Former Chicago Home + Garden editorial assistant Corina Quinn, now associate editor at La Cucina Italiana, was in town for the International Home and Housewares show last month. This is the first of three guest blogs from Corina. 

Le Creuset’s enameled castiron
mini cocotte

Rachael Ray’s “Bubble & Brown”
Square Singles

Rachel Ray’s “Souped Up”

The first time I baked cookies in my apartment—the chocolate chip recipe my six-year-old nephew finds effortless—the kitchen looked as if I merely detonated a package of Pillsbury with an M-80. The space is just not equipped for preparing standard recipes, as my surfaces, which still periodically shame me with specks of dough, can attest. 

I’ve spent years halving recipes and pruning my shelves to fit Dutch ovens, cast-iron pans, strainers, and utensils, and it’s generally a dance of reorganization and dropping lids that irritates my neighbors. Recipes and the tools we cook them with, it seems, just aren’t made for city living. 

So imagine the thrill at seeing a growing crop of smaller-sized cookware at the International Home and Housewares Show. It’s an obvious fit for apartment-dwellers, yet useful for most anyone. I can see these items deployed to deftly moderate portions, cut cooking time, and save cupboard and counter space. 

A few that caught my eye: 

Styled after the company’s emblematic French Ovens, Le Creuset’s enameled castiron mini cocotte measures a snug 8 ounces and comes in several colors. $20,

Coffee machines can be tough fits, but Nespresso’s Pixie, is its smallest machine yet. At 13 x 4 x 9 inches, it efficiently brews small and large espressos, and takes up minimal counterspace. Available this spring for $250.

Rachael Ray’s “Bubble & Brown” Square Singles, which, at 10 ounces are perfect for portioned baking, and “Souped Up”  covered 18-ounce casserole-soup bowls. “Bubble & Brown,” $20, set of four in assorted colors; “Souped Up,” $17, in orange and red.

IMUSA launched an entire line of mini-cookware (casserole, saucepan, grill pan, griddle and fry pan) designed for singles, college students or empty nesters that’s ideal for small-space living. $6-$8 per piece.