Tips on cooking in a tiny kitchen

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Albert Gonzalez at Apothecary Cafe and Wine Bar works with a half-sized convection oven, two flat-top griddle, a panini press and an induction burner. DEBORAH CANNON/ Austin American-Statesman
Albert Gonzalez at Apothecary Cafe and Wine Bar works with a half-sized convection oven, two flat-top griddle, a panini press and an induction burner. DEBORAH CANNON/ Austin American-Statesman

Albert Gonzalez at Apothecary Cafe and Wine Bar works with a half-sized convection oven, two flat-top griddle, a panini press and an induction burner. DEBORAH CANNON/ Austin American-Statesman

Think you could cook a dinner party for 50 people out of a kitchen no bigger than an elevator? That’s a scenario that Peche’s John Lichtenberger and Albert Gonzalez of Apothecary Cafe and Wine Bar face nearly every day at their restaurants, which, like an increasing number of micro-apartments and smaller homes, have surprisingly small cooking spaces.

For my column this week, I interviewed both of them to get advice on how to cook in tiny spaces and found out that both of them would now actually prefer a smaller kitchen. You can click here to read the full story, but here are some of the tips they shared and a one-pot recipe from Lichtenberger.

  • Keep surfaces clear of clutter, including the sink. Even a toaster on a counter will make you feel like you have less space than you really have, discouraging you from thinking about cooking in the first place. Use as few dishes as possible, and clean them as you cook.
  • Edit, edit, edit. If you haven’t used a piece of equipment or a gadget in a year, get rid of it. Buy bowls, spoons and tools that have multiple uses.
  • Go vertical. Racks and magnetic knife strips can help you free up drawer and shelf space, but you can also get taller cabinets or shelving on top of your current ones. Stacking containers for flour, sugar, rice, pasta and beans can also help. Hang spice racks inside the doors of your cabinets or pantry, if you have one. (All of the spices at Apothecary hang on the back door of an electrical closet.)
  • Be choosy about appliances and keep only the ones you actually use. A Kitchen Aid with the right attachments can take the place of a pasta maker and juicer, and you probably don’t need both a blender and a food processor.
  • Shop more frequently, and buy for meals that you know you’re going to actually cook. Meal planning doesn’t always work for everyone, but it’s even more important if you’re working with very little space.

Balsamic Chicken

3 1/2 to 4 lb. free-range chicken

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, sliced

8 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, divided

2 sprigs of rosemary

1/3 bottle dry red wine

3 red onions, peeled and quartered

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil.

Place chicken in large zip-top freezer bag with garlic, 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, rosemary, wine and red onions. Thoroughly coat the chicken with the mixture. Leave chicken in marinade for 10 to 20 minutes, or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Open bag and place onions in a roasting pan or cast iron pot and place the chicken on top of onions. Leave rosemary sprigs in the cavity. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken.

Top with remaining 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Bake for 50 to 70 minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Serve with onions, fresh bread and, if desired, a sauteed green, such as chard or spinach. Serves 4 to 6.

— From John Lichtenberger, executive chef of Péché

 


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