Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Birthday Spaghetti Dinner with Cookie Experiments

Last night was Kevin's Birthday. We have plans to go out with his family this weekend to the Iron Forge Inn (and I'm sure there will be yet another Iron Forge Inn post), but I wanted to do something a little special for him on his actual birthday. I asked him what he wanted for dinner and he said, "Spaghetti and meatballs." Well, that's done easily enough, so let's get to work.

There are still tomatoes at the farmer's markets, so I took advantage of them. My recipe was the same recipe I used to pour over Roman Gnocchi a couple of weeks ago.

Look. I got a new camera!

I had to make turkey meatballs of course, because Sir Pickypants won't eat beef ones, but I tried to make them as tasty as possible. Sometimes I like to make beef meatballs for myself in addition to turkey ones, but I was lazy last night.

I never seem to make my meatballs the same way twice and I'm always looking at other people's recipes for inspiration. I did something I have never done before. I used two eggs in this recipe and I usually use only one. It seems many other meatball cooks use two eggs, so I wanted to see how it changed the taste and texture.

The extra eggs didn't do much one way or the other for the meatballs. They were soft and I thought a little bland. I would add more cheese and garlic the next time.

I really had to think hard about what I wanted to make for dessert. I knew I could come up with some kind of sundae or booze-and-ice-cream combo, but I thought it would be a bit more special if I actually baked something. I didn't know how much time I had for baking, but I really wanted to at least try to bake. I knew Kevin would love it.

I considered a simple cake or some brownies. Then I had an idea. I have always wanted to try that trick with the chocolate chip cookies where you age the dough. I thought I could make the cookie dough on Monday when I'm home all evening, and then bake them up after dinner so Kevin would have warm, out-of-the-oven cookies on his plate.

I used the Sugar Plum recipe. I was terribly afraid I had overworked the flour/butter and the egg/sugar mixture, but I told myself not to panic. These were cookies and not piecrusts. I hoped for the best.

This is from Tuesday night after 24 hours of aging. I had to double wrap the bowl. I wanted to make sure no fridge odors got into the dough, and I also needed to keep hands out of it! Having cookie dough in your house for three days is HARD.

The resulting cookies were delicious, but it's hard to say if there was a noticeable difference between ones that have been aged before baking and ones that went from bowl to oven in the same day. The dough was really dry and hard to scoop out of the bowl.

Texturally they were excellent. I had hoped they would be thicker and denser when they were baked, but that was not the case. The edges were delicately crispy. The insides were almost fluffy textured. I don't think the taste was any more intense than that of a non-aged cookie, but I would really have to taste them side by side to see.

Regardless of what the aging process did or did not do for the cookies, Kevin loved them. He said they were the best chocolate chip cookies he ever ate. I think I will credit Em's delicious recipe rather than the aging of the dough. Although he doesn't like salt on things he liked the little sea salt sprinkle on top. We have a winner.

I meant to serve them hazelnut gelato, but I forgot. Oh well.

Birthday Meatballs
1 pound ground turkey
2 cups crumbled stale Italian or other dense bread, crusts removed
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
2 Tbl finely chopped fresh parsley
2-4 cloves garlic (depending on size)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Put bread in milk to soak.

Finely mince garlic with salt and mash into a paste. (You don't want garlic chunks in your meatballs)

When bread is saturated, squeeze excess milk out and mix together with all remaining ingredients. Shape into balls.

Heat some olive oil in a big pan and add meatballs. Brown well on all sides. Then put them in your simmering tomato sauce for about 30 minutes.

Serve over your favorite cooked pasta.


StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Happy Birthday to Sir Pickypants! You can never go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs. They look great!

I've been wanting to try those cookies too. I just never seem to get around to it.

Srivalli said...

Happy Birthday...that spaghetti looks yum!

Maria said...

Happy Birthday!!
I am always in the mood for cookies! YUM!

Emiline said...

Happy Birthday, Kevin (AKA Sir Pickypants)!
I love the new camera. What kind did you get? I just got a new camera, too.

The spaghetti looks great. I'm glad you liked the cookies again.
But wait, do you remember how I said I was working on that recipe? Well, I made up another one, based on that recipe, and I think it's better! It's the next thing I'm going to post. It's interesting, because I used yeast. Hmmm.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Thanks everyone. I'll pass on everyone's good wishes.

Em - I got a Canon powershot. My best friend had one at my class reunion and I thought it was cool. I like the auto focus on it much better than I liked the one on my old camera. I hope to not have so many fuzzy pictures in the future. On the downside, it's bigger than my old camera, which was very slim and went right into my pocket.

noble pig said...

That sauce and meatballs makes me hungry! Happy Birthday!

Sue said...

Yum, but don't tell Em I really don't want to ruin perfectly good chocolate chip cookies with a bunch of salt. They look so good.

When I'm lazy, sometimes I make meatballs in the food processor. That's just wrong, isn't it?

I love Canon cameras and I really love Zoombrowser.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Sue - Is it wrong? I dunno. You made me want to try it. I'll bet it give more even bread distribution.