Tips/Tricks

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

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.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

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

Holiday Eating Done Right

December 18, 2020

This holiday season, whether you are planning your usual celebrations or making new smaller traditions it is important to balance holiday favorites and healthful options that are delicious. Sticking to wellness goals can be challenging during the holidays. Here are some tips to help you stay on track.

Pack Healthful Snacks For Travel
If you’re traveling this holiday season it can be challenging to eat healthy. Rest stops, gas stations, and airports aren’t known for healthful snack options. Pack your own for holiday trips. Try apples or bananas paired with nut butter, trail mix, or pre-cut vegetables with hummus cups. Be sure to fill up your water battle, too.

Mindful Eating
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and in the moment and can help you fully enjoy each eating experience. Turn off technology, set the table and eat slowly, using all of your senses with each bite. These habits can help you tune into your hunger cues and allow you to savor your meals without overdoing it. Plus, mindfulness can help you fully engage in the time you’re spending with loved ones.

Work In A Workout
When you’re in the thick of holiday prep, your exercise routine may fall by the wayside. Since you can’t add more hours to the day, fit in exercise when you can by parking farther away at the grocery store or taking the stairs at the mall.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth Mindfully
There are many holiday treats to choose from. Plan to pick out your favorites and truly savor them. That will make it easier to skip the rest. If you stick to your normal healthy eating patterns most of the time, you will come out of the holiday season satisfied but not over stuffed.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Tips For Better Cookies

December 10, 2020

Holiday baking time is a fun time of the year with the kitchen filled with delicious aromas and an array of treats to share with friends and family. No matter what style or flavor is your favorite, follow these steps for the best cookies you’ve ever baked, every time.

Use Room Temperature Ingredients
Get eggs and butter out of the refrigerator early, so they blend better in your cookie dough. Your cookies will have better texture and volume when all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Measure With The Spoon & Sweep Method
Use a spoon to add dry ingredients like flour to a dry (flat edged) measuring cup, then level off with the back of a knife. This method gives you the right amount of flour for the recipe, so your cookies aren’t too dry or dense.

Chill Dough Before Shaping Or Slicing
Refrigerate at least 1 hour or even overnight, so the dough is easier to work with and cookies hold their shape. Giving the ingredients time to meld makes your cookies taste better too.

Flour Your Cookie Cutters As You Go
Keep a small bowl of flour next to your work surface when rolling and shaping cutouts. Dip cookie cutters in flour in between stamping so they release easily and don’t stick to the dough.

Use Parchment Paper To Line Baking Sheets
Ensure that your cookies won’t stick to the baking sheet by using parchment paper liners. Parchment can be used more than once depending on the style of cookie, then can be replaced for more baking and easier cleanup.

Rotate Sheets Halfway Through Baking
All ovens have hot and cold spots. Help cookies bake evenly by switching the sheets between the top and bottom oven racks or rotating the sheets 180 degrees on the rack halfway through the baking time.

Rest On Baking Sheets For 1 To 2 Minutes Before Moving To Cooling Rack
When cookies are removed from the oven, they can still be soft and molten on the inside. Let the cookies settle and cool for a minute or two before transferring to a wire cooling rack with a thin spatula.

Cool Baking Sheets To Room Temperature Between Batches
Unbaked dough can start to melt immediately on a hot baking sheet, causing cookies to spread and overcook in the oven. Let sheets cool to the touch before using again.

Cool Cookies Completely Before Frosting Or Storing
Frosting can soften and melt on warm cookies, while sealing cookies in a container before they are cooled can cause sogginess. Let cookies rest on a rack for at least 1 hour before decorating or packaging.

Add A Small Piece Of Bread Or Orange Peel To the Cookie Tin
The cookies will slowly absorb the moisture from the bread or peel, so they won’t go stale as quickly. Replace the bread or peel every few days as it dries out.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Build An Affordable Cheese Board

December 3, 2020

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

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