beat in Egg well. Gradually stir in flour. Gather into a ball. Divide into two equal halves. Roll each half into a ball.

Place one ball in the centre of one cookie sheet and flatten out to a circle about 6″ in diameter and about 1/2″ thick as shown in the accompanying figure. Repeat with remaining dough on second cookie sheet.

For decorating, follow the steps below.

Death Star cookies, Star Wars cookies, Star Wars recipe, Star Wars cooking
1. With your thumb, press in a smooth round, shallow hole 1 1/2″ in diameter a little away from the edge as shown.
Death Star cookies, Star Wars cookies, Star Wars recipe, Star Wars cooking
2. Lightly grease a butter knife and make a wide, shallow cut across the centre of the cookie. Then make shallow horizontal cuts along the rest of the cookie. Do not cut through the hole.
Death Star cookies, Star Wars cookies, Star Wars recipe, Star Wars cooking
3. The make shallow horizontal vertical cuts between the horizontal lines as shown.
Death Star cookies, Star Wars cookies, Star Wars recipe, Star Wars cooking
Next cut a shallow outline around the 1 1/2 ” hole and make “piecuts” in it as shown. Take a fork and make rows of holes along the horizontal lines.

Then bake 25 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Cool slightly. Remove and cool completely.

Now be a hero and destroy the Death Star – by eating it!

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Enjoy your Death Star cookies!

How to Make Playdough (easy recipe)

how to make playdough,  playdough recipe
How to make playdough? This recipe is so easy even I could do it!

I’m amazed how many parents at playgroup ask me how to make playdough. It’s so easy that you need never buy the Hasbro stuff again.

This is an uncooked playdough recipe, but does use freshly boiled water so probably best not to involve the kids in making it – at least with the boiling water bit! While there are plenty of recipes out there that are more child-helper friendly, this is the one that’s worked best for us in terms of the finished result.

You’ll probably have most of the ingredients in your store cupboard, though the hefty amount of salt required may exceed your usual cooking requirements in this sodium reduced age.

This stuff keeps kids amused for HOURS at a time, so get in the kitchen and whip some up quick!

How to Make Playdough (recipe)

Ingredients

  • 280g flour
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 175g salt
  • 2 tbsp (25g) cream of tartar
  • 350-400 ml boiling water (added gradually)
  • food colouring (40ml bottle)
  • few drops of glycerine
  1. Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl
  2. Add food colouring TO the boiling water then into the dry ingredients
  3. Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough
  4. Add the glycerine (optional, but recommended)
  5. Allow it to cool down then take it out of the bowl and knead it vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness has gone (This is the most important part of the process, so keep at it until it’s the perfect consistency!)
  6. If it remains a little sticky then add a touch more flour until just right

This is my take on how to make playdough. What’s yours? Please comment below.

Healthy Wholewheat Pancake Recipe (Not Just for Shrove Tuesday)

A few tweaks to the ingredients led to this healthy wholewheat pancake recipe. Well, it’s healthier at least, with wholewheat flour, semi-skimmed milk, etc.

We pretty much only eat pancakes on or around Pancake Day. I don’t know why we don’t have them more often, because I love them.

I know the vogue these days is for the thick American style  pancakes, but this is a basic pancake recipe for the thinner ones of my childhood – but not quite crepes, as they’re too fancy!

I think this pancake recipe was probably adapted from Delia’s, but it was so long ago I can’t remember.

Fillings? If you’re going to be ‘healthy’ then banana or blueberries with yoghurt is a good place to start. Unhealthy? Well the rest of my family enjoys the likes of ice cream, caramel sauce, Nutella, etc. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s only one way to serve a pancake – lemon juice and a sprinkle of brown sugar.

Healthy Wholewheat Pancake Recipe 

Makes approximately 16 pancakes

      • 250g wholemeal flour
      • Pinch of salt
      • 4 eggs
      • 568ml/pint semi-skimmed milk
      • 30ml Vegetable oil (optional), plus more for cooking
      • Brown sugar
      • Lemon juice
  1. Mix the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Whisk the eggs into the flour, gradually pouring in the milk.
  2. When all the milk has been added, gradually add the oil if using, continuing to whisk until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream. Cover and refrigerate for 30 mins.
  3. Allow 4 tblsp (60ml) of batter per pancake. Cook in pan over a medium heat, with a splash of oil for each pancake.
  4. Use a ladle so mixture can be poured into the hot pan in one go. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only half a minute or so
  5. Flip the pancake over with a pan slice or palette knife – the other side will need a few seconds only – then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate. You can try and flip it in the pan if you’re feeling theatrical, but that way lies sorrow.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the first pancake will be crap” – Jane Austen (probably)

I recall that according to Delia, you should stack the pancakes as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest. But that all sounds a bit fussy to me, so I just stack them and microwave the lot when ready to serve.

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My healthy wholewheat pancake recipe being served with unhealthy ingredients!

Stanley Tucci’s Original “Big Night” Timpano recipe

You’re a foodie and a film fan who’s seen Big Night. You were wowed by the Timpano. You’ve wanted to make it ever since but find the idea of recreating Stanley Tucci’s Timpano recipe daunting. Intimidating.

Don’t be silly.

big night timpano recipe, big night timbale, the big night timballo
The Big Night Timpano recipe is not your usual baked pasta dish

The Big Night Timpano is just a pasta bake. The ultimate pasta bake. I had wanted to make this since I had seen the movie in the late 90’s.

As my daughter’s 1st birthday was approaching, and intended as more of a party for adults, this seemed as special occasion as any to finally get round to making this.

Also known as a Timballo, this Big Night Timpano recipe is based on a family recipe of co-star, co-writer, and co-director Stanley Tucci.

It is a dish that any foodie and/or film fan should make at least once in their life. Everything you need is likely available from your local butcher, deli, or supermarket – except, the 14″ Timpano Bowl. It’s the best thing for baking this in.

timpano recipe, big night movie menu, big night timpano recipe, timballo

I had to order enamel Timpano basin from US Amazon, and it was perfect for this.

Take your time with this dish. To get it right, I would give yourself two days.

Analyse this Stanley Tucci Timpano recipe. Spend a long afternoon shopping for ingredients. Make the sauce ahead of time. Prepare the eggs, cheese, and salami a day before. Early morning, boil the pasta and cool it ready for assembly.

After assembling, then baking it – let it rest. And rest.

A good hour will allow this settle nicely and let the treasure trove of flavours be absorbed by pasta inside. But don’t leave it to rest in the kitchen. Have it on display to your guests. Let the anticipation build about what delights await inside.

This is a dish that deserves to be eagerly anticipated, not least because of the effort you’ve put into it.

NB: As this ‘Big Night’ Timpano was adapted from Tucci’s American recipe, I’ve updated the imperial measurements to metric (sorry America, but you had a revolution – why are you still using imperial measurements!)

Also, confession time – I used meatballs made by the butcher. If you want to be REALLY authentic, you can use Stanley Tucci’s meatball recipe.

The Big Night Timpano recipe

RAGU

  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 450 g stewing beef, trimmed of fat and cut into pieces
  • 450 g spareribs (pref. meaty shoulder ribs), trimmed of fat and cut in half
  • Onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 20 ml red wine
  • 170 g can tomato paste
  • 2 x 1kg can plum tomatoes, sieved or blitzed in processor OR 2ltr passata (much easier!)
  • 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
  1. Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Brown beef until coloured on all sides, about 10 minutes. Set aside in a bowl.
  3. Add spareribs to pot and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside in bowl with beef. (If your pot is big enough to hold all the meat in a single layer, it can be cooked at the same time.)
  4. Stir onions and garlic into pot. Reduce heat to low and cook until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in wine, scraping bottom of the pot clean.
  6. Add tomato paste and 125ml cup warm water into tomato paste can to loosen any residual paste and then pour into pot. Cook to warm the paste through, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add tomatoes along with additional 250ml warm water. Stir in basil and oregano. Cover with lid partially on and simmer about 30 minutes.
  8. Return meat to pot, along with any juices that accumulated in bowl. Cover partially with lid and simmer, stirring frequently, until meat is very tender and tomatoes are cooked, about 2 hours. Warm water may be added to sauce, in 125ml portions, if it becomes too thick.

DOUGH:

  • 450 gram 00 flour, more for dusting
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, more for greasing bowl Butter (for greasing bowl)
  1. Mix flour, eggs, salt and olive oil in mixer bowl with a dough hook.
  2. Add 3 tbsp water and mix – add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture comes together and forms a ball.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead to make sure it is well mixed, about 10 minutes.
  4. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes (the dough may be made in advance and refrigerated overnight; return to room temperature before rolling out).
  5. Flatten dough on a lightly floured work surface. Dust top with flour and roll it out, dusting with flour and flipping the dough over from time to time, until it is about 1/16-inch thick and is the desired diameter (to calculate the diameter for the dough round, add the diameter of the bottom of your timpano basin the diameter of the top of the pan and twice the height of the pan).
  6. Grease the baking pan generously with butter and olive oil. Fold dough in half and then in half again, to form a triangle, and place in pan. Open dough and arrange it in the pan, gently pressing it against the bottom and the sides, draping extra dough over the sides. Set aside.
Timpano - dough in timpano pan

FILLING:

  • 450 g thick Genoa salami pieces, cut into small squares
  • 450 g sharp provolone cheese, evenly diced
  • 12 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and quartered lengthwise, each quarter cut in half
  • 450 g small meatballs
  • 1.8 l Ragu sauce (meat removed and reserved for another use)
  • 1.4 kg ziti or similar pasta, cooked very al dente (about half the time recommended on the package)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 115 gram finely grated Pecorino Romano
  • 6 large eggs, beaten

1. Heat oven to 180c. Have salami, provolone, hard-boiled eggs, meatballs and ragù sauce at room temperature. Stir 125ml water into sauce to thin it. Toss pasta with olive oil and allow to cool slightly before tossing with 500ml sauce.

2. Layering the filling: Distribute 4 generous cups of pasta on bottom of timpano. Top with 1 cup salami, 1 cup provolone, 3 eggs, 1 cup meatballs and 1/3 cup Romano cheese. Pour 2 cups sauce over ingredients.

Layering the Timpano
Layering the Timpano

Repeat process to create additional layers….

Layering the Timpano
Filled Timpano

…until filling comes within 1 inch of the top of the pan. End with 2 cups sauce and pour beaten eggs over the filling.

3. Fold pasta dough over filling to seal completely. Trim away and discard any double layers of dough. Make sure timpano is tightly sealed. If you notice any small openings cut a piece of trimmed dough to fit over opening. Use a small amount of water to moisten these scraps of dough to ensure that a tight seal has been made.

Wrapped up and ready to bake Timpano

4. Bake until lightly browned, about 1 hour. Cover with foil and continue baking until the timpano is cooked through and the dough is golden brown (and reaches an internal temperature of 120c), about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for 30 or more minutes to allow timpano to cool and contract before attempting to remove from pan. The baked timpano should not stick to the pan.

To test, gently shake pan to the left and then to the right. It should slightly spin in the pan. If any part is still attached, carefully detach with a knife.

5. To remove timpano from pan:

  • Place a baking sheet or thin cutting board that covers the entire diameter on the pan on top of the timpano.
  • Grasp the baking sheet or cutting board and the rim of the pan firmly and invert timpano.
  • Remove pan and allow timpano to cool for at least 30 minutes.
  • After 30 mins, use a long, sharp knife to cut a circle about 8cm in diameter in the center of the timpano, making sure to cut all the way through to the bottom.
  • Then slice timpano as you would a pie into individual portions, leaving the center circle as a support for the remaining pieces.
  • The cut pieces should hold together, revealing the layers of filling you built up earlier.

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The finished Big Night Timpano, stanley tucci, timbale, Stanley Tucci Timpano recipe
Enjoy your Timpano!

For more great recipes from Stanley Tucci, check out The Tucci Cookbook: Family, Friends and Food (with the Timpano recipe) and his most recent book The Tucci Table: Cooking with Family and Friends.


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And revisit Big Night the movie that inspired it all

Delicious Crab Linguine with Chilli Recipe

Crab linguine with chilli, seafood pasta recipes, seafood linguine recipe, crab pasta recipe, crab linguine recipe, 
Crab linguine with chilli

Unlike actual sea water, dishes that taste of the sea are amazing. There are many ways to infuse your food with the essence of the ocean, such as using stocks or anchovies, but for this sumptuous seafood pasta recipe the key is using the brown crab meat as well as the white.

While white crab meat gives you the expected fresh and delicate flavour, it’s the brown meat where all the seafood flavour is. You must, MUST, include it in this dish. It’s cheaper too.

This seafood pasta recipe has a generous amount of crab. It could probably stretch to twice the amount of servings (while doubling the other ingredients). But this way is the culinary crabilicious treat you deserve…

Crab Linguine with Chilli recipe

Serves 2

  • 200g linguine
  • olive oil
  • Glass dry white wine
  • Punnet of sweet cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 100g brown crabmeat
  • 100g white crabmeat
  • Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat and fry the shallot, garlic, chilli and fennel seeds for a couple of minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, let them sizzle a little, the pour in the wine and cook for about 10-15 mins, then stir in the brown crabmeat.

3. While the tomatoes are sizzling, cook the pasta in salted water until al dente.

4. Drain the pasta, reserving a few spoonfuls of the slightly salted cooking water.

5. Stir pasta into sauce along with the white crabmeat, squeezed lemon, and parsley. Add the extra water if the dish seems a little dry.

6. Divide between 2 warmed pasta bowls and serve your crab linguine with chilli immediately.