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November 2012 COTM: Union Square Cafe Cookbook -- Main Courses; Vegetables, Side Dishes, Condiments

Main Courses 131 - 214

Vegetables, Side Dishes, Condiments 215 - 266

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  1. page 222
    mashed french beans with garlic and mint
    the beans were soaked over nite and are now cooking on range
    the garlic is in the oven

    do ppl soak their beans? does it make a difference?

    2 Replies
    1. re: jpr54_1

      You know, I've struggled with the to-soak-or-not-to-soak dilemma for years, and am still not 100% decided. On one hand, it is said that by soaking your beans overnight and then discarding the soaking water, the indigestible sugars that can cause 'discomfort' are poured away. The other method, though, the quick-soak (boil a few minutes, turn off, soak for an hour, dump cooking water) loses serious colour and flavour by tossing the darkened water, also keeping the digestive issues at bay but sacrificing taste.
      I made a batch of red silk beans the other day with the quick method, while keeping the soaking water this time, and my beans (refried in this case) were hands-down the best batch I'd ever made, richer in both colour and flavour. Since I rarely have the foresight to soak my legumes ahead of time anyway, I think this will become my standard method.
      Also, I never really notice a discernable difference in reduced cooking time, soaked or not.

      Found this thread, too. Everyone's opinions differ.

      1. re: jpr54_1

        the dish was deliicious.
        the mint and garlic added to the taste.

      2. PARSNIP PANCAKES, from The Union Square Cafe Cookbook, p; 240-1.
        And also on:

        Chose to make these last night, motivated by two things: first, my desire to cook from this month's COTM and secondly, by this month's Dish of the Month topic: "Savory Pancakes." (A version of this review also appears on that board.) I probably would never have thought to make parsnip pancakes but I'm so glad I did! They were delicious and easy. I set them up a bit ahead of time and refrigerated them. Once cooked, they easily "held" in a slow oven for 15 minutes. Mr. G in particular loved them, as did all our dinner-guests.

        Basically these are a variation of classic potato latkes. Very simple to make. You slightly precook whole parsnips, grate them, and combine them with grated onions, an egg and some flour. Season the mixture with a pinch of cayenne, nutmeg, s & p, and then form into 3-inch "cakes" and sauté gently in olive oil and butter till nicely-browned. The pancakes hold their shape and are easy to fry--the recipe cautions to cook them "slowly and carefully" to reduce the risk of smoke and/or spattering, and that's what I did. Worked fine.

        The parsnips make them just slightly sweet but not overly so. The directions say they could be served for brunch, topped with apple sauce and creme fraiche/sour cream. We loved them for dinner as an accompaniment to a very flavorful and "saucy" oven-roasted halibut dish (Roasted Halibut, Pugliese Style, "Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe" p. 116.) I didn't technically "need" another starch to accompany this one-dish recipe, which includes sliced potatoes, but I wanted to try these pancakes and I'm glad I did. The slight sweetness and crisp crust of the parsnip pancakes complemented the acidity of the artichoke/lemon/wine sauce of the halibut recipe, and also sopped up the sauce beautifully.

        All-in-all, a very satisfactory dish!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Goblin

          The parsnip pancakes were a HUGE hit. I just got the book from the library yesterday and so have only cooked that one dish. If it's indicative of the rest of his recipes, I'm verrrry impressed and looking forward to finding out.

        2. MAMA ROMANO'S BAKED LEMON CHICKEN, Union Square Cookbook. p. 172.

          Also at:

          My notes for this say: "Nice, homey, flavorful dish, which makes a lot of broth: either reduce it before serving, or serve in wide shallow bowls with good bread or another starch to sop up the juices."

          I've read reviews of the Union Square Cookbook which emphasize that the recipes therein create food that is tasty and cosy. That's a perfect description for this dish. Very tasty, not complicated, delicious and fresh and comforting on a chilly autumn evening.

          S & P seasoned chicken pieces are dredged in flour, sauteed in olive oil until richly golden brown, then reserved while thinly-sliced onions and garlic are slowly browned in the same skillet (fat poured off.) Thyme sprigs are then spread over the contents of the pan, and the chicken pieces are laid on top with a seeded slice of lemon on each. Chicken stock is then poured into the (oven-proof) pan and the juice of one lemon is added. Bring all this to a simmer, place covered in a 400 F oven. After 15 minutes, remove cover and continue to cook the chicken, basting occasionally, until chicken is tender and nicely browned. My robust chicken pieces took about an hour to become tender; I'd check sooner if your pieces are smaller.

          Very simple, and you could make it even simpler by leaving the skillet covered in the oven, which means you wouldn't need to baste it so often.

          The chicken turns out to be moistly-tender and very savory. The recipe worked well for a family birthday dinner. The directions just say "1 3/12-pound chicken, cut up into 10 pieces." I had four big blowzy bone-in "Jane-Mansfield" chicken breasts, which I cut in half again for eight generous pieces. I left the skin on for flavor and to keep the breasts moist, but you could remove the skin. I also browned the various elements and set up the dish ahead of time, only adding the chicken stock before baking.

          All in all, a rustic but well-received dish, whose sum is greater than its parts. The lemon-thyme-garlic-onion flavors are so nice baked together with the chicken. It could become a stand-by, both for family and for informal entertaining. I also really like that the instructions in this cookbook are so clear.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Goblin

            Made this one tonight. It was good but not something that I'd rush to make again unless I had chicken, onions, and lemon and needed to come up with a dinner.

            Took me a couple of hours from start to finish but I was doing other things like feeding the animals, doing the dishes, vacuuming, etc. along the way.

            This isn't a bad recipe but not something that I'd rush out to recommend to others.

          2. HERBED POTATO SALAD WITH BACON AND SCALLIONS, Union Square Cookbook, p. 264.

            Also available at:

            This is a simple recipe, though it has several ingredients. These include: new potatoes, garlic cloves, fresh rosemary and fresh thyme sprigs, plus black peppercorns, salt, red pepper flakes, plus slab bacon (to roast and cut into slices) and scallions, AND the ingredients for a vinaigrette: EVOO, red wine vinegar, chopped parsley, and s & p to taste. The potatoes are scrubbed, cut into eighths, and simmered till tender but not mushy with the various herbs and seasonings. Cool and leave in the liquid. Meanwhile thickish bacon slices are roasted until crisp on a 375 F oven, and then cut into 1/4 inch pieces.

            1/4 cup of the potato-liquid is reserved; then the potatoes are drained and combined in a bowl with the sliced scallions and bacon pieces. The reserved liquid is then mixed with the vinaigrette ingredients and poured over all. Serve.

            The simmered potato wedges are flavorful on their own, but of course the bacon, scallions, and vinaigrette make a very nice salad. I combined all but the bacon pieces a few hours ahead to mellow the flavors; then I drizzled a bit more red wine vinegar and EVOO over the top because the potatoes had absorbed quite a bit of the original dressing. A pleasant and fresh-tasting version of potato salad.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Goblin

              Herbed Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions, Pg. 264

              We made this recipe to go along with the Herb Roasted Chicken on page 170 and liked the combination very much. For the salad I used new fingerling potatoes but had to adjust a couple of the ingredients according to what I had at hand: 1 t dried rosemary instead of a fresh sprig, 2 t dried thyme instead of fresh, and used 2 T red wine vinegar instead of 1 1/2 as called for.

              Goblin described the precess so well I don't have to repeat so I'll just say we liked both the technique and the flavor of the potatoes at the finish. All those herbs and spices contributed their magic with the bacon bringing in the crisp and salty notes.

              1. re: Goblin

                Herbed Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions, p. 264

                A random EYB search (looking for ways to use my huge bunch of spring onions) led me to this recipe, which I had completely forgotten about. It turned out I had all the ingredients on hand, so I decided to give it a go. I won't repeat the prep steps. Suffice it to say that we enjoyed these potatoes. As with other recipes in this book, the prep is a bit more fiddly than I ideally like. But, also as with other recipes in this book, the profusion of fresh herbs adds a wonderful complexity of flavor, so the extra effort is not wasted. I added the bacon but I think the salad would be just as good without it. Also, the flavors of the salad deepened as it sat, so I would recommend making this one a bit ahead if you have the time.

                And I am just kicking myself for pouring the leftover cooking liquid down the drain! I think there is minestrone soup in my future later this week and the potato cooking liquid would have been perfect for it.

                1. re: Westminstress

                  Herbed Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions

                  I also found this on EYB, and saw your note, so decided to make it. Since the process has already been described, I'll just add a few observations. I liked the technique for cooking the potatoes, keeping just at a simmer, so they don't get knocked around in the pot. They came out with a good texture.

                  I saved an extra cup of the potato liquid, just in case I thought the salad needed moistening later. It didn't, and I ended up tossing the leftover liquid, but I too, was thinking this would be good to save. It came out nearly clear, like a good stock, and had a nice flavor to it. Next time I will save it.

                  I also made this a couple hours in advance. It holds really well.

                  Anyway, I liked this just as much as everyone else. Absolutely would repeat.

              2. Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Poppy Seeds and Lemon, p.226
                I should have followed the recipe more carefully, then I might recommend this one. The sprouts should be sliced quite thin -- 1/8 inch, and tossed with lemon juice. Cooked then with olive oil, poppy seeds, garlic, white wine, and salt and pepper, they stay green but soften. I like Brussels sprouts, so just chopped them into maybe 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces. I think much smaller slices would have soaked up the flavors better. Instead of hashed vegetables I just had sprouts with an odd coating of (fairly flavorless) poppy seeds. I took the picture as cooking had just begun.
                It sounds like a good idea to "hash" these with oil/butter, garlic and wine, but I don't get the poppy seeds. We had these with beer brats and smashed potatoes.

                1. FAGIOLI ALLA TOSCANA - p. 253

                  I made this dish earlier this year and thought I'd post my review here fyi:

                  The first time we dined on Tuscan bean bruschetta was on a glorious fall evening at Restaurant Alle Fratte di Trastevere in Rome. Mr bc was simply smitten and, to this day, I’ve been on a quest to replicate what seemed like a very simple dish. I’ve tried a number of recipes over the years and, even wrote to the restaurant who kindly provided a recipe, of sorts. Nevertheless, while some came close, none have successfully replicated the dish. Until today. This is THE one for us. Creamy, seemingly sauce-less yet, with an almost invisible coating that is chock-full of flavour – the bean cooking liquid that’s been reduced along w some sautéed herbs, garlic and of course, some Pecorino Romano. These were exquisite. Mr bc couldn’t contain his delight and greedily gobbled up almost half the dish. No doubt he’ll regret this, when his main course of Barolo-braised short ribs arrives!

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                    Your description of this dish, with "an almost invisible coating that is chock-full of flavor" sent me looking for the recipe, which I found reprinted here: http://labellecuisine.com/archives/Si...

                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                      Thank you, Breadcrumbs -- I want to find the simple pleasures/treasures in these Union Square books.

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        This looks very similar to a bean dish I had a country inn in Spain. Difference? The Spanish version had large chunks of sausage. One of the best dishes I have ever eaten. Gonna give this a try for sure.

                        [p.s. Beautiful photo!]

                        1. re: smtucker

                          Thanks Caitlin, blue room and smtucker. I hope you all get the opportunity to try this dish. It really is special.

                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                          Oh I liked this too, very much!
                          I used white Navy beans, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. The beans are cooked with carrot, celery, and onion for flavor, as well as rosemary/sage/thyme/ cheese/olive oil/garlic/bay. I tried these alone as a lunch for me, but now I'll be always on the lookout for things (like short ribs) to serve with them.
                          One to keep.

                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            Great minds, blue room! I also made these beans yesterday and also liked them quite well! I used cannellini beans from the bulk bin and did not bother to presoak, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. If you like beans (as we do) I'd consider a double recipe because the batch I made yesterday is gone already.

                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              Fagioli alla Toscana, Pg. 253

                              Our daughter brought us a 2 pound bag of Yellow-Eyed beans, an heirloom type from Maine, and I was excited to see what they tasted like. This recipe was on the To Do list so I substituted the yellow-eyes for cannellini. It worked out very well because the beans have a sweet flavor and mealy succulent texture. Instead of fresh herbs, though, I used dried sage, rosemary, thyme - 1 teaspoon each. Cooking the beans with the celery, carrot, onion stuffed with whole cloves and bay leaf gives the beans a marvelous full flavored richness. Genius. I only used one cup of the beans but in future I do as Westminstress says and make a double batch. Thanks Breadcrumbs for reporting on this recipe...

                              1. re: Gio

                                Gio so glad you enjoyed this. I totally agree that a double batch is definitely in order!!

                                1. re: Gio

                                  Fagioli all'Uccelletto, Pg. 255

                                  This recipe produces a much richer version of the simple Fagioli alla Toscana on page 253 that I made early in December.. The Toscana beans are the basis of the Uccelletto dish and must be made first through the second step.. I soaked and cooked the beans on one day and then proceeded with the Ucelletto recipe the next.

                                  Cooked cannellini are heated in a pan with a cup of their cooking liquid, a cup of veal stock (I used a very rich home made poultry/pork bone stock), and olive oil then cooked till liquid is reduced and a sauce is created. Diced fresh tomatoes (I didn't bother skinning & deseeding them) and various chopped herbs are added then cooked for several more minutes. Finish with grated Romano and S & P. When I added the tomatoes I noticed there was a prep bowl with left over minced garlic that had not been used for another recipe we were making, so I added it with the tomatoes. This created a nice flavor note one would expect from tomatoes cooked with the other ingredients. I'd do it again. Also, when I served this I sprinkled minced Italian parsley over top.

                                  We loved the fragrant and meaty beans in this dish. The dried herbs: sage/rosemary, thyme) gave the sauce a rustic heady flavor and aroma. It was a great side dish for Nigella Lawson's Tenderest Chicken from her "How To Eat" cookbook.

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Oh my Gio, those sound absolutely delicious and of course I love your addition of garlic. I've made a note in my book and will definitely give these a try.

                              2. Pan-Roasted Salmon with Citrus BasalmicVinaigrette
                                page 146
                                I made this tonite with mashed red potato and white turnip rappe

                                excellent-will make it again
                                good quality salmon is a must

                                1. Herb Roasted Chicken, Pg. 170

                                  This was a wonderful Sunday lunch main dish for us a few weeks ago. A large chicken roasted with various vegetables is right in keeping with what we usually do, the difference here was a slight change in technique.

                                  Beginning the day before you want to serve the chicken season the chicken all over and inside with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate. At cooking time truss chicken, rub with butter, place breast side down on a rack, then put into a pre-heated 425F oven. After 30 minutes take out the roasting pan, put chicken on a platter and put chopped vegetables under the rack: carrots/celery (I used kohlrabi)/onions along with chopped parsley and tarragon. Return chicken to rack breast side up, and roast for about 40 minutes till chicken is nicely golden brown. Set chicken to rest on a platter, take most of the fat out of the pan and pour chicken stock over the vegetables. Cook this for 5 minutes while you scrape up all the fond. At this point you're supposed to strain the pan sauce but I served the vegetables with the carved chicken.

                                  Rubbing the chicken all over with butter certainly creates delicious chicken and sauce and we really enjoyed it. Plus the vegetables absorbed all the luscious juices. Calories be damned...!

                                  1. Peach - Fig Chutney, Pg. 261

                                    Loved this chutney. It lasted for a couple of weeks in the fridge and was served with meat, poultry and roasted vegetables. I substituted ripe nectarines for the peaches and used Black Mission figs per the recipe. Tamarind paste is optional but I included it, ground dried pomegranate seeds is optional so I omitted it. Everything else remained the same. The prep is very easy: simply pitting and slicing the peaches and destemming and quartering the figs.

                                    Into a skillet go apple cider vinegar, honey, mustard seeds, pickled ginger, salt, tamarind and the pomegranate powder if using. Reduce to a syrup then add the peaches and cook, covered, "till soft but not mushy." This doesn't take very long. Add the figs a minced jalapeno, cover and cook a few more minutes. Plop into a bowl, allow to cool and serve... either room temperature or chilled.

                                    The sweet sour spicy flavor is captivating and enhances whatever is being served with it. Definitely deserves a remake and a place in the fridge during this holiday season.

                                    4 Replies
                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                        Oh it Was, Allegra. I've discovered a new found love of chutney and this one was terrific.

                                      2. re: Gio

                                        Yes Gio the chutney sounds wonderful!

                                      3. Roast Stuffed Leg of Lamb, Pg. 202

                                        This was a very nice presentation of a lamb roast. It reminded me of a giant Braciole since it's stuffed, rolled and tied. A 5 or 6 pound butterflied leg of lamb is called for but mine was 4 pounds so I adjusted the ingredient amounts accordingly.

                                        First plump up some golden raisins then combine them in a bowl with lemon zest, various chopped herbs, S & P, lots of chopped garlic, bread crumbs, balsamic, EVOO. Open the lamb and spread this mixture all over the inside. Roll it up as best you can and tie with butcher's twine. (here's where I get to practice my butcher's knot technique w one long piece of twine). Refrigerate for 4 hours or over night... I chose over night.

                                        When ready to roast pre-heat oven to 450F. Rub the meat with EVOO and S & P, put on a rack in a roasting pan. We roasted the meat for 45 minutes to rare. then let it rest for 30 before carving. I served roasted Yukon golds, Brussels sprouts, and butternut squash along with the Peach - Fig Chutney on page 264.

                                        This was an absolutely delightful meat. The lamb was everything one would hope for in a well seasoned and cooked roast: tender, juicy lamby flavor and slightly garlicky, slightly acidic, mildly sweet. I probably over did it with the herbs a bit but they were fresh from the farm and I just couldn't help myself... parsley/thyme/mint/oregano/rosemary.

                                        7 Replies
                                          1. re: Gio

                                            ROAST STUFFED LEG OF LAMB – p. 202

                                            As Gio points out above, this is a delightful and delicious roast lamb. Nothing to add to Gio’s excellent description of how this all comes together other than how impressed I am Gio that you were able to tie this roast with only one piece of string and your excellent knotting skills! Even our butcher used individual strings to tie up this unwieldy 6.9 lb beast. I hated to have to untie it to stuff it!

                                            I thought it was interesting that while the recipe called for an assortment of herbs, rosemary wasn’t mentioned. I simply can’t imagine my lamb without rosemary so in it went along w parsley and thyme. After stuffing the lamb spent about 6 hours in the fridge before bringing it to room temp to roast. What struck me were the lovely lemony aromas on removing it from the fridge though I didn’t notice them at all in the finished roast. All the flavours came together beautifully and this was probably one of the most herbaceous lambs I’ve ever prepared. Each tasty bite was infused with all the wonderful flavours of the stuffing. mr bc especially enjoyed the plump raisins and asked if I could double them next time. Ours was perfectly medium rare after 1 hr 20 mins in the oven. I cooked the roast atop its chopped up bone vs a rack since the butcher was kind enough to provide it to me. I made a little pan sauce w the drippings. Delicious, and definitely worth repeating. This would be a perfect company dish due to its beautiful presentation.

                                            I served this with a salad of mixed greens and a lovely potato, tomato and onion dish from a newish to me cookbook – Two Greedy Italians.

                                            ETA: I forgot to mention that we served this w an Amarone as the book suggests and it truly was a perfect pairing. (Though I think I could drink Amarone with just about anything and enjoy it!!)

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              I went to Whole Foods this morning.
                                              I was able to purchase a small piece of leg of lamb with bone.
                                              It is in refrigerator overnite.
                                              I used fresh flat parsley, oregano, and thyme.
                                              would u rec. adding rosemary?
                                              it smells delicious in my kitchen.

                                              1. re: jpr54_1

                                                the leg of lamb is my oven-
                                                the smell is wonderful

                                                1. re: jpr54_1

                                                  Just seeing your question now, jpr. Very sorry!

                                                  I love rosemary with lamb. Well, I love lamb period. They seem made for each other...each enhancing the flavor of the other. For this recipe I used a combination of parsley/thyme/mint/oregano/rosemary. The herbs I had were fresh from the farm and their aroma was wonderful.

                                                  Even though our roast was smaller than the roast called for I kept the amounts of everything as stated in the recipe. I hope you like it, jpr.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    mine were also fresh-
                                                    i added parsley, thyme,and oregano
                                                    omitted the rosemary and mint-i will try to add them b4 roast is finished.

                                                    1. re: jpr54_1

                                                      added the extra fresh herbs-
                                                      almost ready
                                                      can't wait

                                            2. Bombolotti al Modo Mio, Pg. 38

                                              This translates to "Short Rigatoni My Way." (That's Mezzi Rigatoni on the Barilla box.) A potentially terrific dish this, if only we didn't have a bit of blip at the end. A suggestion is given in the intro notes for using fennel seeds if one is not able to find fresh Italian fennel sausages . We had spicy sausages with very little fennel so I included the seeds.

                                              Grated Romano and Parmigiano are combined and set aside. The sausages are removed from their skins, broken into pieces, sauteed for a few minutes, then removed to a platter. A combination of brandy and white wine are poured into the pan, reduced by 1/3 while scraping up the fond and blending. Three cups of cream are now added to the pan along with white pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds if needed. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens then return the sausages to the pan. Now throw the macaroni... er, put the rigatoni into boiling water, etc.

                                              When the macaroni is drained add more of the cheese so the cheese melts into it. Pour the sauce into the empty pasta pot and bring to a boil. Add the cooked macaroni, shredded basil, and combine. When serving sprinkle over the remaining cheese and chopped parsley. Now, what happened was... when the pasta hit the sauce, the sauce broke. Well, curdled really. That had never happened before. We still don't know what exactly happened. However, the rigatoni tasted wonderful. With all those heady flavors going on it Had to taste wonderful in spite of everything. The side dish was a beet salad from Elizabeth Minchilli and quite a tasty salad it was.

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Gio that's disappointing about the sauce breaking. I'm glad it didn't impact your enjoyment of the dish. Did you use 35% cream? I found the technique of pouring the sauce into the (empty) pasta pot a little odd. I wonder why not just add the noodles to the already simmering sauce? And why bring it to a "boil"...seems a bit like over-kill and even though I'm a huge fan of piping-hot food, I can't see the benefit of doing this unless the noodles needed more time to cook which isn't the case in this instance. Very unusual technique for this recipe I thought.

                                                A question about the brandy. Was it a prominent flavour? 1/2c. seemed like a lot when I read through the recipe ( we're not huge fans of brandy).

                                                Finally, in your opinion, could the amount of cream in the dish be reduced or would the recipe suffer for it? I have to admit this recipe has all the makings of a mr bc-friendly dish since he especially loves cream sauces but when I first looked at the recipe and saw it called for 3 cups, it seemed like a lot . . . especially in advance of his annual cholesterol test!! ; - )

                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  You know, when we make macaroni with a sauce the sauce is either ladled over top or the macaroni is tossed into the sauce, but in this case I simply followed the recipe...

                                                  The brandy was not even a discernible flavor here but I'm still using the Metaxa I bought for The Olive and the Caper. (We don't drink brandy regularly at home.) And, although 1/2 cup of dry white wine, I used Pinot Grigio, is included there was only the barest hint of those flavors.

                                                  The cream, mostly 1/2 & 1/2, or as you might call it: Half Cream, was used and topped off with some whole milk because I didn't have enough of the other. In retrospect I wondered if that had anything to do with the curdling. I just don't know. As for reducing the amount, I don;t think it should be reduced. The macaroni is cooked till Just al dente so it cooks a few seconds more when it hits the sauce. The sauce immediately coats the macaroni. Maybe wait till after Mr. BC's test....

                                                  I hope this helps.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    Thanks Gio that definitely helps. Like you and G, we don't drink brandy or cognac either and it seems to be a popular gift so we're running a long position!! A happy problem for some folks I imagine!! I'll happily add the full amount then as it's great to be able to use the stuff up!

                                                    I'm guessing it was the "boiling" of your cream/milk mixture that caused it to break. I've found that 35% cream is best for boiling as it maintains it's structural integrity, even under high heat whereas lower fat creams tend to separate. The only other success I've had is using a combination of 35% cream and Carnation 2% milk. I suspect the Carnation doesn't break down because it's evaporated. I think I'll go w that combo for this dish so I can use the full 3 cups as you suggest but still cut the fat a little. Thanks for your help Gio.

                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      Here's a handy little chart I just found.

                                                      Half and Half = 12% butterfat
                                                      Single Cream = 20% butterfat
                                                      Light Cream = 20% (range 18-30%) butterfat
                                                      Whipping Cream = 30%
                                                      Heavy Cream = 36-38% butterfat
                                                      Clotted Cream = 55-60% butterfat


                                                      The other responses are informational as well.

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        Very informative Gio. Here in Canada 35% cream is typically branded as Whipping Cream. I don't recall seeing a 30% version here. I tend to purchase mine in 1 litre cartons at Costco as it's ridiculously expensive at the supermarket. The other nice thing about the high milk fat content is that the cream freezes well. I don't imagine it would whip properly after being frozen (but I've never tried) however it does defrost perfectly for sauces etc.

                                                        Thanks for that chart, I've pasted it into a word doc and saved it in my reference file.

                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                          These cream charts and discussions always confound me with their lists of various creams, because in the places I've lived (varoous Northern California cities and NYC), all that's available is half and half and heavy/whipping cream - no single or light cream.

                                                          There's also something called manufacturer's cream, which is 40% butterfat and usually available only from food-service suppliers. Here in CA, there's a chain called Smart & Final that's open to the public where you can find it.

                                                          Breadcrumbs, whether you can whip cream that's been frozen depends, I recently learned here on CH: http://www.chow.com/food-news/129213/...

                                                    2. re: Gio

                                                      Gio--I'm going to concur with Breadcrumbs: I'd bet your sauce curdled because of the boiling and 1/2 & 1/2/milk combination. I ve had it happen a few times, once when adding milk to a bolognese sauce, more recently in trying to sub half milk for cream in a recipe. As soon as I turned away and the sauce (for potatoes) started to boil, it curdled. Like you, we still ate it with no problem! I find cooking with 1/2 & 1/2 (and milk) is always a little tricky.

                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                        Thanks Nomad. I kinda thought the milk was the culprit, even tho I didn't use That much...
                                                        I've decided to buy a box of Trader Joe's Shelf Stable Whipping Cream.. I hear it's very good for just such a purpose.

                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                    Bombolotti al Modo Mio – p. 38

                                                    Bellissimo! Calories be damned…this was absolutely lovely!

                                                    Big thanks to Gio for sharing her experiences in the posts above, I wouldn’t have made this dish otherwise and that definitely would have been a mistake. My worries about the quantities of brandy and cream were unfounded and we absolutely loved the fennel-forward flavours of this delicious sauce.

                                                    Taking from Gio’s experience I decided to simply toss the cooked pasta into the sauce vs the opposite. I used a 60/40 blend of 35% cream and Carnation 2% milk and my sauce came to the boil without curdling. Also, as Gio said, the pasta quickly absorbs the sauce. Because I didn’t quite have 1 1/2 lbs of sausage I decided to supplement with some chopped red onion and we quite enjoyed the sweetness it added to the dish not to mention the splash of colour. I would definitely incorporate this in the future. We also felt the chiffonade of basil added a nice fresh touch and, served to echo the anise flavour of the fennel. I gave each plate a quick dusting of fennel pollen to further enhance the flavour.

                                                    This dish pleased all palates and our guests left with a copy of the recipe, as they were keen to have it again. Thanks Gio!!

                                                    Oh and as you'll see, my sous chef did a great job with the clean-up!!

                                                    ETA: I forgot to mention that the book recommends 3 wines to go w this dish. We went with a Zinfandel and it complemented the fennel perfectly and it's heartiness stood up to the sausage-rich sauce. I've really appreciated the wine recommendations in this book and in all instances they've been spot on.

                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      Oh, I'm so glad you had such a positive experience with the recipe, BC. Your photos really do look like what my finished dish looked like, except mine did have that added attraction of smallish curds around the edges. Most likely I'll cook it again and just follow my usual practice of adding pasta to sauce w/o boiling the sauce first. What a good sous chef you do have...

                                                  3. ORANGE-FENNEL OSSO BUCO – p. 192

                                                    It was the orange-fennel combination that drew me to this dish as we adore these two flavours together. That said, I did have a few reservations about this recipe and even found myself second guessing my decision to make it a couple of times during the cooking process but I’ll get into that later… When all was said and done, I’m delighted I persevered as the final dish was fresh, flavourful and really wowed our guests. The fact that it comes together with relative ease is a bonus.

                                                    Osso buco are seasoned and floured before browning in olive oil. Meat is removed from the pan, fat is drained then the pan is deglazed with ½ cup of sherry vinegar. Yes, you read that right and I had to turn a light on to ensure I read this correctly in the cookbook. ½ cup of sherry vinegar seemed quite excessive to me and I truly hesitated in adding that amount. I feared the dish might be too bitter. I debated using sherry instead or a 50/50 blend. I didn’t like the idea of using this much of my precious, delicious sherry vinegar that I usually dole out quite judiciously. Nevertheless, I went ahead w the recipe as written and mr bc immediately commented about the strong vinegar smell in the house. He said he felt as if it was inside his nose!!!

                                                    Next into the pan was some veal stock, which was brought to a simmer before adding the meat back into the pan. At this point the pan is covered and placed into the oven to braise for an hour. Meanwhile carrots and fennel are sliced, oranges sliced or juiced and your prep is pretty much done. After the meat has braised for an hour the vegetables and juice are to be added and the casserole goes back into the oven for another 45 – 50 mins (uncovered w the temp raised to 400°F). So here was another decision point for me. The book has you cut the fennel into ½” slices and given the sheer volume of veggies going into the pot, I wasn’t at all convinced they’d be cooked after 50 mins. Instead of raising the heat I left the oven at 375°, covered the pot and placed the dish back into the oven for 30 mins at which point I lifted the lid, gave the veggies a stir, raised the heat to 400° and cooked the dish another 20 mins at which point the fennel was perfectly cooked and tender. I don’t regret making this adaptation.

                                                    Once again the osso buco is removed from the pan and set aside while the sauce reduces slightly. Likely as a result of the additional covered cooking, I had quite bit of sauce so I opted to leave my sauce on the stove a little longer than suggested to thicken up the broth a little. While the author suggests that your orange segments be stirred in with the vegetables, I decided to place mine on the finished dishes to ensure everyone got some on their plate. Glad I did this as everyone commented on how nice it was to suddenly get a quick burst of fresh orange flavour…very unexpected.

                                                    The book suggests a soft, grapey Merlot w this recipe and I have to say, it was a perfect pairing. This really was a delicious dish. Fresh flavours, not too heavy and very aromatic. If I’d been thinking, I would have given each plate a quick sprinkle of fennel pollen but I’ll have to save that for another time!! This dish got top marks from everyone and I’ll happily make it again…though I will pick up a less expensive sherry vinegar for the next time around!!

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      What a pretty dish that is, BC. This recipe is on my To Make list and you beat me to it. Because G has such a sensitive nose to hot/spicy aromas at the stove I'll have to tell him to wear a mask when he adds the vinegar... thanks for the warning. (he has never done that but sometimes I wish he had)
                                                      If you served a side dish will you tell us what it was? TIA

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        Thanks Gio and yes, G will definitely need a mask or should at least move to another room during this step in the process as the aromas were quite intense. mr bc does not have a sensitive nose at all and he was choking up in our airy kitchen.

                                                        Funny you should ask about the sides because I struggled. Whenever I serve a brothy-style dish my first instinct is to serve rice since I love rice. That said, I wasn't convinced my guests would love this as much as I did so...I did make some steamed brown basmati rice but also offered mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and, some roasted blue fingerlings. No one other than me took rice! The roast potatoes were nice because they could be added right to folk's plates without incident however I put separate bowls on the table so folks could keep their mashed potatoes on the side. If I had to guess (judging by the leftovers) I'd say the mashed potatoes won the day. I did serve a simple salad in advance too. I'd intended to make a salad from this book but time got away. I'm hoping to make that today....

                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                          Yes, side dishes strain the imagination sometimes. I asked because of the orange component in that dish. I usually serve polenta with osso buco and I know noodles are another typical side. Tonight I'm making a dried fava puree with bitter greens (broccoli rabe) recipe to try out for a future possible side dish. Both Mario Batali and Nancy Harmon Jenkins write an almost identical recipe... we shall see.

                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                            Oh I think that would make a lovely side dish Gio. You know I didn't even think of serving noodles w the Osso Buco and that tends to be my go-to side for other OB recipes. I guess I was thinking of this as a "Mediterranean" vs Italian dish so the noodles didn't cross my mind but now you've mentioned it, I think they'd work beautifully...even a gnocchi. mr bc detests polenta (which saddens me as I love it) so that's never an option here. I should have mentioned that I tossed the blue potatoes w orange zest, crushed garlic, fennel seeds, evoo and little salt before roasting to help marry the flavours w those in the dish.

                                                            Looking forward to hearing how you make out w the favas tonight. We shopped at our favourite Italian market on the weekend and they had fresh favas imported from Italy and hard as it was, I had to walk-away as I knew I wouldn't have time to make them and I find they're best if used asap when fresh.

                                                      2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                        It takes nerve to pour half a cup of vinegar into an expensive meal -- for guests no less! I don't usually like citrus with meat, but you've made this one tempting.

                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                          It might be a good one to try blue room. Other than the pieces of fresh fruit, the citrus wasn't a prominent flavour, it really did just blend into the other flavours to balance the sauce. That said, we do love citrus so perhaps someone else will make the dish an weigh in with their thoughts. I imagine the quality of the veal stock used also plays a key role in balancing the flavours. I should have noted that although a recipe for veal stock is provided in the book, I purchased mine from my butcher who makes a sensational, rich and flavourful veal stock. I only use it for special occasions though since it too is costly.

                                                      3. Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic, Pg. 224

                                                        As I mentioned a few posts above, I had 1/2 pound of dried peeled fava beans from Italy and was dying to cook them. Two recipes I found that appealed were traditional fava bean puree with bitter greens. Both Batali and Nancy Harmon Jenkins had the same recipe in books but Harmon's came from the Puglia region of Italy so I chose that one. The bitter greens were a bunch of rabe I wanted to use and this recipe from Union Sq. seemed right. I halved the recipe.

                                                        Wash and prep the rabe, slicing the stems in 3 inch pieces and separating leaves and florets.
                                                        Combine chopped garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and EVOO in a pan, heat a few seconds to flavor the oil then add the drained rabe. Add a bit of salt & pepper, and toss well to coat the greens with the oil. Now add a bit of water (I used a small amount of stock), Cook this till water is almost evaporated. Toss again and serve. The greens had their distinctive pronounced flavor: bitter, but sweet at the back of the throat. They remained beautifully bright green but I think they might have benefited from a few more minutes in the pan. As usual G didn't agree, LOL.

                                                        The combination of the fava puree and rabe was fabulous. The beans were sweet and creamy with a few small lumps like rustic mashed potatoes. They complimented the greens and mitigated the bitterness of the rabe reasonably well. Can't wait to cook the remaining half pound.

                                                        Here's N.J.Harmon's fava bean recipe...

                                                        1. Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Vinegar - p. 238

                                                          Our CSA box seems to be on a sweet potato kick lately. Neither one of us is really a sweet potato fan, but I decided to give this one a try hoping the tart vinegar would offset the sweetness enough for us. The end result was okay. I didn't think the tartness came through enough despite using 1 tsp for 2 lbs of potatoes. This dish tastes very seasonal and with the spices screamed Thanksgiving to me, so it could be a nice alternative to a sweet potato casserole.

                                                          To make, the potatoes are roasted in the oven until tender. They instruct you to then peel them and pass through a food mill or ricer. I saved a bit of work and let the potato ricer do the peeling. Separately, butter is browned in a saucepan and you add cinnamon and nutmeg (where the Thanksgiving flavors come in!). Milk is then added and brought to a boil, then the sweet potato puree is added. Season with salt, pepper, and vinegar and serve.

                                                          We served it with the oven-roasted pork butt from Melissa Clark's two books (slow cooked on a bed of leeks per another CH's suggestion) and a side salad.

                                                          1. Seared Salmon with Sweet Corn, Shiitakes and Spinach, page 140.

                                                            We're on vacation so I was looking for something I could do with available local ingredients, and a few things we brought along. The Dairy Queen had posted a link to this recipe, and BigSal helped me locate the page number, so thanks to both of you! Here is the link to the recipe:

                                                            This dish was pretty straightforward, the sauce takes a little time, but otherwise it's fairly quick and easy. For the amount of work involved, it's easily a pretty plate, and a company-worthy dish. It does take a LOT of butter, which makes the flavor rich and full. The butter is balanced well with the addition of balsamic vinegar. I love the combination of fish and corn, and this dish is a sophisticated take on those flavors. (The only thing I couldn't find here was chives. I substituted a few chopped scallions.)
                                                            Rave reviews were received at table.

                                                            1. Grilled Marinated Chicken with Yogurt and Asian Spices, page unknown.

                                                              I wrote this recipe down in order to make it on our vacation, but I neglected to write down the page number.

                                                              Chicken breasts were marinated in yogurt mixed with garlic, cumin, curry blend, cayenne, mustard, celery seeds, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and kosher salt. I let them go overnight.

                                                              When the breasts come out of the marinade, it is reserved to go into the sauce. While they are grilling, I sautéed garlic, onion, and cucumbers, then added curry, cumin, and cayenne, then chopped tomatoes. This mix simmers until juicy. (Mine never got juicy.) Reserved marinade goes into the sautéed vegetables and cooks a bit. Then it all gets puréed and strained. My sauce was far too thick to strain, even trying a loose sieve, so I left it as-is.

                                                              While the chunky sauce wasn't the prettiest thing I've ever made, it was certainly delicious. It grew on us during the dinner, with all the spices coming into focus as we ate. I served it with spring raab sautéed with garlicky noodles.

                                                              1. Apple and Mortadella from the Union Square Second Helpings. P. 235

                                                                Change of plans for T-Day - we're invited to SO's relatives and I'm going to give this a trial run this weekend, before Thursday. SO's comment was that mortadella looks exactly like bologna. .

                                                                We shall see. I found all of the ingredients, but it sounds like WAY too much vinegar. I'll be making a 1/2 recipe and report back.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: JerryMe

                                                                  JerryMe, there is no vinegar in this dish! It calls for apple cider, NOT vinegar. There is a discussion of this recipe here:

                                                                2. Braised Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Herbs, p. 200

                                                                  I tagged this recipe when this book was COTM, and this weekend's storm gave me a good opportunity to make it. I'm so glad I did! I haven't had overwhelming success with recipes from this book, but this one was incredibly delicious -- a real winner! Definitely going on the "do again" list.

                                                                  So, to start, lamb shanks are seasoned with salt and pepper, dredged in flour, and browned in olive oil and removed from the pan. Sliced onions and garlic are added to the pan to soften, followed by an assortment of fresh herbs -- rosemary, thyme, mint and parsley. Here I deviated from the recipe, using a solitary rosemary branch (no needles), sage, thyme and parsley (no mint). A cup of white wine is added and reduced by half, followed by three cups of veal stock (I used a small container of more than gourmet demi glace concentrate and 3 cups of water), salt and pepper. Then back in go the shanks to braise at 325 for 2 hours (I let mine go for 2.5 because I was busy on a home improvement project). At about an hour in, the aromas wafting through the house were incredible. When the shanks are fork tender, uncover and turn the heat up to 500. Blast for 20 minutes to brown, basting the meat every 5 minutes. Remove shanks to a warm platter, strain the liquid and reduce by half to make a thick gravy. Then devour! Seriously, these lamb shanks were sooooo good. Try this recipe, you won't be sorry.

                                                                  Served with Mashed French Beans with Garlic and Mint from the same book and Melissa Clark's sauteed kale from Cook This Now.

                                                                  1. Mashed French (Italian) Beans with Garlic and Mint (Parsley), p. 222

                                                                    I have to say I think bean recipes are a highlight of this book. These beans were fantastic! I deviated from the recipe quite a bit though. To make, cook a cup of flageolets in generous water to cover with an onion, a carrot and a celery stalk, add salt partway through cooking. I cooked two cups of cannellini beans (I wanted extra for minestrone later this week) with an onion, carrot, and a large fennel stalk instead of celery. Meanwhile, roast a head of garlic for 30-40 minutes until soft. (I cooked the beans ahead and roasted the garlic alongside the lamb shanks). When the beans are soft, puree them along with a bit of cooking liquid. Squeeze out the roasted garlic and sautee for 1 minute in olive oil, add the bean puree and mix all together. Stir in salt, pepper, chopped mint (I used parsley) and top with more olive oil. These beans were so tasty and just fabulous with the lamb shanks, a suggested accompaniment. If you like beans (Gio, I'm talking to you!), don't skip this one. So glad to have finally discovered a couple of hits from this book.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                                      I hear you Westminstress! On the list it goes... In fact I love your whole dinner.

                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                        My faves from this book are:
                                                                        Fagioli alla Toscana, Pg. 253
                                                                        Fagioli all'Uccelletto, Pg. 255
                                                                        Herb Roasted Chicken, Pg. 170
                                                                        Herbed Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions, Pg. 264