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Nov 30, 2009 06:02 PM

Have you ever cooked a recipe from a Williams Sonoma catalog?

Their recipes always sound so good but the only one I've ever made was a Margarita. Have any of you cooked one or some. I just got one today and it has a good sounding meatball recipe. TIA

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  1. No, mostly because the ingredient list usually includes a $100 plus kitchen gadget that even I don't want to buy.

    Seriously, they have some good looking food in there, but there are usually alternative ways to prepare similar dishes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RGC1982

      I hear ya but I already have some version but for less money of what they cook in. But the dishes - thanks food sylist - sure do look good.

    2. Umm - rare - because some of them call for a prepared ingredient of theirs that I shouldn't have to buy to make their recipes...nor do I care to recreate their prepared ingredient to make their recipe.

      There ARE a few I have found that look good, I just haven't gone that route, yet.

      1. Yes. Going back some 30 years, they featured excellent recipes that were often unique and always top notch. At the time, they were about cooking and not merchandising. But then, at that time, W-S was a source of top quality, difficult to find, specialized cooking essentials. They took themselves seriously and they didn't need to market some over-priced something a cook would make themselves ($16 "turkey brine" that's glorified kosher salt?), a piece of holiday something or other that requires storage 11 months of the year, or a top priced tool that does something so precious that no one would bother if they weren't compensating for culinary low self-esteem or lack of resources.

        As I said on another thread, 30 years ago I got introduced to James Beard's "Beard on Bread" via a recipe in a W-S catalogue. Having made the bread, I bought the cookbook. But not through W-S -- they weren't selling it. Just celebrating cooking! I miss those days and that W-S.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rainey

          I moved to SF in 1976 and I believe it was their second store up on Sutter Street. It was a tiny place and felt very Chuck-ish. Their new store in SF is three (or is it four?) stories tall and I drool my way through but rarely ever buy anything --- unless from clearance bins. Just too expensive. But I may try these meatballs - they have cubes of mozzarella in the middle.

        2. Not a catalogue, exactly, but I've cooked from a free Thanksgiving pamphlet they gave out one year. I don't remember the details, exactly, but it as one of my first times attempting a full Thanksgiving meal all on my own. I remember thinking it was pretty helpful.


          12 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I have a whole selection of those pamphlet/planners going back to the time they first had Los Angeles retail stores. As with the catalogue, the recipes they were once about tour de force food prep for ambitious home cooks.

            This year's was a shopping list of their prepared foods. There wasn't a single recipe not based on one of their ridiculously over-priced and commercially manufactured foodstocks.

            1. re: rainey

              Rainey...I think I am feeling your experience...and am disappointed that my mom fell for them.

              1. re: wineos

                I'm betting your mom shopped at W-S when they were out in front of the American culinary revolution with people like Julia Child, James Beard, MK Fischer and even Martha Stewart. W-S was a big part of making culinary ambitions accessible realities for home cooks. Their catalogues -- with the memorable recipes -- were a lifeline and a source of encouragement and inspiration for people in small towns and major cities all over the country.

              2. re: rainey

                I have the "signature sweets" catalog sitting right by me. It has four recipes and none of them have any "special" ingredients.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Then I stand corrected if that's the Thanksgiving planner (can't find mine now to check). But to be fair and for the sake of comparison, just how many products does it hawk?

                  Listen, some of you have a different reference point if you've only known the current version of W-S. You won't have the genuine disappointment for how they've changed their whole mission. So if W-S works for you, then GOOD for you!

                  1. re: rainey

                    No, it's just a mini-catalog. If you read my earlier post, you'll know that I've been around W-S for over 30 years. I agree that they're over priced but not sure why you're so bitter. It's a big company now, times change, etc.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Sorry for the attitude but it reflects a simple truth -- they've gone about as yuppy as is possible and abandoned real cooks in the process.

                      Even Sur la Table that has equipment every bit as expensive and glitzy as W-S still maintains a stock of actual practical and affordable equipment.

                      But I'll move on so as not to be a distraction. Yes, I have used their recipes. And have some of the W-S Kitchens cookbooks too.

                      1. re: rainey

                        HA I'm pretty sure they had long gone "yuppie" by the time I discovered them. I hate to say it, but at that time of my life, it was part of the appeal. I was just discovering "good" home cooking (there wasn't a lot of good from scratch cooking in my home growing up) and, in a store, like Williams-Sonoma (either brick and mortar or catalog), I felt like I couldn't go wrong in terms of "good taste" because I was just trying to figure out what that was.

                        I wouldn't be surprised if their focus has changed over the years and I could see how disappointing it would be for you if you remember them from "the old days". It is certainly pretty commercial now.

                        I don't buy much from them these days, but when I'm shopping online for something culinary, I almost always check Sur La Table, Williams Sonoma, and Amazon before making a purchase decision.


                2. re: rainey

                  I don't remember needing to buy anything--either equipmentwise or ingredient-wise-- to make the meal, I wasn't a student any longer, but I was still on a budget. I have a vague recollection of needing to buy chestnuts through them if I wanted to make the stuffing (at that pre-Chowhound point in my life, I'm not sure if I knew where to get them). Other than that, at least the dishes I chose to make were within my budget and pantry for a big meal.

                  I still like their Waldorf salad recipe, that I'm pretty sure came from that booklet. Not that it's an amazing recipe, necessarily, but it's straightforward and, when I take it as a dish to potlucks, it always gets eaten.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I used a few of their recipes from their website and was quite satisfied.
                    Are these different from their catalog?

                    1. re: williamsonoma

                      I don't know. As I mentioned above, I've only cooked (many years ago) from the free Thanksgiving pamphlet, although, today, when I want their Waldorf salad recipe, I get it from the website, instead of digging up the old Thanksgiving pamphlet. I no longer receive the catalog because I am vigilant about getting myself off of junk mail lists, so I have no way to do a comparison.


                3. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I've made--and enjoyed--recipes from their pamphlets, too. They still do those free demos (at which they pass out the pamphlets) and they're fun to pop in on from time to time. We've enjoyed them, anyway. There is always some other tip you might learn or a new twist on the same ol', same ol'. In fact, my strata recipe is a hack of their strata recipe (theirs is twice the size and mine has different meats, cheeses and veggies).

                  Meatballs with cubes of mozz in the middle sound good to me! I have made stuffed mini meatloaves with cheddar in the middle. The possibilities are only as endless as your imagination, really. ;)

                4. I have made a couple recipes from their catalogs. I have made their almond-apricot tarts, which they used to try and sell a cute little tart pan, but I used a mini-muffin pan and it worked great. I have also made their creme brulee recipe and then tried the chocolate one from the web site. People love my creme brulee!

                  It seems to me that I have tried some other savoury dishes, but can't think of them off the top of my head.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: NE_Elaine

                    Hmmm... I tried tro find almond-apricot tarts, on their website, but all I could find were Jam Filled Frangipane Tartlets (where apricot jam is one of the flavor options). They sound quite delicious, actually. Do you think cranberry could stand in for sour cherry (one of the other jam options, besides apricot) this time of year?

                    Does this seem like the same recipe you got out of the catalog?


                    There is a creme brulee recipe on their website, too. I suppose that same recipe could have been in the catalog...



                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Those are the tarts I meant. I have tried marmalade and cherry jam as alternatives, but I think the best combo is with the apricot jam. I liked the marmalade, but the cherry was too sweet. I don't think it was a sour cherry. I think cranberry would be festive, but I am not sure how it would go with the almond flavor.

                      1. re: NE_Elaine

                        Oh, good point about cranberry likely clashing with the almond. Well, maybe sour cherry would be the way to go if you wanted to make them red for the season, but I am wary of overly sweet desserts, so maybe I'll just stick with the apricot as you recommend.