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Cookbook of the Month for November 2012: The Union Square Cafe Cookbooks

We've got two books this month, "The Union Square Cafe Cookbook" and its sequel, "Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe" both by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano.
I have the first one, looks like classy New York fare to me! And soup lovers please note the eight soups in the book -- I'd say every one is unique.

On November 1st I'll put up threads for your thoughts on the recipes.

For anyone who'd like to know more about Cookbook of the Month (COTM) look here:

And the voting thread for November is here:

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  1. Can those of you who own these books and have recommendations of favorite recipes post your recommendations here.

    25 Replies
    1. re: dkennedy

      I second this request. Also, if you own both, which do you prefer and why?

      1. re: LulusMom

        me too, would love to hear people's favorites. I just ordered the original from amazon for $0.24 (+3.99 shipping) so looking forward to participating.

        1. re: greeneggsnham

          I did the same, I think mine cost .34 + shipping!

          1. re: Westminstress

            $3.98 Union Square
            $4.27 Second helpings

            including shipping on www.abebooks.com
            my copy of union square was also signed by the authors

      2. re: dkennedy

        The Union Square Cookbook arrived at casa Gio in August and subsequently three recipes have been cooked:
        1) Herb-Roasted Chicken, page 170
        2) Herbed Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions, page 264
        3) Peach and Fig Chutney, page 261

        1) A variety of vegetables are strewn around the chicken in the roasting pan - onions, celery, carrots (I included a few Yukon Golds as well) - and herbs such as tarragon, thyme and parsley are roasted with the veggies.
        2) A tasty rendition of the ubiquitous potato salad with a vinaigrette dressing instead of mayo. I omitted the bacon and the salad was still delicious.
        3) Nectarines were subbed for the peaches in this tangy chutney and in retrospect I think any seasonal fruit can be used. It was very easy to make and produced a not-too-sweet, not-too spicy condiment suitable for a wide variety of applications.

        I'm looking forward to cooking more enticing recipes such as:
        Braised escarole and white beans with tomatoes, mushrooms, and Pecorino,
        Carrot-red lentil soup with Asian spices,
        Crab-meat frittata with tomatoes and herbs,
        Seared curried whitefish with raïta,
        Roast lemon-pepper duck with red wine vinegar sauce (which may become my Thanksgiving bird this year),
        Pumpkin bread pudding...

        1. re: dkennedy

          Bought the first book only recently so all I've made from it so far are the famous Bar Nuts. They were quickly consumed with cocktails by everyone except one dear friend who can't stand anything even the least bit spicy. And believe me; these were only the least bit spicy. But one of the reasons I bought the book was for their equally famous Tuna Salad, which I've had at the restaurant many times and am very eager to try at home.

          1. re: JoanN

            Well, dang, now I have to have that tuna salad! I see Gio's provided a link below. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8744... Sounds delicious!

            And here seems to be the bar nuts recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ni...

            ETA: Oh! I see blueroom already linked to the nuts recipe. Easy to import to pepperplate I might add!


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Now that you mention it, I did hear that the tuna sandwich was suppose to be fantastic.

              BTW, we have Mix, Shake, Stir, the cocktail book put out by Danny Meyer's of Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park and Tabla. I plan on making cocktails out of it to accompany my US endeavors and will report back about how they turn out. So far, we have tried 3 recipes from this book and really like them.

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Make sure you go to the Food.com site for the full recipes... aioli, poached tuna, and tuna salad:

                Also, if anyone is interested, the Monterey Bay Seawatch advises yellowfin from the Pacific or Atlantic are the best choice. Not yellowfin caught worldwide.

                1. re: Gio

                  Here's a link for the aioli, poached tuna and tuna salad from food.com that will import directly into pepperplate (for some reason it won't work via yummly). http://www.food.com/recipe/union-squa...

                  Also, from Epicurious:

                  Chili and sage rubbed salmon (from second helpings)

                  And Food and Wine:

                  Seared Salmon with Sweet Corn, shiitakes and spinach

                  Sautéed shrimp Goan style (second helpings)

                  marble fudge brownies


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    We're on vacation and I don't have the cookbooks with me. I'm making the Seared Salmon with Sweet Corn to which TDQ so kindly post the link. If anyone can tell me which book and which page this recipe is on, I will post my results.

                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                      This is in the Union Square Cookbook p. 140.

                      1. re: BigSal

                        Thanks so much BigSal! I just posted my results.

              2. re: JoanN

                I was looking at the Chicken Salad "Deluxe" too -- and the Biscotti.

                It make me crazy that ahem some of you can have dinner @ Union Square Cafe any ol' time!

                1. re: blue room

                  You know, I've been to USC many times, but I don't think I've ever once been for dinner. It was something of a publishing lunch hangout for quite a few years. May well still be. I realized as I was going through the cookbook that most of what I had eaten at the restaurant was lunch, not dinner, food.

              3. re: dkennedy

                We have the first Union Square cookbook and after eating the Filet Mignon of Tuna at the restaurant, that recipe became one of our favorites. After marinating the tuna, and cooking rare as specified, the tuna becomes as rich and delicious as the finest cut of beef. The difficult part is getting a piece of tuna cut into the cube that is recommended, but it's worth finding a fish monger who will do that.

                1. re: roxlet

                  I don't know why I passed over that recipe before, but I'm sold. This one's going into pepperplate. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/un...


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Thanks for that link TDQ. Even though I've bought the books, I want this one and it's ingredients list on my phone!

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      I want to eat this; love that the USC x2 has so much tuna focus. Love rare, delish tuna....

                2. re: dkennedy

                  And, I have a crazy request but can you tell me what colors are on the binding, or share a picture of the binding? I'm pretty sure I have this cookbook but I can't seem to find it. Yes, there are just that many cookbooks to look through!

                  1. re: MplsM ary

                    Which book, the orig or second helpings?

                    The orig looks green with a little of the cover art showing in this pic: http://www.newyorkfirst.com/gifts/the...

                    Another pic of the spine, also a pic second helpings which is hard to see--white with 2 red stripes perhaps? http://www.unionsquarecafe.com/imgs/f...


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Thanks, TDQ. I *knew* I had this, and I DO! Whoopee! 10 years ago I had to cull the many thousands of cookbooks of my mother's to fit into a condo, but I was sure I kept this.

                      When I opened the book just now, it flipped straight to Grilled Marinated Filet Mignon of Tuna. Sometimes the little things really make me miss my mom.

                      1. re: MplsM ary

                        I've more than once wished I had a picture of a book's spine, rather than front cover -- that color is the quickest route to the book.

                        1. re: MplsM ary

                          Maybe making stuff from the book can be sort of a tribute to your mom. I hope so.

                  2. I, for one, am excited. This is my favorite restaurant on the planet and I own both books, yet I don't always pull them down. It will be fun to see what everyone thinks. Re the question above, I don't have a favorite between the two.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Tom P

                      FYI, there are several recipes on EYB with notations for USC, only 1 so far for 2nd helpings.

                    2. There are some Union Square recipes are online, from various sources. Here (scroll down) are a few for soup,

                      and nuts.


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: blue room

                        Here are more links to Union Square Cafe recipes:


                        Pumpkin Bread Pudding

                        Marinated Filet Mignon of Tuna

                        Tuna Club Sandwich

                        Lamb Chops Scotta Dita

                        Creamy Polenta with Mascarpone

                        The following recipes are Danny Meyers' ...
                        Wine-Braised Veal Shanks
                        Butternut Squash, Swiss Chard and Apple Risotto
                        Chestnut and Armagnac-Poached Prune Tarts
                        Arugula and Chanterelle Salad with Vacherin Croutons

                        1. re: Gio

                          I've had the tuna burger there, and it is so good.

                          1. re: Gio

                            Thank you, Gio!
                            And thanks for the Monterey Bay information, it's important.

                        2. So much for my resolve; just bought both! One used, the second one new. Getting the first one on kindle wouldn't really have saved me much over the hardback (it would, however, have saved me some increasingly valuable shelf space).

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: LulusMom

                            That's not resolve, it's dissolve. I have oceans of that too.

                            1. re: blue room

                              And the crazy thing is, I'll probably not have as much time to cook next month as normal (which was the same situation this month ... and last!) because of travel, etc. But I just know these books will end up being worth having.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                I know, I have this background feeling that a book begins and ends with the COTM month -- which is of course silly.

                          2. Both of these books have about 100 pages available on Google books and are indexed by EYB. I scrolled through all of the recipes on EYB and did a google search for all of the recipes that appealed to me. I was able to find many of them online and import them into Pepperplate. Food and Wine has a ton of the recipes, as well as a bunch of USC recipes not in the book--I imported all of the ones that said "fast" whlie I was at it. Once they were all in pepperplate, I bookmarked them all cotm and "union square cafe" so I can find them. Ironically, many of the recipes I've tagged are soup recipes! I guess I was inspired by all of the soup talking during the noms and voting.

                            We'll see how it goes. Sounds like it's a going to be (another) delicious month. Lots of these recipes seem very Thanksgiving'ish, too.


                            1. Just bought a copy of Second Helpings for .01 cents plus shipping.

                              1. Just got a copy of USC for $1 plus shipping on abebooks - seems like Second Helpings is about the same price there but I'll wait to see if I like the first one.

                                This is exciting! It's so much easier to be motivated to try new recipes from a book with other people involved in the same.

                                1. I acquired Second Helpings fairly recently, and had hardly had time to look at it, let alone cook from it. But during my perusal, I was checking off so many recipes that I want to try, I decided to order the first one also. I got it from Better World Books for $4.48 with free shipping.

                                  I can only hope I have more time to cook next month. I've been so overwhelmed with work, my cooking and reporting have greatly suffered for a while now. November is sure to be better!

                                  1. For those of you who have these books already -- if I were to only acquire one, which one should it be?

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: geekmom

                                      I don't have the answer to this as I haven't had a chance to look at the books yet, but I was looking for used versions and found that biblio.com has quite a few copies of both USC books for under $5 a piece. There is one seller that I really like through that website, betterworldbooks, as they ship to Canada for a $2 flat rate. Plus, biblio has a promotion right now for 10% off orders.....though, I'm sure, like the rest of us, you have enough cookbooks and really don't need anyone egging you on for additional purchases!

                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                        Oooh thanks for the tip about the cheap shipping to Canada, Allegra_K!! I will go there. And my husband would probably agree that I don't need anyone egging me on as I have acquired a really ludicrous number of cookbooks in the past 6 mos & have several on order at the cookbook store...

                                      2. re: geekmom

                                        my copy of second helpings has not arrived-

                                        both were not expensive

                                        1. re: geekmom

                                          Just got both from the Library and both were familiar- probably took them out when they were new. I remember finding the black and white picture essays in Second Helpings as odd at the time and now I find them annoying- they are page turning exercises of little vignettes about the customers that were taken by a friend of the authors. They are distracting IMHO and getting dated rapidly. I would much rather look at pictures of the recipes so I would buy the first book.

                                          1. re: Berheenia

                                            Thanks, this is helpful. I decided to order the first book & hold off on getting the second one, for now...

                                        2. I'm looking forward to the recipe threads. I've owned this book for years and can't recall ever cooking from it.

                                          1. I pulled both of them out of the library last night. tentatively, second helpings looked more interesting on a first pass.

                                            1. I bought the first book when it was a condender last time. It does not inspire me for some reason and wasn't temped to cook anything out of it. I will sit with book this weekend and mark a few recipes to make. Looking forward to the reporting threads and hope to be inspired by your reports :)

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: herby

                                                I have bookmarked the zuke papparadelle, herbed potato salad with bacon and scallions and the ratatouille soup ( plus the vegetable stock looks like a good opportunity to buy some harvest veg and have stock hand for other recipes at TG). Hope I make at least one of these next weekend.

                                                1. re: herby

                                                  I got the first one from the library yesterday and I am uninspired as well. Hopefully something in the second one will catch my eye. I'll be out of town for most of November anyway, but it would have been nice to make at least one thing.

                                                2. The tuna salad sandwich, btw, is mind blowing :)

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Tom P

                                                    That is going to be the first recipe I try.

                                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                                      I think it will be for me too. I am so intrigued by people raving here about something as humble-sounding as a tuna sandwich.

                                                  2. So busy that I've been MIA from the COTM lately, but excited to jump into this one. Bought Second Helpings when it first came out, have marked recipes, but have never tried one. This will be fun.

                                                    1. My copy of Union Square Cafe Cookbook arrived today. I paid 58 cents for a "used" copy on Amazon plus $3.99 shipping. Thanks to whoever it was that gave me the heads up on that one on Sunday.

                                                      I opened up the package today to find a totally brand-new copy that was autographed by both Danny Meyer and Michael Romano which I thought was very cool. I haven't finished looking through it yet (just starting the salads section) but so far I'm really liking what I'm seeing and looking forward to participating in my first COTM.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Njchicaa

                                                        You lucky duck! What a score. I look forward to hearing what you make from it!

                                                      2. my copy of second helpings arrived this afternoon

                                                        i am preparing to make this evening tuna recipe from Union Square tonite

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: jpr54_1

                                                          Still waiting for my Second Helpings...

                                                          That tuna salad seems to have a lot of interest.

                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                            the recipe is fairly simple-and many like tuna
                                                            i have the tuna marinating in meyer lemon juice,mint,lemon basil, and minced garlic/onion
                                                            this is my adaption to the recipe.

                                                            1. re: jpr54_1

                                                              the tuna fish salad sandwich was delicious-
                                                              i will definitely make this again-

                                                              for methe hardest part was making the aoili

                                                          2. re: jpr54_1

                                                            Oh! Is the tuna sandwich recipe in "Second Helpings"? I didn't order that one. Darn...

                                                            1. re: geekmom

                                                              Don't know whether it's in the second book or not, but it was originally published in the first book so if you've got that one, you've got the recipe.

                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                Thank you JoanN. I'm still waiting for my copy of the first book to arrive, and I look forward to trying this famous sandwich recipe. :-)

                                                                1. re: geekmom

                                                                  page 126
                                                                  tuna club sandwich
                                                                  The Union Square Cafe Cookbook

                                                          3. The reporting threads for these books are now up here:

                                                            And I wanted to say that though some people were not amused by the photo stories, I loved the dog!

                                                            1. I can't find the December 2012 COTM threads? Would like to nominate/vote this time around.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: SocksManly

                                                                It is too early for December threads. Give it a week or so and you will see them on the top stickied.

                                                                1. re: SocksManly

                                                                  Hi Socks: Here's a link to the December nomination thread. I think the nominations end TOMORROW Nov 15, so, hurry!