Thursday, July 28, 2011

National Lasagna Day

Tomorrow we celebrate national Lasagna day!  So I thought it fitting to show off some of our pretty pans for baking that delicious Italian dish along with my favorite, easy lasagna recipe.

I love baking lasagna in pretty, bright colored dishes that can go right from the oven to the table.  The Delicio line boats a bright rainbow of colors including Cherry, Saffron, Coconut, and Aubergine.  Smaller dishes like these are perfect when cooking for two, I love the square oven dish (shown at top, $37) and the narrower Rectangle oven dish (shown above, $33).  They're made in France and have cute little handles for easy lifting right out of the oven.

Or if you want to get creative and make mini lasagnas use these petite coquettes by Le Creuset.  Leave the lid off for baking and then add it back on to keep it warm before serving.  Le Creuset 8 oz Mini Round Availble individually for $25 or in a boxed set of three for $84 (one each of black, grey, and white).

Easy Lasagna - Straight from the Barilla No Boil Lasagna Box
I usually make this recipe for I cut it in half and use a pretty, petite dish to bake.

  • 1 (9 ounce) box of barilla no-boil lasagna noodles

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese

  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (optional)

  • 1 lb ground beef or 1 lb sausage, browned

  • spaghetti or pasta sauce

  • parsley (to garnish)

  • Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375.

  • In bowl, combine beaten eggs, ricotta cheese and two cups of the mozzarella cheese and parmesan. If you choose not to use the parmesan, just add more mozzarella. Set aside.

  • In a 13X9X3 pan, spread 1 cup of sauce on bottom of pan. (If you are using a 13X9X2 pan---just make 3 layers to avoid boiling over.)

  • Layer in the order, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles (they will overlap), then 1/3 part of the ricotta cheese mixture, half the browned meat, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1 cup of spaghetti sauce.

  • Next layer, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, 1/3 part of the ricotta cheese mixture, and 1 1/2 Cups sauce.

  • Next layer, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining ricotta mixture and remained meat, 1 cup of sauce.

  • For top layer, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining sauce, and remaining 1 cup mozzarella.

  • Bake covered with foil for 50-60 minutes.

  • Uncover and continue cooking until all the cheese is melted on the top (about 5 minutes).

  • Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

  • Bon apetite!

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Unusual Utensils: What is a Fish Fork?

    Welcome to Unusual Utensils!  We tend to be very simple in our dinning habits, so there are a few utensils that don't come in your standard place setting.  So identifying and figuring them out can be frustrating.  Welcome to the fish fork (left). 

    During a formal meal, both a knife and a fork will be provided for the fish course.  Your fish fork is usually slightly shorter than your traditional table fork and has three tongs instead of four.  It is shaped slightly differently to help you best manipulate the fish on your plate. 

    Serving sets for fish are also commonly available and are almost identical in shape but  much larger.
    To the right you will see your fish knife.  Slightly different in shape from a traditional knife, again to help you in moving and cutting the fish.  It also does not usually have a sharpened edge as most table knives do, seeing as fish is not as hard to cut as most other meats.

    Looking to add fish pieces into your set?  Try the Select Series shown here, smooth handles with a subtle shine, available in Ruby, Paprika, and Natural.  Fish Fork, $24, Fish Knife $27.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Tablescapes - The Romantic Table

    Creating a romantic and feminine table is one beautiful way to adorn your table for your next dinner party.  Use florals and subtle decorative details.  We love mini orchids scattered about light, airy colors with a touch of gold for added whimsy.  Use light colors and clear materials to create this soft, subtle look.  We created this romantic table scape with our un tresor poudre collection, which translates to "a powder treasure" and is a gorgeous gold, pale pink, and brown cherry blossom pattern. 

    Our ingredients, shown above: Crystal Flatware (starting at $31 per piece), un tresor poudre dinner plate ($24) and cafe cup and saucer ($24), Audrey Pearl Napkin Ring ($12), Origami White Napkin ($11), Pirouette Cocoa Place mat ($9), Nature Creations Orka Faux Orchids in white and pink ($9 per box), and Imagine White Cotton Table Cloth ($110)


    Clear crystal candlesticks add just the right amount of sophistication.  Shown above: Tall Magnif Crystal Candlesticks ($108 each), Short Magnif Engraved Crystal Candle Sticks ($90 each), Assorted Taper Candles ($5 each), Small Blind Vase ($58).

    A hint of bright pink keeps the table from looking too subtle.  Shown above: Berlingot Spreaders in Fuchsia (small $26, large $28), Berlingot Cheese Spreader in White ($28), un tresor poudre collection: cafe coffee cup with saucer 10cl ($24), tea cup with saucer 28cl ($33).

    Don't be afraid to mix patterns, the slight patterned etching on these pink glasses is a perfect compliment to the rest of the table.  Dimanche Rouge Stemware: Flute, Vin Wine Glass, or Eau Water Glass ($20 each).

    Have you set your own romantic table?  What worked for you? 

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Tagine Cooking

    One of the things that makes our world so fascinating, are all the unique and fabulous ways we cook.  There are so many different kitchen utensils, pots, and cooking philosophies.  We hope to share some unique and fun ways to cook with you!  With the Tagine.  You may have see the Real Housewives of New York cooking with one of these in their last season, or have seen them in various ethnic restaurants, or grazing the shelves of your favorite cooking shop.  The Tagine is a Moroccan earthenware cooking dish.  Their tall conical lids make them ideal for their traditional use with slow cooking methods and stews. 

    Tagines come in all shapes and sizes from the very petite to the extra large.  Our petite Tagines are my favorite, made in Tunisia.  The Zagora Tagine, $18 each (shown above and open below).  We also have a Large Marrak, available for $88 (not shown).

    Try this recipe from Staub en France for a Fruit Tagine.  Try cutting it into small parts and cooking them in the mini tagines as a special individual serving dessert treat for your guests.

    Fruit Tagine from Staub
      4 apples
      3 pears
      1 orange
      1 tablespoon of honey
      1 vanilla pod
      120 g currants (roughly about 1/4 pound or 5 oz)
      1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
    *Pre-heat your oven to 350.
    *Place the cubed apples and the pears in the tajine.
    *Pour the juice of the orange, the spoon of honey and the cinnamon into the saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod in two length ways and scrape the grains out. Heat the saucepan just enough to melt the honey. Then pour the juice over the fruit.
    *Put in the vanilla pod and the currants.
    *Cover the tajine and cook in the oven for 30 minutes
    *Serve the fruit hot with a scoop of ice-cream with flaked almonds that you have browned in the frying pan beforehand. Or serve the fruit as it is, warm or cold decorated with fresh mint leaves.

    Bon Appetit.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Bastille Day Cocktail!

    Happy Bastille Day!

    In case you didn't know, July 14th is Bastille Day in France!  Le Fete Nationale, as it's also called commerates the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress and is a day of celebration in France that includes parades and a Presidential garden party.  So channel your inner French, make a cocktail or sip Champagne, and celebrate La Fete Nationale!

    Try this French "75" Champagne Cocktail courtsey of Tyler Florence for The Food Network 
    • 8 ounces gin
    • 8 ounces orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or triple sec
    • 1 lime, juiced
    • 4 dashes orange bitters
    • 8 sugar cubes
    • 1 bottle Champagne, chilled
    Pour gin, orange liqueur, lime juice, and bitters into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well to blend. Put a sugar cube into a Champagne flute. Strain about 2 ounces of the gin mixture into the glass. Carefully top it off with Champagne. Yeilds 8 cocktails.

    Want to be even more French inspired?  Serve them in these French designed Evolution Champagne Flutes (shown above) set of 6 for $79.

    Bon fete!

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    No Fail Wedding Gift Ideas

    The warm summer months tend to bring with them lots of weddings.  Still have a few weddings to attend?  Not sure what to shop for?  Especially if you don't know the bride and groom very well, or if the couple has decided not to register, selecting what to give the couple as a wedding gift can be hard.  Don't despair, there are plenty of thoughtful, useful wedding presents to be had.  Here are our five favorite "no fail" wedding gifts.  All these pretty pieces are elegant, timeless, and will match with almost any decor.  Best yet?  They're all under $80.

    First up?  Chic servingware.  If you know your bride and groom enjoy cooking or entertaining, then a simple multi piece serving set makes a nice gift.  I love the sleek lines, contemporary feel, and stackable nature of these Martine 10 Set of Three Triangular Bowls (shown above, $42).  The newlyweds can use them seperately or together for anything from Thanksgiving side dishes to a snack dish for crackers, and the fact that they nest inside each other for storage is perfect for a small, first home or apartment. 

    Another no fail gift option?  A timeless vase.  Any vase in a classic style will find a home in the permenant decorating collection of any bride.  I find myself reaching for my simple crystal vase given to me by a family friend at my wedding all the time.  Kacey Mini Open vase, $21.

    Does you wedding couple love to toast?  Any couple that enjoys a glass of bubbly would love these old fashioned Champagne flutes.  Gallery Champagne Coupe, set of 6, $77.  A set of fun, everyday stemware with a pop of color is perfect for impromptu cocktail parties or just as a way to brighten the evening after a long work day.  Opt for classic clear pieces or a set in fun colors in the couple's favorite drink shape.

    Another classic gift any bride is sure to appreciate - classic crystal candlesticks.  They go with everything and add instant elegance to any table.  Even if they couple doesn't throw dinner parties yet, a few years later when they're hosting their Thanksgivings and family dinners, they'll be glad they have a chic candle set to adorn the table.  Crystal Candlesticks "IC08MA," set of two, $67.

    Our last great gift idea?  For anyone who enjoys cooking, baking, or eating at home - unique cookware.  Everyone registers for the basic pots and pans, but why not treat your future husband and wife to be's with something different.  Playful mini terrines are perfect for baking mini desserts or servings of casserole or even heating up leftovers.  This simple set in white comes complete with a trivet!, Playtime Mini Terrines set of three and serving tray, $41.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Recipe: Lemon Cheesecakes

    These petite cheesecakes created by Genevieve Lethu are perfect for summer with their fresh, lemon flavor and look stunning on the table when plated and set in front of each guest.  After all, who doesn't love a personal dessert?

    Lemon Cheesecakes

    For 12 Cakes:
    100 g crushed biscuits (In the US, you may use Graham Crackers, approx. 4oz or 1/4 lb)
    50 g melted butter (approx. 1.7oz)
    500 g fromage blanc (May substitute Greek Yogurt, approx. 17.7 oz)
    2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
    110 g caster/superfine sugar (approx. 4oz or 1/4 lb)
    2 eggs
    12 cupcake moulds (individual cupcake pans are best, but you may substitute a standard 12 cupcake pan.  Try Silicon for it's easy removal like the Lethuflex Muffin Pan, above, $32)

    Sugar Topping:
    200 g icing/confectioner's sugar (about 8oz)
    1 egg white
    Juice of 1/2 a lemon

    *Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F/150C
    *Crush the biscuits or graham crackers to crumbs, put them in a blender, add the butter and mix together until smooth.  Pour into the cupcake pans evenly, pressing down firmly.  Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
    *Using an electric beater, whisk the fromage blanc or Greek yogurt, lemon zest, and sugar in a large bowl until smooth.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until smooth.  Add the beaten eggs in the sugar mix, blend together and poor into the cupcakes.
    *Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from over and let cool.
    *To make the icing: Energetically whisk the egg white with the sugar using a spatula until white.  Add the lemon juice and continue to beat quickly for ten seconds.
    *When the cheesecakes have cooled, spread the icing over them (if using a 12 cup cupcake pan, remove the cheesecakes before icing.)  Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.  Serve cold.

    Bon appetite!

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Summer Sale!

    We're pleased to announce our summer sale!  Save 20% now on all your summer essentials.  Picnic gear and beach themed accessories are all on sale through July and August 2011.  That includes our Bondi Beach pattern, insulated picnic pieces like wine bottle holders and picnic baskets, and all our wonderful coated tablecloths.  Here are some photos of the great pieces on sale just because it's summer. 

    See something you love?  Call us at 312.423.9948 and order over the phone or stop in our shop to see for yourself!

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Color Blocking: Green

    Green is said to be the color that symbolizes tranquility, good luck, health, and even jealousy.  Green is abundent in nature and representative of new life, growth, and renewal, and all things enviornmental.  Some consider green to have a calming, de-stressing effect.  Decorating with green is a perfect way to add a splash of color as it matches with several other colors and can have a warming or cooling effect.  Here are some of our favorite bright green pieces sure to add pizzaz to your kitchen and dinning room.

    Row One (left to right)
    1.  Elysees Kiwi Napkin, $17 each
    2.  Petale Set- Bowl $14, Plate $12, Napkin Ring $6.50
    3.  Pasyphae Nature Non_Rimmed Soup Plate $25.

    Row Two (left to right)
    1.  Megg Microwave Egg Cooker, $6.
    2.  Au ras des Paquerettes Dessert Plate, $13, Dinner Plate $16
    3. Phenomene Flatware starting at $9 each

    Row Three (left to right)
    1.  Theobald Tumblers, low or tall, $13 each
    2. Orka Silicon Spatula or Spoon Spatula $8 each
    3.  Legend Moss Linen Napkin, $ 11 each (shown in roll), Pirouette Moss Napkin, $9 each (green, folded), Nature Enchantee Napkin, $15 each (print)


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