Tips/Tricks

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

Bringing Basil Indoors For The Winter

September 25, 2020

You may try to keep basil through the winter, however, sweet basil is meant to live its life cycle within one year and then go to seed. At the end of the season, though, you may try to keep it alive by moving potted basil indoors to enjoy them for months to come.

Inspect And Transplant
Before you bring your basil indoors make sure to inspect it thoroughly for any insects. Flush the soil with water and rinse off the foliage, using a blast of water from the garden hose to chase away any pests and avoid later problems. Then, you can gently dig up your basil from the garden any time before the ground freezes.

Transfer To A Pot
Select a container large enough to accommodate your basil plus a little room for growth. Place a layer of potting mix on the bottom of the pot, then set the basil on top of that. Fill in the spaces around the roots with more potting mix. Press the soil firmly around the basil’s roots, leaving about an inch between the soil and the rim of the pot. For smaller basil plants, try placing several together in a window box that fits on a sunny sill. After settling your basil into its new container, water until it drains out the bottom of the pot.

Acclimate Your Basil
When bringing your basil indoors, it will need a little time to adjust to the new surroundings. You might notice that your basil drops a few leaves and grow more slowly. Ease your basil into life on the inside by setting them in a spot with indirect light. Don’t put them in bright sun right away. After a couple of weeks, you may move the pots to a spot that will get a least four hours of sun or bright light. If you don’t have a window that provides plenty of sunlight, you can also grow your herbs under fluorescent bulbs or with a grow light setup.

Give Your Basil Some Love
Turn pots once a week or so to help all sides of your basil get enough light. Water when the soil feels dry to a depth of 1 inch. Mist the leaves daily to boost the humidity level. You can also tilt the pots over the sink and gently rinse their foliage with tap water every once in a while, to keep them clean and deter any pests that might show up. You may want to boost the humidity around your basil by placing their pots in a pebble filled tray. Water the pot regularly, allowing excess water to over flow into the tray.

Cuttings
To make sure you always have access to fresh basil throughout the winter, places cuttings in a small vase of water and they will soon develop roots. When the roots are a couple of inches long, put the cuttings to expand you supply of fresh basil. Or you may snip sprigs whenever you need some fresh basil for your favorite dishes. Either way, this will encourage your basil to produce new growth and stay compact until you can move them outdoors again in the spring.

With a little preparation, basil can come indoors for the winter. Growing them in containers will give you a fresh supply for cooking all year long and you will be able to take them back outside and replant when spring arrives.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Tomatoes

September 17, 2020

Red, ripe, sweetly acid tomatoes are certainly one of the most prized of the summer vegetables. Let’s face it, tomatoes are only good during the summer and off-season ones just don’t taste like anything. In season the best solution is to grow your own or to know a gardener nearby. Greenhouse tomatoes are probably your best choice out of season.

Cherry tomatoes often have better flavor than regular tomatoes, and that is usually true out of season because they are greenhouse grown. Keep them at room temperature. Wash them before using, and when cut in half for serving they are certainly easier to eat.

To peel tomatoes, blanch the whole tomatoes. Drop 2 or 3 at a time into a large pot of rapidly boiling water and boil exactly 10 seconds. Cut out the core and peel the skin down from it. You may blanch tomatoes several hours in advance and peel them later. They keep fresher when still in their skins.

Many recipes call for tomato pulp, meaning you must seed and juice your tomatoes. To do so, halve the peeled tomato crosswise (not through the core). Then holding the half over a sieve set in a bowl, gently squeeze to dislodge most of the jelly-like substance, juice, and seeds; finally, poke out the residue with your finger. Press the juices out of the residue in the sieve and use in soups or sauce, or as a refreshing drink.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Preserving Using Hot Water Bath Method

September 7, 2020

Many of us are preserving summer’s bounty to enjoy during colder months.
Here are tips on how to preserve using the hot water bath method. It’s really not difficult if you follow these easy steps.

High acid foods like tomatoes, pickles, salsa, jelly, pie filling, jam, fruit, and chutney are great for canning using the hot water bath method.

Preheat Jars
Fill water bath canner (or large pot) to cover empty jars by at least 1 inch of water. Heat jars to simmer (180 degrees F) to prevent jar breakage.

Fill Jars
Following a canning recipe, fill a hot jar with prepared food leaving enough space between the food and the rim (headspace) as indicated in the recipe.

Tighten Lids And Bands
Wipe any food from the rim of the jar. Center new lid on the jar, then twist on band just until fingertip tight.

Process Jars
Place filled jars onto rack in simmering water. If you don’t have a rack designed for home preserving, use a cake cooking rack. Filled jars should be covered by 1 inch of water. Place lid on canner and heat to a steady boil. Boil jars for the time specified in recipe. Adjust for high altitudes.

Altitude Adjustment
1,001 to 3,000 ft increase processing time 5 minutes; 3,001 to 6,000 ft increase 10 minutes; 6,001 to 8,000 ft increase 15 minutes; 8,001 to 10,000 ft increase 20 minutes.

Cool Down
Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let jars stand in water for 5 minutes. Remove from water and cool jars upright on cutting board, wire rack or towels on countertop for 12 to 24 hours.

Check The Seal
After cool down, press on center of lid. If jar is fully sealed, the lid will NOT flex up or down. Remove the bands and gently attempt to lift lids off with your fingertips. Properly sealed lids will remain attached. Wipe canning jars, lids, and bands clean. Store sealed jars in pantry for up to 18 months. Jars may be stored with or without bands. If a lid fails to seal within 24 hours, immediately refrigerate the food product.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Chickpea Liquid

September 1, 2020

We all know that chickpeas are a fiber-filled addition to soups and salads, but have you ever thought about the ingredient that you’re leaving behind in a can of chickpeas? That thick, cloudy liquid that typically gets poured down the drain when chickpeas are drained. That liquid id called aquafaba, and it might just be the ingredient your baked goods and cocktails are missing.

Aquafaba is the liquid that’s leftover when dry chickpeas are cooked, and it is the brine that canned chickpeas soak in to maintain freshness while sitting on grocery store shelves. You should save it because it’s an excellent vegan egg substitute that can be used in baked goods, to emulsify vegan mayonnaise to add a foamy element to your favorite cocktails, and so much more.

To use aquafaba shake it in a cocktail shaker for an extra frothy espresso martini or whisk it alongside a thin stream of olive oil for a vegan aioli. Although the liquid from other beans (like black beans and kidney beans) could work just as well, chickpeas don’t give off any color, so the resulting clear, yet slightly cloudy, liquid is much more versatile. Another nice thing about aquafaba is that you don’t need to use too much of it. Generally, three tablespoons of aquafaba will replace one egg.

Aquafaba has a mild buttery and bean like flavor, but it easily takes on the flavor of what it’s added to and tends to cling to other flavors quite well, which explains why it works well in mayonnaise and in cocktails. Aquafaba should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Aside from the benefit of replacing an animal-based product with a plant based product, aquafaba doesn’t have a lot of nutrients, and it certainly has less protein than an egg does. It’s low in calories and carbohydrates, but it’s also pretty low in vitamins and minerals. If you aren’t vegan then there aren’t a lot of health benefits to using aquafaba over regular eggs. It is a good step in preventing food waste, though.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Freeze Your Cookie Dough

August 31, 2020

Keep a batch of portioned and frozen cookie dough balls around at all times. As they bake, the centers stay frozen while the outsides melt and start to set, yielding crinkly edges and chewy middles.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Everyday Elegance

August 27, 2020

For many years I have used my fancy dishes, even for my morning breakfast. Now that we have been at home more than ever, it seems especially important that this is the time to use them. Why save special plates for company or holidays? Pull out your grandmother/s china. Even if it’s for dinner with the kids on a Wednesday night or a midday snack. Beautiful things are made for using!

©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

Enjoying Summer’s Abundance

July 6, 2020

July has given us bright sunny days, low humidity and cool evening temperatures and a great way to capture summer’s splendor is with a picnic. Whether you find respite under the shade of a magnificent tree, spread a blanket on a sandy beach or enjoy your own patio or yard, dining “en plein air” is a delightful diversion to current world conditions.

Simplicity is key for a pleasant picnic. With farm markets opening, stock up on fresh fruits, berries, and vegetables for the picnic basket. Luscious, seasonal asparagus can be lightly grilled, steamed or roasted, then spritzed with fresh lemon juice and adorned with fresh parmesan cheese shavings for a light and lovely picnic lunch that packs easily. Freshly picked asparagus can also be served raw. Shave each stalk using a vegetable peeler, into long strips and dress with olive oil, rice vinegar, salt and pepper. Embellish at will with goat or feta cheese, pine nuts or almonds and plenty of minced herbs.

Fresh herbs perk up picnic recipes and eliminate the need for excess sodium. Chives will add a slightly sharp bite to potato, egg or pasta salads, as well as a nice little nip of flavor to deviled eggs. Poach a nice piece of salmon and dot it with creamy dill sauce for an elegant picnic entrée. Cilantro and Thai basil elevate rice noodle salads, and the snappy tang of fresh parsley is just the right addition to grain bowls. Fresh basil with ripe tomatoes is a classic combination. For something sweet, pack fresh berries, such as native strawberries, blueberries or raspberries, sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with honey.

If your picnic involves grilling use sturdy rosemary to imbue vegetables, meat, and fish with Mediterranean flavor and flair. Marinate chunks of lamb, beef or chicken with fresh rosemary, garlic, and olive oil. Let rest for several hours, then grill as desired.

Have picnic supplies at the ready to take advantage of gorgeous weather. Stash a small roll of garbage bags, hand sanitizer, salt and pepper packets, a small cutting board and knife, bug spray, sunscreen, and a blanket in your picnic basket. Keep small ice packs in the freezer. Gather your food and drink and enjoy the healthy benefits of picnicking all summer long.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Tomatoes

June 30, 2020

Is there anything better than ripe, juicy summer tomatoes? Tomatoes shine in salads, as toast toppers, and in pasta.

Heirloom tomatoes are grown from seeds that have been passed down through generations and are not modified in any way. They come in hundreds of varieties.

The tomato is technically a fruit because it contains seeds. Still, in 1893, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to classify it as a vegetable since that’s how it is used in cooking.

Unripe tomatoes won’t ripen in the fridge. Keep them on your counter until they are ready to eat.

The first tomatoes to arrive in Europe were called love apples, apples of paradise and golden apples. Some were considered too pretty to eat and used as table decorations.

22 pounds of tomatoes are eats per person per year in the U.S. About half of that comes in the form of ketchup and tomato sauce.

30,000 is the number of tomatoes produced in one year by the world’s largest tomato plant. They were grown in the greenhouses at Disney World.

25% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C is in 1 medium tomato. Tomatoes are also high in vitamin A, vitamin E, and lycopene (an antioxidant that can improve your heart health and lower your cancer risk.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

More Ways To Make S’mores

June 27, 2020

Build A S’Mores Tray
Here’s a great way to take everything from your kitchen to the campfire. Get all your ingredients together on one tray. It also lets everyone pick and choose what they want and makes cleanup easy.

Add a flavor to the classic s’more or invent a new combination with these ingredients.

Choose A Base: Graham crackers, wafers, cookies, or plain crackers.

Add A Flavor: Jams, fresh fruit, nut butters, spreads, or a dash of cinnamon.

Add A Chocolate: White chocolate morsels, milk chocolate bars, peanut butter cups or caramel filled chocolate squares.

Top It Off: Finish with a toasted marshmallow and another cracker or cookie.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

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