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Entertaining with @StoreBoughtIsFine

There are lots of things I love about summer in NYC: long days of sunlight, fresh peaches, playing "identify that smell" on the streets...but the thing I don't love is my inability to entertain in my apartment. I can't imagine torturing my friends by using the oven or stovetop, creating a sauna in our sixth-floor apartment. So when the weather cools, I immediately plan the meals I've been thinking about for months... 

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Herbed Goat Cheese in a Weck Jar

Lately at Cassandra’s Kitchen, we spend every spare moment pouring over the recipes in Cooking for Jeffrey. The response to the book has been tremendous and we’ve done our best to stock cookware, tableware, and products that Ina uses and features in the book. This week we wanted to highlight the Weck Canning Jar that Ina uses for her Herbed Goat Cheese.

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Ina Garten - Get The Look

Ina Garten - Get The Look

We love all the buzz about the release of Cooking for Jeffrey! Have you seen People Magazine's exclusive peek into Ina and Jeffrey's 48-year marriage? It's such a lovely story (you can read it here). And, we're so excited to bring you French Wines Glasses similar to the ones Ina and Jeffrey are using in the exclusive photo (courtesy of People/Christopher Testani).
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Our Visit with Hôtel Silver Collector Ginger Kilbane

Earlier this month, Cassandra and I had to opportunity to visit Hôtel Silver collector and dealer, Ginger Kilbane. We get lots of questions about the silver Ina Garten uses and displays  - we're thrilled to be able to offer Ina fans and our customers these same incredible pieces, but we also wanted to give you a glimpse into the passionate woman responsible for bringing you (and Ina) Hôtel Silver.

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Ina's Skillet Brownies

Ina's Skillet Brownie in our Mini Cast Iron Skillets

Looking to add savoir-faire to your next dinner party? Or just want to make an at-home meal extra special? My tip, serve individual portions in mini cast iron skillets.

A single serving dish adds style to any meal and makes everyone feel like you went the extra mile. (Even though you didn’t, it’s just as easy as making family-size. A little more clean up, but totally worth it for the wow factor.)

Ina Garten uses them to bake her incredible Skillet Brownies (Make It Ahead). They are nothing less than amazing and will instantly elevate your status to 'dessert royalty.' Thankfully, they aren’t too complicated. I did use Ina’s trusted Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract because I wanted them to be 'Ina perfect.' Ina's recipe is below along with some photos of my own skillet brownies.

And the skillets…they’re not just for brownies. They’re a great option for breakfast frittatas or side dishes like potato cauliflower gratins. I even use them to prepare shareable appetizers and snacks like baked brie. It's a straightforward dish, but the mini skillets add an element of polish and sophistication. I serve them as appetizers with sun-dried tomatoes and chopped spinach. Always a big hit.

Cassandra-

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Ina's Skillet Brownies

Ingredients:
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces plus ½ cup Hershey’s semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1½ ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder, such as Nescafe
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 pint vanilla ice cream, such as Haagen-Dazs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the butter, 4 ounces of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water just until the chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee powder, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together ¼ cup of the flour, the baking powder, and salt and stir it into the chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining ½ cup of chocolate chips and one tablespoon of flour together in a medium bowl and add them to the chocolate mixture. Spoon the mixture into four individual cast iron skillets (the skillets I use measure 5 inches on the top, 3½ inches on the bottom) and place them on a sheet pan. Bake for 22 minutes exactly. Don’t overbake! A toothpick inserted in the center will not come out clean. Cool slightly and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

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Baked Brie with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach

Ingredients: 
5 ounces brie cheese - rind removed and cut into medium-sized chunks
½ cup chopped spinach
4 sun-dried tomatoes chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the brie in a mini cast iron skillet. Scatter spinach and sun-dried tomatoes on top of the cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once to combine. Remove from heat and serve with crackers or French bread.

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Table Setting with White Dinnerware

October seems to be flying by and I'm starting to get excited (and slightly overwhelmed) that Thanksgiving is almost here (33 days!). I love having my family together and of course, I love cooking up a feast (at least part of it). This year, I'm happy to say that I will be setting my table with our white dinnerware. And I love it.

We searched far and wide to find a simple, beautiful product line that would hold up to daily wear while maintaining its simple charm. We decided on Pillivuyt Porcelain, made in France. FRANCE! So they may look delicate, but they're sturdy. I use them in my microwave and my oven. They're freezer safe as well (I haven't yet had a need to put a dish in the freezer). Yes, they are more expensive than some of the popular lines from home good or department stores but let me tell you, they are worth every penny. Unlike my previous dinnerware, no chips. And the look is timeless and classic - they're both my formal dinnerware and my everyday settings - and they coordinate with other patterned pieces for any look or occasion.

For special occasions, I've been adding different pieces from the Hotel Silver Collection. So far I've used the pitcher for flowers and serving spoons, and I've used the footed bowls for nuts and dried fruit as well as decorative elements (to add color).

While I was visiting Cassandra a few weeks ago, I took these quick photos to show how the dinnerware looks paired with just a few items (and a couple stems of gorgeous hydrangea). Simple, beautiful, and elegant without being uninviting or stark.

 -Cindy

 

 

 

 

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