Baking

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

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

Autumn

October 16, 2020

With the multicolored cascades of leaves redecorating the landscape, autumn brings family gatherings and get-togethers with friends. At the center of many warm memories is time spent around the table, sharing in the delights of dishes so delicious that they are sure to be requested again and again for seasons to come.

As you ready your home for hospitality, I encourage you to select the freshest ingredients before donning your apron. I hope that you enjoy creating this autumn!

©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

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

Basic Ingredient Swaps

April 30, 2020

Have you ever found yourself making a recipe and realize that you don’t have an ingredient that it’s calling for? Here are a few ingredient alternatives that you might have on hand instead.

Mayonnaise
For 1 cup of mayonnaise use 1 cup sour cream or 1 cup plain yogurt with a pinch of salt.

Honey
For 1/4 cup of honey use 1/4 cup maple syrup or light corn syrup.

Buttermilk
For 1 cup of buttermilk use 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice mixed with enough milk or plant-based milk to reach 1 cup.

Butter
If butter is used for baking or in a solid form, solid coconut oil is a good 1 to 1 substitution. If it’s melted or for cooking use olive oil.

Oil
When it comes to oil for baking, applesauce is a great substitute. For 1 cup of oil, use 3/4 cup applesauce mixed with 1/4 cup melted butter. In cooking, any neutral refined oils like canola, olive, vegetable, corn, and peanut oils are interchangeable.

Breadcrumbs
For 1 cup of breadcrumbs use 1 cup of cracker crumbs, finely crushed potato chips, tortilla chips, or pretzels pulsed in your food processor.

Brown Sugar
For 1 cup of light brown sugar, use 1 cup white sugar plus 1 tablespoon molasses. For 1 cup of dark brown sugar, use 2 tablespoons molasses. The sugar and molasses should be mixed together thoroughly.

Baking Powder
For 1 teaspoon baking powder, stir or sift together 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Quarantine Baking

April 10, 2020

As many people are staying put inside of their homes avoiding exposure to COVID-19, many have turned to baking. Baking is a form of self-care and mindfulness. There is something meditative about creating a dessert or bread that you pay attention to in the moment. Desserts might be trivial, but sometimes triviality should be embraced. We are living in unusual times, but after all, for the sake of mental and physical health, everyone deserves a coping mechanism that lends some sense of structure in a chaotic world. Consider your baking a gift to yourself.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

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