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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.



                  2. In the early 70's I went to a restaurant-going-out-of-bus sale and bought a charming copper "something". Turns out it was a pudding steamer ( A south Texas girl wouldn't know about that) but sure enough in the very next issue of WS catalog, there was a recipe
                    for steamed English ginger pudding. I made it with my newly acquired CHEAP steamer, added a bowl of true hard sauce and it was the hit of our Christmas desserts. Now, I still use it and I still use the WS recipe from all those years ago. In addition, I have in my cookie notebook a WS ginger/pecan cookie that can't be beat. Did I mention that I adore ginger? In those days WS didn't have a bunch of "their" ingredients that cost waaaayyy too
                    much. I do think their recipes are quite good and if you can get around buying "their" stuff
                    you will probably be happy with the results. Granted, they aren't Cooks Illustrated, but I think they do test, to a degree, their recipes.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: amazinc

                      Is there a link for the ginger/pecan cookie. I pretty much don't like desserts but that sounds like a great combo.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I have a BIG confession to make. I'd never made cookies before yesterday!!!!!!! I don't particularly like sweets so it's just not something I think to do. But I made these pecan ginger cookies and they were really great. Really. And althought the recipe says they're chewy, they were thin and crisp. My husband and I ate a couple (okay, maybe more than a couple) and he's taken the first half batch off to his mother. I'm serving them tomorrow night and had planned to cook the other half today. But I have the fear that there would be none left by then :) Thanks for this tip.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Holy Chow--SHUT UP--that is a HUGE chow confession. Welcome to the sweeter side of life. Be careful how much you like it here! ;) It gets me in trouble ALL the time. HA HA!

                            1. re: kattyeyes

                              I knew you'd love that! I could have used your advice. Cookie making is hard. I was, like, shit, is this batter/dough too thick (cause, man, it was!) and when baking I was, like, WTF do they mean by golden when they were at least dark camel colored when I put them INTO the oven. But they are fabulous. I still prefer more towards the savory and I don't like soft cookies. A little burn on the bottom is good also. Glad I gave you a chuckle, k-e. x,c

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Congratulations on your first cookie foray! It's not hard, really, I promise - you were just out of your element. Cookie doughs for non-bar cookies (and often for them, too) are pretty much always stiff, because the cookies need to be shaped in some way. And I *hate* when recipes for something with a dark dough or batter tell you to bake until "golden brown"! Shows me the recipe writer wasn't really thinking about the audience.

                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                  Oh, thank heavens! I kept turning the oven light on and saying "shit." :) Thanks for helping me break the code.

                                2. re: c oliver

                                  Two more chuckles (so thank you again):
                                  1. dark camel colored (HEE HEE, like a dark horse, that dark camel?!)--that is adorable. :) I'd walk a mile for a caramel. :)
                                  2. "A little burn on the bottom is good also." NANNY???!!! Next you'll be making oatmeal cookies with M&Ms (one of her signatures).

                                  I will keep you in mind for crispy cookie ideas. Sadly, I don't discriminate. I wish I did!!!

                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                    1. I actually meant "camel" not "caramel." More like my camel-colored blazer :) Although actually caramels are one candy that I can tolerate. (Don't like candy either!)
                                    2. If you ever see me eating a cookie with M&Ms in eat, you can carry me off to "the home." I will have gone around the bend, for sure :)

                                    I did some biscotti filled with nuts last year and like those. And have been thinking about some pinenut/pignoli ones also.

                          2. re: amazinc

                            No, W-S does NOT always test their recipes. But then, W-S means lots of different things:

                            1. They have at least one in-house recipe developer and he doesn't always test his recipes - I've even called him to complain about some of his directions (such as mincing leeks and roasting them for an hour) and he just ignored me. Don't ask me why I called him - let's just say this was for one of their website recipes touting a new stovetop product, which was ridiculously expensive and performed similarly to my old Dutch ovens.

                            2. Their cookbooks are written by many kinds of people, some famous ones who do test their recipes, and some unnamed ones who do not. It depends on the product, the art director, project manager, etc.

                            3. Ditto with their pamphlets, catalogs, etc.

                            Even Chuck Williams doesn't like some of their stupid, overpriced products, but he knows it's a big business now.

                            1. re: Claudette

                              I'm glad to know Chuck's alive. He must be getting up there. 'Course *I'm* getting up there also :)

                          3. I haven't cut out any recipes from them in a long time. But I have a tattered old page torn from their catalog years and years ago for a mixed berry cobbler. It wasn't touting any special ingredients. I think it was meant to showcase their Le Creuset cookware. Anyway, you can use any baking dish for it. And the recipe is actually out of this world good.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: LNG212

                              To test the theory, "are the catalog recipes on the website?", could this be the recipe? The directions call for a rimmed baking pan. http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe...


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                No, that's not the one. But it sounds good.

                                Back when I cut this recipe out I don't think I would even have known what crystallized ginger was! :)

                                This recipe is really really simple: berries/lemon juice/flour/sugar for the filling and flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, butter, heavy cream for the topping.

                                1. re: LNG212

                                  That cobbler sounds simple and delicious. See, now I wish I had that old page out of the catalog!


                            2. I made an excellent WS Cauliflower/White Cheddar Soup, which ws excellent, & very easy.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: SusieS

                                Is this it?


                                This thread has suddenly gotten far more interesting to me than I intended when I started it. I hope others will tell us more dishes. Thanks.

                              2. That meatball recipe looked good to me too. Other than the fact that it looks like 8 servings, not 5 or 6, nothing in it makes me think it wouldn't work just fine. (All they are trying to sell with that recipe is the pan you cook it in.) I have made recipes from a few of their cookbooks and they were good, and I know I have cut out a bunch of catalog recipes, just not sure i've ever made any of them.

                                Edit: adding link to the recipe. http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe...

                                1. Thanks for posting this query, Catherine. I have, of course, perused the recipes in the catalog over the years, and though I've never made one, I've seen some that looked good and they all also looked sound. I have never checked out the recipes section of the W-S website, though, and there are lots of appealing recipes there! It has many recipes from their cookbook series. I'm bookmarking it, and am also pleased to note they have a recipe box function so you can save recipes you're interested in.

                                  1. Their madeleine recipe is good and easier than others that are more genoise like. It calls for rose water which I never use.

                                    1. Yes. Years ago there was a recipe for "Pasta Rustica," which was essentially a baked zitti recipe. It was featured in conjunction with a beautiful enamel casserole, but I found that it works just fine in a rectangular pyrex baking dish. I still make the recipe every few months.

                                      2 Replies
                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          That's the one I make, minus the fancy red baking dish!

                                      1. I seldom make a fancy breakfast, but when I do, it features waffles from a W-S catalog recipe I clipped about 8 years ago. They are perfectly crisp and tender at the same time.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: maestra

                                          I have only made the Butternut Squash soup from a old catalogue.
                                          By the way, where do you get your WS catalogues? I was told in the late summer that at least in Canada, they would no longer be available in store.

                                        2. I made a turkey white chili recipe in last year's fal catalog and it rocked - roasted Anaheim and jalapeno chilis, cannellini beans. It has been my go to chili recipe ever since.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Junoesq

                                            Here ya go:


                                            I'm going to work my way through these so I hope more people will chime in. Got the ingredients for the gingers pecan cookies.

                                          2. I made a coconut cake a few times from a recipe from the WS catalogue. It was really good. I should make it again. I think it had 3 layers, and I don't believe they were pushing any product with the recipe. It was just showcasing a cake stand that they were selling.
                                            I also cut out a recipe for a cosmopolitan when they were first becoming popular. I still use it.
                                            And their recent push for ebelskiver (sp?) pans (with their push for the mix for some cornmeal based ebelskivers) promted my dad and I to make up our own recipe and use his OLD cast iron e.s. pan.
                                            I appreciate the recipes even if they serve just to inspire me. It's not as though I don't have more cookbooks that I can possible use!

                                            1. This thread caused me to start looking at the recipe database on the Wiliams-Sonoma site, and I made these pumpkin cookies a few days ago: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe...

                                              They're very tasty, though I admit I made a few changes to the recipe: I used chopped dried cranberries in place of raisins. I also increased the pumpkin from 3/4 cup to 1 cup and decreased the butter from 6 oz to 4 oz (though I did use European Style 85% butterfat butter), and I decreased the white sugar by 1/4 cup and the brown by 2 T. (they were plenty sweet enough). I did not bother with the glaze.

                                              1. I have done the meatballs with mozzarella many times. It's easy & a kid favortie as the cheese oozes out of the meatball when you cut it. I recently did a chicken with smoked paprika dish that was also very good. I've found that you really don't need the WS special ingredients or equipment for most recipes. As an aside, their croissants, altho expensive, are fabulous & foolproof.

                                                1. I've used their madeleine recipe for years. And last year I made a tasty beef-and-stout pot pie w/a cheese (Stilton, I think) crust from a catalog recipe. I suppose they were probably trying to sell a Le Creuset pot like the one in the photo, but I used one I had, certainly didn't buy one for the recipe.