Tips/Tricks

If there’s a recipe for success, it starts with selecting the perfect ingredients!

English Peas

May 19, 2021

English peas (sometimes called garden peas or pod peas) have a fresh, slightly grassy flavor that is the essence of spring. English peas are wonderful puréed and made into a creamy soup or spread. They add bright points of color and flavor to pilafs, risotto, fried rice, pasta, and soups. Steamed and sprinkled with fresh mint or parsley, they make a wonderful side dish.

Pods should be bright green and feel heavy. Each 1 pound of whole pods yields about 1 cup of shelled peas so make sure to pay attention to the desired measurement in your recipe. Their sugars convert quickly to starch so English peas are best eaten the day that they are purchased. If needed, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To prepare, shell peas right before cooking them in order to keep them from drying out. Once shelled, peas can be briefly cooked in 1/4 inch of steaming water for 3 to 4 minutes. They will quickly turn soggy and lose their vibrant color, so it is important not to overcook them.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Strawberries

May 13, 2021

Though they are available year-round in grocery stores the best strawberries are to be found in farmer’s markets in spring and early summer.

Look for smaller berries, preferably organic ones, with a rich, glossy red color and shiny green leaves. Avoid berries with white or green shoulders and brown or limp leaves. Never buy them if they are moist, overly soft or show signs of mold. Do not buy berries if their cartons are leaking and wet, a sure sign that unseen fruits will be moldy.

Although fresh strawberries should be rinsed, do not soak them for any length of time since they will absorb the water and turns mushy. For eating on their own, strawberries, even very large ones, should be left whole. Hull strawberries before freezing them or using them for most preparations. Use a small paring knife or a strawberry huller to carve out the white center core from the stem end of each berry. To improve the flavor of lackluster strawberries, hull and slice them, place in a bowl and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of sugar for every pint. Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. The sugar draws moisture from the berries to make a sweet natural syrup.

Fresh strawberries are fragile so handle them with care. Don’t wash the berries until just before you are ready to eat them, as the moisture will encourage mold. To store strawberries, line a glass or plastic container with paper towels, carefully arrange the berries inside and cover with the lid. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Jicama

April 22, 2021

Crunchy, juicy, nutrient packed jicama is an unsung hero of the produce aisle. Technically a cousin to green beans, jicama is a root vegetable from Mexico available year-round that is delicious cooked or raw. With a mild, earthy, slightly sweet flavor and an apple like consistency. It’s a great addition to salads, salsas, slaws, and grazing boards. Jicama also works as lighter swap for potatoes in baked and air fried recipes, and it’s delicious sautéed or boiled, too.

If you’ve never tried jicama, don’t be intimidated. Start by choosing one with a smooth, unblemished surface and thin brown skin. The skin should be thin enough to scrape with your thumbnail to reveal the white flesh inside. Avoid thick skinned, bruised, or shriveled jicama, which are signs of aging.

Once you’re ready to prep, start by trimming off the ends of the jicama and slice in half. Then, use a knife to gently peel away the skin.

For Jicama Sticks:
Step 1: Carefully slice off the rounded parts of the jicama, creating a flat surface.
Step 2: Cut each half into 1/4-inch slices.
Step 3: Stack slices and cut evenly into sticks.

Fresh, raw jicama sticks are a great addition to lunchboxes or served on a vegetable platter with your favorite dip. They can also add unexpected, satisfying crunch to cooked dishes, like a noodle salad with jicama and a miso vinaigrette.

Jicama sticks are delicious roasted, too. Their firm texture can withstand the heat, while the edges get golden brown and tender. Toss together with sweet peppers and spices for a simple, satisfying sheet pan side that pairs well with all kinds of meat and fish.

For Diced Jicama:
Step 1: Follow the steps above to create jicama sticks
Step 2: Line up sticks or stack into a pile, then evenly cut into cubes.

Diced jicama is a vitamin and fiber-rich way to add bulk to all kinds of green, grain, and protein-based salads. I love the combination of crunchy jicama with creamy avocado served with grilled chicken.

Moist and mild flavored jicama also plays well with fruit, especially melon. A refreshing combination of watermelon, jicama, and fresh mint falls somewhere between salad and salsa, delicious scooped onto tortilla chips or just spooned straight from the bowl.

Next time you’re at your local grocery store or market pick up jicama and experiment with ways to incorporate it into your recipes.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Fennel

April 6, 2021

Fennel is a member of the carrot family, though it is not a root vegetable. The base of its long stalk weaves together to form a thick and crisp bulb that grows above ground. Fennel’s leaves, seeds, and stems all have a sweet, faintly anise like flavor. The stems of fennel swell and overlap at the base of the plant to form a bulb with white to pale green ribbed layers that are similar to celery in appearance and texture. Light and feathery, the pretty green leaves slightly resemble fresh dill. Use them as a bed for steaming fish or in small amounts as a garnish.

Originating in the Mediterranean, the fennel bulb appears often in Italian and Scandinavian cuisines. It can be eaten raw, grilled, baked, braised, or sautéed. While grilling, you can toss a handful of dried or fresh fennel stems onto the charcoal to infuse meat or fish with a light anise flavor.

When selecting fennel choose fresh bulbs that are smooth and tightly layered with cracks or bruises. Fat, rounded bulbs with white and pale green color will tend to be more succulent than thin or yellow ones. Avoid any with wilted leaves or dried layers. Now available year-round, fennel is at its peak from late fall through winter. Grocers sometimes incorrectly liable fennel as sweet anise.

When storing, keep fennel bulbs in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If kept too long, they will lose their flavor and toughen.

When preparing, remove the green stems and leaves, saving them to flavor or garnish other dishes such as soups or fish. Discard the outer layer of the bulb if it is tough and cut away any discolored areas. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and remove the base of the core as it is thick and solid. Gently separate the layers with your hands and rinse well to remove any grit between them. Slice or cut as your recipe directs.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Spring Onions

March 30, 2021

One of the wonderful things about spring is access to spring onions. Spring onions are typically planted at the end of summer so that they grow over the winter months, ready for harvesting in the spring.

Spring onions are more mature than both scallions and green onions, but are still a type of young onion, which are picked before they have a chance to grow larger. You can identify a spring onion by the small, round, white bulb at its base. While it appears similar to scallions and green onions, its rounded bulb gives it way.

Spring onions are also slightly stronger in flavor than scallions and green onions due to their maturity. They still have a gentler flavor than regular onions, which have been left in the ground much longer and grow much larger.

To prepare spring onions wash them under running water to free them of any dirt and grit. Trim the root end, but only the very, very end. Every last bit of white packs a lot of flavor. If you’re braising or grilling them whole just trim off the top most inch of the greens and you’re done.

If you are using spring onions where you would use scallions the prep is nearly the same. Slice them thinly crosswise for adding to a salad or a vinaigrette. If you’re using them in a stir-fry, cut them on the bias.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Beets

February 27, 2021

Heart healthy beets are packed with nutrients and are perfect for late winter meals. You will love them for their vibrant color, sweet flavor, and versatility.

There are just 60 calories in 1 cup of beets. While low calorie, beets are also packed with potassium, iron, vitamin C, and heart healthy nitrates. The greens are rich in vitamins A and K. Try using beets in soups and sautés.

While red beets are the most common variety, other varieties of beets do exist. Golden beets, as their name implies, are a golden yellow color. Chioggia beets contain red and white stripes on the inside, which is why they are often referred to by their nickname – candy cane beets.

To store fresh beets, separate the leaves from the root and place in separate plastic bags in the refrigerator. The greens should be used within a few days while the roots can last up to two to three weeks.

To peel uncooked beets, use a vegetable peeler to remove the thin skin. For roasted beets, use a paper towel to gently rub off the skins. This gives you a better grip and helps keep beet juice from staining your hands.

Beet juice has been used as far back as the 16th century for makeup, hair dye, and fabric dye. It’s still used commercially as a natural food coloring and clothing dye.

To remove beet juice stains from your cutting board, sprinkle with salt and rub with a lemon half before rinsing. You can remove stains from your hands by rubbing them with a little baking soda, then washing with soap.

Beets are high in nitrates, natural compounds that may help lower your blood pressure and help your body use oxygen more efficiently. Many pro athletes and Olympians drink beet juice to improve their performance.

Beets get their deep red color from compounds called betalains, which have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

37% of the recommended daily intake of folate for adults is in 1 cup of raw beets. Folate needs increase during pregnancy, as this vitamin helps babies develop in the womb, making beets a great addition to a pregnant woman’s diet.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

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.

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How To Roast Almost Anything

February 8, 2021

Roasting refers to proteins and vegetables cooked mostly at high temperatures in the oven. Baking uses a lower temperature to cook breads, baked goods, and casseroles.

Roasting makes any vegetable taste better. It brings out their flavor, caramelizes their natural sugars, and adds crunch. If your family doesn’t love certain vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts, roasting is a great way to change their mind. Double what you’re roasting and then turn extra servings into quick meals later in the week. Cooking a little extra with one meal lets you make the most of value-sized packages of proteins and other store sales. With leftover already planned, you won’t need to lean on takeout.

Why we love to roast:

It’s Affordable! Inexpensive ingredients are tastiest when roasted. Root vegetables are browned and crisp, tomatoes and grapes are extra juicy and sweet, and tough cuts of beef are fall-apart tender. You also don’t need any special equipment to roast.

Roasting Is Healthful! Roasted foods need very little fat to cook compared to frying or sautéing. Roasting also intensifies flavors without added salt, sugar, or other ingredients.

It’s Easy! Roasted foods need little prep before they cook. And once the oven door closes, you can walk away. Fewer pans and utensils are needed, making cleanup easier too.

Essential Tools For Roasting:

Rimmed Sheet Pan: The rim keeps vegetables from falling off the sides and catches any juices from meats and fish.

Oven-Save Skillet: Go from stovetop to oven and back. Sear meats before roasting or make a pan sauce with the meat drippings after roasting.

Roasting Pan: Best for large roasts, hams, and turkeys. An inner rack lifts the meat so it can brown and crisp underneath.

Parchment Paper: Line pans to keep foods from burning and sticking, then toss for easy cleanup. If roasting at a higher temp or broiling use foil.

Metal Tongs: Flip and stir foods on a hot pan with ease. Look for tongs with a heat resistant grip.

Silicone Brush: Brush on a sticky glaze or baste foods with sauce. The silicone bristles are easy to clean.

Tips For Sheet Pan Roasting:

Jump Start Browning by preheating your sheet pan before adding vegetables.

Pat foods very dry with paper towels so the outside browns while the inside cooks through.

Cut foods to the same size and thickness so smaller pieces don’t burn.

Space out foods on the sheet pan so they have room to crisp and brown.

Let sheet pans cool before rinsing to keep the metal from warping.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Cooking With Buttermilk

January 27, 2021

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy drink that was traditionally the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cultured cream. Today, most modern buttermilk is cultured. Cultured buttermilk was first commercially introduced in the US in the 1920s. Commercially produced buttermilk is milk that has been pasteurized, homogenized, and then inoculated with a culture of Lactococcus lactis to simulate the naturally occurring bacteria in the old-fashioned buttermilk. The tartness of cultured buttermilk is primarily due to lactic acid produced by lactic acid bacteria while fermenting lactose, the primary sugar in milk.

Condensed buttermilk and dried buttermilk are very important in the food industry. Liquid buttermilk is used primarily in the commercial preparation of baked goods and cheese. Buttermilk solids are used in ice cream manufacturing as well as being added to pancake mixes to make buttermilk pancakes.

Buttermilk reacts with the baking soda and powder to give quick breads their rise and tender crumb. The reaction is best at the beginning, you’ll want to get the loaf in the oven right after mixing the wet and dry ingredients. Buttermilk can also be used in marinating meats, especially chicken and pork, because the lactic acid helps to tenderize, retain moisture, and allows added flavors to permeate the meats.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Ways To Use Tahini

January 6, 2021

Tahini, a roasted sesame seed paste, is the key ingredient in hummus recipes, but you can also use tahini these ways:

Nut-Free Peanut Sauce
Combine with soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, and crushed red pepper. Check labels to be certain that your tahini is nut-free.

Veggie Burgers
Add a spoonful to help bind bean or lentil burger mixture together instead of using an egg.

Oatmeal
Drizzle over a bowl of oatmeal topped with sliced bananas, a dollop of yogurt, and maple syrup.

Dressing
Stir together with lemon juice, olive oil, and minced garlic as a dressing for salads or grain bowls.

Brownies
Swirl into a pan of brownie batter before baking to balance the sweetness of the chocolate.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

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