Pies

Cooking With Cornstarch

February 16, 2021

More and more people are swapping starches for flour in their recipes. If this is something that you have thought about doing then read on to find out more about cornstarch and its uses.

Cornstarch is one of the most versatile starches that there is. Extracted from the starchy endosperm of corn, its white powdery substance is virtually flavorless. It’s a nice ingredient for thickening puddings, soups, pie fillings, and many baked goods recipes. When added to cake, cookie, and shortbread recipes, cornstarch helps create a crumbly and tender texture.

Commercially, cornstarch is often used as an anti-caking agent. When added to packaged goods like shredded cheese, cornstarch coats the cheese and helps to absorb moisture that would otherwise cause spoiling. The absorption process also helps prevent food from clumping over time. Additionally, it is used when making sugars, such as corn syrup.

When cooking with cornstarch, it is best to mix this ingredient into a recipe that is at room temperature. When cornstarch is added to too hot of a mixture, the heat can cause unwanted clumping. Before adding any starch to a recipe, it’s recommended first to make a slurry. To make a slurry, simply mix cornstarch with a cold liquid such as water. This mixture will create a paste-like substance, that you can then add to the desired recipe. Using this slurry method will ensure that the cornstarch is evenly distributed throughout the recipe and not broken down by the heat. It is not recommended to freeze sauce and soups that include cornstarch. Freeing cornstarch can cause the molecules in the starch to break down, and once thawed, the liquid will not hold the same texture as before.

For Thickening:
Cornstarch is often used as a thickening agent when added to soups, stews, and gravies. Denser than flour, less cornstarch is needed to thicken a liquid to the desired consistency.

When cornstarch is added to a recipe, the starch molecules work to absorb water and thicken the mixture. When heated, those molecules swell and consume even more of the liquid in the recipe. Upon thoroughly cooking, the starch in the mix will have expanded size to ten times its size. Once the mixture cools, these same molecules will set. The setting of these molecules can help further solidify the dough, which makes cornstarch a great thickening agent for gooey fillings like pies and pudding. However, this molecule expansion is limited. While a cornstarch enriched recipe can be brought close to boil, it should never be fully boiled. When cornstarch is exposed to too high of temperatures, the starch molecules will begin to deflate, and the mixture will return to its runny state.

For Baked Goods:
Cornstarch not only acts as a thickening agent, but it can also be used in baked goods like cookies, brownies, and cakes. If you’re looking for more structure in your favorite dessert recipe, then you may want to try using cornstarch. Combining cornstarch with other flours can help soften the rigid proteins of the flour, resulting in a light and chewy dessert. Similar to when adding cornstarch to a soup or pudding, if adding cornstarch to a dessert batter, it should first be turned into a slurry. This will ensure that all of the molecules remain intact and that the starch is evenly distributed. Upon adding cornstarch to your baked goods, evaluate it as you would a soup. Has your batter reached the desired consistency? If not, then a bit more cornstarch may be needed. Once your dough looks perfect, bake your dessert like usual. The result should be light, fluffy, and delicious desserts.

Anti-Caking Agent:
Have you ever wondered why your powder sugar ingredients include cornstarch? Cornstarch acts as an anti-caking agent. By keeping moisture and condensation from reaching whatever it is mixed with. It helps to prevent lumps in finely ground foods like sugar. Cornstarch isn’t just used to ward off moisture from sugar. The next time you’re in the grocery store take a look at how many products list cornstarch as an ingredient. From gravy granules to shredded cheese, you might be surprised by the wide variety of foods that cornstarch is added to.

Frying With Cornstarch:
Cornstarch can also be used as a coating for fried foods. While cornstarch shouldn’t be used as a substitute for flour in baked goods, you can very easily substitute it in for flours when coating fried chicken, fish, or other items you’re frying. Not only will cornstarch work in the same way that flours do, but it will hold up better against sauces and absorb less of the frying oil. Less oil means less fat in your meal.

When frying food with cornstarch, I recommend that you coat the items lightly. Applying a light even coat to your food will ensure that it results in a crispy texture. When too much cornstarch is added, the coating often turns out gummy rather than crunchy. For the perfect, gluten-free fried food, consider blending cornstarch with a gluten-free flour like almond flour. This will help create a more breaded result, similar to wheat flour.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Autumn Apples

October 2, 2020

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

Summer Baking

July 29, 2020

I know that summer baking seems counter intuitive, but for some reason I feel compelled to keep baking in the warmer months of the year. Keeping your home cool can be though enough without the oven adding to the heat. Plus, adding in heat-sensitive ingredients and humidity and you can have less than perfect baking results. Summer does bring wonderful seasonal ingredients like berries and stone fruits that should be missed.

Use your oven in the morning or evening. We all know that your oven can heat up your kitchen quickly. This is why I like to bake early in the morning or in the evening when the outside temperature is lower.

Choose recipes with shorter baking times. In keeping with minimizing the heat from your oven, look for baking recipes that don’t require lots of oven time. A simple cake or a pan of mini cupcakes will bake more quickly than a Bundt cake or even a pan of brownies. If you’re a cookie baker try baking a pan at a time to avoid having the oven on for all the time it takes to bake dozens of cookies. You can refrigerate the dough between batches or even freeze the dough to bake when your cookie cravings strike.

Refrigerate cookie dough and pie crusts. Speaking of cookie dough, keep in mind that a warmer kitchen will also make your cookie doughs warmer. If the butter in the dough begins to melt, you could end up with flat, tough cookies. You can try scooping and baking your cookies quickly, but if you refrigerate the dough before baking and between batches you will avoid these issues. This applies to pie crusts as well. It’s not unusual on a warm day to end up with a too warm, too soft pie crust once it’s rolled out, placed in the pan and the edges fluted. When this happens, just put the pie pan in your refrigerator for a bit to let it cool and rest.

Keep an eye on softening butter. With a warmer kitchen butter will soften faster. The warmer it is the faster butter will soften. If you’re using a recipe that contains softened butter, remember to check for softness sooner than normal to ensure that the butter doesn’t get too soft and affect the texture of your baked goods.

Humid days can definitely affect your baking. If you are baking something with a lot of liquid in it, then it may take longer to bake than usual. Keep an eye on whatever you’re baking and follow the recipe’s directions and your best judgement to check for doneness.
Fresh berries and stone fruits are one of summer’s gifts and it is nice to bake with them. There are so many easy ways to bake with summer fruit. A simple fruit crisp or cobbler is always a welcome treat on a summer day. They are also wonderful garnishes for many desserts like cheesecake and pound cake.

Frosting and heat generally don’t mix well. If you’ve made a cake or cupcakes that are frosted you may want to keep them in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve them. Bring them to room temperature before serving. Refrigerating these types of desserts isn’t a bad idea year-round, especially if the dessert won’t be eaten within a day or two.

No bake desserts may be the way to go. Skipping the oven time can still yield amazing desserts that are perfect for the season with their cool, creamy flavors, and textures. From ice cream to cheesecakes to pies and a whole lot more, you can find plenty of ways to satisfy your sweet cravings.

Support your local bakery. If you are lucky enough to have a great local bakery, take advantage of it. A simple pound cake can be turned into something special with just some fresh fruit and sweetened whipped cream. Brownies can be dressed up in a big way with a scoop of ice cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, and a sprinkling of nuts. Your grocery store can help, too, with shortcut ingredients like puff pastry.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Versatile Rhubarb

May 20, 2020

Rhubarb is a fabulous spring crop. The sour sweetness of rhubarb is absolutely nice in cakes, breads, pies, cobblers and jams, as well as sweet and savory compotes, chutneys, and sauces. Savory rhubarb chutney, cooked with onions and hot pepper is an exciting accompaniment to grilled pork, chicken, or shrimp. Sweeter versions employing brown sugar and lemon peel are superb served with pancakes, French toast, waffles or pound cake. Ladled atop frozen yogurt or ice cream, sweet rhubarb sauce is perfect for a spring sundae when the sun burns bright. This same sauce can be strained to yield a perfectly pink syrup. Combine with cold sparkling water or seltzer for a refreshing mocktail, or add to prosecco for a beautiful brunch beverage.

Rich in fiber, protein, vitamin C, potassium and calcium, rhubarb provides many valuable nutrients. A natural laxative, rhubarb may help east constipation. In fact, it is written that rhubarb was utilized in ancient Chinese medicine for treating stomach ailments. The vitamin K found in rhubarb may help strengthen bones, as well as possibly inhibiting inflammation in the brain. Rhubarb also supplies the body with vitamin A, which may help diminish signs of aging, particularly skin damage.

When choosing rhubarb at the supermarket or farm markets, look for glossy, firm stalks. Trim the leaves off when you bring your rhubarb home, as they are toxic. Store the stalks wrapped in a paper towel in your vegetable drawer. Wash before using. Rhubarb freezes beautifully, place chopped stalks on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and place in the freezer. When the chunks are frozen, store them in freezer bags and use within one year.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Sugared Cranberries

November 18, 2019

Serve sugared cranberries in place of nuts or use as a garnish for cakes, pies, or cocktails. If you don’t have superfine sugar then make your own by pulsing granulated sugar in a food processor for about a minute.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2019 All Rights Reserved

Handheld Pastries

August 21, 2019

Handheld pastries are fabulous for picnics and beach time. Everyone can dig in without the need for utensils.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2019 All Rights Reserved

Gluten-Free Baking

November 24, 2018

Tips & Tricks
While many foods are naturally gluten-free, gluten can be especially difficult to avoid in baked goods. Gluten is a complex protein found in wheat (and other grains) that functions like glue in baked goods and pastas. Gluten’s elastic structure helps baked goods rise and become light and fluffy by trapping gas produced by yeast. It’s the key ingredient that makes breads, pizza crusts, and quick breads tender and chewy. But gluten-free enthusiasts and savvy bakers are reaching new heights by getting creative in the kitchen.

Measure By Weight
In most recipes, a blend of gluten-free ingredients is necessary to create baked goods with a conventional shape and texture. For this reason, most health food stores and many grocers sell blended, all-purpose gluten-free flour mixes that simplify gluten-free baking. There are some notable differences when baking with gluten-free substitutes, including a few that break the conventional rules of baking. Gluten-free flours are, in general, milled finer than wheat-based flours. The fine grind helps gluten-free flours blend better with other ingredients and prevents your baked goods from becoming gritty. On the other hand, the fine flour is more difficult to evenly pack into measuring cups and dense gluten-free flours have different weight to volume ratios than conventional wheat flours. In short, you can’t always substitute a cup of gluten-free flour for a cup of wheat flour, and you’re better off using a kitchen scale to measure gluten-free flour for accurate measurements. The labels on most gluten-free flours feature a cup-to-grams conversion to ensure accuracy.

Consistency & Shape
Even with the right flour mix and measurements, a gluten-free batter or dough won’t usually handle exactly like a conventional dough. For example, gluten-free pie crust tends to be more crumbly and is more apt to split when you try to fold it. To keep the dough in one piece, roll it between two sheets of wax or parchment paper, which also makes it easier to transfer the dough to a pie plate. Be sure to use and egg wash on pie dough, instead of a milk wash, as a milk wash will more easily soak into the dough instead of resting on its surface. With gluten free breads, be sure to use a pan with sides, because the dough typically won’t stand easily on its own.

Moisture Matters
The strong and sticky bonds formed by gluten play many roles in baking, including moisture retention. While gluten-free flours typically include gums and starches to hold moisture, the resulting dough still tends to dry out faster. To avoid a tough texture or crummy edge on cakes and cookies, consider adding things like egg yolks, yogurt, and fruits (where appropriate) to increase moisture and add flavor. After baking, you can freeze gluten-free baked goods (tightly wrapped in freezer-safe bags) to prevent them from drying out.

Times & Temps
Traditional doneness indicators, such as a clean, dry toothpick in a cake or the hollow sounds when thumping a loaf of bread, are not always accurate for gluten-free baked goods. In fact, some gluten-free baked goods might feel soft to the touch and look wet inside even though they’re completely cooked – requiring a cool-down time to firm up. Follow the time and temperature recommendations in gluten-free recipes closely, because the traditional visual cues aren’t the same as wheat-based goods. Oftentimes, gluten-free recipes feature lower oven temperatures and extended baking times to drive out excess moisture.

Try It
If you’re new to gluten-free baking, don’t be intimidated, but do follow reliable recipes closely – as gluten-free recipes don’t always take well to adjustments, swaps, and add-ins. There are some good gluten-free cookbooks out to help with finding good recipes. I suggest, Gluten-Free Baking Classics, by Annalise Roberts for beginners, who know they need (or just want) to switch over to gluten-free or alternative flours when baking, but aren’t totally sure how to make the conversion. Gluten-Free Baking With the Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes From The World’s Premier Culinary Collage, by Richard J Coppedge Jr.is geared toward professional bakers or those with an interest in the food-science side of things.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2018 All Rights Reserved

Pumpkin Pie

November 15, 2018

Pumpkins earned their name because of their round shape. The English called them “pompons,” which came from the French word “pompom.”

Like many early American dishes, pumpkin pie is a product of indigenous ingredients and English culinary tradition. First cultivated in Central America around 5500 B.C., pumpkins were one of the first foods settlers brought back from the New World. The English quickly added pumpkin to their pie-making tradition, so by 1620, when the Mayflower sailed to the New World, it’s likely some of the Pilgrims were already familiar with these orange gourds.

There’s a very good chance that when the first Thanksgiving was held a year later, pumpkin was on the table in some form. By the early 18th century, Thanksgiving was a well-established holiday throughout New England, and pumpkin pie was part of the feast.

In 1705, Colchester, Connecticut, postponed Thanksgiving for a week, because there wasn’t enough molasses, their sweetener of choice, to make the pies.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2018 All Rights Reserved

Holiday Moderation

November 17, 2017

The holiday season is in full swing and soon you’ll be living on Thanksgiving leftovers. Ever had pumpkin pie for breakfast followed by a full turkey meal for lunch and another for dinner? It’s easy to get in the habit of holiday indulging.

The average American gains more than a pound each holiday season. Over a decade that really adds up. As they say, “It’s easy to put it on and hard to take off.”

There are ways to enjoy the holidays, but keep yourself in check so that you don’t fall into the trap of complete abandon.

High Fat Foods
Pigs In A Blanket: High In Fat, Salt, and Carbs.
Fried Cheese Balls: High In Fat And Small So It’s Easy To Overeat.
Baked Brie: Fatty And Addictive, Plus You Have To Slather It Onto Some Carb Calories.
Chips: They Have No Nutritional

Eat In Moderation
Cheese And Crackers: Calorically Dense And Super Easy To Eat. They’re Not Special So Spend Your Holiday Calories On Something More Festive.

Once-A-Year Favorites: You Only Eat Stuffing, Latkes, And Eggnog Once Or Twice A Year. If You’ve Been Coveting Aunt Martha’s Chiffon Pie Or Cousin Tommy’s Cooked Goose, Enjoy In Moderation.

Be My Guest
Crispy, Crunchy Crudités: Make The Brightly Colored Vegetables Your First Stop For Noshing. Add Hummus To Slow Digestion.
Pork Tenderloin, Ham Or Turkey: Protein Is Going To Suppress Your Appetite Due To The Fact That It Is Slow Digesting And Triggers The Release Of Several Satiety Hormones.
Shrimp Cocktail: Low In Fat, High In Protein And A Perfect First Course For A Low Calorie Tour Of The Buffet.
Swedish Meatballs: Another Protein Packed Option That Stands Out Amid A Carbohydrate Heavy Table.
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus: A Great Choice To Fuel Your Body While Keeping Your Appetite In Check.

Enjoy the holidays, but enjoy them in moderation.

“Work With What You Got!”

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

Baking Pies

September 13, 2017

Whether you’re baking summer pies or getting ready for holiday baking it’s important to have some key information about pie dough.

Blind Baking
Blind baking is prebaking a crust before you add an unbaked or especially wet filling. To ensure that your crust turns out crisp while blind baking, you can either dock it or use pie weights.

Docking
Docking is pricking the dough all over with the tines of a fork. The tiny holes allow steam to escape, so that the crust doesn’t puff up. After rolling out your dough and pressing it into the pan, gently prick it, leaving an inch or two between each mark. Be sure to check your crust several times throughout its bake time. If you notice it puffing up in any way, simply prick the puffy spots a few times and keep baking.

Pie Weights
Pie weights are tiny ceramic or metal balls or a thin metal chain that prevent the bottom of your crust from forming air pockets and bubbling up while baking. While docking is less fussy than using pie weights, I prefer pie weights because of the additional support they give the crust. Line your unbaked crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil before adding the weights to keep them from baking into the dough. I prefer parchment paper because its permeable structure allows the crust to breathe and brown more evenly. If you don’t own pie weights, dried beans work just as well.

Blind Bake Ahead
You can blind bake a crust up to three days ahead of time. Allow the crust to cool completely in the pan, wrap with plastic wrap, and store at room temperature until you are ready to fill and serve.

Happy Pie Baking!

“Work With What You Got!”

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

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