STEAMED CABBAGE TIMBAL
Very often Altamiras seemed to create most happily when working with the strictest larder limitations, for example when searching for flavour for Lenten dishes. His salt-cod recipes are one example, but most notable of all are his dozen or so collations or colaciones, energy-giving vegetable and fruit dishes designed to meet fasting norms but still satisfy the friars’ hunger at dusk. In Spain such collations reached their culinary highpoint with Altamiras because fasting had relaxed enough to allow inventive combinations, but still needed to be rigorously respected in friaries for over two months a year. The first recipe he gave was this cabbage timbal, simplified from a recipe by Diego Granado Maldonado, an Italian influenced court cook who brought many of Scappi’s recipes into Spanish in his 1599 Libro del arte de cozina. Only one edition of Granado’s book appeared, but Altamiras must have known it since his bacalao dishes also picked up on its roughly sketched ideas for salted conger. Today the recipe reads like a modern vegetarian dish well designed for silicon moulds and steamer cooking, which help to keep the finished texture evenly creamy and soft. Individual moulded portions are ideal for a hot meal for one or two, while a larger loaf-shaped mould can be plated with side-mouthfuls evoking Altamiras’s fondness for savoury and naturally sweet flavours alongside one another. An onion confit and asparagus spears with lemon sauce, for example, match well with the cabbage timbal.