Butter

Making The Most Out Of The Restaurant Experience

March 22, 2018

Whether you’re a frequent or an occasional restaurant diner it’s nice to know a few inside tips on how to maximize your experience.

If you’re health conscious, don’t buy into claims that the food you order will meet your needs. Most restaurants don’t make food that’s healthy. They’re job is to make it taste good. Restaurants put so much butter on everything they serve. It’s difficult to find a healthy option today.

Always ask your server if there is anything on the menu you should steer away from. If your server say, “That would be the last thing I’d choose,” there is a good reason.

Rib eye is the best steak to order. It’s more flavorful and very tender. Don’t just say “medium rare.” Give your server a description of what the middle of the steak looks like – “all pink from edge to edge” or “I like it all red.” Everyone has a different idea of what the middle should be.

If you drink alcohol, the best bang for your buck is either beer or wine. Hard liquor is the most expensive, for what you’re getting.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2018 All Rights Reserved

Date Night At Home

February 13, 2018

Going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day is a risky affair. Even the best restaurants can have “overload difficulties” on such a busy night where couples have expectations of restaurant perfection. A better way to manage expectations is to take control of them yourself. Food is a language of love. You know what you like and what your loved one likes. No need to worry about cheesy love songs or a perfumed soaked lady sitting next to you. Nothing says I love you more than taking the time to make a special meal for the person you love. Visit the local farmers’ market, butcher, or seafood shop to buy their favorite seasonal ingredients. Come up with a meal that celebrates love. Turn off the lights, fire up all the candles and put on your favorite music.
Keep it easy and made make it special. Plan out the meal from beginning to end to get organized and make sure you have a solid menu. If you’re not a seasoned cook make sure to keep it simple and I recommend not trying to make complicated dishes that you’ve never made before. Make it easy with three courses. Begin with a beautiful cheese plate. Embrace easy, big impact dishes. Start off with prosciutto-wrapped scallops finished with a squeeze of lemon. Warm things up with braised short ribs or steaks finished off with butter and herbs. Keep desserts simple, but sweet. Decorate bakery cakes with fresh fruit or edible flowers or warm up slices of pie and top with caramel sauce and a gourmet ice cream or try your hand at an easy dessert of chocolate pots de crème. Don’t forget that nice bottle of wine or champagne.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2018 All Rights Reserved

How To Cook Romanesco Broccoli

January 18, 2018

Cut Into Pieces (like you would broccoli)
Steam
Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons, Butter, Ghee or Clarified Butter
Add 1 Tablespoon Spice Mixture Of Your Choice

OR

Preheat Oven to 425 degrees. Line Baking Sheet With Parchment Paper
Scatter Pieces Onto Baking Sheet
Drizzle With Olive Oil
Season With Kosher Salt & Pepper
Place In Oven 15 to 20 Minutes Until Tender

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2018 All Rights Reserved

Brussels Sprouts

October 16, 2017

I like to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. Brussels sprouts are a hearty winter vegetable and are sweetest and most tender after a hard frost. They are a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C. Look for young, small green sprouts that have tightly formed buds. Avoid any yellowing, which means that the sprouts will be bitter, sulfurous, and tough. Use fresh sprouts within a few days after purchasing. Sprouts sold on the stalk tend to keep longer. Brussels sprouts can be boiled, braised, or steamed. Cut an X at the base of each sprout to allow for a more even cooking. Add a bit of butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, onions, or herbs of your choice. Brussels sprouts also make a nice addition to stir fry, noodles, and other dishes. As always, be creative and “work with what you got!”

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Orzo

August 27, 2017

Orzo is the Italian word for barley; however, orzo is not made from barley at all, but rather from semolina, which is a course ground flour made from durum wheat. With its shape reminiscent of slivered almonds, orzo cooks up in about half the time of rice, making it a speedy standby to have on hand to add heartiness to meals.

Just bring 3 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add 8 ounces ( 1 1/2 cups) dried orzo and boil about 10 minutes until it has a firm, chewy texture. Stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking together. Drain orzo in colander and serve immediately.

Rinse orzo only if it will be baked or served cold in a salad. Otherwise, do not rinse as rinsing removes a light coating of starch that helps sauces and seasonings cling to the pasta.

For the best texture and flavor serve orzo immediately after cooking. If your orzo gets done before the rest of the meal, you can keep it warm by returning the cooked drained pasta to the warm cooking pan. Stir in a little butter or olive oil to prevent it from sticking together. Cover the pasta with a lid and let it stand no more than 14 minutes.

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Chocolate

April 17, 2017

The labels of many chocolate brands now state the amount of cacao (which means cocoa beans or any part of the beans, including cocoa butter) in their chocolate. The higher the cacao content, the less sugar the chocolate contains. You will also see chocolate described as bittersweet or semisweet. The USDA puts all sweetened dark chocolate, with cacao with a minimum of 35 percent chocolate liquor (ground cocoa beans without any additives), in the same category. These designations vary from brand to brand: one manufacturer’s bittersweet chocolate can be another manufacturer’s semisweet.

The average supermarket chocolate has 55 to 60 percent cacao. Chocolate with more than 60 percent cacao has what is considered a high cacao percentage. You may appreciate its bracing bitterness for eating, but because it contains so much more cacao than traditional chocolate, it can cause problems in cooking. Some contemporary cookbooks include the desired cacao percentage for the chocolate called for in their recipes, a plus for users. Unless a recipe specifically calls for a high-percentage chocolate, you are safest with a chocolate labeled 55 to 60 percent cacao.

Unsweetened chocolate is 99 to 100 percent cacao with no added sugar (some brands add a miniscule amount of vanilla and the emulsifier lecithin).

Milk chocolate has a minimum 10 percent chocolate liquor and includes dry milk solids and additional sugar to make it extra creamy and sweet. The latest trend is toward a higher percentage of chocolate liquor than in the past.

The best white chocolate has a base of cocoa butter, with sugar and milk solids added. Inferior brands substitute other plant fats, such as hydrogenated palm oil, for the cocoa butter, and are labeled white confectionary coating.

Traditionally, chocolatiers wanting a tiny, delicate chocolate coating for their creations would use couverture chocolate, which has a minimum of 32 percent cocoa butter to help it melt more smoothly and increase its fluidity. This extra measure of cocoa butter separated it from regular eating chocolate. However, the standard of today’s chocolate has improved to the point where virtually all chocolate has enough cocoa butter to be considered couverture, so the term is falling out of use.

Use a serrated knife to chop chocolate. Actually, think of shaving the chocolate from the block rather than hacking at it. Start at the corner of the bar and work backward, moving the knife about 1/4 inch after each cut. When you’ve lost the point of the corner, turn the bar around and start at another corner.

It may sound like a time-saver, but don’t use a food processor to chop chocolate. The chocolate can melt from the heat generated by the friction.

Small chunks of high-quality chocolate (pistoles) are a great time-saver if you need to melt chocolate and want to skip the chopping step. Semisweet chocolate chips may look similar, but they aren’t a good substitute. They contain a high percentage of lecithin, which helps them keep their shape during baking, so they don’t melt.

Chocolate has two enemies, heat and water. Use gentle heat when melting dark chocolate, as it scorches above 120 degrees F (milk and white chocolates scorch at 110 degrees F and need extra attention). Keep all surfaces and utensils dry. If you use a double boiler to melt chocolate, never allow the water to boil. The resulting steam can get into the chocolate and thicken it irretrievably, which is known as seizing.

The traditional method for melting chocolate is in a double boiler. It melts at below body temperature, so very hot water works fine. Just bring about 2 inches of water to a boil in the lower pan of the double boiler, then remove it from the heat. Place the top pan with the chopped chocolate over the low pan, making sure the top pan doesn’t touch the water. Chocolate holds its shape even when warm, so stir the chocolate frequently with a rubber or silicone spatula while it melts to check its progress. Be careful not to overheat chocolate, as it can scorch easily.

A variation on the double boiler method is good for large amounts of chocolate. Put the chopped chocolate in a wide stainless-steel bowl. Now place the bowl in a large skillet of very hot water, taking care not to splash any water in the chocolate. With a larger surface area of the chocolate exposed to heat, the chocolate will melt more quickly than in a double boiler.

You can melt chocolate in a microwave oven, but you must be careful not to overheat it. Use medium (50 percent) power for 40 seconds, and then check the chocolate. If it has not melted, continue to melt it, checking it at 20-second intervals. When you take it out of the microwave, the chocolate may not look melted, but sometimes brief stirring will push all or most of it to the melted stage. If all the chocolate has not melted, return it to the microwave for about 15 seconds at medium power. Because of the wide variability in the power put off by microwave ovens, you will have to learn to judge how quickly your microwave melts chocolate.

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Cookies

April 5, 2017

When making cookies make sure not to overcream the butter and sugar. Unlike cake batter baked in a pan, cookie dough is baked free-form. When the dough is heated and the chemical leaveners expand the air bubbles, the bubbles burst without a pan to force the dough upward, producing flat cookies. For cookies, cream the butter and sugar for only 1 to 2 minutes, just until the mixture is smooth but has not lightened in color.

Another insurance policy against flat cookies, chill butter-based cookie dough before baking. Butter has a low melting point, and starts to soften as soon as it is exposed to oven heat. Refrigerate the chilled dough for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days before shaping and baking. This only works with dough that uses baking powder for leavening. Don’t do this with dough that includes baking soda as the leavener, which loses its rising power soon after it is mixed with wet ingredients.

Professionals use spring-loaded ice cream scoops to portion cookie dough, making cookies the same size that will bake at the same rate. A tablespoon-size scoop is the right capacity for most recipes.

For even baking and easy cleanup, bake your cookies on heavy-duty, rimmed aluminum baking sheets (half sheet pans) lined with parchment paper. To help the paper adhere, butter the baking sheet first. You can also line baking sheets with silicone baking mats instead of parchment paper.

If you’re using silicone mats, you may want to do a test run. Some cookie bottoms won’t crisp as well on the mat as they do on parchment lined baking sheets. Of course, this can be an advantage if you prefer soft, cakelike cookies.

There is no need to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. In fact, more harm can be done by transferring warm, delicate, pliable cookies to a rack than by letting them stand on the baking sheet. If you need to remove the cookies to use the baking sheet again, just let them cool on the sheet until they are firm enough to move.

To discourage overbrowned cookie bottoms (which can happen when an oven heats unevenly), insulate the baking sheet by placing it inside a second baking sheet of the same size. The think layer of air between the baking sheets will protect the top sheet from getting too hot.

Don’t store different types of cookies together or they will exchange flavors and textures. Tin or stainless steel covered containers work best for storage, but plastic containers can also be used as long as they are airtight and fragrance free.

To revive crisp cookies that have softened, bake them for 5 to 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven. Let them cool completely before storing.

To help soft cookies keep their texture, store them in an airtight container with a ceramic brown sugar softener, or with a piece of apple on a piece of aluminum foil, or soft bread. Make sure to remove the apple after 24 hours.

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Poultry

April 4, 2017

Have you ever reached into the cavity of a fresh chicken and found it frozen inside? Poultry can be chilled to 26 degrees and still be considered fresh. Water may freeze at 32 degrees, but poultry flesh doesn’t freeze solid until it reaches 25 degrees. The extra few degrees will lengthen the shelf life of the chicken.

While many cooks are in the habit of rinsing poultry before cooking, it really isn’t necessary. You always cook poultry to a temperature that kills any harmful bacteria. In fact, it could be more dangerous to rinse the poultry, as you can end up splashing contaminated water all over the sink and kitchen counter.

After preparing poultry, reduce the chance of bacteria contamination by washing the cutting board, prep utensils, and your hands with hot, soapy water. It’s a good idea to reserve one cutting board for raw meat and poultry and a second board for other ingredients.

Broiler-fryer chickens are the all-purpose chicken, but you usually see them labeled simply as whole chicken. They used to average 3 1/2 pounds, but these days, you’ll find them up to 5 pounds, which means you get more servings per chicken. Roaster chickens tip the scales at 5 to 7 pounds, and are usually cooked whole in the oven. Even if you are serving a small group, it is worth roasting one of the larger chickens so you have leftovers for other meals.

The standard supermarket chicken is grown according to USDA standards, which allow antibiotics in the feed. Hormones and growth stimulants have been outlawed in poultry production since the 1950s.

Free-range chickens have access to the outdoors, which does not mean they live outdoors. The standards for organic chickens vary from state to state. In general, these birds, which are often also free range, must be fed organically grown feed and raised without antibiotics. Many cooks believe the flavor of free-range or organic birds is superior to that of supermarket chickens.

If you need to roast a chicken in record time, then butterfly it and roast it at a high temperature. With its entire surface exposed to the oven heat, the skin will be crisp and golden brown.

Be sure that whatever vessel you use for roasting a chicken can also be used on the stove top, so you can deglaze the drippings and turn them into a pan sauce. Enameled cast-iron baking dishes are a good choice.

You’ve paid for the entire chicken, so don’t throw anything away. The neck, heart, kidneys, and fat can be turned into quick chicken stock that will make just enough for many recipes, including a sauce for serving with the chicken. Don’t use the liver, as it will make the stock bitter. If you have butterflied the chicken, chop up the backbone and add the pieces to the stock, too. The stock won’t be as rich as a long simmered one, but it’s just fine when combined with pan juices.

Herbs are a wonderful flavoring for roast chicken, but they can burn if simply rubbed onto the skin. Combine the herbs with softened butter, and carefully slip the herb butter under the chicken skin, spreading it evenly. Roast away without worrying about singed herbs.

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Frying Fish

March 6, 2017

Frying fish in fat gives fish a delicious crust and cooking is fairly fast.

Sautéing is one of the most useful methods for cooking fish, which has become considerably easier in the recent past, due to the ongoing improvement of nonstick skillets. As a matter of fact, the first rule of sautéing fish is to go purchase a 12-inch nonstick skillet.

When cooking fish in fat measure in teaspoons or tablespoons rather than in cups. You only use the amount that you need to crisp up the fish, give it a nice color, and improve the flavor. The key to sautéing fish is to get the skillet hot before adding anything to it. Place your skillet on the stove over a low heat and let it sit there for awhile or five minutes before you’re ready to being sautéing, preheat the pan over a medium to high heat, depending on your burner. Just before sautéing should you add the fat and then wait a minute. When the fat is hot you may add the fish. When you add the first piece of fish the pan’s temperature may subside a bit, so turn the heat up to full blast as you add the other pieces. Regulate the heat so that the fat is sizzling nicely, but not burning.

Most fish sauté so quickly that as soon as one side is nicely browned, you may turn the fish and brown the other side. You may check the fish by peeking into the interior by using a thin bladed knife. Thick steaks or fish thicker than an inch may need the heat lowered at some point to prevent burning while the inside continues to cook.

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Things You Can Do With An Egg Slicer

January 6, 2017

Making precise slices of softer, smaller foods in a snap, literally, with this tool designed to hold slippery, hard-cooked eggs in its cradle as the wires cut through. Cleanup is just as speedy – use a kitchen brush and warm, soapy water.

It can quick slice soft fruits and vegetables such as peeled kiwis, hulled strawberries, white or cremini mushrooms, and pitted olives.

Create perfect rounds from soft cheeses, like fresh mozzarella balls and goat cheese.

Make even pats from a stick of butter.

Be creative and try using an egg slicer on soft foods that you’re preparing. The possibilities are endless.

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2017 All Rights Reserved

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