November 2012 COTM: Union Square Cafe Cookbook -- Appetizers; Salads; Soups; Sandwiches, Eggs, & Lunch Salads
Post here for these dishes:
Appetizers 1 - 68
Salads 69 - 88
Soups 89 -108
Sandwiches, Eggs, Lunch Salads 109 - 130
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Chicken Salad “Deluxe” p. 115
I made this chicken salad this weekend looking for something quick and simple. I never had chicken salad growing up and it seemed like something I should try. This salad consists of roasted chicken (purchased from the market), mayonnaise (Duke’s), grated radishes, grated carrots, sliced celery, blanched string beans, minced jalapeno, lemon, and cayenne. The salad is served on a bed of arugula and sliced tomatoes (I omitted the tomatoes) and topped with slices of pancetta that are crisped in the oven. Nothing wrong with this dish, but neither of us were crazy about it. I don’t really think it’s the fault of the recipe. We learned that neither of us really care for chicken salad. Who knew?
Chicken Salad “Deluxe” p. 114
Oh dear, again I'm disappointed with this month's books. I really didn't think chicken salad would be a problem (how could chicken salad be a problem?!) but this is uninspired. No onion, and why the green beans? The pancetta -- meh -- regular bacon would do better IMO.
Ribollita p. 104
First a minestrone soup is made of sautéed onions, garlic, celery, carrots, pancetta, zucchini, savoy cabbage, spinach (I substituted lacinato), basil, pureed and whole cannellini. I purposefully made the soup in advance so I could enjoy the day 2 flavor of the soup. Day-old cubed bread (I used the bread from My Calabria) is added to the soup and then it is simmered for 10 minutes and topped with Pecorino Romano and olive oil. This was a hearty soup- definitely a stick to your ribs meal with little meat. Although I prefer the minestrone recipe from the Gourmet cookbook, this is a satisfying and comforting meal.
Carrot-Red Lentil Soup with Asian Spices p.94
I find it amusing that I selected this Indian-inspired soup to make for lunch, despite many vehement proclamations to myself that I was tired of curry from the previous cotm, and was also rather indifferent on the subject of soup. This vegetable-laden puree did make for a comforting bowl on a cold, windy day despite my negative thoughts, and it was well-received.
Grated ginger and warm spices like cayenne, allspice, curry (garam masala for me), and coriander are cooked with butter to soften and then root veggies including parsnips, heaps of carrots, onions and celery join the rest and cook until tender but not browned. A small amount of red lentils (1/4 c-not sure why lentils are in the title, really) and basmati rice meet with the veggies and the lot is mixed with vegetable stock and simmered until cooked. The soup is then blended to a puree with a blender in several batches. I tried to use an immersion blender but it didn't obtain that velvety texture that the soup cried out for, so several messy clean-ups later (someone forgot to put the rubber ring between blade and jar) it was ready to go. Coconut milk and lime juice are stirred in until heated through.
I made this with the Vegetable Stock recipe on p.316 to fully taste the soup the way the authors intended. I found it to be a mildly spiced, rather sweet dish with a background note of coconut. The lime juice provides that necessary acidic balance. I hadn't thought far enough ahead to make bread, but I imagine hot buttered naan would be lovely. In small quantities the soup was very good, but we served it as a main and the flavour became a bit uninteresting after a while. Tasted good cold, too. Mr. A liked this very well, surprisingly since he's an avid carrot-hater. He said to put it in the do-again pile, so I guess it's a win.
Union Square's Tuna Club Sandwich
I made this dish a week ago and have been hesitating to write my review as it is not very positive. I was in New York last year for a New Year's getaway and loved this dish when I ate it at the restaurant so, naturally, it was the first recipe that jumped out at me when USC was selected as COTM. I have heard from many sources that fresh tuna poached at home makes vastly superior tuna salad but had never been inclined to try it because it seemed like an inordinate amount of work for plain old tuna salad. I mean, even before I started cooking, I had run to the fish market, the grocery store, and the bakery to prepare a tuna sandwich! Still, I was very excited about the prospect of poaching it for this recipe. The tuna is poached in a homemade stock, then allowed to cool, flaked, then the remaining ingredients and aioli are folded in. Suffice to say, I was not overly impressed with the taste of the tuna itself as it was prepared in this recipe.. It was a bit bland, maybe because it is poached in a stock base rather olive oil. I have another recipe that calls for poaching the tuna in oil so I will try that next time. We usually but our canned tuna in olive oil so maybe I am used to the rich flavor imparted by the oil. The aioli was good but not special in any way. The sandwich overall was delicious. I think adding bacon to a tuna sandwich is a great idea. I served it on a baugette toasted on the panini and the combo of the tuna, mayo, lettuce and bacon was heavenly. The last thing to note about the recipe is that it makes a ton of tuna and a ton of mayo. Next time I would 1/2 both recipes. Even if my entire family wanted seconds, there would have been too much. As it was, I threw out 3/4 of it.