Ask Ina

Ask Ina

Have a cooking or entertaining question?

From Wendy McCormack - Western Australia

What brand of knives do you recommend?

Ina's Answer:

I use Wusthof Classic knives and highly recommend them. There are available online and at many major kitchen stores, such as Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table.

From Suzy DeVore - Springfield IL

I want to make your Fresh Fig and Ricotta Cake - would it still taste as wonderful if it wasn't warm?

Ina's Answer:

Yes, the Fresh Fig & Ricotta Cake is still delicious at room temperature!

From Rose - Cohasset, MA

I plan to serve Company Pot Roast for a dinner party. Is it possible to make it ahead and reheat to serve?

Ina's Answer:

Absolutely! This is a great make-ahead dish.

From Dr. Marilou Elido - CA

Can I prepare the Buffalo Chicken Wings a day in advance?

Ina's Answer:

I've tried making Buffalo Chicken Wings a day ahead of time, but I think they're best the day they're made. But you CAN make the blue cheese dip a day in advance.

From Christine Benoit - Clinton Township, Michigan

I am looking for a high-quality olive oil. What brand do you suggest?

Ina's Answer:

I use Olio Santo extra-virgin olive oil and highly recommend it. It's available at Williams-Sonoma.

From John - Connecticut

Because fall is approaching, what are some of the best foods to get a farmers market in the fall?

Ina's Answer:

Some of my favorite fall vegetables and fruits are Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and good, crisp apples.

From Barbara - Toledo, OH

Can I serve Savory Palmiers cold?

Ina's Answer:

I wouldn't serve them chilled, but they are delicious at room temperature.

From Cynthia - Punta Gorda, FL

May I make the Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake a few days ahead and put it in the freezer?

Ina's Answer:

Unfortunately you can't freeze the Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake, but you can make it up to 2 days in advance and keep it in the refrigerator.

From Dorothy Hayers - United Kingdom

I am not familiar with Hersheys chocolate syrup. Do you know of a U.K. equivalent?

Ina's Answer:

Unfortunately, I am not aware of a UK equivalent, but I do that know Hersheys chocolate syrup is available to purchase on

From Mike Taylor - Enterprise, AL

When you cook with butter, what brand do you use?

Ina's Answer:

I often use Cabot unsalted butter, but there are many good brands of butters available. What's most important is to make sure you use unsalted butter, so you are able to control the amount of salt in the recipe. Salted butters can vary significantly in the amount of salt they contain.

From Elizabeth Ramsey - Atlanta, GA

What brand of chocolate chunks do you use in your chocolate chunk cookies?

Ina's Answer:

I use Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chunks. They are available at most large grocery stores in the baking aisle!

From Lisa Stern - Seaford, NY

Is there a difference between a pine nut and a pignoli nut? I can't find pine nuts.

Ina's Answer:

No! They are actually the same thing!

From Sheila - Pelham, AL

How do you keep cookies crisp? Mine always get soft.

Ina's Answer:

The crispness of a cookie often depends on the recipe. Some chocolate chip cookies are crispy, while others are soft and chewy. My Chocolate Chunk Cookies have crisp edges with a chewy center.

From Sandra Marschall - North Carolina

I want to make your Chicken Stock, but my pots are not as big as yours. How do I make half your recipe without cheating the flavor?

Ina's Answer:

You can cut the ingredients in half and the Homemade Chicken Stock will be just as delicious!

From Susan Walsh - New Jersey

Can the Parmesan Crisps be frozen?

Ina's Answer:

I wouldn't recommend freezing the Parmesan Crisps. They are very delicate and are best served the day they're made.

From Cheryl - Seattle, WA

I will be making your Herbed Goat Cheese (Cooking for Jeffrey). I would like to know how long will the cheese keep in the fridge?

Ina's Answer:

I actually wouldn't recommend leaving the finished dish in the refrigerator for more than a few days, as the goat cheese may begin to disintegrate.

From Seth - Nagoya, Japan

I’m looking to make my first Le Creuset Dutch oven purchase. What size do you use most often in your recipes?

Ina's Answer:

I use the Le Creuset #26 Dutch oven more often than everything else. It's great for soups, stews, and braising.

From Jami - Nebraska

I made your Coconut Macaroon recipe, but I did something wrong - they puddled at the bottom as they baked. What did I do wrong?

Ina's Answer:

The Coconut Macaroons do tend to leak a little bit, but there shouldn't be a "puddle" beneath the cookies when they come out. Most likely, the egg whites were either under or over-whipped. For this recipe, it's important to whip them just until they form medium-firm peaks. 

From Ms. Daryl - Starr, SC

Where can I find the plastic freezer containers that you use?

Ina's Answer:

I buy the containers online at Cassandra's Kitchen.

From Chrissie McGiveran - Los Gatos, CA

I purchased Framboise, Cassis and Limoncello recently and I would like to know if any need refrigeration after opening to preserve shelf-life and how long will they last?

Ina's Answer:

Liqueurs do not need to be refrigerated after being opened, and they should last indefinitely!

From Julian - Houston, Texas

I’d like to know what brand panini press you use on the show?

Ina's Answer:

I use a Krups panini grill on the show and at home!

From Sandra McCullough - Oregon

How much in advance can I make your Fresh Corn Salad?

Ina's Answer:

I find that Fresh Corn Salad is best served the day it's made.

From Ginny Krol - Buffalo, NY

What’s the best way to soften butter?

Ina's Answer:

When I need room-temperature butter, I leave it out on the kitchen counter for several hours, or even overnight, to make sure it is completely soft.

From Lois Stark - Greenwich, NY

What size eggs do you use for baking? I'd like to make the Sour Cream Coffee Cake, but would like to know what size eggs to use.

Ina's Answer:

I use extra-large eggs in all my recipes.