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Williams-Sonoma Family Meals

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Written by Heather Jones   
Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Williams-Sonoma Family Meals by Maria Helm Sinskey (Oxmoor House, 2009) is a 2010 IACP Cookbook awards finalist in the Children, Youth and Family and the General categories. For a list of all the finalists check out the Project Foodie IACP Finalist's Guide.

Photo by Ray Kachatorian
This Cookbook award season Williams-Sonoma has not one but two cookbooks in the running. Last week we shared with you Cooking for Friends which strives to teach you how to entertain with style and ease.  Today is  Williams-Sonoma Family Meals by Maria Helm Sinskey. This is the kind of cookbook that allows everyone in the family to be in the kitchen learning and creating together.  It's my favorite type of cookbook. Some of my best childhood memories are of times  spent in the kitchen: rolling out cookie dough, pitting cherries, or peeling shrimp.  And let’s face it, if we want to start moving away from the fast food drive-thru it all starts in the home kitchen.

Author Maria Helm Sinskey is a mother and the culinary director at her family’s winery. She definitely knows about creating great family traditions.  "Family Meals" is filled with fun, simple to prepare recipes, all made from scratch, with detailed step-by-step instructions making it easier for little people to follow along.

I have found quite a few recipes that I hope to include in my repertoire. One that I love, albeit a bit out of season, is the Roasted Butternut and Bacon Pasta.  Like most parents, I have found that you can hide almost any “new to your kid” vegetable in a little pasta.  This dish is light and flavorful despite its inclusion of winter squash and sage which are heartier flavors.  This same dish would also be great in the warmer months with yellow squash and thyme instead of butternut squash and sage. 


Roasted Butternut and Bacon Pasta

Reprinted with permission from Williams-Sonoma Family Meals. Recipe by Maria Helm Sinskey; photograph by Ray Kachatorian. Copyright 2008 by Weldon Owen Inc. and Williams-Sonoma, Inc. 

I like the way this sauce pools in the concave pasta rounds known as orecchiette, or "little ears."  The sweet roasted squash-a perfect foil for the salty bacon-breaks down a little when it is tossed with the pasta, making the sauce taste really creamy and oh-so-exquisite. This is a favorite dish for serving at causal get-togethers with our friends-it's both impressive and warming, especially on a chilly evening.

  • 1 butternut squash, about 1½ lb (750 g), halved, seeded, peeled, and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • ½ cup (2 oz/60 g) diced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ lb (250 g) orecchiette, penne, or fusilli
  • 4 slices thick-cut apple wood-smoked bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ cup (1½ oz/45 g) pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • ½ cup (2 oz/60 g) grated Parmesan

serves 4-6

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the squash, onion, and oil, then spread it in a single layer. Cut 1 tablespoon of the butter into bits and dot the squash evenly. Season with salt and pepper.
Roast, rotating the pan front to back about halfway through cooking, until the squash and onion are golden and tender, about 45 minutes.

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) of the cooking water. Cover the pasta to keep it hot.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and sauté until most of its fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp on the edges but still chewy at the center, about 4-5 minutes. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat and return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the sage and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts.

Add the hot pasta, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) of the hot pasta water and stir to combine. If the pasta seems dry, stir in a little more pasta water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Serve right away.

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.


Last Updated ( Monday, 26 April 2010 )
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