Williams-Sonoma Taste http://blog.williams-sonoma.com Sun, 25 Sep 2016 12:00:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin with Apples and Fennel http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/prosciutto-wrapped-pork/ http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/prosciutto-wrapped-pork/#respond Sun, 25 Sep 2016 12:00:20 +0000 http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/?p=40726 A rolled pork loin is an impressive way to serve a crowd, making this dish a great choice for an autumnal dinner party or elegant ... read more

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Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin with Apples and Fennel

A rolled pork loin is an impressive way to serve a crowd, making this dish a great choice for an autumnal dinner party or elegant Sunday supper. The prosciutto adds beautiful color to the dish and adds a bit more fat to an otherwise lean cut of pork.

 

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin with Apples and Fennel

 

For the stuffing:

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage

1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

4 slices white bread, crusts removed, cubed and lightly toasted

1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) chicken broth

 

1 boneless pork loin roast, about 2 lb. (1 kg)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 lb. (125 g) thinly sliced prosciutto

2 fennel bulbs

4 small apples, such as Granny Smith or Braeburn, halved and cored

3 shallots, halved

1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) apple cider

1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) chicken broth

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C).

 

To make the stuffing, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add onion and diced apples and cook until the onion is translucent and the apples are slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the sage, rosemary, fennel seeds, chard and a large pinch each of salt and pepper. Fold in the bread cubes and chicken broth and stir until well combined and the bread is evenly moistened. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired.

 

To assemble, butterfly the pork loin by making a slit down its length, cutting just deep enough so that the loin opens up to lie flat like a book. Do not cut all the way through. Place the butterflied pork loin on a work surface, with a long side nearest you, and season with salt and pepper. Mound the stuffing in the
center, leaving a 1-inch (2.5-cm) border uncovered on each long side. Fold the long side nearest you over the stuffing to enclose, gently pressing on the filling, then roll to form a cylinder. Starting at one end of the cylinder, wrap a slice of prosciutto around the pork loin. Repeat with the remaining prosciutto until the entire pork loin is covered with a single layer of prosciutto. Using kitchen string, tie the roll crosswise at 1-inch (2.5-cm) intervals, forming a compact cylinder.

 

Cut off the stalks and feathery fronds from the fennel bulbs. Discard the stalks and fronds or reserve for another use. Remove any damaged outer leaves from the bulbs and discard. Cut each bulb into quarters lengthwise and trim away the tough inner core.

 

In a large Dutch oven, spread the fennel, apples and shallots in a single layer. Pour the apple cider and chicken broth into the pot and add a large pinch each of salt and pepper. Place the pork on top of the fennel, apples and shallots. Roast the pork, uncovered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork registers 140°F (60°C), 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes before cutting into 1-inch (2.5-cm) slices and serving with the roasted fennel and apples alongside. Serves 6.

 

Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen

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Saturday Food Section: How to Host a Fall Picnic & More http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/food-news-september-24-2016/ http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/food-news-september-24-2016/#respond Sat, 24 Sep 2016 15:00:33 +0000 http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/?p=40910 Welcome to the (extra long) weekend. Now’s the time to settle into a laid-back rhythm and catch up on all this week’s food news on the web. For ... read more

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fall-picnic

Welcome to the (extra long) weekend. Now’s the time to settle into a laid-back rhythm and catch up on all this week’s food news on the web. For your perusal, here’s a curated selection of stories that we’ve been reading this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Migas http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/migas/ http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/migas/#comments Sat, 24 Sep 2016 12:00:15 +0000 http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/?p=40724 Spain’s national dish is always said to be paella, but migas are also a favorite of Spaniards. This humblest of foods was invented by the ... read more

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Migas

Spain’s national dish is always said to be paella, but migas are also a favorite of Spaniards. This humblest of foods was invented by the shepherds who still roam the plains of Castile with their flocks, making good use of less-than-fresh bread for a rustic meal cooked over an open fire. Nowadays migas (“crumbs”) are a popular breakfast dish—try them as part of a hearty mid-morning brunch. You’ll need to sprinkle the bread with water and let it sit overnight, so prep this dish tonight and serve it for a leisurely brunch tomorrow. The bread used shouldn’t be fresh, but not quite hard either—somewhere in between.

 

Migas

 

1 lb. (500 g) day-old country bread, crusts removed

Fine sea salt

10 Tbs. (5 fl. oz./150 ml) olive oil

8 garlic cloves, unpeeled

7 oz. (220 g) pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 tsp. pimentón (Spanish smoked pepper)

4 eggs

 

The day before serving, break the bread with your fingers into roughly shaped dice of 1/2 to 1 scant inch (12 mm to 2.5 cm) and spread on a tray. Sprinkle a little salted water over, cover with a kitchen towel and let stand overnight.

 

In a large, wide fry pan, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over high heat. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves and the pancetta and fry until the pancetta is crisp and browned, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl. Add the bell pepper to the pan and fry until beginning to blister, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the garlic and pancetta.

 

Add 6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) olive oil to the pan. Have ready 1 cup (250 ml) water. When the oil is hot, add the bread pieces, tossing them quickly in the oil and using your fingers to sprinkle them with water from time to time. The aim is to ensure the migas achieve a uniform golden brown without burning or drying excessively. Finally, return the garlic, pancetta and bell pepper to the pan and season with 1/2 tsp. salt and the pimentón. Toss everything together until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn out onto a serving platter.

 

In a small nonstick fry pan, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Fry the eggs one by one until cooked to your liking. Serve the migas with the fried eggs on top. Serves 4.

 

Rustic Spanish Cookbook Cover

 

 

Find more than 100 recipes for the simple, unassuming, and satisfying food of the Spanish countryside in Rustic Spanish by Paul Richardson.

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These Fall Desserts Are the Excuse You Needed to Stay in and Bake This Weekend http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/best-fall-desserts/ http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/best-fall-desserts/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2016 20:15:51 +0000 http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/?p=40903 TGIF—and welcome to your first fall weekend. Get into the spirit of a new season by staying in, getting cozy on the couch with a ... read more

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Apple-Shaped Apple Pie

TGIF—and welcome to your first fall weekend. Get into the spirit of a new season by staying in, getting cozy on the couch with a movie or a page-turning book, and bookmarking these fall desserts, all of which give you just the excuse you need to stay in and bake something warm.

 

Baked Spiced ApplesBaked Spiced Apples

 

Not every baked dessert has to have a buttery, flaky crust in order to be satisfying. Case in point: these whole apples that are stuffed with a cranberry-pecan mixture, then baked until soft and fragrant before serving.

 

Apple-Shaped Apple PieApple-Shaped Apple Pie

 

America’s most iconic dessert is popular year-round, but it particularly screams fall when baked in a bright red apple-shaped dish.

 

Fig Tart with Mascarpone and PistachiosFig Tart with Mascarpone and Pistachios

 

Your guests will never guess how easy it is to prepare this gorgeous tart. It’s the perfect finish to a meal in September, during fresh figs’ fleeting season.

 

Classic Pumpkin PieClassic Pumpkin Pie

 

It wouldn’t be fall without pumpkin—and everybody loves pumpkin more when it’s engulfed in a flaky, short piecrust. This is the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen’s foolproof pumpkin pie recipe.

 

Lemon-Olive Oil Cake with Poached PearsLemon-Olive Oil Cake with Poached Pears

 

The bright flavor of lemon contrasts nicely with the richness of olive oil in this dessert, which is paired with red wine-poached pears.

 

 

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Rye in Your Britches http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/smoked-bourbon-cocktail/ http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/smoked-bourbon-cocktail/#respond Fri, 23 Sep 2016 12:00:34 +0000 http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/?p=40722 James Beard award–winning bartender Charles Joly is also co-founder of Crafthouse Cocktails, which makes the smoking box you will need to give this drink its smoky flavor. ... read more

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Rye in Your Britches

James Beard award–winning bartender Charles Joly is also co-founder of Crafthouse Cocktails, which makes the smoking box you will need to give this drink its smoky flavor. When making this cocktail, seek out a milk stout, which is a little sweeter and creamier than other varieties. In a pinch, however, an
imperial stout will do.

 

Rye in Your Britches

 

2 oz. (60 ml) Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Whiskey

3/4 oz. (20 ml) Cherry Heering

1 dash Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters

2 oz. (60 ml) stout, preferably milk stout

Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish

 

In a mixing glass, combine the bourbon, Cherry Heering and bitters. Fill the glass with ice and stir until the ingredients are well chilled. Slowly pour in the stout and stir gently to combine. Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice and garnish with the nutmeg.

 

Using a Crafthouse Cocktail Smoking Box according to the manufacturer’s instructions, smoke the
cocktail using cedar chips until the desired amount of smokiness is achieved. Serve immediately. Makes 1 drink.

 

Recipe courtesy of Charles Joly of Crafthouse Cocktails

 

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It’s Officially Fall! Here Are 8 Foods to Get You in the Spirit http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/best-fall-recipes/ http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/best-fall-recipes/#comments Thu, 22 Sep 2016 21:30:02 +0000 http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/?p=40893 Today isn’t any old Wednesday—it also marks the first day of fall. Although autumn often gets overshadowed by its predecessor, summer, there are so many incredible ... read more

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Fall Pumpkin

Today isn’t any old Wednesday—it also marks the first day of fall. Although autumn often gets overshadowed by its predecessor, summer, there are so many incredible things to look forward to when it reappears each year, from the saturated yellow, orange and red colors in nature to pumpkin spiced espresso drinks and the return of apple season (and fresh apple cider).

 

Whether you’ve been counting down the days ’til the season starts or you’re reluctant to part ways with warm weather, we’ve got eight recipe ideas that are sure to get your ramped up for the season ahead. Which will you make?

 

#1: Crispy Roasted Potatoes with Thyme

Crispy Roasted Potatoes with Thyme

Who would’ve thought that four simple ingredients could produce a dish with such amazing flavor? Crispy, buttery and aromatic with fresh thyme, these potatoes are the perfect partner for everything from the roast chicken to grilled meats and fish. If you p, substitute fresh sage or rosemary for the thyme.

 

#2: Butternut Squash Ravioli

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage and Browned Butter

Incredibly delicious and perhaps the fastest sauce you’ll ever make, sage-infused brown butter is a great accompaniment to this ravioli, which can also be made with sweet potatoes or carrots instead of the butternut squash. The uncooked ravioli can be frozen; when ready to serve them, place the frozen ravioli directly in boiling water, as directed, and increase the boiling time by about 2 minutes.

 

#3: Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin-soup

The best part about this recipe is that it uses almost the entire pumpkin, and the seeds from the pumpkin are roasted to use for the garnish. Pack leftover toasted pumpkin seeds in your lunch box for a fun treat.

#4: Apple Galettes with Salted Caramel

Apple Galettes with Salted Caramel

A generous measure of salt heightens the seductive buttery flavor of the caramel that tops these rustic tartlets. The result is a deep caramel essence that pairs perfectly with the lemony apples and flaky crust.

 

#5: Roast Chicken and Vegetables with Fall Spices

Roast Chicken and Vegetables with Fall Spices

The warm flavors of cumin, coriander and sweet paprika simple scream fall. By roasting chicken in pieces instead of whole, you can speed up the cooking time; this dinner comes together in just 30 minutes! Toss lettuce with mustard vinaigrette for a refreshing counterpoint to the richness of this dish.

 

#6: Cheddar and Hard Cider Soup with Fresh Shallots

Cheddar and Hard Cider Soup

Apples and cheddar cheese are a classic pairing of tart and sharp flavors. Here, this classic combo tastes even better, as it’s matched with thinly slivered shallot rings that have taken a dive into hot oil to create a crispy, crunch topping. Serve a crisp, lightly dressed salad on the side, and ready yourself for the compliments from your dinner guests.

 

#7: Roasted Pumpkin with Garlic, Sweet Potatoes and Cherry Tomatoes 

pumpkin

This medley of roasted vegetables transitions between the seasons with summer’s last tomatoes and autumn’s first root vegetables and firm squashes. If you’ve never combined maple syrup and olive oil before, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Garnish the dish with toasted pumpkin seeds and serve over farro if you like. There is plenty of extra jus to moisten the grains.

 

#8: Bucatini with Bacon, Kale and Winter Squash

Bucatini with Bacon Kale and Winter Squash

 

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Sharpen Your Knife Skills in Williams-Sonoma Stores This Weekend http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/williams-sonoma-knife-skills-classes/ http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/williams-sonoma-knife-skills-classes/#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 15:00:27 +0000 http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/?p=40890 Whether your specialty is salads, steaks, spaghetti or something else, there’s one skill set everyone needs to master in the kitchen: knife skills. Join us ... read more

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Williams-Sonoma Knife Skills Classes

Whether your specialty is salads, steaks, spaghetti or something else, there’s one skill set everyone needs to master in the kitchen: knife skills. Join us in our stores this Sunday, September 25, for our free technique class focused on mastering the art of chopping, slicing and dicing like a pro.

 

If you don’t know even the basics of cutlery, fear not: We’ll cover the essentials, including the proper way to hold a knife and how to hone it. Then the instructor will prepare a simple recipe using your cut-up ingredients. We’ll also offer complimentary knife sharpening services!

 

A few other things to note:

 

  • These hour-long classes are FREE and include tastings of prepared dishes.
  • Participants enjoy 10% savings on select same-day purchases (exceptions apply).
  • Available in all stores; class times may vary by location.
  • Class sizes are also limited, so be sure to register with your local store.

See all of our upcoming classes and events here.

 

 

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Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Meringues http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/chocolate-dipped-hazelnut-meringues/ http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/chocolate-dipped-hazelnut-meringues/#comments Thu, 22 Sep 2016 12:00:14 +0000 http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/?p=40719 Chocolate and hazelnuts are a classic pairing in Italy, where you will see blocks of chocolate studded with the nuts in every shop and chocolate-hazelnut gelato ... read more

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Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Meringues

Chocolate and hazelnuts are a classic pairing in Italy, where you will see blocks of chocolate studded with the nuts in every shop and chocolate-hazelnut gelato sold in every gelateria. Here the combo puts a decidedly Italian spin on light, airy meringues.

 

Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Meringues

 

4 egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

1 cup (7 oz./220 g) superfine sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups (6 oz./185 g) hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and coarsely chopped

5 oz. (155 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 Tbs. vegetable oil

 

Position 2 racks in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 275°F (135°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat on medium speed until foamy. Sprinkle in the salt. Raise the speed to high and beat in the sugar, 1 Tbs. at a time. Beat in the vanilla. At this point, the egg whites should hold stiff, glossy peaks that curl at the tips. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold in the hazelnuts.

 

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of the meringue onto the prepared baking sheets. (If you want more uniformly shaped meringues, spoon the meringue into a pastry bag and pipe it onto the parchment-lined pans.)

 

Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake until the edges of the meringues are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the meringues in the oven for 30 minutes without opening the oven door. Remove the baking sheets from the oven. Using a spatula, gently transfer the meringues to wire racks to cool completely. Reserve the parchment-lined baking sheets; you will use them after you dip the meringues in chocolate.

 

Put the chocolate in the top of a double boiler and set over (but not touching) barely simmering water. Heat, stirring, until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the oil. Remove from the heat.

 

Carefully pick up a meringue and dip the bottom into the hot chocolate, letting the excess drip off. Set the meringue, chocolate side down, on a reserved parchment-lined baking sheet. Dip the remaining meringues into the chocolate in the same way. Place in the freezer until the chocolate sets, about 5 minutes. Store the meringues in airtight containers, using a sheet of parchment paper to separate the layers, at room
temperature for up to 1 week. Makes about 40 cookies.

 

 

rustic italian cover`

 

Find more recipes like this one in our enticing collection of authentic
dishes made modern, Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti.

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Easiest Weeknight Pasta (and More!) from Martha Stewart’s Latest Cookbook http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/martha-stewarts-vegetables-cookbook-recipes/ http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/martha-stewarts-vegetables-cookbook-recipes/#respond Wed, 21 Sep 2016 22:50:19 +0000 http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/?p=40840   The seasonal eating movement has taken the world by storm, and there’s no better expert than cooking and gardening guru Martha Stewart to put together ... read more

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Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Tomatoes

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Tomatoes

 

The seasonal eating movement has taken the world by storm, and there’s no better expert than cooking and gardening guru Martha Stewart to put together a definitive guide to eating with the seasons. In her latest, Martha Stewart’s Vegetables, she and the editors of Martha Stewart Living offer more than 150 vegetable-forward recipes (many of which are meatless) that highlight the flavors and textures of every vegetable at the market.

 

Below is an preview of two recipes from the new book. If you’re loving the dishes you see here, then be sure to join us at your local store on Wednesday, September 21 for our September cookbook club event, which, for $75 per person, includes a culinary demonstration of three recipes from the book. On the menu: Braised Chicken and Brussels Sprouts, Mrs. Kostyra’s Mashed Potatoes and Potato Dinner Rolls. You’ll get a generous tasting of all the recipes prepared, and go home with your own copy of the cookbook plus plenty of kitchen tips. Get in touch with your local store for more details.


Martha Stewarts Vegetables

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Tomatoes

 

Serves 6

 

For this pasta dish, broccoli rabe and orecchiette are cooked together in one pot. You could stop there, and simply finish with a drizzle of olive oil and some finely grated Pecorino Romano, but it’s exceptionally good tossed with an all-star Italian sauce of anchovies, garlic, capers, and tomatoes, and topped with golden toasted breadcrumbs.

 

extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1½ cups plain fresh breadcrumbs

Coarse salt

4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons capers, preferably salt-packed, rinsed, drained, and chopped

1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes

1 pound orecchiette

1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

 

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium. Add breadcrumbs and season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer breadcrumbs to a plate.

 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in pan over medium. Add anchovies and stir until they dissolve into oil, about 1 minute. Add garlic and capers, and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, red-pepper flakes, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Raise heat to medium high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down, about 5 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until pasta is al dente, according to package instructions, adding broccoli rabe 2 minutes before end of pasta cooking time. Reserve ¼ cup pasta water, and drain pasta and broccoli rabe.

 

Add pasta, broccoli rabe, and reserved pasta water to tomato mixture in pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring gently, until combined and liquid thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, top with breadcrumbs, and serve immediately.

Clam Pan Roast with Fennel and Sausage

clam-pan-roast

Clam Pan Roast

 

Serves 6

 

Many of the seafood stews of the world—bouillabaisse, cioppino, and caldeirada de peixe (from Portugal), among others—all share a common ingredient: fennel. Essentially a creamy stew, the shellfish pan roast is most famously made with oysters, but clams are just as traditional, and often appear in combination with sausage; we include two types, sweet Italian and kielbasa. Pernod and tarragon add more licorice flavor.

 

1 garlic clove, minced

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed

¼ pound kielbasa, cut into ½-inch cubes

12 small red potatoes, halved

3 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

1 small leek, cut into ¼-inch rounds, rinsed well

¼ cup Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur

1½ cups bottled clam juice (unsalted)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2½ pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed

2 large tomatoes, cut into 8 wedges each

¼ cup tarragon leaves

 

Cook garlic and Italian sausage in a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat, stirring and breaking up meat with a spoon, until sausage is no longer pink, about 5 minutes; transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Cook kielbasa until crisp, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Add to bowl.

 

Arrange potatoes in pan, cut side down; cook until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip potatoes; cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Scatter fennel over potatoes. Cook until fennel is tender, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.

 

Add leek, Pernod, and clam juice. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Return sausage mixture to pan; stir to combine. Add clams, cover, and cook 5 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook, covered, until clams open, about 8 minutes.

 

Discard any unopened clams and remove pan from heat. Stir in tarragon and serve.

 

TIP

To clean clams, rinse them under cold running water and scrub the shells with a stiff sponge or vegetable brush. Discard any that are chipped or open.


Excerpted from the book Martha Stewart’s Vegetables: Inspired Recipes and Tips for Choosing, Cooking, and Enjoying the Freshest Seasonal Flavors from the editors of Martha Stewart Living. Copyright © 2016 by Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Inc. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Ngoc Minh Ngo and others. Reprinted with permission of Clarkson Potter. All rights reserved.

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Five Pro Tips from Nashville’s Best Pastry Chefs http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/pastry-chef-tips/ http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/pastry-chef-tips/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 22:30:39 +0000 http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/?p=40873 The scene in the Williams-Sonoma Pastry Tent at Music City Food + Wine this past weekend was like the best bake sale you’ve ever seen: ... read more

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The scene in the Williams-Sonoma Pastry Tent at Music City Food + Wine this past weekend was like the best bake sale you’ve ever seen: Renowned chefs from some of Nashville’s best restaurants and bakeries each brought hundreds of samples of their favorite desserts to share with the crowd. While they were piping, slicing and serving we asked them for some of their best tips for home bakers. These are the ones that are bound to change your baking forever.

Bake Instagram-Worthy Bundt Cakes

yve_3177

Chef Kayla May of Nashville made one of the most popular treats in the pastry tent—show-stopping pistachio Bundt cakes that were featured on Food & Wine magazine’s Instagram. Each one (and, trust us, there were a lot…) had sharp, flawless details and a perfect glaze. So how’d she do it?

 

“I tested my cakes by coating the Nordic Ware Heritage Mini Bundt Pans three different ways—one with no pan spray, one with an oil-based spray, and one with an oil-based spray followed by flour,” says Kayla. “I found the last option worked best—the cakes literally fell right out of the pans.” (You could also use a flour-based baking spray like Bak-Klene for similar results.) Then, once she prepared her pans for baking, she used a piping bag to pipe the batter into the pans. “I’ve found that is the fastest and most accurate way to portion small bundt cakes.”

Whip Up the Best Homemade Whipped Cream

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Chef Charles Hunter III of The Salted Table finished his smoked sweet potato pies with a swirl of whipped cream, which he made right in the tent using the new copper Kitchen Aid. Instead of using granulated sugar—or even fine baking sugar—Charles used confectioners’ sugar (also known as powdered sugar) to sweeten his whipped cream. “The confectioners’ sugar makes the cream a little bit stiffer and helps it hold its shape,” he explained. The tiny bit of cornstarch in the sugar makes the final result a bit stiffer, perfect for piping as Charles did atop his pie. Be sure to add the powdered sugar in after you’ve whipped the cold cream a bit, to ensure the cornstarch is activated.

Use Wedding Cake Techniques for Everyday Decorating

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Putting fresh flowers and greenery on a cake is a major wedding trend, but when Juanita Lane from Dulce Desserts demonstrated how to do, we wondered why we weren’t using this trick to garnish our everyday desserts—it’s so simple! First she starts with a bouquet of fresh flowers from her local florist. She trims off the entire stem, so the bottom leaves of the flower are revealed. Then she pushes a toothpick into the sturdy base of the flower and inserts that toothpick into the cake to secure it. “Toothpicks are firmer than flower stems, so they will keep flowers from drooping,” says Juanita. Plus, since you aren’t actually putting the step in your cake, you don’t have to worry about searching out special food-grade flowers; you can use your favorite blooms instead.

Foolproof Your Pavlovas, Even in Humidity

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When we ordered dessert at City House, a buzzy Nashville restaurant where chef Rebekah Turshen helms the pastry program, we were in awe of the pavlova, which came out light and crisp despite the humid Southern weather. Moisture is the enemy of meringue because it can cause the dessert to “weep,” or dispel water that creates a pooling or condensation on the dessert. So, when we spotted Rebekah dishing out desserts at our tent the next day, we had to ask her for her tips.
“Making a foolproof meringue starts with step one,” she pointed out. Whisk your egg whites on high until they are “white, opaque, and briefly hold a line as the whisk goes through” before you even start adding sugar, she advises. Having perfectly-whipped whites form the very beginning helps to stabilize the whole meringue, no matter the weather.

Master the Macaron

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Pastry chef Mayme Gretsch of Utterly Nashville brought another show-stopping sweet: salted dark chocolate macarons topped with flecks of edible gold. Macarons are finicky and labor-intensive, so bringing hundreds of them was the ultimate pastry chef power move. Is it something the home cook could attempt?
“Macarons are definitely a challenge to master,” Mayme admits. “I think it’s okay to fail a few times so you can really learn from your mistakes.” To speed up that learning process, try baking with a marked macaron baking mat to use as a guide for even, consistent piping. And avoid the ultimate beginner’s mistake of being impatient. Be sure to let your macarons dry for 30 minutes to an hour before baking, which helms them develop the kind of crisp outer shell that differentiates a beginner’s attempt from a pastry chef-approved macaron.

What are your best pointers for baking bundt cakes, macarons, pavlovas and other desserts? If you have any tips, do share them with the rest of us below.

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