I was delighted to be invited along as a guest to a Williams-Sonoma Christmas Cooking School last week. I didn’t feel at all Christmassy prior to this event, so it was great to go along and get in the Christmas spirit and learn some great tips for making a sensational traditional turkey spread with all the trimmings plus a delicious Pumpkin Pie.
We were lucky enough to receive some lovely Christmas goodies when we arrived including this gorgeous ceramic owl from West Elm, the pretty vintage tree decorations from Pottery Barn Kids and the jeweled sphere placecard holders from Pottery Barn.
Plus we each had our own very chic WS black apron personalised with our names.
The menu consisted of Stuffed Turkey Breast filled with Pancetta and Sage stuffing, with Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce and Creamy Mashed potato, then traditional Pumpkin Pie to finish. The two amazing chefs managed to prepare and cook all these recipes in about 1.5 hrs (except for boning the turkey), so there’s no reason to spend all Christmas Day slaving in the kitchen if you don’t have to.
The Pancetta and Sage Stuffing, was absolutely delectable. Made using the key ingredients of sourdough breadcrumbs, pancetta, sage and pine nuts. For the recipes visit the Georgica Pond Blog Facebook page here.
Once all the ingredients were cooked in the pan, a portion was added to the turkey breast which was rolled and tied up with string. The rest was put in a baking dish with dollops of butter and baked in the oven which made the crust lovely and crunchy.
The Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce was a delicious sweet addition to the turkey, with aromatic spices such as cinnamon and cloves which give a distinctly Christmas twist and make it much more interesting and flavoursome than cranberry sauce from a jar. See recipe on FB.
Although I usually cook crunchy roast potatoes on Christmas Day, which they recommended you cook in a mixture of hot duck fat and olive oil, for this menu we watched them prepare a simple but heavenly creamy mashed potato. The secret to the great taste is using waxy Dutch potatoes, which were put through a ricer or food mill, to get a silky smooth consistency. But the cream and butter that was added was melted before putting in the mash. So it wasn’t added cold. This can shock the potatoes which apparently are quite a fragile vegetable.
The turkey breast was roasted in the oven and when carved revealed the gorgeous stuffing within.
The meal was served with a piece of roast pumpkin which was prepared while making the Pumpkin Pie and drizzled with maple syrup before being roasted. The gravy was made from the pan juices of the turkey. I feel a little like a cheat having had this treat before Christmas Day, as it’s usually a meal we only eat once a year in Australia, so it was very indulgent having it before Christmas, but it was sublime.
I don’t have a sweet tooth, so I don’t usually pay that much attention to the dessert side of things, and I had never had Pumpkin Pie before. But this was quite a taste sensation. Although I’d rather save the calories for another glass of bubbly or a few more roast potatoes – truth be told !
The WS cooking school kitchen is a feast for the eyes, brimming with shiny tools, cooking paraphernalia and edibles. It makes you want to be a better and more well equipped cook. I did find it inspiring and motivating.
Then for a quick zip around the stores for some Christmas inspiration. I thought these Christmas cushions and doona cover for kids were very cute in PBK. Lovely to bring out as a special treat at Christmas time.
A bit of sparkle and shine. Loved this lamp from West Elm.
The table decorations at WS were beautiful and traditionally festive with lots of red and green, tartan, pine and silver. I was inspired to think about doing the traditional red and white for my Christmas decorating this year, having done all blue last year. I think it might suit the country setting we will have a little better.
Another American Christmas tradition I hadn’t tried before, again because my sweet tooth doesn’t lead me in this direction, is Peppermint Bark – which is dark and white chocolate topped with crushed peppermint candy canes. I imagine if you like chocolate with a touch of mint then this is mouthwatering stuff, and from what I hear WS has some of the best.