• Recipes appear exactly as presented to the Cook of the Week Challenge judges.
For the timbale:
1 medium kabocha squash
2 slices of wheat bread
2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons coconut milk
2 large eggs
1 can King Oscar sardines in Tapatío hot sauce
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon paprika
salt, pepper and nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 275°F. Cut the squash in quarters and remove the seeds. Wash most of the squash off of the seeds, then toss with olive oil and salt and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the bread on another baking sheet and toast in the oven until dry and browned, about 10 minutes. Bake seeds until lightly browned and popping, 15-20 minutes. Increase the oven to 400°F. Rub the squash pieces with olive oil, salt and pepper, then place on baking sheet. Bake until a fork can easily pierce through, 30-45 minutes. Allow the squash to cool to room temperature. Make bread crumbs from the bread by pulsing in a food processor or crumbling by hand. Chop the roasted seeds in a food processor or spice grinder and pass through a strainer to remove the hulls. This can all be done a day or more ahead of time.
Scoop the squash from its rind. There's no need to be too careful; kabocha squash skin is thin and easily eaten. Put 4 ounces of the squash in a food processor with 2 tablespoons of coconut milk and 1 egg. Puree until smooth, then add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. If you are concerned about tasting the batter with the raw egg, cook a tablespoon of the batter and taste, then add salt, pepper and nutmeg and repeat. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to form the timbales. Remove the sardines from the can, but reserve the sauce. Place the sardines in a food processor with 1 teaspoon of the reserved sauce, 2 tablespoons of coconut milk, cilantro, corn starch, paprika, and 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs. Process until smooth. If you want to be extra fancy, use a spatula to press the batter through a medium-fine strainer (I did not do this). Each puree should flow easily without being watery, a bit thicker than pancake batter. If it is too thin, add more solid (breadcrumbs or squash); too thick, add more coconut milk.
Preheat oven to 350°F and place a pan with hot water inside. Butter or oil two 4-ounce jars or ramekins and place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each. Carefully pour, spoon or pipe alternate layers of squash and sardine batter, tapping the container on the table to settle and distribute each layer. Cover each container with foil or a lid and bake in a water bath until just set, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes, then cut around the edge with a small knife and invert onto plates. Place pickled kale around the timbale and in the center. Top each timbale with ground squash seeds. If you want more spice, spoon the remainder of the reserved sardine sauce over the top. To replicate the plating in the picture, cut into quarters and rearrange so the flat sides form a square. Serve with toast. Serves 2-3.
For the quick-pickled kale:
3 tablespoons raisins (golden or black)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 pound kale, washed & ribs removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons water
hard cheese, such as Parmesan, for garnish (optional)
olive oil, salt and pepper
Soak the raisins in the vinegar to plump. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan or dutch oven over medium heat, then add the smashed garlic cloves. Cook until garlic is brown and softened, but not burnt, then add kale leaves. Cook down until leaves fit in pot, then add 2 tablespoons of water and cover until kale is fully wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and raisins, then salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool to room temperature and pickle for at least 1 hour. Add some fresh olive oil and garnish with cheese, if using, before serving.