Arsip Tag: tiny

how to max out your tiny kitchen – smitten kitchen

Reading comments, emails and blogs everyday from people who like to cook all over the country, and all over the world, I have learned that not all kitchens are the same. And some of them are less the same than others. Some are downright shocking. Apparently, there are kitchens with more than one counter. There are ovens that fit entire half-sheet pans in them–and still close! There are kitchens with not one oven, but two. Some have not just two counters and two ovens, but more than six cabinets. Some kitchens have not just two counters, two ovens and a dozen cabinets but room for an entire set of tables and chairs… just for eating!

Excuse me, but I have to sit down for a minute. …Not in the kitchen, mind you. We have no room for a chair.

Alas, for the rest of us, those that may sympathize with our 80-square foot kitchen with a mini-oven, six cabinets and a single built-in counter, I have been asked enough times what advice I’d give to people trying to cook in a tiny kitchen that I thought I’d sum up some of the advice I give them today.

the smitten kitchen counter

Five ways to max out your tiny kitchen:

  1. Get an island or custom-built extra counter — Even if you you have just two square feet of “spare” space, do whatever you can to find a table or counter that can be customized for it. Heck, I have even seen counters that fold out from the wall, like a Murphy Bed! If you can find a way to create some storage space underneath it, even better.
  2. Don’t actually keep anything on it — I am nuts about having my single counter in the kitchen clear. The idea of sacrificing even a corner of my precious counter space to a mixer or toaster or other occasionally used appliance seems crazy–these are the types of things you can put in shelves underneath.
  3. You probably don’t need half the things in your kitchen — Okay, obviously what I think you don’t need and what you think you don’t need are different, which is why I am loathe to make such a list. Let’s say that you, like Laurie Colwin in Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, decide that you can live without everything but a deep-fat fryer. You go get yourself a deep-fat fryer. But when space is key, you might consider doing away with things like that knife block, when drawer knife holders or wall magnet strips will help keep your counter clear. You don’t need a double boiler; use a bowl over a pot instead. You don’t need a sifter when a mesh strainer can sift and, you know, and also strain.<a href=” Pyrex 8-cup measuring cups can double as mixing bowls. Stuff like that
  4. Learn to cook neatly — Picture a restaurant kitchen–do you think each of those line cooks have four counters to work on? No, they learned a long time ago how to maximize their use of any station they were given, by prepping everything they need before they start cooking, keeping their counter clean and keeping what they can within arm’s reach. Learn to cook like this, and you can cook anywhere.
  5. It can totally be done — People, I don’t mean to go the martyr route here–especially because I think we know I enjoyed the process so–but I baked a wedding cake in my little kitchen, in its 3/4-size oven. I know too many people who say they can’t entertain or have dinner parties or cook the dinners they crave because they say they don’t have the space. But people cook all over the world with less space–and fewer gadgets (though I think I will sob if my Microplane ever breaks up with me) than we do everyday. With a little extra thought, I am sure you can pull off whatever crazy kitchen feat you had in mind. Even if you have to put your dishes in the tub when you’re done.

Five things that have helped us max out ours:

  1. mostly nested bowlsThese bowls — Bowls that nest well are essentially when you need to save space, but if you’re like me, the idea of buying one of those sets of ten (and then having to put it away just so) makes you groan. The Anchor Hocking ones I have fallen head over heels for come in a set of four (one, two, three and four-quart sizes) and are taller than they are wide. These are not only pretty and sturdy, they’re cheap! Win-win-win.
  2. pot rack and spicesA pot and pan rack — May I write a love song to our pot and pan rack? Okay, I won’t but I really could go on and on. For years, I had pots perilously stacked in an overstuffed cabinet and I hated it. It was loud and stuff always fell out on my toes and arrgh! Pot racks save the day. It can’t be easier to grab what you want, and the amount of space it frees up is tremendous. Best part is that you don’t even need to get ones that hand from the ceiling; ours is a half-circle that attaches to the wall. If you can find one with crossbars, even better, as you’ll be able to hang more things from it. Like spaghetti that needs to dry.
  3. Some appliances are more useful than others:
    * Immersion blenders not only save on space, they’re easier to use and easier to wash (since I know that tiny kitchens and a lack of a dishwasher typically go hand-in-hand).
    * Still want a blender? We used this Cuisinart blender/mini-prep food processor for years, before, you know, we got married and someone was nice enough to buy us a full-sized one. (Spoiled!) Though some things had to be done in batches, I still use this today when I don’t want to dirty the whole big one. I think it’s a brilliant product.
    KitchenAid* A KitchenAid, and all of its glorious attachments — Don’t make the mistake I have. Before accepting that I would one day own a KitchenAid, I ended up registering for an ice cream maker. Then we bought a pasta roller. We have several types of citrus juicers. And then we got a KitchenAid and learned we could have just bought that, and juicer, pasta and ice cream maker attachments and saved a ton of storage space.
  4. mostly whiteThink white — Okay, this is more of a Deb style tip (which is funny, as I have none) than a way to make your small kitchen functional but I am a big fan of the color white in small spaces, as it really makes rooms look bigger than they are. My KitchenAid is white, our dish rack is white, the garbage can is white and our coffee maker is white. It’s one thing to have a small kitchen; it is another one to have one that is also dark and looks cluttered. Not to mention, if one day I want our kitchen to be all black, white and leaf green (and oh, I do), all of this stuff will still work in it.
  5. Space savers — I am a tad obsessed these days with going to Bed, Bath and Beyond and finding things that save so much space, they make me jump for joy and I don’t know how I lived without them before. (Alex, as you may guess, shares my excitement, but is also a tad frightened by it.) Most recently, we’ve bought this wrap/foil/paper dispenser and hung it on the inside of the door in the pantry, a couple over-the-cabinet baskets (for sponges, container lids, you name it) and although it ended up not fitting with our sink structure, that seems to also have been been designed in 1880, this under-sink organizer would have been awesome.

Surely, I’m not the only one with a tiny kitchen. What do those of you who like to cook a lot do to keep yours from becoming a disaster area?

One year ago: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Sauteed Apples
Two years ago: Dreamy, Creamy Scones

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baked rigatoni with tiny meatballs – smitten kitchen

Did you hear a resounding whine/sigh/moan the volume of the entire Eastern seaboard? Because there’s a fresh foot of snow outside for the 200th time this year and friends, I love snow. I get so excited when it is going to snow. But this? Lacks charm, likely because the first day of this anticipated four day storm was three to four inches of mucky slush.

sleet day

Anyway, I still maintain that complaining about the weather is dull, thus if any one good thing can come of this, it is that pasta, meatball and cream sauce season just got extended by at least another weekend. After the excitement over Marcella Hazan last month, I wanted to share a recipe from her on the opposite end of the spectrum, sort of the Italian version of Italian-American baked ziti. Except, the ziti is rigatoni, which she insists holds up better to being cooked twice (plus has large hollows that nicely slurp up their surroundings). The red sauce is a white sauce. The cheese is subtle and oh, there are wee meatballs scattered everywhere.

about to make the meatballstiny meatballs, one dredged in flourshaking off excess flourbrowning the wee meatballs

I loved her head notes on these meatballs, by the way, where she said it used to startle students to learn that meatballs and spaghetti were not an authentic Italian dish. Except conceptually, she says, meatballs are “undoubtedly” Italian, what is exclusive to this side of the Atlantic is those colossal ones (she should see the one — the size of my baby’s head, and if possible, more delicious — I had at Gramercy Tavern a few weeks ago!) packed with herbs and buried in tomato sauce.

tiny browned meatballs

I worry that this is blasphemous — this is Marcella Hazan, after all, surely any imperfections are user error, yes? — but I have to admit that this dish wasn’t all that I had hoped it would be. Maybe it’s not the best version of itself, maybe it needs to self-actualize? (Oh god, can you all tell I watched Oprah that day?) Less passive aggressively, I’d approach this differently next time, adjust it to my American excess-demanding tastes — more bechamel, more cheese and more seasoning. More “glue”. More lushness. These are righteous causes, yes?

rigatoni + tiny meatballs, unbaked
baked rigatoni, not so gluey

One year ago: Key Lime Coconut Cake
Two years ago: Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges
Three years ago: Red Split Lentils with Cabbage, Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes and Cucumber Scallion Raita

Baked Rigatoni with Tiny Meatballs
Adapted, no doubt blasphemously, from Marcella Hazan

Serves 8 but I think Americans would serve this to 4 to 6

When I first realized that this “baked ziti” lacked a tomato sauce, I had my doubts. But then Alex said “it would be like Italian mac and cheese!” and then, predictably, it had my full attention. Although the original dish didn’t yield anything so sauced and cheesy as the mac-and-cheese we know, I’ve upped the sauce, cheese and seasoning for a baked pasta that is more lush, but surprisingly un-heavy. This is still a subtle baked pasta.

There’s a lot of room for tweaking here: If you’re certain you won’t be happy without a veritable oozing of cheese, you could tear up some fresh mozzarella and toss it in with the dish before you baked it. If you cannot bring yourself to eat this unless it contains one form of vegetable matter, I imagine a bit of cooked spinach, steamed broccoli bits or even eensy cubes of roasted carrot and parsnip would work in here.

For the meatballs:
1/4 cup milk
1 slice good white bread trimmed of its crust
1 pound ground pork (or beef, or lamb, or a mix of the three)
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan)
1 egg
Black pepper in a grinder
1 cup flour, spread on a plate
Vegetable oil for frying

For the bèchamel:
4 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

To finish:
1 pound rigatoni
3/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup milk

Make the meatballs: Heat the milk, but don’t let it simmer. Tear pieces of the white bread into it and let it soak for 5 minutes, before picking it up with your hand, squeezing it of excess milk and putting it in a large mixing bowl.

Add the pork, garlic, parsley, grated cheese, egg, salt, and pepper. Combine all the ingredients with a fork until they are evenly mixed (or “amalgamated”, as Hazan so charmingly says).

Pinch off a small lump of meat, about the size of a raspberry and roll the lump into a ball in the palm of your hands. (Hazan says if you are good with your hands, you can try making 3 balls at a time. It turns out, I am not.) When all the meatballs have been shaped (a process that took less time than I had expected, just the same), roll them in the flour, 15 to 20 at a time. Place the floured meatballs in a strainer and shake it smartly to dispose of excess flour.

Put enough vegetable oil in a skillet to rise 1/4-inch up the sides of the pan and turn on the heat to medium high. When the oil is hot, put as many meatballs in the skillet as will fit without overcrowding. Brown them until they form a nice crust all around. When one batch is done, transfer it with a slotted spoon to a platter covered with paper towels to drain and do the next batch until all are done.

Make the bèchamel: Heat the milk over low heat in a saucepan until it forms a ring of pearly bubbles, but do not let it break into a boil. In a larger saucepan, melt the butter over low heat, add the flour and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or flat whisk until combined. Add 2 tablespoons of milk at a time to the flour and butter mixture, stirring steadily and thoroughly, then repeat through 8 additions. At this point, you can add the milk in 1/2 cup increments, stirring constantly to keep it smooth. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir the sauce until it thickens.

Assemble the dish: Cook the rigatoni in a pot of well salted water. Drain when still al dente, and combine immediately in bowl with two-thirds of the bèchamel, half the grated cheese, and all the meatballs.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heavily butter a 9×13 baking dish. (Original recipe calls for a 12-inch springform, which I am sure would be lovely but is not the commonest U.S. cake pan.) Spread the rigatoni and meatball mixture in the pan, leveling it off with a spatula. Pour the milk over the dish, the spread the rest of bèchamel on top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.

Place in the uppermost level of the preheated oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a golden brown crust forms on top.

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tiny poppy seed ‘taschen – smitten kitchen

My track record with hamantaschen — those three-cornered filled cookies traditionally limited to Purim, but shouldn’t be, because did I mention that they’re cookies? And you can fill them with whatever you want? — is abysmal. I can’t seem to find a recipe that allows them to be as fragrant, buttery, delicate and delicious as I believe they were meant to be that does not completely fall apart once baked. I suspect my insistence on finding my hamantaschen nirvana in a cream cheese-based dough — cream cheese, although tangy and delicious, seems to just flop down and laze about like a kitten in the sun once it hits the oven — plays a part although, given, my sealing technique also “leaves a lot to be desired”. The first year I attempted a recipe on this site, they puffed and pancaked open in the oven. The second year was no better. The third and fourth year, I didn’t even bother.

poppy seeds
zest an orange

But this year, I spied a recipe in Wednesday’s New York Times that although cream cheese-free, gave me hope. Plus, I’ve head so much about traditional poppy seed fillings, but confess that I have no experience with them. The fact that this called for one from scratch (as in, not “open a can of poppy seed filling”) delighted me and the cookie, with its egg yolks and butter, seemed to carry all the marks of a great sweet tart crust-ish/sable-like cookie dough.

poppy seed filling


And yet, 5 p.m. yesterday found me cursing and throwing a tiny hissy (no room for larger ones in my shoebox kitchen) over the bleepin’ dough! Which did not bend over the filling, but broke. It crumbled! It cracked! Oh, I had some words with that dough as I swore its eventual placement in the Salon of Recipe Shame. I threw the tray in the fridge, chased a toddler around the East Village for a while and this morning, sighed deeply as I baked them even though I knew they’d be a disaster.


I suspect you know where this is going. That they puffed slightly and bronzed nicely but never opened. That they’re buttery and perfect, crisp and lightweight. That (as happens often in the kitchen, but never ever when bickering with my husband, thank you very much) I was wrong. And everyone else wins.

irritating but eventually triumphant dough

One year ago: Spinach and Chickpeas
Two years ago: Penne with Potatoes and Rocket
Three years ago: Whole Wheat Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts and Feta
Four years ago: Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad (still a favorite!)

Tiny Poppy Seed ‘Taschen
Adapted, mostly clarified a bit, from “Schmaltz” by Shmil Holland via the NYT 3/15/11

That doesn’t make this an easy dough to mess around with. It will seem impossible that this will work out in the oven but sure enough, 10 minutes later you’ll have the lightest, gently crisp hamanataschen you’ve ever tried in front of you, making all of the dough aggravation worth it. I’ve added notes on the forming of the cookies which will hopefully help.

I ended up with almost double the poppy seed filling I needed, but I also had to use a lot less than suggested to keep my cookies from being over-stuffed. If you’re not into poppy seed fillings, your favorite jam would work.

Most confusingly: I just realized that recipe I printed from the NYTimes yesterday is very different from the one on the site today. First, it tells you to grind your poppy seeds but doesn’t say in a spice grinder so I tried and failed to grind mine in the food processor. This is why my seeds are whole. The one on the site doesn’t suggest an extra chilling time once the cookies are formed and brushed with egg wash. I think this was helpful and encourage you to do this, below. The recipe on the site suggests you use 3-inch cookie cutters (a traditional size), the one that I printed says 2 1/2-inch. I listened to neither and used a 2 1/4-inch cutter; I like tiny ‘taschen.

Yield: 44-ish from a 2 1/4-inch circle cutter (as I did); the original recipe suggests a yield of 30 with a 3-inch round cookie cutter or a yield of 36 with a 2 1/2-inch cutter

Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 large egg yolks
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, in small pieces

Poppy Seed Filling
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
1 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup raisins
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tablespoon brandy
1/2 tablespoon orange liqueur
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 large egg, beaten

Make the dough: Place the lemon zest, powdered sugar, flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and egg yolks and process until the mixture forms a ball. Scrape onto a sheet of plastic and wrap it tightly. Chill the dough for an hour or overnight.

Prepare the filling: Grind seeds in a coffee grinder. Heat milk, sugar, orange zest, ground poppy seeds and raisins in a small saucepan over medium heat. On a low simmer, cook until the seeds absorb the milk, thickening the mixture, about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice, brandy, orange liqueur and butter and cook for 2 minutes more. Finally, add the vanilla and stir to combine. Remove from heat to let cool completely. I sped this up in the fridge.

Form the cookies: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out the dough to just under 1/4-inch thickness (1/4 was suggested; I found it a little thick for smaller cookies) and use a cookie cutter or glass to cut 2 1/4-inch circles (see Note up top for other sizes). Put a heaping half-teaspoon of the filling in the center of each and press up the sides to form triangles. If your dough comes out like mine did, this will be kind of annoying as the dough will crack when you want it to bend. Don’t be deterred, just smoosh the sides back on and mold it, if needed, into the proper shape. Arrange on prepared trays (transfer cookies with a spatula, as they are fragile before they are baked) and brush the tops with beaten egg for glaze. Return tray to the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes; chilling them again will help them hold their shape while they are baked. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F

Bake: Until cookies are golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. If trays are on different racks, switch them after about 5 minutes.

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