Cheese Boards are a no-cook, sure-to-please option for any holiday celebration. Build a cheeseboard that’s affordable yet special. Then toast the season with festive cocktails.
A few inexpensive ingredients and simple homemade touches are all you need for a spectacular, special occasion-worthy spread. Here are some smart tips to deck your board with festivity and flavor without breaking the bank.
For a classic, colorful centerpiece, make your own cranberry and herb cheeseball. Start with a container of spreadable cheese and form into a ball. Use a sheet of plastic wrap to avoid messy hands. Roll the ball in a combination of finely chopped dried cranberries, parsley, and chives until thoroughly coated. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
No need to buy expensive cheeses. Inexpensive cheddar is always a crowd pleaser. Skip the pre-cut cubes and cut the block yourself. Orange or white, mild or extra sharp. Cheddar is always a favorite.
Upgrade affordable goat cheese by rolling the log in herbs and spices, like dried thyme, dried oregano, or crushed rainbow peppercorns for a beautiful, flavorful crust. You could also keep it plain and top with jarred pepper jelly or mango chutney.
Instead of mixed nuts, opt for crunchy snack mixes, which are often less expensive and just as delicious. For the board, look for one with little or no seasoning.
Give a budget-friendly feta or mini mozzarella balls a flavor boost by marinating cubes in olive oil with herbs like parsley, oregano, or rosemary, and other seasonings like sliced chilis, crushed garlic, or lemon zest. Refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.
Round out your cheese board with other delicious items like fresh or dried fruit (dried apricots, figs, grapes, and sliced pears), pitted olives, and plain crackers.
Pair your cheese board with a festive holiday beverage and enjoy!
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved
Autumn’s bounty is vibrant, varied, and delicious. Apples of all varieties are now available at farmers’ markets and supermarkets, including crunchy, sweet Honeycrisp, gorgeous Galas, MacIntosh mottled with both green and red, pale yellow Ginger Golds, and dark, dusky Paula Reds.
Apples are the perfect snack, satisfying and sweet. Try slicing an apple, place the slices in a plastic baggie, sprinkle liberally with cinnamon, close the bag, and shake until the slices are well coated with cinnamon. The apple slices will stay crisp and white for several days in the refrigerator. Perfect for grab and go school lunches, picnics or work from home snack breaks.
A versatile cooking ingredient, apples go well with both sweet and savory components. Combing apples with plums, cranberries, figs, raspberries or blueberries will yield particularly pleasing desserts, such as pies, puddings, tarts, cobblers, and crisps. Whether baked, poached or sautéed, apples lend marvelous layers of flavor to breads, sauces, slaws, salads, stuffing, coleslaw, chutney, and relishes.
As the weather turns cooler, what could be more comforting than the scent of apples roasting in the oven, mingling with spicy cinnamon. Apples enjoy an easy association with all manner of spices, including allspice, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved
The fruit that is available in the autumn isn’t nearly as abundant as the fruit that’s available in the summer, but there are actually some delicious seasonal autumn fruits that you can look forward to eating. Delicious, tasty, and healthy seasonal autumn fruit is also a refreshing alternative to the heavier food we tend to eat in the colder months. If you love fruit and have been missing summer’s bounty, there are plenty of autumn fruits that will satisfy your craving.
Apples are one of the quintessential autumn fruits. Every fall you will see crates full of apples at farmers’ markets. Try venturing out and get some of the lesser known varieties of apples. Each variety tastes very different and autumn is the perfect time to try all of the different varieties.
Pears are best in autumn even though you can get them year-round. In fall they make a great snack. Like apples, there are many different varieties of pears. Try as many different varieties as you can.
Pomegranates are so delicious because they’re the right combination of tart and sweet. The best pomegranates start being available in late October and early November, which means you must wait for most of autumn for them to be available.
Cranberries are not a fruit that most people think of eating. In fact, cranberries usually only make an appearance as cranberry sauce or jelly. However, there are actually other uses for this tart fruit. They make excellent smoothies when blended with oranges and bananas. Cranberries also taste great when roasted along with vegetables because they add a nice tart bite.
Grapes are a fruit that people eat by the handful. They’re delicious, and they make a nice healthy snack that children and adults love. If you have a chance, try some concord grapes this fall. They are a nice treat and a change from the globe grapes that we always find in the market.
Figs start making an appearance in grocery stores in early fall. They can be expensive, but they’re worth it. They have a wonderful sweet flavor that’s not too intense. Figs do have delicate skin so if you do buy them, make sure you plan on eating them right away.
Persimmons are a sweet fruit, but when you get persimmons you should make sure they’re fully ripe before eating them. Unripe persimmons are very astringent. Make sure they are plump and juicy before taking a bite.
“Work With What You Got!”
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2019 All Rights Reserved
Whether you’re hosting your first Thanksgiving or you’ve been making the family feast for decades, refer to our Thanksgiving timeline checklist to keep your prepping, shopping, and cooking on track for the big day.
1 TO 2 WEEKS BEFORE THANKSGIVING
Confirm the number of guests and plan your menu
Order your turkey
Plan your table setting, serving dishes, and decorations
Read through all your recipes to determine the food and cooking equipment you will need
Make your shopping and to-do lists
Shop for nonperishable food items, plus any cooks’ tools, cooking equipment and tableware you need
A FEW DAYS BEFORE
Prepare the turkey brine, but do not add the turkey, cover and refrigerate
Prepare food that can be made several days ahead of time, such as pie pastry and cranberry sauce
THE DAY BEFORE
Complete your food shopping
If you ordered a fresh turkey, pick it up or have it delivered
If you are brining the turkey, place it in the brine and refrigerate
Prepare dishes that can be made in advance such as soups and pies
Chop vegetables for side dishes; refrigerate in covered bowls or sealable plastic bags
Peel and cut the potatoes, place in cold water and refrigerate
Set the table
Refrigerate wines that need chilling
Prepare the stuffing and other side dishes
Prepare the turkey for roasting and put in the oven at the determined time
If you plan to stuff the turkey, do not stuff it until just before you put it in the oven
While the turkey is roasting, make the mashed potatoes
While the turkey is resting, make the gravy and cook or reheat the side dishes
Carve the turkey and serve your guests
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
“Work With What You Got!”
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2018 All Rights Reserved
Beautiful autumn! The tapestry of autumn is tinged with splendor, as nature sheds its robe of green and garbs itself in the richly textured colors of fall. As leaves begin to turn deep shades of burnt orange, russet, gold, umber burgundy, cooks seek out lavish and luscious seasonal ingredients.
“Work With What You Got!”
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2018 All Rights Reserved
Constitution Week – Foods of Our Forefathers Part V
In her food preparation and preservation, the early American housewife was tied tightly to the calendar and the clock – much more tightly than today’s homemaker is. Local availability of foodstuffs and the limitations of existing food preservation techniques meant that nature largely called the shots on timing. Fruits and vegetables had to be picked at the right moment and processed quickly. Animals had to be slaughtered at their peak to keep best, and the peak varied from animal to animal. Even cheese and butter had a better likelihood of successful preservation depending on the season of the year in which they were processed.
Weather conditions played a major role: herbs had to be picked on a dry day to retain color and flavor; slaughter had to be done in cold weather to allow the carcass to cool rapidly; milk winters produced little ice for the following summer.
Also, once begun, preservation techniques sometimes had to be carried uninterruptedly through a long and tedious series of steps. There was no turning back – or time for vacations. Hams being cured had to be turned regularly, fish being dried had to be restacked four times a day, pickles had to have their brine skimmed and changed – or the product would be lost.
The labor involved in such food preservation was frequently heavy, but the routine of the rest of the house went on as usual. Organizational ability and endurance were essential, and woe betide the housewife who didn’t “keep up appearances” with her neighbors.
Just as the make-up of the early American’s diet varied with his geographic location, so did his needs – and abilities – in food preservation.
For example, the southern areas had access to a more varied food supply over the course of the year and consequently had less need to provide stores for the hard winter. At the same time, it was more difficult and expensive to get ice for short-term protection against the warmer climate. Ice was actually shipped from Massachusetts to the Southern states and to Cuba and Jamaica in the early 19th century, but it was obviously only available to the wealthier residents. The ice-box itself didn’t become popular until the mid 1800’s.
The shorter growing season in the North reduced the variety of produce available, but it also made cold storage in root cellars practical in small towns and rural areas. Above-ground ice houses and ice-saws, invented in the mid-nineteenth century, drastically reduced the cost of storing ice into the summer, and simplified storage of dairy products, fish and meat.
In many respects, the northern colonies had the greatest difficulty in providing a nutritious, varied diet throughout the year. Although fruits, berries, and summer vegetables were plentiful from the midsummer to early fall, proving vitamin-rich foodstuffs, during the winter and spring took special care. Many food items, of course, could be stored in relatively simple root cellars – where winter temperatures hovered between 30 and 40 degrees. In especially cold weather, a large tub of water was placed on the floor. This water gave off heat as it froze, which kept the vegetables safe. Turnips, beets and squash were kept in the driest areas. Carrots would keep anywhere. Cabbages and celery were buried in sand, cauliflower was set in holes and covered with straw, while cranberries were floated in water in a tub. Other crops were arranged loosely on slatted shelves for free air circulation, sometimes lying on straw.
Some vegetables, such as summer squash and potatoes, kept better at somewhat higher temperatures, and these were usually stored in the dark basement of the home. Temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees were ideal.
Eggs could also be stored in the root cellar, or in the basement of the house. Two methods were common. In one, the eggs (which the housewife was instructed to collect “in fine weather”) were dipped in boiling water for 20 seconds, then coated all over with butter or “sweet oil” (glycerin) and packed in sawdust. They would keep this way for some two to three weeks. Other housewives kept their eggs in crocks, submerged in “water glass” (sodium silicate). In this technique, it was important not to wash the eggs first, since their shells possess a natural coating which prevented the water glass from penetrating through the shell and ruining the egg. Even stored at room temperature, such eggs would keep for several months, while the hens sulked through the dark winter days.
If a family didn’t have room for a root cellar, it could accomplish somewhat the same effect with a pit, with the vegetables in layers separated by straw, and the whole covered with earth. Obviously, retrieving vegetables thus buried was a messy chore, and needed careful planning.
Under either type of storage, frequent examination was necessary, in order to detect spoilage and eliminate those items of fruit or vegetables which had gone rotten. The proverb about “one rotten apple spoiling the barrel” was not taken lightly! In fact, many housewives wouldn’t put apples in barrels, but spread them out, in order to “pick them over” more easily as the winter progressed. Spoiling apples were cut up, and the good parts made into applesauce as the winter progressed. Early cookbooks instructed the housewife to add a teaspoon of tartaric acid to the apples when making sauce late in the winter, as the apples lost their flavor. New Englanders even had a name for the period after the vegetables had spoiled or been used up, but before the dandelion greens appeared. They called it “the six weeks want.”
In the South, storage of this sort was less necessary, and the typical New England vegetables such as Hubbard squash and turnips were rarely seen on Southern menus.
To Be Continued…
Constitution Week – Foods of Our Forefathers Part II
The standard grains included wheat, barley, oats and rye. Finely ground wheat flour, “boulted” or sieved through a fine cloth, was used to make white bread for the rich early in the fifteenth century. Most of the gentry ate what we would call cracked or whole wheat bread. The poor ate bread of coarse-ground wheat flour mixed with oats, ground peas or lentils.
During the ocean crossing to the New World, immigrants subsisted on an even more monotonous diet for weeks. The Mayflower provisions were typical – brown biscuits and hard white crackers, oatmeal, and black-eyed peas, plus bacon, dried salted codfish and smoked herring for animal protein. The only vegetables on the trip were parsnips, turnips, onions and cabbages. Beer was the beverage.
As pilgrims set foot on their new homeland, they hardly knew what to expect. Each brought a stock of basic foods to get them through the first year, as well as a variety of basic utensils and kitchen tools. Also included were the essential accompaniments for whatever they found or could raise when they arrived – a bushel of coarse salt, 2 gallons of vinegar, a gallon of “oyle” and a gallon of aquavite.
Nothing they had been told, however, prepared them for the staggering variety of totally unfamiliar plants that were being used as food by the Indians – corn, sweet potatoes, peppers, pumpkins, squash, sunflower seeds and cranberries were examples. In addition to the strange food, there were strange ways of cooking. In Europe, meat was boiled; the Indians, lacking iron pots, roasted theirs on a spit over a fire. The Indians also had a long, slow cooking process that yielded what we now call Boston baked beans, and they used a fire-heated, rock-lined pit for what we would now call a clam-bake. Where the pilgrims were accustomed to raised wheat bread, the Indians introduced them to corn based spoon bread. Corn also provided hominy, used as a vegetable, and later, of course, as grits. For sweetening, the Indians used maple syrup and honey, as sugar was unknown.
Although many of the food the Pilgrims and other colonists found were totally strange, others had travelled the route before them. The Spanish had brought pigs, which thrived especially in areas where peanuts grew. Peaches and oranges were also native which spread throughout climatically suitable areas in a short time.
Even the white potato was an early migrant to the New World, following a zig-zag route, from its original home in Peru to Spain in 1520, from Spain to Florida forty years later, from Florida to England in 1565, always being treated as a culinary curiosity. By the 1600’s they had become a popular food staple in Ireland, and were carried by Colonists both to New England and Virginia, where they quickly established themselves. There they served as a valuable source of vitamin C, protein and trace minerals, in addition to the starch.
Potatoes, incidentally were significant in another, later migration to America: the climate in Ireland proved so amenable to their culture, and their nutrient content was so high, that many poor Irish farmers grew only potatoes on their small farms. In fact, as fathers subdivided farms for their sons, many found themselves supporting whole families on the potatoes grown on less than an acre of ground, while the family itself lived in a roofed-over ditch. When blight struck in 1845, the sole food source of millions of people literally withered away before their eyes. A half-million of the 8 1/2 million population died of starvation or disease, and 1 1/2 million emigrated to England or America – following the “Irish potatoe.”
Spices were in short supply in America’s earliest days. The English pretty well monopolized the trade with the New World. Within a few years, however, settlers had planted the seeds they had brought or imported, and most had adapted to the climate and were flourishing in orderly rows and patterns in kitchen gardens all along the Atlantic Coast. There were a few – ginger, pepper, cloves, mace, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice – that simply couldn’t cope with the weather or soil – and were scarce. Olive oil, lime juice, prunes and saffron were available, but only at high prices.
To Be Continued…