Potato, Fennel, Pear and Fourme d’Ambert Timbale — Timbale aux pommes de terre, fenouil, poires et Fourme d’Ambert

Potato, Fennel, Pear and Fourme d’Ambert Timbale

There are expressions that stay with you for a long time whereas some others do not actually even live within you for a second. I am always puzzled by the way memory works in this way. Selective. You remember what “clicks” and makes sense to you, and easily forget about what you do not care for. So when I read my friendly fellow Canadian food blogger Tarzile‘s comment and question “Tu le sais toi Béa pourquoi il y a des expressions intraduisibles ?”, I had to smile. This was taken at another level. Indeed, I do not know why there are expressions that you — or I — simply cannot translate, but she was so right though. There are words and sentences which are impossible to translate without losing some cultural color. From French into English, or English into French, or for whatever language pair association. The recipe is the same.

Driving back home from my yoga class the other day, I thought about it again. While writing the story of my recent attachment to fennel, le fenouil, I had a mere example of what Tarzile had noticed. Untranslatable expressions as this French one: “à toutes les sauces”.

When I like a vegetable, any type of food or style of cooking, I have a tendency to use it often in successive weeks. It is like an animal you want to tame. You need to spend time with it. So I would choose different ways to use the same ingredient for example, in sweets or savory foods, mixed, plain or combined, experimenting in all kinds of way. In short, à toutes les sauces. I love this expression. It literally means with a lot of different sauces. In French, you might be surprised or not to find out that there are a lot of expressions referring to food, just like this one, à toutes les sauces. Originally obviously used in the context of food, this expression has however been extended to other usages. When you are using something à toutes les sauces, it simply means that you are using it under many different forms. Did I lose you already? So when I say that I cook fennel à toutes les sauces, it in fact means that I use fennel a lot, in many dishes, as if I were obsessed with it. “Encore du fenouil ?” P. might say (fennel, again?). “Eh bien oui ! Encore !”I might answer (yes, again). We actually both love it, especially when used with another beloved vegetable in our household: potatoes.

It is a good thing that both P. and I love potatoes. Well, think about this. He is Irish and I was raised eating homegrown potatoes. Keeping in mind that I never need anyone to twist my arm to cook potatoes, I was excited about this recipe when I thought about it. As I imagined one ingredient, another came to me and I finally envisioned using potatoes, fennel, pears and Fourme d’Ambert together. Simple. I had a strong feeling that they would work well together. The vegetables were sliced thinly and precooked before all being assembled in individual-sized vegetable timbales. The pears brought a sweeter flavor beside the savory blue cheese while both the potatoes and fennel were neutral. I chose to cook them in individual serving dishes because I always prefer this type of presentation. If prepared as one larger dish however, cooking times should be adjusted accordingly. The flavors and textures worked beautifully. I was happy. P. was very happy. Not only did he enjoy the dish, but he also learned a new French expression. Knowing him well, I get the feeling that I am going to hear it often for a while, yes… à toutes les sauces.

Potato, Fennel, Pear and Fourme d’Ambert Timbale

(For 4 ramekins, size 2.5 x 4″)

You need:

  • 2 lb + 3.5 oz potatoes, Yukon Gold
  • 1 large fennel
  • 1 pear
  • 1 large onion
  • 3.5 oz Fourme d’Ambert Cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • Chives, chopped
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Huile d’olive


  • Butter your ramekins and line them with sheets of parchment paper.
  • Preheat your oven at 350 F.
  • Peel the potatoes and cook them for 12 to 15 mns in salted boiling water. Let them cool a little before slicing them thinly.
  • Cook the fennel for 15 mns in salted boiling water. Slice it thinly.
  • Peel and core the pear. Slice it thinly (add a few drops of lemon to prevent oxydation).
  • Slice the onion and cook if for 10 mns in olive oil, on low heat.
  • In a bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, chives and season with salt and pepper. Add the nutmeg.
  • Line slices of potatoes around the edge of the ramekin and place a few at the bottom. Keep them tight.
  • Continue with a layer of onions and a layer of fennel and pear slices.
  • Continue with a layer of potatoes, thin slices of cheese, slices of pears and fennel.
  • Finish with a layer of potatoes.
  • Pour the egg batter, making sure that it goes down all the way to the bottom.
  • Cook in the oven for 45 to 50 mns. Check whether the top potatoes are cooked and wait a few mns when taking out before unmolding on a plate. Decorate with chives and serve with a meat of your choice and a green salad.

Le coin français

Timbale aux pommes de terre, fenouil, poires et Fourme d’Ambert

(pour 4 ramequins de taille 6,5 x 10 cm)

Ingrédients :

  • 1 kg de pommes de terrre
  • 1 gros fenouil
  • 1 poire
  • 1 gros oignon
  • 100 g de Fourme d’Ambert
  • 2 oeufs
  • 150 ml de lait entier
  • Ciboulette hachée
  • Pointe de muscade
  • Sel et poivre
  • Huile d’olive


  • Tapissez les moules beurrés de papier sulfurisé.
  • Préchauffez votre four à 180 C.
  • Faites cuire les pommes de terre épluchées pendant 12 à 15 mns dans de l’eau bouillante salée. Égouttez-les et coupez-les en rondelles fines de taille égale.
  • Faites bouillir le fenouil pendant 15 mns dans de l’eau bouillante salée. Égouttez-le et coupez-le en tranches fines.
  • Pelez la poire et coupez-la en tranches fines, en enlevant la partie centrale. Citronnez-les pour éviter qu’elles n’oxydent.
  • Émincez l’oignon et faites-le revenir dans de l’huile d’olive pendant 10 minutes, sur feu doux.
  • Mélangez l’oeuf, le lait, la ciboulette hachée à la fourchette et assaisonnez bien de sel et de poivre. Ajoutez la pointe de muscade.
  • Tapissez les bords du moule avec des rondelles de pomme de terre. Couvrez également le fond.
  • Mettez ensuite une couche d’oignons, une de fromage, des poires et du fenouil.
  • Poursuivez avec des rondelles de pommes de terre, des tranches fines de fromage, des poires et du fenouil.
  • Finissez par des pommes de terre.
  • Versez la préparation à base d’oeuf par-dessus, en prêtant attention à ce que le liquide descende jusqu’au fond du moule.
  • Enfournez pendant 45 à 50 mns. Attendez quelques minutes à la sortie du four avant de démouler sur assiette. Décorez de ciboulette et servez avec une viande rôtie et ue belle salade verte.
Posted in French Inspired, Fruit, Vegetarian


  1. I was just looking for a potato recipe for dinner tonight with company and this is perfect… you will see a copy cat post on my site very soon… thanks for another amazing recipe. I fear, however, that my pictures will not be able to compare to yours. 🙁

  2. Ahhh, another potato lover. Wonder how many there are out there?
    I think you’ve covered obsession with an ingredient the way I would want to if only I could say it so well as you! Maybe it’s the French connection that makes it perfect.

  3. Looks so good as usual! I have to give fennel a try soon. It’s not something that I grew up with, or have very often, because it’s not usually a part of our local offerings (in the market)…but I see more and more of it nowadays in stores so I will try it 🙂 (plus I love potatoes too) Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  4. Hey Bea!
    Brilliant! I am going to send to Jay for his viewing pleasure-
    [I will be the one to assemble, heat and serve should that be an option someday]
    Per TCM – the pear is a good choice-
    Aside from being complementary taste wise to the cheese, potatoe and fennel, it helps distract from the potentially phelgm-y nature of this dish- The fennel too counter balances it. Lovely idea! I love timbales and this is wonderful! I might venture to serve with arugala salad w/ radish and grilled salmon. Poached would be too much damp!

  5. Mais par quoi pourais-je bien remplacer le fenouil dont je ne suis pas fan ?!

    Ta timbale est vraiment très très mignonne, cela constituerait une très très belle entrée pour recevoir…

    Quant aux photos…C’est tout simplement magnifique !

    Amicalement blog,

  6. Mmmmh, that looks so good, I can’t wait to try this one. Genious combination. And your photos are beautiful – as always! Congratulations!

  7. You know I share your love for this delicious bulb and your recipe litterally calls my name. If I manage to find some fourme…

  8. Bea,
    I loved your post and related to the difficulty to translate things sometimes – my native language is Portuguese but I write in English most of the time.

    This recipe is great and I’m a big fan of potatoes, too.

  9. I don’t know how you do it. Transform a humble potato into a work of art! I understand what you mean about translation though. We’ve got that issue in my household, like when we want to translate a chinese , tagalog (filipino) ,farsi (persian) phrase to English…it just does not mean the same!

  10. How glorious this looks – and what an interesting combination of flavours. Thanks for a great idea 🙂

  11. the layers here are just breath-taking Bea! you are a constant source of gastronomical inspiration and awe!

  12. Beautiful recipe. I just bought fennel and chives at the farmers’ market yesterday and will make this tonight.

    Also, congratulations! Your pictures are stunning. You’re truly an inspiration, especially for new food bloggers like me.

    Food “Blogga”

  13. Brilynn, nice nice. I hope it was successful!

    Kitchenette, merci bien!

    Tanna, yes a REAL potato lover! Thinkibg about it though, there are a lot of things that I like.

    Egantine, merci!

    Sophie, oui, c’est une chouette association.

    Barbichounette, merci.

    The guilty Carnivore, thank you very much!

    Kat, ah yes, it stayed up until we attacked it 😉

    Catherine, thank you for your sweet note.

    Joey, oh yes you have to try fennel. It might be unusual at first but it is so fragrant, cooked or raw in salads.

    Kim, ah yes. I know well that you would enjoy a dish like this.

    Jann, thank you! It takes a little time, but as you said, it pays off. I especially like the individual servings.

    Ingrid, tu sais quoi? Essaie avec du celeri rave.

    Sylvie, merci.

    Honeybee, thank you. I am glad to hear you that you also enjoy fennel. It deserves it 😉

    Mitsuko, oui oui, if you cannot find fourme, try a blue cheese of another name. I did this a few times and varied the cheese that I used.

    Veronica. 😉 mon petit doigt….

    Patricia, ah yes, people like you and me, living in different languages all at once know this challenge.

    Veron, thank you. You are challenged indeed with so many languages. I bet you must be so tired at times!

    Milie, merci.

    Jeanne, thank you.

    Connie, thank you. I am glad that you like it!

    Janelle, good for you. I am with you!

    FoodieFroggy, merci beaucoup.

    Susan, thank you. Welcome to the food blogging world if you are starting. You will have a blast.

    Britt-Arnhild, thank you!

  14. Quelle merveilleuse idée que cette timbale Béa ;o)
    Vraiment sublime. Je sens l’anis léger du fenouil enrober divinement la patate (comment traduis-tu “patate” ? lol).;; rho et la poire et la fourme d’ambert… un supplice digne de tantale pour moi tant il est loin … note la “jolie symétrie” syllabique ;o)

  15. Ca a l’air delicieux, je suis certaine que les ingredients fonctionnent bien ensemble. Il faut vraiment que j’essaie ca!

  16. What an wonderful idea!!! It has it all–beautiful, and potatoes and fennel! Love it.

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