Adventures in Home Cooking: Tony’s Birthday edition

My typical birthday dinner is a night out, but I wanted to do something for Tony’s 31st birthday (yep, he’s getting to be an old man). I decided to tackle two of his favorite things; carrot cake and Spaghetti alla Carbonara. My attempts were both disappointing and delicious.I’m not a baker at all. I make a mean cheesecake, but it’s hard to mess that up in my opinion. But, after finding a recipe from Ms. Martha Stewart (who seems the kind of person to flog someone for bad cupcakes), it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.

http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/carrot-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-icing

I bought all fresh ingredients for this, since I’ve heard that stale baking soda or powder can make baked goods fall flat. I ended up hand-mixing too, which gave me a much-needed workout.  I carefully put my first batch of cupcakes ever into the oven and hoped for the best. One glance inside after a while presented lovely, rounded cupcakes, just beginning to turn golden. Yes! I’m a natural at this!….or so I thought.

At 25 minutes, I took my pan of cupcakes out and my face fell….just like my cupcakes. They all looked like mushroom clouds, not something I wanted to stick a candle in and give to someone for their birthday. Tony loved them though, they were a little crunchy around the edges and moist in the middle. I liked the mix of the coconut and allspice, plus the shredded carrots added a nice texture and earthiness. I did some research and may have over-mixed the batter (no wonder my arm hurts!), which made the cupcakes flat. Plus, I would have cooked them a few minutes less, but not bad for a first attempt.

For dinner, I went to the “Gourmet” cookbook, which is like the Bible of cookbooks. Every recipe you could ever need is in there and it’s not too complicated. Tony grew up eating Spaghetti alla Carbonara made by his Mom, so I had some high expectations against me. The recipe in the cookbook can also be found here:

http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/diaryofafoodie/2007/01/spaghetti-alla-carbonara

It seems so easy, but I was nervous. I’m not an egg person and I was afraid of how a raw egg mixture would taste with the pasta. Usually, I drown my pasta in red sauce, the more the better. At least the recipe calls for my favorite things; white wine, onions, and bacon. However, against my better judgment, I used turkey bacon with this recipe. It wasn’t bad and added an interesting smokiness, but real bacon (or better yet, pancetta) would have been much better.

After tossing the spaghetti with the eggs, onions, and bacon, I gave a tentative bite. It was mind-opening; the pasta didn’t taste eggy at all! Instead, the pasta was light and flavorful, I was shocked. No wonder Tony loved this growing up! After the baking disaster, it was a triumphant end to a great birthday.

~Julia

 

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2 responses to “Adventures in Home Cooking: Tony’s Birthday edition

  1. Sounds like a wonderful meal even with the cup cake baking event!

  2. Eh…I think the messier the end result of baking…the better it tastes!

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