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November 2012 COTM: Union Square Cafe Cookbook -- Appetizers; Salads; Soups; Sandwiches, Eggs, & Lunch Salads

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Appetizers 1 - 68
Salads 69 - 88
Soups 89 -108
Sandwiches, Eggs, Lunch Salads 109 - 130

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  1. 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?

    3 Replies
    1. re: BigSal

      I grew up with chicken salad and don't care for it - it isn't just you. I love tuna salad, but there is just something about chicken salad that makes me think "eh."

      1. re: BigSal

        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.

      2. 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.

        1. Penne with Gorgonzola, Beets and Toasted Walnuts - p. 50

          I was apparently still half asleep when posting this this morning. Here's a link to my report on the recipe in the wrong thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8758... My apologies!

          1 Reply
          1. re: TxnInMtl

            The more I look at the raspberry-colored pasta (from beet), the less appetizing it is, I agree.
            I think I might try a mix of carrot and turnip (which I have) julienned, instead of beets. That would give an earthy taste like beets. Just a thought.

          2. 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.

            1. 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.

              1. Bar Nuts (p.8)

                Sort of amazed to be the first reporting on these. Were they maybe in 150 Best Recipes so everyone who was interested in trying them already has? We had a guest to dinner last night, and not wanting to guinea pig him on a new main dish (I'd never met him before) I figured I'd go ahead and make these and have them sitting out when they guys got home. Seemed to go over well, and when I asked my husband this morning her said he loved them. I think they are good spiced nuts, not the best I've ever had but good. I halved the recipe, which didn't seem to present any problems and used only almonds.

                4 Replies
                1. re: LulusMom

                  Just wanted to say that the leftovers of this have been a huge hit. Husband can't stop eating them, and even I've dipped in a few times and been very happy. So weirdly, maybe they're better not straight out of the oven?

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    One of my favorites from this book,,as well as the Bruschetta Rosso.....even though it is not in season right now. My best friend's DH works in NYC and they came for dinner one night and he said he has a favorite bruschetta and nothing could top it.....so he tasted it and said it was exactly like his fav.....which coincidentally was the Union Square recipe!

                  2. re: LulusMom

                    Bar Nuts, p. 8

                    I made these over the weekend. Pretty much made as written, except that I melted the butter in the microwave with the seasonings already mixed in. I thought that might help the flavors to bloom. I was somewhat disappointed in these. They weren't bad by any means, but just not as flavorful as I'd hoped. But like LLM, I found them much more appealing the next day. So while having these nuts hot out of the oven sounds like a good idea, they really do seem to be better the next day. So I'd suggest if you want these for a party, planning ahead and making them the day before.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      These were a huge hit yesterday at our large meet the parents TG day and were taken home by some of the out of towners. I was glad not to have to eat the rest myself because they were that good and I would have. I used a half a jar of Costco's house brand mixed nuts.

                    2. Sweet Onion Frittata with Balsamic Vinegar, p.120

                      This made a very nice lunch today! My balsamic is the 365 brand from Whole Foods -- I don't know vinegar enough to know if it's above average or not, but I like it. This frittata is made with (lots) of onions. I used half yellow and half white. The "sweet" in the title refers to the vinegar, I think, not to the onions. I wish I had chopped rather than sliced them -- less limp long loops when lifting from plate to lips! Also in the mix are eggs of course, and garlic and oregano, salt and pepper, parmesan cheese (I used pecorino) and parsley.
                      Wonderful flavor! The instructions for using plates and dexterity to get the frittata flipped and browned on both sides are clear and helpful.
                      I made a half recipe.

                        I honestly don’t know why this item was categorized as an appetizer; it was a big winner for us while it would work as app or first course, it would also fit as a side for a plain meat meal or especially as the vegetarian centerpiece of a simple meal.
                        The recipe is a bit complex; it starts out with making a tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes and also a can of plum tomatoes, which is then pureed. Since I had a nice jar of Italian tomato puree in the closet, I started with that. The next step is to sautee onion and garlic in olive oil, and add some fresh herbs (rosemary and basil) I added in a couple of lame year end tomatoes chopped, sauteed a bit and then added the tomato puree. The sauce is then cooked til it thickens, about 30 min. the sauce is fairly fussy; it would have been a lot easier if the authors had indicated what the yield would be, making substitutions a little easier.
                        The recipe next calls for sliced mushrooms (white and shitake) to be sautéed in olive til lightly browned in olive oil, and then a bit more after adding some minced garlic. Fresh escarole, torn up is added (I used some blanched finely sliced Tuscan kale instead) and sautéed, and also added some soaked and cut up dried porcini to the mix since all I had were white mushrooms. The tomato sauce and 1-1/2 cups of drained cooked cannellini beans are then added to the vegetable saute (I poured in some of the porcini soaking water as well) and the whole mess cooked for 5-8 minutes to blend flavors.
                        The dish is then seasoned with salt pepper and grated pecorino cheese and served.
                        The dish was much better than I had expected, very satisfying and well flavored. Although it took more time than expected (I should have read the recipe through before beginning) it was well worth the effort and provided several meals for us. I would start with prepared tomato sauce/puree and doctor it with the seasonings the next time – thought the combination of canned and fresh tomatoes was overly fussy

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Braised (Greens) and White Beans with Mushrooms, Tomatoes and (Parmigiano Reggianno), p. 20

                          This one has been on my list for a while and I finally got around to it last night, albeit with far more substitutions than I had in mind. Jen describes the prep very well, so I will just indicate where I deviated from the recipe. First, as Jen suggested, for the sauce I didn't bother with the combo of fresh and canned tomatoes but simply cooked what I judged to be the requisite amount of passata with the ingredients. I subbed parsley for basil and I added a bit of extra rosemary, basil and onion to the sauce. I don't usually add pepper to my tomato sauce, but in this case I thought it needed it and worked. It was a good sauce, nice and wintery. I made it over the weekend to make weeknight prep easier. For the beans I used a canned of rinsed drained cannellini beans. For the greens, I used a combo of kale and spinach, which I had on hand. And for cheese, I had to sub parmigiano reggiano for the pecorino romano. When it came time to add the sauce, it really looked like a lot, so I did not add the entire amount, and the dish was still very saucy/soupy. My husband said, "it feels like there is something missing." Maybe some meat, maybe some pasta, maybe some broth. We ended up spooning the dish over bread, which improved it, and will serve leftovers over pasta or as a soup. Everything came together quickly and was tasty enough, but this is probably not something I'll be making again. Although I think I would have liked the recipe better with escarole, pecorino and basil instead of spinach, parmigiano and parsley, it was really the sauciness that had us scratching our heads a bit.

                          1. re: Westminstress

                            I included the pic in my post which shows that ours wasnt that saucy at all. Did you use the mushrooms? They are quite meaty and add a lot of depth. did you cook the tomato sauce down til thick? Like I noted, the recipe is not too friendly to substitutions, so I may have used less tomato, you may have used more....I am not a big at complying with exact recipe measurements so we may have had more kale in this than called for.

                            Dont think I would like escarole better (it tends to get watery and disintegrate if cooked for a while, and dont think that your herb and cheese substitutions should have made much of a difference.sorry you didnt enjoy.

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              Yes, I used 1/4 pound of shiitake and 1/4 pound of cremini, sliced as described. I got them from our farmers market so they are quite good. I bet the dried porcini added a lot of oomph to your version of the dish, though, perhaps I should have tossed some into mine. I cooked the sauce for longer than indicated, but it didn't cook down too much, maybe because I started from passata? I totally agree it would have been helpful to have a volume measurement on the sauce so as to know how much to add. Anyway, I wouldn't go so far as to say that we didn't enjoy it, but just that with all the recipes in the world to try we won't be revisiting this one.

                              1. re: Westminstress

                                ours had an intense, concentrated flavor with a lot of addition from the herbs and mushrooms (I think we put in the porcini soaking water too)- it was not particularly tomatosaucy - if it had been, I would not have liked it either...

                            2. re: Westminstress

                              So for dinner tonight I mixed the leftovers with the remaining sauce, heated it up and served over linguini. It was very tasty! We all agreed that we preferred the pasta version of this dish.

                          2. Red oakleaf and Bibb salad with Gruyère, garlic croutons, and Dijon vinaigrette – p. 80

                            I’d hoped to make this last night but time got away from me so over to tonight’s menu this went. We loved this salad. The tender greens and equally soft ribbons of cheese paired perfectly w the subtle Dijon dressing to make for a delicious start to our meal this evening.

                            Prep is straight forward. Dressing is made by combining minced shallots w salt, pepper, water, Dijon, French red-wine vinegar and vegetable oil. With apologies to the author and the French, I opted to use my good quality Italian red wine vinegar for this dish (my other option was a Canadian Pinot Noir Vinegar) and I’m happy to report the dressing still turned out to be quite subtle and flavourful with well-balanced flavours.

                            The salad combines the two lettuces w shredded Gruyere cheese, homemade croutons and seasoning along w some of the dressing. Super simple!

                            We absolutely loved this salad. Of particular note was the tenderness of the greens and silky soft cheese. The crunchy croutons (that did crisp but didn’t brown in the prescribed cooking time & temp) and subtle flavours of the dressing worked perfectly with the tender greens, complimenting them but not overpowering them. The dressing almost took on a creamy flavour when mixed w the cheese. I’m tagging this salad as a company dish; it’s a lovely, elegant salad.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              I am so glad you liked this. In the restaurant, it is divine, glad it turned out well! I took a friend to USC last March, we were on business in NYC. I talked her into ordering this... she flipped out so much, she ordered two. She kept saying she did not know salad could taste so good :)

                              1. re: Tom P

                                Your friend was so right Tom, this is indeed a special salad. Since I have some Gruyere left, rest-assured it will be on the menu again this weekend...so delicious!!

                              2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Who knew a salad could sound so exciting? But it does, BC. I think I have had that very salad at USC, but I'm not sure I realized the cheese was gruyere, which I love.
                                I don't have the cookbook--I did at one time but must have lost it--and while I can find a recipe for the dressing online, I wonder if you would mind elaborating on how the croutons are made, wonder if it is different from how I usually make garlic croutons. TIA.

                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                  I was just looking up bc's notes on this salad and saw your post. Spread the bread cubes on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. When done, flavor the hot croutons by tossing with a crushed garlic clove.

                                  1. re: BigSal

                                    Oh thank you, BigSal! That is a slightly different method, which I will try. I have made the salad since that post, with plain croutons, and it was delicious. But I love this very easy-sounding method of making garlic croutons.

                              3. Pappardelle of Zucchini, p.65 (iPad version, I think print copy pages may differ)

                                This recipe uses thinly sliced zucchini and yellow squash in place of pasta. The original recipe calls for 1 lb. each of zucchini and yellow squash. I used three zucchini, just under 1.5 lbs. The recipe has you slice "lengthwise into 1/8-inch strips" on a mandoline. The recipe doesn't specify how wide the strips should be, but based on the name, and the lack of any further direction, I assume they are supposed to be the full width of the zucchini. I, however, decided to use one of the cross-cutting blades on my mandoline, and cut them into about 1/2" widths.

                                The recipe has you saute the zucchini strips in oil, then add garlic, white wine, salt and pepper. You then add some peeled diced tomatoes (fresh), and some thinly sliced basil. The recipe then you add 2 cups of the Basic Tomato Sauce from elsewhere in the book, along with 2 Tablespoons heavy cream. I used another sauce of similar composition that I had on hand. But 2 cups??? There was already a lot of liquid from the fresh tomatoes. I cannot imagine adding 2 cups of tomato sauce here. I added about 1/4 cup. I added the amount of cream called for, because I hoped it would thicken the sauce (it did somewhat). You then add a couple tablespoons of Parmigiano Reggiano. The dish is finished with a bit more cheese on top.

                                This was tasty, but nothing to write home about. It was quite "saucy", the way I made it, and I didn't use nearly the amount of tomato sauce called for. I can't imagine making it as written with 2 cups of prepared sauce in addition to the tomatoes. It would be more tomato than zucchini at that point. The recipe warns about the squash giving off too much water. I used a large saute pan (4 qt), and had it quite hot before I added the zucchini. I would say that an even larger pan would be better, but the main problem in this recipe was the quantity of tomato. The recipe might have potential, but perhaps needs some more tweaking for the home kitchen.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MelMM

                                  Had the leftovers for lunch, or at least I attempted to. This did not reheat well. It made the zucchini too soft and the whole texture just... for lack of a better word, yucky.

                                2. White Bean and Broccoli Soup with Parmigiano and Proscuitto, page 106

                                  I adapted this recipe a bit to make it in the slow cooker, since that is my preferred method for making beans. It turned out a little ho hum, which perhaps is related to my adaptation?

                                  You start by soaking beans overnight. Then you saute onion, celery and leek and garlic in butter (I left out celery because I had none) and then add water, beans and an herb bundle containing coriander seeds, thyme, peppercorns parsley and bay wrapped up in cheesecloth. I added all this to the slow cooker and let it go on low for 7 hours or so. Once the beans are cooked, you discard the herb bundle and add broccoli and proscuitto. Let those cook for 3-5 minutes and then garnish with cracked black pepper, balsamic vinegar and Parm. To adapt to the slow cooker, I cut the water back form 8 c to 7 c. I turned the cooker up to high when I added the broccoli and prosciutto and let it cook a few more minutes to get the rawness out of the broccoli.

                                  In the end, this was kind of blah. The beans didn't take on much flavor, despite the herb bundle. And the broccoli seemed a bit out of place to me with the creamy beans and salty prosciutto. This was healthy, but tasted it. Not a repeat for me.

                                  1. Uove al Forno (Baked Eggs) page 128

                                    This one was a winner for us! I served this with the white bean soup above, which was kind of blah, but this one had all kinds of nice flavors going on. Basically you heat some olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes. Add 8 cups of mixed greens (I used collards and spinach) with 1/4 c water. You let this cook down a bit. You are then supposed to transfer to a gratin, but I just kept the greens it in my over-proof skillet. Arrange coppa around the periphery and then layer the coppa with mozzarella. Then in the middle, you crack 8 eggs. Put into 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until eggs cooked but yolk still runny.

                                    This made a very attractive and rustic meal. I have a pic I will try to post. My one change would be I thought the oven was too hot. Some of the eggs got an unpleasant dry skin on them from the high heat. I would probably try a lower oven next time and see if the results were better, The melted cheese on the salty coppa was great. Kids and my husband all really enjoyed this.