weeknight gourmet

Posts Tagged ‘Williams-Sonoma’

Holiday Menu: Rack of Lamb, Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette, and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  We had a great first Christmas with Charlotte.  We enjoyed lots of time with family and lots of delicious food!

In case you are looking for menu ideas for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, I highly recommend our Christmas meal!  My go-to ladies — Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis — helped make our holiday meal spectacular!

The lamb was so flavorful and tender and the portobello mushrooms were amazing (and could have been a meal themselves).  The sprouts and squash were a great combination that I had never tried before.  And, I have made this cranberry cake before and it is always festive and delicious!

Grilled & Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette
Rack of Lamb Persillade
Cranberry Upside-down Cake

Holiday Menu: Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette

I usually just roast brussels sprouts but for Christmas I thought we should do something a bit more festive with the sprouts.  I thought this recipe looked interesting because I had never had butternut squash and brussels sprouts together.  The squash and sprouts were delicious with the bacon vinaigrette.  I skipped the chestnuts but followed the recipe otherwise.

Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette

  • 4 oz. thick-cut bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped steamed chestnuts

In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour all but 1 Tbs. of the fat into a heatproof bowl and reserve. Add the shallot to the remaining fat in the pan and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, thyme and shallot. Slowly whisk in 5 Tbs. of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set the vinaigrette aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the brussels sprouts and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the brussels sprouts to a bowl of ice water. Drain well, then cut them in half lengthwise and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.

Return the water in the pot to a boil, add the butternut squash and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain again and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the squash and sauté, stirring occasionally, until light golden and warmed through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the reserved bacon fat. Place the brussels sprouts, cut side down, in the pan. Cook, without moving them, for 3 to 4 minutes, then stir and add the sage and chestnuts. Cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to the bowl with the squash. Add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the vegetables (you may not need all of it), then stir in half of the bacon. Transfer the vegetables to a platter, sprinkle with the remaining bacon and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

What My Waffle Maker Means to Me…by Jessica Ogilvie

I have a deep sentimental attachment to my waffle maker.  I am sure that raises some questions.  Do I eat waffles often?  Was it given to me by a very special person?  Did I win the waffle maker in a waffle making or waffle eating contest?

I eat waffles twice a year at most.  While I received the waffle maker as a bridal shower gift back in May 2004, it was given to me by one of my mom’s friends.  In other words, not someone I am particularly close to.  And, lastly, I have never entered any type of waffle contest.

You may not believe this but the waffle maker represents a really wonderful phase of my life — when Tim and I started to build a life together.

In October 2002 — when we were boyfriend and girlfriend of almost three years — Tim and I bought our land in the Berkshires.  The 2.67 acres our house sits on represents the first big decision we made together and a clear indication that we planned to share our life going forward.  Neither Tim nor I had ties to the Berkshires, so the location in and of itself marked that we were comfortable charting our own course together, independently of our families and friends.

Ground was broken on our house  just before our wedding in the summer of 2004 and we moved into the house 5 years ago last weekend!  On Friday, February 25, 2005, we drove out from Boston — where we were living at the time — with an air mattress and some other necessities — and started the wonderful process of decorating, landscaping, and making this place our own.

So, where does the waffle maker come in?  Well, when we first moved in, while the stove had been delivered, but it was not set up to properly convert the propane to gas.  So, all we had to cook with was a microwave, small outdoor charcoal grill, and, you guessed it, a waffle maker!  Our house is in a somewhat remote area so takeout wasn’t an option.  We ate a lot of waffles during those early weekends at our house.  Even though we didn’t even have a kitchen table to sit at, those early breakfasts will always be among my favorite meals at our house.

Five years later, we have bought the adjacent land giving us 17 acres of wooded beauty, planted countess bushes, flowers, trees, and other plants, refinished furniture, put on an addition, built a greenhouse, and decorated and filled every room and closet (to the point, I think I need to purge to make room for the baby).  We have a wonderful place Tim and I both love coming to, where we can truly unwind and do the things we love to do outside of New York City.  Tim is an avid gardener and likes to drive around in his 1952 Ford truck; I love to cook in my more spacious kitchen; and, we both love to hike and swim with the Berkshires’ biggest fan, Angus.

While Tim and I have since made decisions much bigger than the house — starting a business together and having a baby to name two small ones — the house was one of our first big wins as “Team O”.  Even after we sell the house down the road, I will always cherish and be proud of 67 Cherokee Road.

In honor of 5 years in our house, I made waffles for us this morning.  They were delicious and brought back some great memories!

If you are interested in bringing this wondrous waffle maker into your home, you can buy it at Williams-Sonoma.  One of its best features is that it makes chirping noise when the waffles are cooked to your desired doneness.  I typically take a shortcut when it comes to making waffles and use a mix.  Some of my favorites are below.  These tend to be pricier mixes but since I only make waffles a couple times a year now, I figured it was worth the splurge.

Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Mix

Stonewall Kitchen Farmhouse Pancake and Waffle Mix (the blueberry is also quite good!)

(By the way, this happens to be my 250th post!)

White Bean Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Crostini

I saw this soup and crostini recipe in a recent Williams-Sonoma catalog and knew I had to make it. I love all the ingredients involved in both the soup and crostini. The speed with which the soup comes together and the simplicity of the crostini make this a perfect weeknight meal! Plus, it was an opportunity to use the immersion blender that I received for Christmas!

The only change I would recommend is to let the soup simmer for a bit longer than the 10 minutes the recipe calls for.

It is a cold and snowy night in New York City — a perfect evening for the soup and crostini.  The soup was delicious and I loved the simple but flavorful crostini. I’ll definitely make the soup again and plan to make the crostini as an hors d’œuvre next time we entertain.

White Bean Soup

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1/4 cup chopped pancetta
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cans (each 15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 baguette slices, each 4 inches long and 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 cup jarred roasted red bell peppers
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. honey

In a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cannellini beans, broth and thyme and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and black pepper. Keep the soup warm.

Meanwhile, brush the baguette slices on both sides with olive oil and season lightly with salt. Heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat. Toast the bread, turning once, until nicely grill-marked, about 2 minutes per side. Set aside.

In the blending cup of an immersion blender, chop the roasted red bell peppers. Stir in 1/2 tsp. salt, the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil, the parsley, vinegar, red pepper flakes, honey and black pepper. Top the baguette slices with the roasted red bell pepper tapenade, dividing evenly. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately with the crostini. Serves 6.

Thanksgiving Dinner!

We enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving with my mom in the Berkshires.  Even though it was just three of us (plus Angus), we made the full bird and array of sides.  You shouldn’t have to sacrifice all your favorites tastes of the holiday even if you have a small crowd!  Below was our menu…everything was quite tasty and we all had a great holiday.

Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey


My Mom’s Stuffing
(My mom made the stuffing and it was as delicious as it always is but there’s no recipe.  I definitely need to document this someday.)


Smashed Sweet Potatoes


Tim’s Favorite Green Bean Casserole
(I just follow the Campbell’s Soup Recipe)


Corn Spoon Bread


Brussels Sprouts with Radicchio & Pancetta


Cranberry Sauce
(shhh…we used store bought)


Pumpkin Pie

Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Tim said that our turkey was probably the best he ever had.  I attribute it to a high quality, fresh bird I ordered from our butcher in the Berkshires, brining the turkey, and the butter we used before roasting the turkey.

As a shortcut, I bought a brine mix from Williams-Sonoma:

Combine 1 1/2 cups of the brine mixture with 1 quart of water.  In a small saucepan over high heat, allow the brine – water mixture to come to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until the brine dissolves, 5 to 10 minutes. Let the brine mixture cool to room temperature. In a large pot,  combine the brine mixture and 4 quarts of buttermilk.  We then put the bird and the buttermilk combo in a giant bag and put the bag in a big pot.  We let the bird brine for about 18 hours.

Before you cook the turkey, discard the brine and rinse the turkey well inside and out.   Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Allow 1 stick of butter to come to room temperature.  Combine butter with fresh thyme and parsley.  Rub some of the butter under the skin of the breasts and the remainder all over the bird.  This will produce a beautiful golden color and a tasty bird!

We followed the following roasting instructions from Williams-Sonoma:

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.

Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF and continue roasting, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices. If the breast begins to cook too quickly, tent it loosely with aluminum foil. After about 2 hours of total roasting time, begin testing for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and thigh, away from the bone. The breast should register 165°F and the thigh, 175°F. Total roasting time should be 3 to 4 hours.

Transfer the turkey to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

Holiday Side Dish: Brussels Sprouts with Radicchio and Pancetta

I’ve made this dish for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Brussels sprouts get a bad name but Tim and I just love them.  They are great simply roasted or delicious in a dish like this.  Pancetta makes everything even more delicious!

You can do all the prep work for this dish in advance — shredding the sprouts, dicing the pancetta and slicing the radicchio.  But I recommend cooking the dish right before you plan to serve it — it only takes about 15 – 20 minutes for it all to come together on the stove.

Brussels Sprouts with Radicchio & Pancetta

  • 1 1/2 lb. brussels sprouts
  • 6 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 head radicchio, about 8 oz., trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh marjoram
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Cut or pull off any dry outer leaves from the brussels sprouts. Trim away any brown spots and slice off the dry stem end. Using a food processor fitted with the slicing blade, shred the brussels sprouts. Set aside.On the stovetop, heat an oval copper roasting pan or large saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook the pancetta until crispy and golden brown, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a small bowl. Pour off the fat from the pan and discard, then wipe out the pan with paper towels.

Set the pan over medium heat and warm the olive oil. Add the brussels sprouts and stir to coat with the oil. Cook until the brussels sprouts begin to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir again, then add the radicchio, marjoram and salt and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the 1/4 cup broth. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and adding more broth as needed, until the brussels sprouts are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the pancetta and stir to incorporate. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Transfer the brussels sprouts to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Make-Ahead Tip: Trim and slice the brussels sprouts and radicchio and dice the pancetta up to 1 day in advance. Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

End of Summer Dessert: Blueberry Crisp

We had a wonderful Labor Day weekend with our friends Ashley, Dave, and their almost 1-year-old Nora as well as Amy and her 1-year-old Lucy.

We savored the last bit of summer with some local wild blueberries in a yummy and incredibly easy blueberry crisp.  In case you forget what the difference is between a crisp and cobbler, read my Raspberry Buckle post from July.

The only change I made was adding a touch more butter as the crisp was baking because the topping was not browning as much as it should.

Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream!  It’s a must.

Based on the paltry leftovers, I think everyone enjoyed it!

Blueberry Crisp

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Healthy Cooking, by John Phillip Carroll (Time-Life Books, 1997)

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or margarine,
    at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Grease a shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dish with butter or margarine, or spray with vegetable cooking spray.

Spread the blueberries evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the lemon juice.

In a bowl, using a pastry blender or fork, mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, butter and rolled oats until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over the blueberries.

Bake until the top is golden and the blueberries are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Serve hot or warm. Serves 6.

Best Blueberry Pie Ever? Blueberry Crumble Pie

We had lots of visitors of the human, canine, and baby variety this weekend in Becket — the Sheehans (Amy, Colin and Lucy), the Fleckers (Kate, Evan, Duncan, and Sadie), and Danny, Rachel, and Maddie (woof!).  We had lots of fun, Angus had many playmates, and I think we all ate well.

Colin, Amy, and Lucy arrived in time for dinner on Friday.  We had grilled Asian salmon — again I made it with Sockeye Salmon which is so delicious.

Danny, Rachel, and little Maddie arrived in time for dessert.  I had baked this yummy blueberry crumble pie earlier in the day.  The pie was made with fresh wild blueberries from Becket, MA.  Danny said that this may have been the best blueberry pie he ever had.  At the very least, it was super delicious!!

I had a frozen pie crust in the freezer so I decided to use that.  What a time saver!  The crust was from the Vermont Mystic Pie Company.  This is definitely a higher-end (aka expensive) frozen pie crust.  I followed the recommendation on the box to bake it for a while with parchment paper and pie weights on top to ensure a crisp crust.

The filling couldn’t have been easier — blueberries, brown sugar, and flour.  The crumble was also very easier to make — cold butter, white sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt.  I don’t have a pastry blender so I just used a fork and my hands to make the crumble topping.  I didn’t have quite enough light brown sugar, so there was a touch of dark brown sugar in the topping.

Overall, a simple pie showcasing our delicious local berries!  Look for more recipes from the weekend shortly!

WS's photo of the pie recipe.  Too much entertaining going on for me to photography my pie.
WS’s photo of the pie recipe. Too much entertaining going on for me to photography my pie.

Blueberry Crumble Pie
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Baking, by Cathy Burgett, Elinor Klivans & Lou Seibert Pappas (Oxmoor House, 2003)

  • 1 recipe Basic Pie Dough
  • 3/4 cup plus 5 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 5 cups blueberries

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.

Roll out the dough and transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Refrigerate until firm. Line the chilled piecrust with a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fill with dried beans, uncooked rice or pie weights. Bake until the crust dries out, about 15 minutes; to check, lift an edge of the foil. Carefully remove the weights and foil. Reduce the heat to 350°F. Continue to bake until the crust is lightly browned on the edges and dry-looking on the bottom, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the crust to a wire rack.

Increase the heat to 375°F.

In a large bowl, stir together the 3/4 cup flour, 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, the 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp. of the cinnamon and the salt. Scatter the butter pieces on top and toss with a fork or your fingers to coat with the flour mixture. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, work the ingredients together until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas. Set the topping aside.

In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, the remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, the remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon and 4 Tbs. of the flour. Stir gently to coat the blueberries evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbs. flour and the 1 Tbs. granulated sugar over the bottom of the prebaked crust. Pour the filling into the crust, spreading it evenly.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the blueberry filling. Bake the pie until the topping is golden brown and the blueberry filling just begins to bubble, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Serve at room temperature. The pie is best served the day it is baked.

Makes one 9-inch pie.