Friday, 4 April 2014

Spaghetti and Meatball Dinner (Three recipes, one awesome dinner)

Super easy and everyone loves spaghetti and meatballs!

You could also be adventurous and make your own pasta!

Basic Tomato Sauce:

Serves Four

Ingredients:

1 Can Diced, whole or crushed tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
4 Cloves Garlic
1 Onion
1 Tablespoon Oregano
1 Tablespoon Basil
Salt and Pepper
2-3 Bay Leaves

Special Tools:

Immersion Blender, or a blender/food processor safe for use with hot sauces.
You could also make the sauce ahead of time, and then cool it and puree it later. Then the sauce would just need to be reheated when you needed it. Or if you want a chunkier sauce you can just mash the tomatoes a bit with a spoon. The choice is yours.

Instructions:

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. 

Finely dice the onion and cloves garlic, or pulse in a food processor until fine.

Once oil is heated, add the onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and stir fry until onions are soft and beginning to cook down. About 10 minutes of cooking. 

Add the can of tomatoes, basil, oregano and bay leaves. Season again with sat and pepper. Stir well.

Reduce heat and simmer the pot for about 5 minutes.

Taste the sauce. Adjust seasonings as needed. If it's too bitter more basil, maybe a little brown sugar (1/2 tablespoon), too sweet, more pepper and oregano. If it's just bland more salt. Tomatoes need a bit of salt before they really shine.

Cover and continue simmering on low for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Remove bay leaves from the sauce and Blend smooth with an immersion blender*.

Serve hot over noodles. 

Enjoy!

Beef Meatballs:

Ingredients:

1 pound Ground Beef
1/2 Cup fresh bread crumbs
1 small Onion
2 Cloves garlic
1 Egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped Parsley
1 Tablespoon Oregano
Salt and Pepper
1 Teaspoon nutmeg, or a bit more if you like nutmeg.

Instructions:

Let the ground beef stand in a large stainless steel bowl on the counter for about 10 minutes. This just makes it less cold when it comes time to work it into balls.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with Tin foil.

Finely dice or pulse in a food processor the onion and garlic. 

Add the diced vegetables, parsley, oregano and nutmeg to the ground beef. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix well. Add in the bread crumbs and egg and mix everything really well with your hands until evenly blended and balls retain shape when rolled into balls. 

Roll out the meatballs in your hands and place on the prepared baking sheet, close together but not touching. 

Once all the meat mixture have been rolled, bake meatballs for about 20-25 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven.

Serve hot as a cocktail snack, in a sandwich or wrap, or with a sauce on pasta.

Enjoy!

Basic Pasta Recipe

Ingredients:

For three to four people

1/2 Cup Semolina Flour
1/2 Cup White Flour
Generous pinch salt
1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Special Tools:

Pasta roller and cutter

Instructions:

On a clean dry work surface, sift together the semolina flour, white flour and salt until evenly mixed. 

In a small bowl gently whisk the egg, egg yolk and olive oil together to just break the yolks up a bit. 

Pile the flour mixture up on your work surface. Create a well in the center. You should now have what looks like a child's volcano project on your surface made from the flour, and a bowl of yellow "lava" waiting on the side. 

Another analogy is that the pile of flour mixture should look kind of like a doughnut. 

Pour the egg and oil mixture into the center of your volcano or doughnut of flour. use a fork to gently begin to whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture, slowly expanding the well in the center until a dough begins to form, continue to mix in more flour with the fork until it becomes to stiff. 

Knead the dough with your hands, working in more of the flour mixture as your go. If things remain too sticky once all the flour is incorporated, add a little bit more semolina flour. If it is still too sticky a little bit more white flour. The dough should be smooth and dense when it is done. If it is too sticky or too dry it wont roll/cut right.

When dough is ready, roll it into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes. This is a very important step. DO not skip it.

After the dough has rested, divide the dough into four equal chunks, roll out slightly with a rolling pin, and then feed through a pasta roller until desired thinness is reached. I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer attachment set of pasta rollers, and I have been finding about a 5 on the roller is good for spaghetti, it's a little finer than box spaghetti but I like it.

Get a large pot of well salted water with 1 tablespoon olive oil, on the stove over medium high heat. Get it to a boil and keep it there.

Ok so here is when life will get complicated. Pasta sheets will dry out in the air, and then you wont be able to cut them later. They also like to stick together and become unworkable. Since I was not raised with an Italian Grandma to help me out I learned with trial and error. What I do is get out my giant cookie platter usual reserved for Christmas parties, and after rolling out the sheets, i place them along the try in a single layer and then cover with plastic wrap, and then layer more pasta sheets on top and repeat until all my pasta is rolled. The bonus of this method is when it comes time to cut the pasta I can lift up the layers of plastic wrap and start cutting the pasta sheets that I rolled first. Then flip the layers of pasta and plastic wrap and continue cutting pasta that was rolled first. Kitchen prep rule 101: first in means first out!

After rolling out all the pasta, switch to the cutter, or if you are truly ambitious cut it by hand. Cut the pasta sheets into workable lengths, and place the freshly cut pasta on a clean tea towel laid out as straight as possible and in a single layer if possible. You can also use plastic wrap to separate layers of pasta. We are trying to prevent the pasta from clumping back together before we get a chance to cook it. 

Once all the pasta is cut. Dump it all into the pot of boiling water. Stir gently. Pasta will be cooked in about a literal minute. Once cooked, drain from water and serve hot with desired sauce or topping.

Enjoy!

Notes:

To pull this off easily as a dinner for a guests, I would start by getting the pasta ready and letting it rest. Then start on the sauce, once the sauce is simmering, prepare the meatballs.

Once meatballs are cooking, roll and cut the pasta as desired. 

Once meatballs are cooked, add them to the fully cooked sauce after it has been blended smooth. Simmer meatballs for about 5 minutes.

While meatballs and sauce come together, finish cutting the pasta, cook the pasta and now everything is ready to serve.

Serve on warmed plates with salad and maybe some bread.

Other Places:

Something for dessert:

Avocado Loaf


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